Judgment of European Court is a victory for the cause of justice (web only)

By Prof Jose Maria Sison, Chief Political Consultant, National Democratic Front of the Philippines.

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The judgment of the European Court of First Instance (ECFI) annulling the decision of the Council of the European Union (EU) to put me in the ‘terrorist’ blacklist is a victory for the cause of justice. It is not merely my personal victory. It is a victory for all the people, my panel of lawyers, the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) as intervener and the International Committee Defend. They have resolutely and vigorously supported me and fought for justice against my persecution. I take this opportunity to thank all of them.

The 11 July 2007 ECFI judgment is applicable to the 28 June 2007 decision of the Council of the EU blacklisting me as a ‘terrorist’ on the basis of the same false allegations and in violation of due process as in the 29 May 2006 decision. It rules that the Council of the EU has infringed my rights of defence, has failed to comply with the obligation to state the reasons for blacklisting me and has violated my right to judicial protection. It paves the way for me to demand compensation for the social benefits that I have been deprived of and for the moral and material damages inflicted on me. It requires the Council to pay the costs of the litigation incurred by me and the NDFP as intervener.

With the active collaboration of the US, Philippine and Dutch governments, the Council has accused me of the heinous crime of terrorism. But I have never been informed of any specific charge of terrorism and I have never been called to any criminal investigation, prosecution or trial involving any specific act of terrorism. Nevertheless, I have been serially and indefinitely listed and stigmatised as a ‘terrorist’ for more than four years. My rights and freedoms have been violated. I have been unjustly subjected to sanctions that are in fact punitive (including the freezing of my bank account, prohibition from work and termination of social benefits) and to official incitement of public hatred and violence against my person and honour.

I have never committed any crime of terrorism and I have never been subjected to any criminal investigation for any act of terrorism. To make me appear as a ‘terrorist’, the Council of the EU has followed the US in claiming that I am the chairman of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and head of the New People’s Army (NPA). It has misrepresented the revolutionary national liberation movement of the Filipino people as ‘terrorism’, even as the Philippine reactionary government is bound by the Hernandez political offense doctrine to charge the revolutionaries with rebellion.

The Council of the EU has also misrepresented the decisions of the Raad van State in 1992 and 1995 and the Rechtseenheidkamer in 1997, on questions of asylum and residence, as decisions finding me responsible for terrorism. In fact, all the aforesaid courts have recognised me as a refugee under Article 1a of the Refugee Convention. The current propensity of certain European authorities to dish out lies and use punitive sanctions against refugees, migrant workers and people of colour lays bare imperialist and fascist impulses.

In the Philippines, I have been repeatedly cleared of criminal charges. At the fall of the Marcos fascist regime in 1986, I was cleared of the charges of rebellion and subversion. In 1992, the charge of subversion that had been trumped up in 1988 was nullified. In 1994, the charge of multiple murder arising from the Plaza Miranda bombing was dismissed by the Manila prosecutors as something based on speculation. In 1998, the Philippine secretary of justice issued a certification that there were no pending criminal charges against me.

In 2003, the Arroyo regime started to fabricate charges of rebellion and common crimes against me. But in a recent decision early this month, the Philippine Supreme Court has rendered null and void the identical false allegations of rebellion against more than 50 accused, including the Batasan 6, some NDFP legal consultants and myself. The Arroyo regime can no longer recycle said allegations in any new charge of rebellion or terrorism under the newly-enacted Human Security Act (Anti-Terrorism Act).

The fact that the aforesaid Anti-Terrorism Act was signed into law only on 6 March 2007 and would become effective supposedly only on 15 July 2007 underscores the fact that there was no crime of terrorism in Philippine penal law in all the years that the US, Philippine and European governments were claiming that I was responsible for unspecified crimes of terrorism in the Philippines.

Even as there is now the Anti-Terrorism Act, it remains to be seen how it can be valid against the Hernandez political offense doctrine and transmogrify the subsisting and well-defined crime of rebellion into the ill-defined, vague and overly-broad crime of terrorism.

It is outrageous that US imperialism under the Bush policy of war on terror has drawn the Council and member states of the European Union to wars of aggression, as in Iraq and Afghanistan, to legislation and executive decisions with a fascist character, and has abetted subservient regimes like the Arroyo regime to commit human rights violations with impunity, all in the name of combating terrorism. I hope that the current isolation and unravelling of the Bush regime in the US because of its crimes of aggression and repression can drive some sense into the heads of the Council and member states of the EU.

I am deeply pleased that in my struggle for justice against the ‘terrorist’ blacklist I have contributed to some extent to the advance of the struggle of the people for a democratic rule of law against the forces of imperialist plunder, fascism and aggression. I am determined to continue the struggle, because the annulment of the decision of the Council of the European Union to blacklist me as a ‘terrorist’ is merely the first step in my struggle for full respect of my fundamental rights and freedoms, and because, most importantly, the people, especially the most persecuted, need to unite their wills and capabilities to uphold, defend and promote their rights and freedoms against imperialism and reaction.