Joma jailed in the Netherlands

PHILIPPINE NEWS SERVICE — THE Netherlands government has arrested and detained exiled communist leader Jose Ma. Sison, who will stand trial in that European country for the murder of his former comrades.

A source in The Hague said Sison, 68, the former chairman of the outlawed Communist Party of the Philippines who retains the title of chief political consultant of the movement, was arrested on the basis of a murder complaint originally filed by the widows of two ex-communist leaders, Romulo Kintanar and Antonio Tabara.

The Philippine government has been informed by Netherlands authorities of the arrest and detention of Sison, who has been living in the Dutch city of Utrecht since his release from jail in the Philippines after the fall of the Marcos regime in 1986, the source said.

National security officials in Manila could not be reached for comment on Sison’s arrest yesterday.

Sison’s arrest was the result of a lengthy investigation conducted by Dutch authorities on the complaints filed by Gloria Kintanar and Veronica Tabara before the Quezon City police shortly after the murder of their husbands, allegedly by loyalists of Sison’s faction in the CPP, the National Democratic Front and its armed group, the New People’s Army.

Kintanar was a former head of the New People’s Army who was shot dead in a Quezon City restaurant on Jan. 23, 2003. The NPA has claimed responsibility for his killing.

Tabara was another former NPA chieftain who founded the breakaway rebel group Revolutionary People’s Army. He was assassinated in a Quezon City mall parking lot in August 2004.

The widows also filed a complaint against Sison through the Department of Foreign Affairs to compel Dutch authorities to arrest and send the communist leader back to the Philippines.

Dutch authorities sent several fact-finding missions to the Philippines to investigate the complaints, including reports that Sison had ordered several bloody purges of communist rebels suspected of cooperating with the government in several areas in Quezon province, the Visayas and Mindanao. The purges were also known as Oplans Zombie, Missing Link and Cadena de Amor.

The source said the Dutch justice system called for the arrest of a criminal suspect like Sison and his detention until all the evidence was presented before a judge, who would then approve the start of a trial immediately after agreeing that the evidence was sufficient.

The same source said Sison, depending on the judge’s decision, may also be tried for “crimes against humanity” before the International Criminal Court in The Hague, the same crime that Serbian dictator Slobodan Milosevic was accused of before the ICC.

The source added that Sison had lately been seeking asylum in either Spain or Germany to escape the investigations being conducted by the Dutch authorities. While a recent European Court of First Instance ruling unfroze Sison’s assets, he remains listed as a “terrorist” by the EU. The NPA is also classified by the EU as a “terrorist organization.”

Sison has denied involvement in the bloody purges and disavowed leading the CPP-NDF-NPA from his exile in Utrecht, but authorities suspect that he still has direct control over the communist movement through CPP Central Committee members who are with him in The Netherlands like Fidel Agcaoili, who also acts as spokesman of the NDF.