RP helped Dutch on Joma arrest

PHILIPPINE NEWS SERVICE — MALACAÑANG yesterday said government helped the widows of Romulo Kintanar and Arturo Tabara file the double murder case against Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) founding chair Jose Ma. Sison who was arrested Tuesday in the Netherlands.

The case was used a basis by Dutch authorities to arrest Sison.

National security adviser Norberto Gonzales said government helped Joy Kintanar and Veronica Tabara transfer the case to the Dutch government. He said the widows believed Sison ordered the killing of their husbands.

Romulo Kintanar was killed in January 2003 and Arturo Tabara in September 2004. The New People’s Army has owned responsibility for the killings.

Gonzales said prosecutors from the Dutch government visited the Philippines but asked that the visits be kept secret. He said they came to the country through the Interpol section of the NBI.

“They made several visits to the Philippines. They have interviewed a lot of possible witnesses to this case. This was going on for several months,” he said in a press conference in Malacañang.

He said the investigation of the Dutch authorities took one year.

Gonzales said the Philippines will help the Dutch government in the case against Sison.

He said the case took a long time because the victims’ families were afraid of retaliation.

Gonzales and Jesus Dureza, presidential adviser on the peace process, said the Philippine government will not immediately ask for Sison’s return to the Philippines but will let the Dutch authorities finish the case while Malacañang decides what to do.

“For now it’s best that we do not interfere with what the Dutch authorities will do. Otherwise we will be interfering with the justice system of Netherlands, ” Gonzales said.

Dureza said the consensus at the Cabinet security cluster Tuesday night was to let the Dutch government deal with Sison first while the Philippine government weighs its options.

Foreign Affairs Undersecretary Rafael Seguis said the Department of Foreign Affairs is ready to give Sison consular assistance that is due to Filipino citizens, but Sison has so far not sought it.

President Arroyo on Tuesday night that called Sison’s arrest “a giant step toward peace, a victory for justice and the rule of law.”

Press Secretary Ignacio Bunye said “Joma Sison has much to answer for, and now the truth shall be known about atrocities committed in his behalf by those who stubbornly cling to an outdated and discredited ideology.”

Gonzales said government will pursue with even more vigor the cases on extrajudicial killings that the administration has been linking to the CPP.

Gonzales said he was “very excited (and) interested” about the case against Sison. He said it would finally be determined whether Sison is really Armando Liwanag and Armando Guerrero and is still the chairman of the CPP.

Justice Secretary Raul Gonzalez said government will pursue the criminal cases against Sison, but he has to serve his sentence first in the Netherlands before his extradition could be processed.

“We cannot bring him here yet, but if the Dutch government will transfer him here, then we will be happy to prosecute him. I don’t think the Dutch government will object if we ask them to turn over Sison to us,” he said.

The Philippines has no extradition treaty with the Netherlands. Government coursed its request for Sison’s extradition through the United States in 2003. According to Gonzalez, government might still push for Sison’s turnover through diplomatic means.

“What is clear is that the dancing days of Mr. Sison with actress Ara Mina is over. He cannot be in the Netherlands dancing with Ara Mina all the time,” Gonzalez said.

Gonzalez also said the widows of Kintanar and Tabara were consistent with the government’s position that Sison should be made accountable.

Foreign Affairs Undersecretary Franklin Ebdalin said the Philippines can only persuade the Dutch government to turn over Sison “based on comity.”

“Because we can’t invoke any right. It’s outside out control. It falls on the Dutch government,” he added.