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Joma faces losing asylum status

20 December 2017

Jose Maria Sison may lose his political asylum status once the court declares the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and its armed wing, the New People’s Army, as terrorist organizations, Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano said.

 Sison has been living in the Netherlands since 1987.

President Duterte had cancelled peace talks with the CPP-NPA and cited threats to security the armed group posed as justification for extending martial law in Mindanao for one year.

 The Department of Justice recently ordered the Office of the Prosecutor General to file a formal petition before a regional trial court seeking to declare the CPP/ NPA terrorist groups.

Under Section 17 of Republic Act 9372, or the Human Security Act (HSA) of 2007, the DoJ needs to seek clearance from the court before an organization, association or group could be declared terrorist.

Once the court outlawed the CPP, the Philippines can transport Sison back to the country and make him answer for his crimes, Cayetano said.

“There is no asylum for terrorism, so if it can be proven that they are not in fact legitimate victims of persecution but are terrorists, then a country can decide to reverse the granting of asylum,” Cayetano said in a chance interview at the sidelines of the Philippine-Cambodia 2nd Joint Commission for Bilateral Cooperation (JCBC) in Manila.

Analyst Ramon Casiple shared the view that a court ruling outlawing the CPP-NPA could result in the cancellation of Sison’s political asylum status and even his passport.

Even if there is no existing extradition treaty between the Philippines and the Netherlands, the Dutch government could go after Sison once the court legally declared the CCP as a terrorist group, Casiple said.

The Dutch government has its own anti-terrorism law and the CPP founder would be considered violating that law, explained Casiple, executive director of the Institute for Political and Electoral Reforms.

 In a speech on Thursday, Duterte criticized Sison for living the good life in Utrecht while members of the NPA struggle daily in the mountains.

 He dared Sison to leave his “sanctuary” in The Netherlands and bring the fight in the Philippines.

Casiple said Duterte’s move to tag the CPP as a terror group showed that he has lost confidence on communist leaders because of their recent actions and pronouncements.

He cited the order of the CPP leadership to intensify offensives against government forces when the military was preoccupied with the crisis in Marawi City.

 Casiple said the CPP even used the declaration of martial law in Mindanao as justification for the attacks even if it was clear that the group was not the target.

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