THE Philippine government’s bid to have communist leader Jose Maria Sison arrested by the Interpol in Netherlands and returned to the country to face murder charges is not likely to happen.
Four aspiring Supreme Court justices yesterday doused cold water on the PNP’s attempt to enforce an arrest warrant issued by a Manila court against Sison and his wife Julie and said the couple is protected by international legal conventions on political refugees.
Court of Appeals Justices Japar Dimaampao, Mario Lopez, Ricardo Rosario and Ramon Bato Jr., during their respective interviews by the Judicial and Bar Council in relation to their applications to become members of the Supreme Court, shared the opinion that arresting and extraditing the Sison couple is not legally possible.
The SC is set to have two vacancies this month and next month with the retirement of Associate Justice Francis Jardeleza on September 26 and Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio on October 26.
Lopez said despite the arrest warrant, Sison cannot be simply apprehended by the Interpol since he is covered by the 1951 Refugee Convention.
“Protected persons under the said convention are given the rights just like the rights of someone who is on asylum and that personality cannot be derogated by our authorities,” Lopez said in response to the question proffered by Franklin Demonteverde, an ex oficio member of the JBC.
Dimaampao said Sison can always invoke the Universal Covenant on Civil and Political Rights to protect him from arrest. Bato and Rosario echoed the same position.
The Universal Covenant on Civil and Political Rights is an international human rights treaty adopted by the United Nations in 1966 that gives legal force to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.
It commits signatory states to protect and respect the civil and political rights of individuals,
The 1951 Refugee Convention, on the other hand, covers the rights of persons granted asylum and the responsibilities of states that granted it.
Sison and his wife Julie are under political asylum in the Netherlands.
PNP chief Oscar Albayalde has earlier said the government will ask the Interpol to issue a red notice against Sison and his wife so they can be arrested and returned to the country so they can stand trial for the alleged purging of communist rebels from 1985 to 1992.
A red notice, as defined in the Interpol website, is “a request to law enforcers worldwide to locate and provisionally arrest a person pending extradition, surrender or similar legal action.”
Sison, in a statement, insisted the Interpol cannot arrest him in Netherlands, where he has been based since the 1980s, because “I am a recognized political refugee. I am protected by the Refugee Convention and by the European Convention on Human Rights.”
“There is also no extradition treaty between the Netherlands and the Philippines, not to mention the Europe-wide bad standing of the Duterte regime as human rights violator and mass murderer,” Sison added.
Sison reiterated the case filed against him was “invalid and cannot pass the test of due process in the Netherlands.”
“I have my rights to be informed of the charge, to have counsel and to ask for judicial review,” he said.
Also, Sison said his lawyers can easily debunk the “fabricated incident” and maintained he was in maximum security detention in 1985 and had no authority over the Communist Party of the Philippines and the New People’s Army at the time.
“My points here are sustained by previous court decisions in the Netherlands at the highest level of the judicial system,” Sison said.
“Duterte and his military nincompoops are just doing psywar about something that they do not know anything about. They merely expose their ignorance of international law by repeatedly yakking that I am subject to extradition by Interpol,” said Sison.
On Tuesday night, President Duterte renewed his order for an all-out war against the CPP-NPA as he expressed hope the insurgency problem will be resolved within his term.
The President, during the 2019 Outstanding Government Workers Awards Rites on Tuesday, said he had ordered the AFP and the PNP to “go attack (the communist rebels) in full scale.”
In a press conference that followed, he said the full scale attack is similar to an all out war. “I want if possible to finish it off within my term,” Duterte said.
Duterte said he had gone out of his way to accommodate the “hard core communist members” by appointing them in his Cabinet while some of the leaders were even welcomed in Malacañang.
He said he initiated peace talks with the rebels but the communist groups had insisted that a coalition government was not possible.
The President had repeatedly said that he wants to end the insurgency problem by the end of his term and had even created a task force to address the root cause of insurgency. – With Victor Reyes and Jocelyn Montemayor