NDFP condemns arrest of Randall Echanis

Luis G. Jalandoni
Negotiating Panel
National Democratic Front of the Philippines
January 29, 2008

The National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) vigorously condemns the illegal arrest of Mr. Randall Echanis, member of the NDFP Reciprocal Working Committee (RWC) on Social and Economic Reforms (SER), by the Arroyo regime’s police agents yesterday at Bago City, Negros Occidental. Mr. Echanis was in Bago City to attend a conference of agricultural workers in preparation for a national rural congress.

Mr. Echanis has participated in formal peace talks in Oslo and has taken part in discussions towards a draft tentative agreement on social and economic reforms, the second substantive agenda in the GRP-NDFP peace negotiations, with his counterpart in the GRP-RWC on SER. He has played a key role in developing the NDFP draft of the Comprehensive Agreement on Social and Economic Reforms, especially with regard to the peasant question and land reform.

His illegal arrest by the regime’s police forces is a flagrant violation of the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG). Mr. Echanis, publicly known as a member of the NDFP official delegation to peace talks and known to the officials of the Royal Norwegian Government as Third Party Facilitator of the GRP-NDFP peace negotiations, is fully protected by the safety and immunity guarantees stipulated in the JASIG.

The trumped up charges filed against Mr. Echanis are clearly false. He was arrested in 1983 and kept in solitary confinement first in Camp Aguinaldo under then Col. Gregorio Honasan and then in Tuguegarao, Cagayan until his release in March 1986 with the downfall of the Marcos regime. Yet, he is accused of an alleged crime that supposedly happened in 1984-85. It is the same case for which the Arroyo regime had ordered the arrest of Congressman Satur Ocampo in December 2006 and on which the Philippine Supreme Court ruled that Congressman Ocampo be released. The filing of charges of common crimes is also a gross violation of the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL).

This arrest of NDFP RWC on SER member Randall Echanis is the latest in a series of gross violations of the JASIG and CARHRIHL perpetrated by the Arroyo regime. These violations of binding peace agreements seriously jeopardize the possibility of the resumption of formal peace talks.

The NDFP demands compliance by the Arroyo regime with the JASIG and CARHRIHL. The NDFP demands the immediate and unconditional release of Randall Echanis.

Ruth de Leon
Executive Director
NDFP International Information Office
Fax +31-84-7589930
Email: ndf@casema.nl



By Luis Jalandoni
Chairperson, Negotiating Panel
National Democratic Front of the Philippines

Press Statement, January 21, 2008 -- The Dutch prosecutor Ms. J. S. de Vries claims that the examining judge Ms. C. M. Derijks has done something grievously wrong by declaring the “untimely closure of the preliminary investigation” of the false and politically motivated charge of inciting the murder of the military agents Romulo Kintanar and Arturo Tabara against Prof. Jose Maria Sison, NDFP Chief Political Consultant.

The claim of the prosecutor cannot be farther from the truth. The examining judge based her 21 November 2007 decision to close the preliminary investigation on the 13 September decision of the District Court of The Hague pointing to the insufficiency of evidence against Prof. Sison and the 3 October 2007 decision of the Court of Appeals upholding the decision of the district court on the lack of prima facie evidence and ruling further that the charge has a political context casting doubt on the reliability of the witnesses and the ability of Prof. Sison and his lawyers to cross-examine the witnesses under current circumstances of gross human rights violations in the Philippines.

The examining judge gave ample and repeated opportunity to prosecutor De Vries to give substantive reasons to counter the two aforementioned court decisions. But the prosecutor failed to do so. The two court decisions and the failure of the prosecutor to provide substantive reasons constituted the valid ground for the examining judge to close the preliminary investigation. It is a big lie for the prosecutor to premise the continuance of the preliminary investigation with the claim of wrongdoing by the examining judge. It is also anomalous that the prosecutor stands publicly in judgment over the examining judge.

The prosecutor is hell-bent on using the prosecution process to oppress and run down Prof. Jose Maria Sison. She threatens to make the life of Prof. Sison miserable not only with the patently false charge of inciting the murder of Kintanar and Tabara but also with the possible expansion of criminal charges under various laws against him and others.

But the prosecutor is apparently playing a role or doing a dirty political job assigned by powerful forces, like the Dutch and other governments, to persecute and destroy Prof. Sison as well as the representation of the NDFP abroad, particularly the NDFP Negotiating Panel of which I am the chairperson. Moral and material damages continue to be inflicted directly on Prof. Sison and many other persons and entities whose papers, digital files, bank accounts and other materials and equipment were seized by the police upon the arrest of Prof. Sison on 28 August 2007.

The NDFP and the Filipino people are grievously offended by the injustices done directly to Prof. Sison and other Filipinos in The Netherlands. They are outraged that something never done before to a national liberation movement like the African National Congress (ANC) and the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) is being done to the NDFP. The Dutch government is either wittingly or unwittingly being used by Washington and the Manila government to conjure and hype the illusion that Filipino communists are killing each other, a line of deception used by the Arroyo regime to justify the extrajudicial killings,disappearances and other human rights violations. This deceptive line has been exposed by the reports of UN Special Rapporteur Prof. Philip Alston, Amnesty International, the World Council of Churches, Human Rights Watch and other respected institutions.

The false and politically motivated charge of inciting the murder of Kintanar and Tabara may just be a stepping stone to the charge of war crimes or crimes against humanity or crimes of terrorism. The malicious political intent of the US, Dutch and Manila governments may be to stigmatize and destroy Prof. Sison and the NDFP Negotiating Panel and pressure the NDFP to capitulate to the Manila government. But the scheme of these powerful forces may only lead to the complete destruction of the peace negotiations between the NDFP and the Manila government and the intensification of the civil war in the Philippines.

There are indications that the Dutch prosecutor intends to expand the charge of inciting murder to a charge of war crimes in order to get away from the rigorous rule of evidence of direct and personal responsibility in a case of murder to the rule of command responsibility. If this shift were to be done, the Dutch prosecutor will be practically recognizing the existence of a civil war in the Philippines and accusing Prof. Sison of being a leader of a belligerent force under international law.

But it is utterly ridiculous for the Dutch prosecution to be accusing Prof. Sison of command responsibility for war crimes under international law. He came straight from nearly a decade of fascist imprisonment in 1986, freed from the charge of rebellion and subversion Since then, he has been abroad for more than 20 years, always hounded by false charges invented by the Manila government but never convicted in any court. It would be a stark case of paradox if Gloria M. Arroyo remains scot-free, despite the gross and systematic violations of human rights in the Philippines, and Prof. Sison is imprisoned in The Netherlands.

Under the auspices of the US-directed policies of neoliberal globalization and war of terror, the US and pro-US governments are capable of doing anything to slander, harm or destroy any individual, organization or movement that fights for national liberation and democracy. The Filipino people and the people of the world must be vigilant, resolute and militant against the cumulative attacks being unleashed by the imperialists and their puppets against Prof. Jose Maria Sison, the NDFP Negotiating Panel and the NDFP.


2008 set to be exciting year for CAP-CPC!

Dear CAP-CPC members and friends,

Manigong bagong taon! Happy New Year! Bonne année!

The coming year 2008 is set to be an exciting one for the Centre for Philippine Concerns (CAP-CPC) and solidarity friends across Canada:

A tour to Canada is being organized for two progressive Parliamentarians from the Philippines in early April 2008. Rep. Satur Ocampo of Bayan Muna and Rep. Crispin “Ka Bel” Beltran of Anakpawis will make an official visit to the Canadian parliament in Ottawa and then on to other Canadian cities. The idea was launched by CAP-CPC members as part of the organisation’s 25th anniversary celebrations and then was taken up enthusiastically by member organizations of the Philippine solidarity network in Ottawa, Toronto, Winnipeg and Vancouver[*] as well as the United Church of Canada. For more information contact Malcolm Guy at the CAP-CPC in Montreal (mguy@pmm.qc.ca or capcpc@web.ca)

The Workers Assistance Center (WAC) in Cavite province and other Philippine trade union organizations are calling for a Canadian Trade Union Mission to the Philippines to be held April 28 – May 9, 2008. Initial organizing for the Mission took place during a Canadian tour in 2007 by Arnel Salvador, the deputy executive director of the WAC, organized by KAIROS. The Mission is supported by the Philippine solidarity network in Canada as well as KAIROS and the Maquila Solidarity Network (MSN). For more information trade unionists can contact Cecille Tuico, WAC International Relations/Campaign Officer (wacphilippines@yahoo.com.ph) or members of the solidarity network in Canada.

The International League of People’s Struggle (ILPS) will be holding its Third International Assembly in Hong Kong in June 2008. The CAP-CPC is a member and will be represented there. We also intend to participate, along with other members of the Philippines solidarity network and other interested individuals and organizations, in the founding of the International Migrants’ Alliance (IMA) to be held in Hong Kong immediately the ILPS Assembly. See:

The March 8th Committee of Women of Diverse Origins in Montreal is inviting Connie Regalado from Migrante International as a keynote speaker at its 2008 event. Connie will also visit other Canadian cities following the International Womens’ Day activities. CAP-CPC members Marie Boti (mboti@pmm.qc.ca) and Tess Tesalona (CPC Coordinator - tess_iwc@yahoo.ca) are founding members of the March 8th Committee.

The CAP-CPC began the year by launching the documentary Defending Joma by Joey Calugay on this blog (see below!) Please check it out, let us know what you think, and spread the word.

At the end of January 2008 the campaign to stop the political killings in the Philippines will kick back into high gear with the launch of a short film Philippines: waging war on the people by Marie Boti and Malcolm Guy. A rough cut of this film was screened in Montreal on International Human Rights Day, December 10, 2007. The video documentary will be available for presentations and use in the campaign.

[*] The Philippine solidarity network in Canada includes the Centre d’appui aux Philippines - Centre for Philippine Concerns (CAP-CPC) – Montreal, Pinay – Philippine women’s organization in Quebec – Montreal, Philippine Network for Justice and Peace (PNJP) – Toronto, Ontario Committee for Human Rights in the Philippines (OCHRP) – Ottawa, Center for Philippine Concerns – Winnipeg, and the BC Committee for Human Rights in the Philippines (BCCHRP) -- Vancouver


Defending Joma - a film

The Dutch government imprisoned Philippine freedom fighter Jose Maria Sison in 2007. Activists took up the successful struggle to free Joma, including a small picket line in Ottawa, Canada organized by the Centre for Philippine Concerns (CAP-CPC) and Ottawa activists. This film by Joey Calugay follows CAP-CPC members as they prepare and take part in this action, providing an intimate look at people-to-people solidarity in action. Produced by CAP-CPC and Productions Multi Monde - http://www.pmm.qc.ca