MANILA— Self-exiled communist leader Jose Maria Sison on Thursday shrugged off government's terrorist tag as he slammed as "fascist" the Anti-Terrorism Law and urged the Supreme Court to invalidate the measure.
Sison and his wife were among the 29 persons designated as "terrorists" by the Anti-Terrorism Council.
The Communist Party of the Philippines "cannot be engaged in any act of terrorism as it cannot victimize and offend the very people it relies on to achieve national and social liberation," said Sison, who has been in exile in the Netherlands for over 30 years.
"It is utterly wrong to misrepresent acts of a revolutionary movement as a case of common crime. This is a violation of international legal standards and the Manila government’s own Hernandez political offense doctrine, which recognize the social roots of rebellion, the nobility of its motives and purpose, and keep open the possibility of peaceful resolution of the armed conflict," he said in a statement.
"It will be faithful to its own distinct role in government if the Supreme Court will invalidate the Anti-Terrorism Law as instruments of fascism and state terrorism because of its massacre of basic human rights and democratic principles."
The ATC and the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) are "wantonly engaged in red-tagging and making up lists of 'communist terrorists,' depriving suspects of their rights, usurping judicial authority and castrating the judiciary," Sison added.
Sison said he and his wife were "not at all bothered" by the council's move as political consultants of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) are entitled to the protection of the Joint Agreement of Safety and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG) and "other binding bilateral agreements."
"The list of names in the designation appears to be arbitrary, dubious and even contradictory or inconsistent with the various public and purportedly personal statements even of its own NTF-ELCAC evil minions," he said.
"We are not bothered even by the threats of (Rodrigo) Duterte death squads coming over to hit us which have been persistently reported to us by various sources. We have been alert to these threats. Our main concern is for those who are in the Philippines and are designated by the aforesaid resolution and many more people who are red-tagged and vulnerable to the criminal violence of the Duterte regime."
Sison cited an earlier ruling of the European Court of Justice when the European Commission opposed his appeal to remove his name from the EU terrorist list.
"The European Court of Justice ruled that even if the listing of my name was done as an administrative act, I was made to suffer the sanction of having my assets frozen... and 3 of my rights had been grossly violated: the right to be informed of the charge, the right to counsel, and the right to judicial review," he said.
"At all events, we are confident that the Dutch and EU authorities respect our right to stay in The Netherlands and understand fascism and state terrorism regnant in the Philippines under the tyrannical and genocidal Duterte regime. They are well aware that we have been detached physically from the Philippines for more than 35 years and that the Duterte regime has often tried to insult me for my political beliefs and advocacy."
Ties between Sison and Duterte, his former student, soured in 2018 after the chief executive accused communist rebels of attacking government troops despite peace talks, which have since collapsed. Offensives against communists have since resumed.