BACOLOD CITY — The widow of slain rebel leader Arturo Tabara said she was “overjoyed” by the arrest of Jose Maria “Joma” Sison, founder of the Communist Party of the Philippines, in the Netherlands.
Veronica Tabara said the arrest of Sison on Tuesday and his trial in The Hague were the first steps in her “long and difficult quest” for justice for her husband and the “hundreds of others” whom Sison allegedly ordered killed over the years.
“I hope Sison who has seemed untouchable for so long will finally be punished for the death of my husband and so many others,” she said on the phone from somewhere in Metro Manila on Saturday night.
But Tabara acknowledged Sison’s right to due process.
She said she and Gloria “Joy” Kintanar, widow of Romulo Kintanar, filed the charges against Sison in The Hague last year for ordering the murders of their husbands.
The filing of the charges in the Netherlands was facilitated by the Department of Justice because Tabara said she did not have the resources to do it on her own.
Sison, who has been in exile in the Netherlands since 1987, was arrested at his home in Utrecht for allegedly ordering the assassinations of Romulo Kintanar and Arturo Tabara.
Tabara, chair of the breakaway Revolutionary Proletarian Army-Alex Boncayao Brigade (RPA-ABB), was killed by New People’s Army (NPA) hit men in Quezon City on Sept. 26, 2004, along with Stephen Ong, the boyfriend of Tabara’s daughter.
Kintanar, a former member of the CPP Central Committee and chief of its armed wing, the NPA, until his arrest in 1991, was shot dead on Jan. 23, 2003, in a Japanese restaurant, also in Quezon City.
The CPP has claimed responsibility for both killings, saying Tabara and Kintanar were engaged in “criminal and counterrevolutionary activities.”
Tabara and Kintanar were erstwhile top communist rebel leaders who broke away from the CPP-NPA in 1992 over ideological differences with Sison.
Tabara formed the RPA-ABB in 1998 and entered into a peace agreement with the government under the administration of President Joseph Estrada in 2000.
Tabara’s widow said her husband, Kintanar and many of their comrades became disillusioned with the Stalinist approach of Sison that saw violence as an option for change.
She said she was aware that the day she and her husband, and many of their other comrades left the CPP-NPA, their lives were all in danger.
In fact, she said, she knew that her life remained in danger and that she had been taking security precautions against NPA hit men.
The widow said she was overjoyed to hear that Sison had finally been arrested because it brought a glimmer of hope that she would attain justice for her husband.
“Sison has been mainly responsible for ordering the elimination of those who have opposed his leadership,” she said.
The widow said it was also “hypocritical for the CPP-NPA to invoke human rights violations, when they have actively violated and failed to respect the basic rights of others.”