MANILA, Philippines – Government negotiators want Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) founder Jose Maria "Joma" Sison removed from the US list of international terrorists so that the exiled rebel leader could finally come home after 3 decades in exile.
The government panel said it will work on Sison's delisting, one of its commitments to the National Democratic Front (NDF) representing the communist rebels during the 3rd round of talks held in Rome, according to a government statement on Wednesday, January 25.
"There is basis for the US to remove the CPP and the NPA from the list since its political umbrella, the National Democratic Front, is now involved in peace negotiations with the Philippine government," the panel said in a statement.
The inclusion of the CPP and its armed wing, the New People's Army, in the international terrorist list allows the International Criminal Police Organization (Interpol) to arrest Sison anywhere outside the territory of the European Union (EU) which has long removed him from its list of terrorists.
Sison's Philippine passport was cancelled in 1987 under President Corazon Aquino. He sought political asylum in the Netherlands, where he has been living for 3 decades.
Meeting with Duterte
Government chief negotiator Secretary Silvestre Bello III said Sison's delisting would pave the way for the planned meeting between President Rodrigo Duterte and his former professor.
He said this would also allow the possible holding of peace talks in the Philippines so the public could be more involved.
Communist rebels have resumed peace talks with the Duterte administration following an impasse of 5 years. The release last year of high-profile communist personalities led to an unprecedented 5-month-old ceasefire that is so far generally holding despite a firefight over the weekend.