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Despite PH plea, U.S. keeps terrorist tag for CPP-NPA

Paterno R. Esmaquel II

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Despite PH plea, U.S. keeps terrorist tag for CPP-NPA
The CPP-NPA 'continues to meet the criteria' for designation as terrorist group, says US State Department acting spokesman Mark Toner

WASHINGTON DC, USA – Despite a request from the Philippine government, the United States said it is keeping the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and its armed wing, the New People’s Army (NPA), in its list of terrorists.

The CPP and NPA have been in the US list of foreign terrorist organizations (FTOs) since August 9, 2002, upon the request of the Arroyo administration.

“The CPP/NPA is a designated FTO and it continues to meet the criteria for such a designation,” said US State Department acting spokesman Mark Toner in a meeting with Filipino journalists on Thursday, February 2.

Toner issued this statement when asked for comment about the Philippine government’s request to remove Jose Maria Sison, founder of the CPP, from its list of terrorists. 

Sison has lived in political asylum in The Netherlands for 3 decades. 

With the CPP-NPA included in the US list of FTOs, the International Criminal Police Organization or Interpol can arrest Sison anywhere outside the European Union, which has long removed him from its list of terrorists.

Conditions for delisting

The Philippine government wants Sison delisted as a terrorist so that he can meet with his former student, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, in a neutral Asian country. (READ: Palace: No reason for US to insist on terror tag for Sison)

This will also allow the Philippine government and communist rebels to hold peace talks in the Philippines, government chief negotiator Silvestre Bello III said.

The US State Department cited the provisions of a US law that sets 3 possible conditions to revoke an FTO tag: 

  • The Secretary of State must revoke a designation if the Secretary finds that the circumstances that were the basis of the designation have changed in such a manner as to warrant a revocation
  • The Secretary of State must revoke a designation if the Secretary finds that the national security of the United States warrants a revocation
  • The Secretary of State may revoke a designation at any time

The Philippine government panel negotiating with commnist rebels said, “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.”

Malacañang had earlier expressed optimism that the US would grant the request. “The government maintains that there is no reason for the US to deny this request bearing in mind that Mr Sison is part of the negotiating panel,” Presidential Spokesman Ernesto Abella said in a news briefing on January 26.

During her watch, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo requested the inclusion of the CPP-NPA in the US terrorist list. At the time, Bello also chaired the government panel negotiating with the National Democratic Front, the political wing of the CPP. –

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Paterno R. Esmaquel II

Paterno R. Esmaquel II, news editor of Rappler, specializes in covering religion and foreign affairs. He finished MA Journalism in Ateneo and MSc Asian Studies (Religions in Plural Societies) at RSIS, Singapore. For story ideas or feedback, email