THE Duterte administration will ask the United States to remove Jose Maria Sison, founding chairman of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP), from its list of international terrorists, the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (Opapp) said Wednesday.
According to Opapp, this was one of the recommendations agreed upon by the government and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) peace panels in their peace talks in Rome, Italy.
Aside from de-listing Sison, the Philippines will also ask that the CPP and its armed front, New People's Army (NPA), be stricken out from the list of terrorist organizations.
Government peace panel head, Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III, said the de-listing of the CPP from the US list of international terrorist organizations would put into fruition the commitment of Sison to President Rodrigo Duterte to return to the Philippines as part of the ongoing peace negotiations.
Duterte and Sison previously agreed to meet in any neutral Asian country once the latter is de-listed from the list of international terrorists.
The European Union has long ago stricken Sison from the terrorist list.
Bello said there is basis for the US to remove the CPP and the NPA from the list since its political umbrella, the NDFP, and Sison are now involved in peace negotiations with the Philippine government.
If the de-listing happens, Bello said Sison can join the panels in succeeding talks anywhere outside Europe.
As asylum seeker in The Netherlands, Sison can be barred re-entering Europe once he travels outside the European Union countries.
“Maybe, the talks can be held in the Philippines because we are trying to get support from the people," Bello explained.
The inclusion of the CPP-NPA in the US terrorist list has become a stumbling block for the return of Sison to the Philippines, he said.
The US, through its control of the International Police (Interpol), can always effect the arrest of Sison outside of EU, which is protective of the rights of people seeking political asylum in its member countries, he added.
Sison lives in exile in Utrecht, The Netherlands when his passport was cancelled by the Philippine government under President Corazon Aquino in 1987.
The arrest of Sison will affect the peace negotiations, Bello said.
He said with Donald Trump as the new US president, it is possible Sison could be stricken from the list of personalities considered by the American government as terrorists.
Sison, together with a handful of young activists and members of the old communist party in the Philippines, re-established the Maoist-oriented CPP on December 26, 1968. (SDR/SunStar Philippines)