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PEACE TALKS

PH wants Joma Sison removed from US terror list

/ 05:45 AM January 26, 2017
National Democratic Front of the Philippines, NDFP, leader Jose Maria Sison delivers his speech during the formal opening of the Philippines peace talks in Rome, Thursday, Jan. 19, 2017. This is the third round of peace talks between the Philippine government and the communist National Democratic Front. During this latest round, the chairman of the government's peace panel, Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello is expected to sign the bilateral ceasefire agreement between the two parties. (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini)

National Democratic Front of the Philippines, NDFP, leader Jose Maria Sison delivers his speech during the formal opening of the Philippines peace talks in Rome, Thursday, Jan. 19, 2017. This is the third round of peace talks between the Philippine government and the communist National Democratic Front. During this latest round, the chairman of the government’s peace panel, Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello is expected to sign the bilateral ceasefire agreement between the two parties. (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini)

ROME—The Philippines wants Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) founding chairman Jose Maria “Joma” Sison removed from the United States’  terror list,  which would allow him to travel anywhere without fear of being arrested, chief negotiator and Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III said on Wednesday.

Sison’s removal from the list would be included in the joint statement that the government and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines, the rebels’ political wing, were expected to issue at the end of the third round of peace talks later Wednesday, Bello said.

“It is important for Joma to be able to go to the Philippines,” Bello said, adding that the government panel would communicate the request directly to Washington.  “We have our basis considering that he is in the peace talks.”

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Removing Sison from the list would allow him to travel anywhere without fear of being arrested while performing his duties as a consultant to the peace negotiations.  This includes returning to the Philippines after living in exile  in the Netherlands since 1987.

Chief communist negotiator Fidel Agcaoili said they welcomed the government move, but said the delisting should also include the CPP and its armed wing, the New People’s Army, which were included in the list in 2002.

The delisting would facilitate the meeting between President Duterte and Sison in a foreign, neutral country, Bello said, without giving specifics. —KARLOS MANLUPIG/ac

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