THE government will ask the United States to remove Communist Party of the Philippines founding chairman Jose Maria Sison from its list of international terrorists to pave the way for his return to the Philippines without being arrested, an official said Wednesday.
Labor Secretary and government chief negotiator Silvestre Bello III said the delisting of the CPP from the US list of international terrorist organizations would allow Sison to keep his promise to Duterte to return to the Philippines as part of the ongoing peace negotiations.
As an asylum seeker in The Netherlands, Sison could be barred from reentering Europe once he travels outside the continent.
“Maybe the talks can be held in the Philippines because we are trying to get support from the people,” Bello, who is in Rome for the ongoing peace talks, said in a statement.
The US, through its control of the International Police, can always have Sison arrested outside the EU, which protects the rights of people seeking political asylum in its member countries.
Sison, whose inclusion in the US terrorist list has become a stumbling block for his return, has been living in Utrecht after the Philippine government under President Corazon Aquino canceled his passport in 1987.
Duterte and Sison had earlier agreed to meet in any neutral Asian country once Sison was removed from the list of international terrorists.
The European Union had long ago taken Sison out of its terrorist list.
Bello said with new US President Donald Trump, Sison could be removed from the list of personalities considered by the American government as terrorists.
Meanwhile, Bello said the government and the NDF had agreed to separately discuss the joint bilateral ceasefire when both negotiating panels meet in February in time for the depositing of identification documents of rebel leaders who are to be covered by the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantee.
He said the meeting for the bilateral ceasefire will be held in Utrecht.
NDF chief negotiator Fidel Agcaoili said they will study the draft government proposal and submit their own draft.
A joint bilateral ceasefire can be reached and signed on or before the fourth round of negotiations set for April in Oslo, according to both panels.
The negotiating panels agreed to expand the agenda of the February special meeting after intense back-channeling by panel members from both sides, and after the NDF initially declined to include the bilateral ceasefire in the agenda of the third round of talks.
The names and proper identification of a sealed document that will contain the names of 87 NDF leaders who will be immune from government arrests will also be deposited in a Netherlands bank to replace the Jasig list reconstituted last year.