MANILA (Reuters) – The Philippines wants U.S. President Donald
Trump to remove the exiled leader of Philippine communists from a
U.S. terrorist list to enable him to come home for peace talks,
government negotiators said on Wednesday.
Maoist-led rebels have waged an insurgency against Philippine
governments for nearly five decades and at least 40,000 people
have been killed.
But talks on ending the war have been revived under President
Rodrigo Duterte, who came to power last year calling for peace
efforts in the interests of economic development.
Jose Maria Sison, the founder and leader of the Communist Party
of the Philippines, has lived in the Netherlands for three
decades. He was put on a U.S. terrorist list in 2002, which
prevents him from traveling.
The government’s chief peace negotiator, Silvestre Bello, said
Trump would be asked to remove Sison from the list.
“The government of the Philippines will recommend to the
president the de-listing of Communist Party of the Philippines
founding chair … Sison from the list of international
terrorists to pave the way for his Philippine homecoming without
being arrested,” Bello and his team said in a statement.
Duterte and Sison have agreed to meet in any neutral Asian
country once Sison has been removed from the list. But Bello said
the talks could be held in the Philippines.
The communists’ 3,000-strong armed wing, the New People’s Army,
operates mainly in the east and south of the Philippines.
(Reporting by Neil Jerome Morales; Editing by Robert Birsel)