MANILA—Department of National Defense (DND) Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said the defense and military establishments have no problem with calls to remove the name of National Democratic Front (NDF) political consultant Jose Maria Sison from the United States’ list of terrorists.
“As far as I am concerned, the defense department or the Armed Forces of the Philippines, has no problem with the delisting of (Sison) as head of terrorist organization,” he added.
Lorenzana said it is only natural as the government is now talking with the insurgents as part of the efforts to restore peace in the countryside.
However, he stressed that Sison’s removal from the US terror list, despite Philippine request, is still the prerogative of the US government.
“It’s up to the US on whether they would heed our request. That’s actually their prerogative to delist or not delist people in their list who are terrorists,” the DND chief said.
A joint statement to be issued at the end of the third round of formal talks between the NDF and government negotiators in Rome included a request to US government to take out the name of Sison from its list of terrorists.
“We have a basis (for such request), considering he is in the process, the peace talks, which negates the character of a terrorist,” government lead negotiator Silvestre Bello III said.