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Government won’t remove CPP-NPA terror tag

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The Duterte administration will withdraw the court petition seeking to declare the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and New People’s Army (NPA) as terrorist groups only when a peace agreement is signed, Malacañang said yesterday. Last November, Duterte scrapped the talks with the communists, accusing them of bad faith by attacking security forces and civilians while negotiations were ongoing and about 600 persons, including communist peace consultants, were declared as terrorists. Now Duterte has authorized the resumption of peace talks subject to certain conditions like the forging of a ceasefire agreement and stopping the collection of the so-called revolutionary tax. Meantime, CPP founding chairman Jose Ma. Sison, on the other hand, said they are willing to return to the negotiating table and “to meet as soon as possible” but said both sides should “bring different positions on issues to the table in order to thresh out the differences and arrive at agreements.” Roque said the President is also willing to grant Sison an assurance that he can come home without being arrested so he can join the negotiations, and said former Pangasinan representative Hernani Braganza has been instructed to meet with communist negotiators to relay the information to them. If the talks resume, communist peace consultants would again enjoy immunity from arrest, Roque added. However, security operations against the rebels would continue until a ceasefire deal is forged. The government peace panel is set to reconvene today to discuss preparations for the resumption of peace negotiations with the communist rebels. 

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