Manila - The United States will not remove the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and the New People's Army (NPA) from its list of foreign terrorist organisations even though this may complicate peace talks.
The Philippine government hopes to restart peace talks with the rebels’ political arm, the National Democratic Front (NDF).
Talks with the rebels have been put on hold since last year, after the US renewed the inclusion of the CCP and the NPA and exiled communist rebel leader Jose Ma Sison on its list of foreign terrorist organisations.
The NDF has demanded that the government make representations before the US and European Union for the list to be amended.
However, US Ambassador Francis Ricciardone said on Feb 3 that Washington could not simply remove the groups from the list.
“This is not an issue of labels for us," he said. "This is an issue of identity. When an organisation kills and boasts about killing and threatens to kill, and burns capital investments and livelihood for people... when it murders mayors and soldiers of your country who are delivering disaster relief, that is terrorism."
The CPP and NPA are still engaged in terrorist activities and are known around the world as terrorists, he added.
Mr Ricciardone said the US government supports Manila’s efforts to talk peace with the CPP-NPA, but their removal from the list of foreign terrorist groups at this time is out of the question.
"What the US says or doesn't say or what the EU says or doesn't say is not going to change the fact that an organisation that keeps on destroying livelihoods and kills people are murderers," he said.
Washington’s insistence on keeping the Philippine Reds on its list of foreign terrorist organisations will not affect Manila’s desire to push for a peace pact, said President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyoon Feb 4.
"We continue to ask for peace, to keep the doors open for peace, in fact we're proposing a ceasefire, but it takes two to tango," the President said.
* US keeps CPP-NPA on int'l terror list (The Philippine Star, Feb 4)
* Gov't offers ceasefire to Reds for resumption of peace talks (Inquirer News Service, Feb 5)