The Philippine government under President Benigno Aquino is apparently no longer considering the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and its military arm, the New People’s Army (NPA), as terrorist organizations.

In a statement posted in its rebel website, National Democratic Front (NDF) spokesperson Luis Jalandoni said they “welcome the declaration of the GPH that the CPP, NPA and NDFP are not terrorist organizations and therefore peace negotiations with us are possible and appropriate.”

The NDF is the political umbrella of underground rebel organizations associated with the communists.

In 2004, the CPP-NPA-NDF quit the peace negotiations following the refusal of then President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo to lobby for the removal of the terrorist tag labeled against them by the United States.

The United States and the European Union earlier branded the CPP-NPA-NDF as terrorist organizations, placing them in the same category as the Abu Sayyaf Group, a homegrown fundamentalist group with strong ties to the Osama bin Laden’s Al Qaeda group.

Jalandoni issued the statement at the close of the formal resumption of the peace negotiations between the Philippine government and the NDF in Oslo, Norway on Monday.

Jalandoni, however, said the ongoing peace negotiations still have a long way to go before the two panels could agree to a negotiated political settlement.

Peace talks between the Philippine government and the communist rebels have been on and during the terms of four presidents starting with the late former President Corazon Aquino.

In December last year, however, both peace panels met for the first time in six years to explore the possibility of reviving the peace negotiations.

On February 15 to 21, negotiators from both sides met in Norway and agreed to create working committees and working groups to tackle social and economic reforms as well as political and constitutional reforms and express optimism a peace deal could be achieved in 18 months.

The government panel was headed by human rights lawyer and former anti-Marcos activist Alexander Padilla who also reported progress in the ongoing talks.

Both Padilla and Jalandoni also said they are considering longer ceasefire periods when the two panels are in formal talks.

Both panels also agree to meet once every two month to tackle agenda agreed during the recently concluded Oslo talks.

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