MOVES FOR JOMA EXTRADITION HALTED

Manila, Feb. 12, 2003 (Malaya) -- The government will no longer push for the extradition of communist leader Jose Ma. Sison from the Netherlands, Foreign Affairs Secretary Blas Ople said yesterday.

Ople told Dutch Ambassador Theo Arnold during a meeting at the DFA office that the primary concern of the government is to convince Sison and allies to go back to the negotiating table and sign a final peace agreement.

"We want Sison to enter the new talks in good faith, we want him to accept a final peace offer under the conditions of a general and absolute amnesty," he said.

The Netherlands earlier pledged to bring Sison to the bar of justice.

Dutch Foreign Minister Atzo Nicolai earlier said even the Dutch public "is losing interest in Mr. Sison's antics."

They also offered their cooperation in serving the ends of justice and the rule of law with regard to crimes committed by Sison.

State Prosecutor Melvin Abad said the government plans to issue a subpoena to Sison in connection with his alleged involvement in the murder of Cagayan Rep. Rodolfo Aguinaldo in 2001.

He said a subpoena could serve as a strong ground to deport Sison, since the Philippines has no extradition treaty with Netherlands.

"We'll be getting in touch with the DFA on how they can help us send the subpoena," he said.

Abad said a request to surrender Sison is "an option" the Justice Department can take to start formal negotiations for Sison's extradition to the Philippines.

Aguinaldo, a former con-gressman, was gunned down June 12, 2001 in Tuguegarao.

The NPA's Cagayan Valley Regional Committee admitted it carried out the killing on orders of Sison. (By MARILOU JUMILLA, with Toteng Tanglao)


Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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