Philippines resumes assaults on rebels after talks scrapped
MANILA – The Associated PressPhilippine troops have resumed assaults against communist rebels, killing at least one guerrilla, after President Rodrigo Duterte scrapped peace talks with the insurgents, military officials said on Feb. 6.
Duterte on Feb. 3 lifted the government’s six-month-old cease-fire with the rebels and said Feb. 4 he was discarding the talks brokered by Norway. Those moves came after the Marxist guerrillas abandoned their own truce and killed six soldiers and kidnapped two others in new flare-ups in the 48-year insurgency.
The government and the rebels separately declared cease-fires last year to foster the peace talks, which progressed steadily for months before rapidly deteriorating in recent weeks.
On Feb. 6, rebel adviser Luis Jalandoni accused the military of violating the government’s cease-fire by deploying troops in 500 villages across the country, occupying village halls and schools, and continuing surveillance operations that he said inevitably led to clashes.
The guerrillas want to continue with talks set for Feb. 22-25 in Europe to negotiate a possible joint cease-fire agreement, Jalandoni said, adding the government has not issued the formal notice required to terminate the talks.
“We’re saying the peace talks are still possible in the absence of a cease-fire,” Jalandoni told radio DZMM by telephone from Europe.
Troops have resumed combat operations after Duterte lifted the cease-fire, military spokesman Col. Edgard Arevalo said. The operations were in response to complaints from villagers of rebel extortion and efforts to rescue the kidnapped soldiers, he said.
Army troops clashed with about 20 New People’s Army guerrillas on Feb. 5 in Occidental Mindoro province south of Manila, killing one rebel, and on Feb. 4, troops and policemen arrested a rebel couple in Misamis Occidental province in the south for a multiple attempted murder case, the military said. At least three other combat operations were staged elsewhere.