Philippine military chief orders troops to crush leftist rebels
MANILA, Nov. 26 (Xinhua) -- The chief of staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines ordered the troops on Sunday to crush the leftist rebels that continue to wage war against the government.
"My directive to the troops is to intensify our focused military operations to destroy the New People's Army (NPA), and to protect our communities against terrorism," Gen. Rey Leonardo Guerrero said.
The chief of staff said the military expected the NPA rebels to intensify their attacks in the wake of the government's decision to terminate the peace talks to end one of Asia's longest leftist insurgencies.
Specifically, Guerrero said he expected more NPA attacks "against innocent and defenceless targets," referring to civilians.
The leftist rebels have been fighting for nearly 49 years.
About 3,800 NPA armed men continue to fight, mainly in the poorest provinces of the Philippines.
Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte suspended talks with the rebels last week after a series of renewed attacks against troops and civilians by the leftist insurgents.
Duterte said his administration will go after those members of the leftist organizations that are acting as fronts of the rebels. He also warned to arrest business establishments that are giving money to the rebels.
Military spokesman Maj. Gen. Restituto Padilla said the country has witnessed an increase in rebels' atrocities even before the cancellation of the talks.
"There have been an increase of violent activities, particularly attacks on police stations and outlying detachments, particularly those manned by Cafgus," Padilla told reporters, referring to militia men.
Since 1986, the Philippine government has been trying to reach a peace deal with the leftist rebels but failed to make any headway.
The rebellion in the Philippines began in 1969 and reached its peak in 1987 when it boasted 26,000 armed guerrillas.
However, the movement has since dwindled due to differences in strategy and tactics and the arrests of many of its top leaders in the late 1980s.
Peace negotiations with the rebels were suspended in 2011.
The Duterte administration revived the talks with the rebels in August last year. But the talks have since bogged down due to a series of attacks launched by the rebels against troops and civilians.