‘No truce if Reds pursue kill-spree’

PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte on Thursday warned communist rebels that he would call off a unilateral ceasefire unless they explained why they ambushed a group of militiamen in Kapalong, Davao del Norte, less than a week after his first State of the Nation Address.

"If you do not honor and you kill a single soldier, a single cop or a soldier of the republic, let's forget these ceasefire. We will fight," said Duterte, who used his Sona to declare a truce with the communists.

"Just before I came out, there were Cafgu (Citizen Armed Force Geographical Unit) that were ambushed. I called up one of their congressmen [aligned with the communists] are you in to this truce or are we not? Give me an answer tonight because if not, I will remove the unilateral ceasefire. We will return to fighting," Duterte told troops at his visit to Camp Nakar in Lucena, Quezon province.

President Rodrigo Duterte

"I am demanding an explanation from the Communist Party of the Philippines, and just like us, if we have men that need to get punished, we punish our men. I expect the same, and I demand an answer [and] whoever is liable must be put [disciplined]."

A Cafgu member and four others were wounded during an ambush early Wednesday morning in Barangay Gupitan, Kapalong, Davao del Norte, Capt. Rhyan Batchar, chief information officer of the 10th Infantry Division, said.

He did not identify the militiaman nor the four others wounded in the attack.

"This is a clear disregard by the NPAs [New People's Army] to the declaration of a unilateral ceasefire by President Duterte," Batchar said.

In line with the declaration of a unilateral ceasefire, many Cafgu members were ordered to pull out from their positions in the mountains and were asked to return to their bases.

The NPA, however, ambushed the militiamen before they could return to base, Batchar said.

In his Sona Monday, Duterte declared a unilateral ceasefire with the communist rebels, calling for an "end to the violence on the ground" and an environment conducive to the resumption of peace talks.

He also urged the communist leaders to "end these decades of ambuscades and bloody skirmishes."

The Communist Party of the Philippines-National Democratic Front had earlier welcomed the President's announcement for ceasefire, and vowed to reciprocate the actions.

Both sides are scheduled to return to the negotiating table in Oslo, Norway, on Aug. 20.

A source, who asked not to be named on Wednesday night confirmed that the President has ordered the military not to jeopardize the implementation of the unilateral ceasefire that he declared with the communist rebels, which took effect July 25.

The military said, however, that it would retaliate against any attacks on soldiers of communities.

"Commanders must clearly understand the strategic implications of any actions so as not to jeopardize the implementation of the [ceasefire] and more importantly, the realization of the President's intent for a lasting agreement with the CPP," part of the documents obtained by the Manila Standard from a source, read.

"In cases of actual NPA violent attacks, the AFP shall treat the incidents as law enforcement operations in coordination with the PNP and immediate use of military force to repel and defeat the attack is authorized," the instructions from Chief of Staff Gen. Ricardo Visaya read.

Source: The Standard