Philippine Army: 8 Communist Rebels, Soldier Killed in Clash

Dennis Santos
Davao City, Philippines
170712-PH-communist-620.jpg Communist New People’s Army guerrillas gather at an undisclosed village in the southern Philippines, Dec. 26, 2014.
Dennis Santos/BenarNews

Eight New People’s Army (NPA) guerrillas and a soldier were killed in an early morning clash in the southern Philippines on Wednesday, days after President Rodrigo Duterte hinted at a possible resumption of stalled peace negotiations with the communist insurgents.

Patrolling troops encountered the rebels near the town of Laak in Compostela Valley province, 1,400 km (875 miles) south of Manila, the Philippine capital, Army Capt. Alexander Cabales said. The guerrillas later fled and left behind the bodies of eight of their comrades, while a soldier died, he said.

The rebel outfit was the same group the soldiers engaged in a firefight two days earlier in the adjacent town of Monkayo, Cabales said. The group apparently was on a mission to “conduct tactical offensives” ahead of Duterte’s annual address to Congress.

The clash is not linked to ongoing battles with Islamic State-linked rebels in Marawi city on Mindanao island.

State of the nation

Duterte is to deliver his annual state of the nation report on July 24, during which he is expected to speak about his government’s accomplishments since he took office last year.

The NPA is the armed unit of the banned Communist Party of the Philippines, touted as the longest-running insurgency in Asia.

The rebels have been waging a guerrilla war to establish a Maoist government since 1969. An estimated 43,000 soldiers, rebels and civilians have been killed in the fighting.

Duterte, who once was a student of self-exiled communist party founder Jose Maria Sison, reopened peace talks with the rebels after years of being suspended. But the negotiations were later stalled amid a series of attacks by the rebels.

Duterte’s government also arrested at least two ranking communist rebels this year, even as both sides were working to jumpstart a resumption of negotiations by August.

The president last week said he was prepared to again sit down with the rebels, but called on the guerrilla leaders to be sincere.

It was not clear how Wednesday’s violence would affect the resumption of negotiations.


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