Four policemen were killed in an ambush by communist rebels in Negros Oriental province in the central Philippines, the national police said Friday.
The officers were ambushed in the town of Ayungon shortly after noon on Thursday, said Gen. Oscar Albayalde, the chief of national police.
“The Philippine National Police mourns the loss of four young police officers who were treacherously murdered in Negros Oriental on Thursday by the local minions of Utrecht-based communist New People’s Army chair Jose Maria Sison,” Albayalde said in a statement.
The slain policemen belonged to the 704 Mobile Force Company of the regional mobile force battalion, he said.
“We assure the bereaved families of all available assistance that the government can extend if only to ease their suffering over this tragic loss,” he added.
Both the military and police have launched pursuit operations against the NPA suspects, who also allegedly looted the slain cops of their valuables, including firearms and drove off with the victims’ guns and motorcycles, Albayalde said.
The NPA is the armed unit of the Communist Party of the Philippines, which has been waging one of Asia’s longest running insurgencies since 1969. The rebellion has stunted the growth of many far-flung areas of the country, but efforts to end it have been futile.
Self-styled leftist President Rodrigo Duterte had invited Sison, his one-time university professor, to the peace table when he took office three years ago. But the early attempts at peace soon unraveled, with the government accusing the NPA of carrying on with their attacks on government targets in the countryside.
“For the nth time, the CPP-NPA has shown its insincerity to forge a peace agreement with government by continuing to wage its campaign of terror and oppression against the peasants, and tribal communities in the countryside,” Albayalde said.
At the same time, he called on all NPA fighters in the field to sever ties and withdraw support for their Europe-based leader, and embrace localized peace talks led by the police and the church.