Philippines gov't expresses disappointment on rebels' cancelation of truce

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The Philippine government expressed disappointment on Wednesday that the rebels have decided to terminate its unilateral ceasefire by February 10.

"We are dismayed with the announcement (but) we respect their decision," said presidential peace adviser Jesus Dureza in a statement.

The Communist Party of the Philippines announced on Wednesday that it has decided to end the truce, saying President Rodrigo Duterte did not keep his promise to release some 200 political prisoners.

Moreover, the party also accused the Philippine military of taking advantage of the truce situation to encroach on areas controlled by the rebels.

The rebels declared a ceasefire in August last year to pave the way for the revival of the stalled peace talks with government.

"This cancellation came just after some progress we made in the third round of peace talks in Rome where negotiating panels from both sides agree to further discuss a bilateral ceasefire in the Netherlands sometimes by end of this month," Dureza said.

Dureza said that he would recommend to Duterte to "maintain and uphold the unilateral ceasefire to sustain the peace in the communities."

"This will provide an enabling and conducive environment to the ongoing peace talks," he said. "What is important is that we all stay the course."

He added he would also recommend to Duterte that government troops "continue to be relentless in their campaign to protect the civilians from harm and terrorism."

Meantime, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said the government will continue to enforces the government unilateral ceasefire.

"Our troops will not actively operate against the (New People's Army) while our ceasefire is in effect," he said.

However, he stressed that the military would continue to pursue lawless elements who would attempt to undermine the country's peace and order.

Lorenzana also accused the rebels of having not stopped "extorting under the guise of their so-called revolutionary taxation, going on recruiting, burning buses and equipment, ambushing and kidnapping soldiers." Endit

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