MANILA – Fourteen communist rebels died in two clashes with the Philippine Army in southern parts of the Philippine capital, military sources reported on Wednesday, days after the government confirmed peace negotiations with the guerrillas had been called off.
The clashes took place on Tuesday in Nasugbu in Batangas province, around 60 kilometers (37.2 miles) from Manila and five soldiers were injured and at least two insurgents, army spokesperson Restituto Padilla told EFE.
According to local police, authorities detected the presence of several guerrillas of the New People’s Army (NPA), the armed wing of the banned Communist Party of the Philippines, considered a terrorist organization by the United States and the European Union.
The rebels were surprised by an army unit that opened fire, which initiated exchanges of fire at two different points in the town.
The army recovered 12 large caliber firearms from the NPA guerrillas, Padilla said.
The clash occurred after Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte signed a statement on Nov. 24 officially ending the peace process, which had been stagnant for months, between the government and the representatives of the Communist Party and the NPA.
This came after two recent attacks by the NPA in which a soldier, a policeman and a four-year-old boy died while several civilians were wounded.
The conflict between the Philippine state and the Maoist guerrillas – which has some 6,000 active fighters and finances itself through extortion of local people in rural areas – has left at least 30,000 dead in more than four and a half decades.
Under the mandate of Duterte, which started on June 30, 2016, a ceasefire was signed in August 2016 that lasted until the beginning of February this year, when the communists decided to breach it unilaterally.
On Nov. 3, the Philippine Communist Party rejected a new offer from the government for peace talks, as well as the proposal to re-integrate part of the rebels in the society by providing them with housing and work in exchange for their surrender.