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Communist rebels in Philippines say they’ll end cease-fire

MANILA — Communist rebels engaged in peace talks with the Philippine government said Wednesday that they were ending a six-month cease-fire, accusing the armed forces of “encroaching” on rebel territory and the government of reneging on a promise to release jailed comrades.

The cease-fire has been credited with curbing the violence from 40 years of a rebellion that has left vast areas of the countryside mired in poverty and has killed at least 35,000 soldiers, rebels, and civilians.

In a statement, the New People’s Army, the armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines, said the cease-fire “shall effectively expire on 11:59 p.m. of February 10.”

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The rebels blamed what they called President Rodrigo Duterte’s failure to comply with the government’s “obligation” to release all political prisoners by October last year.

They also said Manila had “treacherously taken advantage” of the cease-fire to encroach on territory the rebels considered part of their sphere of influence.

The announcement comes after a clash last month that resulted in the deaths of eight soldiers and one rebel.

Jesus Dureza, a presidential adviser on the peace talks, blamed the rebels for the breakdown of the cease-fire, saying they had stepped up attacks around the country.

Dureza credited the cease-fire with making “small but significant steps for sustainable peace in the land.”

“We do not wish to unnecessarily squander those gains that even saw President Duterte exercising strong political will to move the peace process forward,” he added.

The Communist Party of the Philippines began its rebellion in 1968.

New York Times