ZAMBOANGA CITY: A member of the Citizens Armed Forces Geographical Unit (Cafgu) was killed while four others were wounded in an ambush carried out by communist insurgents on Wednesday in Davao del Norte.
Officials said the attack in Kapalong town happened two days after President Rodrigo Duterte declared a unilateral ceasefire with the New People’s Army (NPA) to pave the way for planned peace talks between the government and local communists.
The five Cafgu militiamen were under the control of the Philippine Army’s 72nd Infantry Battalion (IB).
There was no immediate statement from the NPA on the ambush but more attacks are expected against security forces because the rebels have not reciprocated the Duterte ceasefire call.
Earlier, though, the communist insurgents welcomed the President’s gesture ahead of the scheduled peace negotiations in Oslo, Norway, that were moved from July to August.
The ceasefire prevented troops from pursuing or launching an assault on the NPA, which has been fighting for more than four decades for the establishment of a Maoist state in the country.
Duterte announced the ceasefire during his State of the Nation Address (SONA) on July 25.
He said the ceasefire with the rebels was meant to “immediately stop violence on the ground, restore peace in the communities, and provide enabling environment conducive to the resumption of the peace talks.”
The President urged the rebels to end years of ambuscades and skirmishes, which he said were getting bloodier by the day.
“Let me make this appeal to you, if we cannot accept, love one another, then in God’s name, let us not hate each other too much,” Duterte aired the call in his SONA.
Presidential peace adviser Jesus Dureza said the resumption of the talks is expected to begin on August 20, with Norway brokering the negotiations.
Duterte earlier ordered the Department of Justice and the Department of Foreign Affairs to do everything within their power and authority to temporarily release from prison some communist personalities who will travel and participate in the Oslo talks.