Police and military are mandated to "take necessary steps" to protect civilians from communist insurgency even as peace talks are being held in the Netherlands, a top government peace adviser said Friday.
"We don't have a ceasefire in place so if they conduct those acts, then the military and police must also act accordingly, respond to this to protect the civilians," presidential adviser on the peace process Jesus Dureza told ABS-CBN News.
The statement comes as 12 people were killed in an encounter between the military and communist rebels in General Nakar, Quezon Thursday, a day before communist rebels are expected to declare a ceasefire with the Philippine government.
Dureza said the government has been documenting "incidents on the ground" but declined to comment on how these would affect negotiations due to the sensitive nature of peace talks.
The crafting of a bilateral ceasefire agreement between the government and the Reds will be among the priorities in the next round of talks in the Netherlands, next month.
Duterte in February terminated the government’s peace talks with the communist rebels following clashes between government troops and communist fighters. The communist side’s repeated calls for the release of about 400 political prisoners was also blamed for the collapse of the talks.
But both camps resumed talks after Duterte revealed 'backchannel' talks.