Twelve 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.
Armed Forces spokesperson Major Gen. Restituto Padilla said about 30 New People's Army fighters clashed with elements of the 80th Infantry Batallion in Sitio Pahimuan, Barangay Lumutan about 2 P.M. Thursday. He added that the encounter was initiated by the military.
Padilla said two soldiers were killed and two more were wounded from their camp. Ten NPA fighters, including 2 women, were killed in the clash.
The wounded soldiers were evacuated to the Armed Forces of the Philippines Medical Center in Quezon City.
Operations are still ongoing, according to Padilla.
Peace negotiations broke down early February, with President Rodrigo Duterte even branding Reds as "terrorists." Duterte instructed the government panel to pull away from the negotiating table after several soldiers were brutally killed by New People's Army members last month.
After backchannel talks, both parties have decided to resume official peace talks in April in The Netherlands.
The Communist Party of the Philippines earlier said it will declare a ceasefire ahead of the resumption of the peace talks.
Speaking to ANC, Padilla said he thinks communist leaders may no longer have control over their ground troops.
"[Their] ground troops are now composed of very young blood who, perhaps, may be agitating to go against the senior leadership...This could also be a projection of strength," he said.
Padilla however assured that the military will continue to go after bandits despite the presence or absence of a ceasefire.
"We will continue to do our work. We will continue to go after these armed lawless elements and bandits," he said.