MANILA (UPDATE) - A Palace official on Saturday condemned as "reprehensible" an attack allegedly carried out by communist rebels in Eastern Samar on Friday, where 3 were killed and 14 others, including children, were injured.
This as the Commission on Human Rights said it would investigate the incident, calling it "a direct violation of the international humanitarian law."
"The loss of life and the violence experienced by the victims are reprehensible," Communications Secretary and National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-Elcac) chief Martin Andanar said in a statement.
"We can only imagine the grief of their loved ones who would have spent the Christmas season with them in good health, had it not been for the senseless act of these terrorists," he said.
A police officer and a woman were killed in the ambush on a police mobile in Brgy. Libuton, Borongan City. Another police officer was hurt, along with 3 children.
The incident attributed to the New People's Army, the communist movement's armed wing, happened just days after President Rodrigo Duterte declared the government's willingness to resume peace talks with the rebels.
The CHR said it would conduct an independent investigation on the case.
"We denounce such act of deliberate and arbitrary killing by the armed opposition group as the use of disproportionate and indiscriminate force in armed conflicts is a direct violation of the international humanitarian law," CHR Spokesperson Jacqueline Ann de Guia said.
"The continuing hostilities in different parts of the country demands a long-term and durable solution to genuinely address this cycle of violence," she said.
Andanar, meanwhile, said the government would "continue its fight against terrorism and insurgency for the safety and security of all Filipinos."
His statement was, however, silent on how the recent attack would affect the Duterte administration's efforts to restart dialogue with the communist rebels.
Last week, Duterte ordered Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III to travel to Europe to speak with Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) founding chairman Jose Maria Sison, who has been in self-exile in the Netherlands for decades.
"He (Bello) should go there, talk to them, I cannot talk about it," the President earlier told reporters.
"This is my last card and when I say my last card, my time is running out," he said.
Duterte announced the "permanent termination" of peace talks in March after a spate of rebel attacks amid a supposed ceasefire between state troops and the communist party.