4 cops killed by NPA rebels in Negros Oriental – PNP

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, July 19) — Four police officers were killed by armed communist rebels in an ambush in Negros Oriental on Thursday, the Philippine National Police (PNP) said Friday.

The PNP in a statement said members of the New People's Army (NPA) attacked the police at Sitio Yamot, Barangay Mabato in Ayungon town at around 2:30 p.m. on Thursday. The victims were identified as PCpl. Relebert Beronio, Pat. Raffy Callo, Pat. Roel Cabellon, and Pat. Marquino de Leon.

"Still not satisfied with the blood of their prey, the terrorists also looted the dead of their firearms, valuables and personal belongings, and drove off with the victims’ motorcycles," the PNP said. The NPA, armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP), is being tagged by the government as terrorists but the motion to formalize it is pending before the court.

The PNP said pursuit operations are ongoing against the NPA rebels in Negros Oriental.

"We assure the bereaved families of all available assistance that government can extend if only to ease their suffering over this tragic loss," the PNP said as it expressed its condolences to the victims' loved ones.

The PNP said the latest attack shows the rebels' lack of sincerity in talking peace with the government.

President Rodrigo Duterte walked away from on-off peace negotiations with the rebels in November 2017 as both sides accused each other of ceasefire violations.

The talks were supposed to resume in June 2018, but Duterte had it postponed for a supposed review of all previous agreements with the rebels. The administration has since pushed for a policy whereby local government officials will talk peace with rebels, an idea that the CPP has repeatedly rejected.

The PNP on Friday called on NPA rebels to participate in localized peace talks and leave the CPP, the largest communist organization in the country which has waged a five-decade insurgency. The government has offered houses and livelihood assistance to surrenderees.