MANILA, Philippines – The Philippine defense chief has rejected a demand by communist guerrillas for government troops to withdraw from rebel-influenced communities in the countryside for the insurgents to extend a monthslong cease-fire.
Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said Tuesday that troops would continue to be deployed in all rural areas where they have to suppress lawlessness and added that the New People's Army guerrillas cannot claim any part of the country as their territory.
Lorenzana, citing the president, told the rebels: "You don't have any area. This is the Republic of the Philippines."
The rebels warned Duterte last week that they may be forced to end their cease-fire and resume fighting if he doesn't suspend the government's counterinsurgency program and withdraw troops from rebel-influenced areas.