MANILA, Feb. 3 (Xinhua) -- Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte said on Friday that he has decided to lift the ceasefire with the communist rebels, ordering the government troops "to go back to (military) camps, clean your rifles, and be ready to fight."
Duterte said that he has ordered Gen. Eduardo Ano, the chief of staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, on Thursday night to terminate the ceasefire effective Friday night.
"(I made the decision) last night. I called Gen. Ano and decided to lift the ceasefire tonight. No more ceasefire." Duterte said in a speech in North Cotabato.
He said the government has lost "so many soldiers in 48 hours" rendering the truce useless anyway.
"To continue the ceasefire, we will not produce anything. Therefore I am asking the soldiers: Go back to your camps, clean your rifles, and be ready to fight," he said. "I am sorry but that is how it is."
"Sorry. I would like to express my sadness. I tried my best but my best wasn't good enough," he said, apologizing for his decision to scarp the truce. "I went out of my way, walked the extra mile, just to look for an opening where I can find peace for my country."
Duterte's statement came barely three days after the Communist Party of the Philippines announced that it is ending its unilateral truce with the government effective on Feb. 10, saying the Duterte administration failed to heed its demand to free some 400 political prisoners as part of the ongoing peace talks with the government.
The rebel group also accused the Philippine military of taking advantage of the truce situation to encroach on areas controlled by the rebels.
Duterte said he could not release all the prisoners.
It was not clear if the ongoing peace talk with communist rebels will continue at this point after announcing his decision to scrap the truce.
Like the previous governments, the Duterte administration also wants to seal a peace deal with all rebel groups in the Philippines, including the communist and Muslim rebels.
Since 1986, the governments have been trying to reach a peace deal with the communist rebels but failed to make any headway. The communist rebellion began in 1969 and reached its peak in 1987 when it boasted 26,000 armed guerrillas.
However, the movement has since dwindled due to differences in strategy and tactics and the arrests of many of its top leaders in the late 1980s. At present the military estimates the communist armed rebels at around 4,000.