MANILA, March 20 (Xinhua) -- Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has dissolved the government panel negotiating peace with the leftist rebels, driving another nail into the coffin of peace talks between the Duterte administration and the insurgents.
The panel was chaired by Philippine Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello. In letters addressed to Bello and the four panel members dated March 18, the Office of the President said their appointments are now terminated since Duterte already ordered the scrapping of the talks in November 2017.
The letters, signed by Philippine Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea, said "by order of the president", the termination of their designation is "effective immediately".
"To ensure uninterrupted delivery of public service, you are hereby directed to turn over all official documents, papers and properties in your possession to the Office of the Presidential Adviser on Peace, Reconciliation and Unity," the letter read.
In November 2017, Duterte formally terminated the government's peace negotiation with leftist rebels. He said the leftist rebels "failed to show its sincerity and commitment in pursuing genuine and meaningful peace negotiations as its engaged in acts of violence and hostilities."
The leftist rebels have been trying to overthrow the government since 1969. The conflict peaked in the 1980s, under the repressive government of Ferdinand Marcos.
However, military operation coupled with an internal split crippled the underground organization. The number of guerrillas dwindled from 26,000 in the mid-1980s to less than 4,000, according to military estimates.
The military still considers the rebel forces a threat to national security, adding that an "all-out war" is necessary to deal a fatal blow to the rebels who refused to talk peace with the Duterte administration.