Is the Philippine ready to launch another fierce battle with a revolutionary organization after crushing at least 800 ISIS-linked terrorists in the five-month-long battle in Marawi City?
The Philippine military and Southeast Asia's oldest insurgency group are on the brink of war as President Rodrigo Duterte is calling off the peace negotiations with the New People's Army (NPA) after the latter kept on harassing security forces that even caused the death of a 4-month infant, who was hit by a stray bullet from the NPA side in the province of Bukidnon.
Around 20 advisers from the Maoist rebels side were conditionally released from jail to take part in the negotiation process with the Philippine government. But as reports on NPA attacks continue to rise, Duterte called on these consultants to surrender as warrants of arrest are waiting for them.
Adding fuel to the strained relations, Duterte also publicly announced that he is now considering the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) a terrorist group, as he appealed to the CPP leaders to surrender or face punitive actions from the government.
The Duterte government gave communist leaders conditional release as a sign of government's sincerity to negotiate with communist rebels to lay down their arms. However, it turned out that communist rebels became aggressive in their attacks against government detachments.
Moreover, Duterte also signed a Presidential decree that will already terminate the peace talks with the National Democratic Front (NDP), the political organization of the NPA communist guerrillas.
With no early signs of reconciliation, the Philippine government might use military response to suppress the rising armed struggle of the NPA and according to Philippine military spokesperson General Restituto Padilla, the military is prepared to defend a community when NPA guerrillas resume their harassment and attacks on communities.
The Philippine government has also acquired new military aerial and marine assets from US, Japan, China and Israel to battle different types of insurgencies and terror groups in the Philippines. If tensions between the Philippine military and guerrillas is not diffused, these newly-acquired weapons shall be put to test against them.
But with the Philippine government needing at least 30 billion pesos to rehabilitate Marawi, many anti-war advocates are calling both sides that the Philippines could not afford another war after schools, houses, shops, communities were destroyed.
Duterte warned the NPA guerrillas that if peace is not attained, rebels have to prepare for war for another 50 years.