Philippines forces merge in crackdown

The president of the Philippines has ordered the police and the military to combine forces to finish off the country's 37-year-old communist insurgency.

    Arroyo said she wanted to end 'revolutionary taxation'

    In a speech at the national police headquarters on Wednesday, Gloria Macapagal Arroyo said she would soon sign an executive order designed to create a police and military "partnership in the battle against the left".

     

    Last month, Arroyo announced a campaign against the communists backed by millions of dollars to buy helicopters and other equipment.

     

    "As we run to ground the armed core of the terrorist left, we will erase the fear they want to instil in our people and we will defeat their objectives through nation-building,"

     Arroyo said.

     

    She also said that the police and the military would end the "revolutionary taxation" levied by communist fighters and protect those who refuse to pay.

     

    "Butcher of democracy"

     

    On Tuesday, Arroyo's spokesman, Ignacio Bunye, dismissed communist calls to resume peace talks, saying they must first agree to a cease-fire.

     

    The communists broke off Norwegian-negotiated talks two years ago to protest against the government's refusal to lobby for their removal from US and European terror lists.

     

    The National Democratic Front, which represented the fighters in the negotiations, has called for the talks to resume and for the end of a government crackdown on left-wing groups.

     

    More than 600 activists and supporters have been killed and more than 170 others have gone missing since 2001, the group said.

     

    "Unless the Arroyo regime wants to continue to be known as the butcher of democracy and political activists, it must issue an order to its military, police and paramilitary forces to cease and desist from these atrocities," the group said in a statement.

     

    The communists say they will not sign a cease-fire before agreeing a political settlement.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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