Philippine military spurns talks

The Philippine army chief has ruled out peace talks with communist rebels, indicating that the government focus was on a military solution to the insurgency.

    Troops and heavily militarised police will be used against rebels

    Lieutenant-General Hermogenes Esperon, commander of the 70,000-member ground forces, said the military was ready to do battle with fighters of the New People's Army (NPA) and was also
    focusing on development work in poor rural villages to check the expansion of rebel influence.

    "We'll fight them and the plans are laid out," Esperon said in an interview at an army fortress near Manila's business district.

    "The president has decided that we do not go on peace talks with them. They take advantage of the democratic space. They take advantage of the security and immunity guarantees. They roam and propagandise, arouse, organise and mobilise."

    The Philippines, Washington's closest security ally in Southeast Asia, estimates that the NPA membership at 7,000, down from a peak of more than 25,000 in the mid-1980s.

    The insurgency is active in 69 of 79 provinces and the government says it has stunted rural development through violence and "revolutionary war taxes".

    SOURCE: Reuters


    Meet the deported nurse aiding asylum seekers at US-Mexico border

    Meet the deported nurse helping refugees at the border

    Francisco 'Panchito' Olachea drives a beat-up ambulance around Nogales, taking care of those trying to get to the US.

    The rise of Pakistan's 'burger' generation

    The rise of Pakistan's 'burger' generation

    How a homegrown burger joint pioneered a food revolution and decades later gave a young, politicised class its identity.

    'We will cut your throats': The anatomy of Greece's lynch mobs

    The brutality of Greece's racist lynch mobs

    With anti-migrant violence hitting a fever pitch, victims ask why Greek authorities have carried out so few arrests.