AFP on communist rebels: 'We will hit them hard'

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(L-R) President Rodrigo Duterte and Lt. Gen. Eduardo Año

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines) — The military's commander-in-chief has spoken: Ceasefire with communist guerrillas ends Friday night. Get ready to go into battle again.

"We shall abide by the  President's order of ending the unilateral ceasefire," Lt. Gen. Eduardo Año, Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) said as he cited violations of the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People's Army (CCP-NPA) during the supposed cessation of hostilities.

Related: Rebels end unilateral ceasefire: We'll 'negotiate while fighting'

"It is unfortunate that the gains of the last six months would come to a halt because the CPP-NPA again resorted to the use of violence and chose arms to advance their interests," Año said.

He noted that the last four days had been "disdainful and disturbing."

"While Fidel Agcaoilli was assuring the public through media that NDF/CPP/ NPA will continue the unilateral ceasefire,  the CPP-NPA were attacking our soldiers who were doing community support and development work that resulted [in] the death of 2Lt. Miguel Victor Alejo and five soldiers (mostly unarmed) and the abduction of Pfc. Salan and 2 other soldiers."

Related: PH Army: NPA rebels kill, abduct soldiers despite ceasefire

Año said the military welcomed the order of President Rodrigo Duterte as it was the mandate of the AFP to protect the people. He said soldiers would go after the NPA to prevent them from conducting "atrocities and criminal activities."

"And we will hit them hard!" the AFP Chief of Staff said.

Accusation vs accusation

For his part, National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) negotiating panel chairman Fidel Agcaoili said that it was the prerogative of the government panel (GRP) to lift its unilateral ceasefire.

But Agcaoili also had a mouthful against the government.

"In the time that the [ceasefire deals were] supposedly effective, these were honored in the breach by the AFP, PNP and paramilitary forces," he said as he accused government forces of encroachment, harassment and random interrogation of residents suspected to have links with the NPA.

"[They] generally sowed fear and terror among the people," Agcaoili said.

The NDFP chair also claimed that extrajudicial killings of leaders and members of peasant groups and indigenous peoples have gone "unabated" — saying four were killed last month alone and another one was killed earlier in the day.

He added that armed skirmishes were bound to erupt in the face of the "relentless AFP offensives."

Talking while fighting

Nevertheless, both side said they would still be in support of the ongoing peace efforts.

"Be that as it may, rest assured that the AFP will continue to support the peace talk with the NDF to find a permanent peaceful solution to this four-decades-long conflict. We hear the people's clamor for peace and we are willing to work hard to attain it but it is unfortunate that the CPP/NPA/NDF chooses to play deaf," Año said.

Agcaoili said the Left remained optimistic about the peace talks.

"We continue to hope that efforts on both sides will lead to the co-founding by the NDFP and the GRP of the Federal Republic of the Philippines and the achievement of just and lasting peace for our people," he said.