Año on ceasefire with rebels: It depends on the President

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(File photo) Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Chief Gen. Eduardo Año

(CNN Philippines) — Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Chief Gen. Eduardo Año says the decision on whether or not a truce with rebels will be reinstated will be up to President Rodrigo Duterte.

In a message on Sunday, Año said, they would wait for Duterte's decision before moving forward.

"The CPP-NPA's declaration for unilateral ceasefire is useless if they continue to extort money and burn equipment and property," he said.

Año added both the AFP and the Philippine National Police "will not allow the CPP-NPA toviolate the law and imperil lives of innocent people in the communities."

Ceasefire to happen soon

On Saturday, communist rebels said they will restore their unilateral ceasefire declaration not later than March 31, to support the resumption of peace talks with the government in April.

The Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) expects the government to reciprocate the move.

Read: Communist rebels to declare unilateral ceasefire before March ends

The CPP in a statement said its armed wing, the New People's Army (NPA), released two paramilitaries it held captive as part of "confidence-building measures to help boost peace negotiations." NPA rebels captured the two militiamen in Lupon, Davao Oriental on February 14, calling them "prisoners of war."

The CPP said the NPA will release four more hostages in Surigao del Sur, Sultan Kudarat, and Bukidnon in the coming days.

In exchange, the CPP urged President Rodrigo Duterte to order the Armed Forces to "slow down its ongoing all-out offensive military operations" against the rebels.

In a joint statement on March 11, the government and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) said peace talks shall continue between both parties.

Read: Gov't, NDFP agree to resumption of peace talks

This statement was released four weeks after Duterte said he was done talking peace with the rebels.

The government and the NDF peace panels agreed to resume formal peace negotiations on April 2-6 in the Netherlands.