Communist rebels deploying NPA fighters in Marawi

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, June 8) — The communist group is heeding President Rodrigo Duterte's call to help fight terrorists in Marawi.

In a statement on Wednesday, National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) Chairperson Fidel Agcaoili said they directed New People's Army (NPA) units near Marawi "to redeploy for the purpose of mopping-up, holding, and blocking operations."

Agcaoili said the NDFP also instructed its ally in Marawi, the Moro Resistance and Liberation Organization (MRLO), "to assume home defense tasks against the Maute and Abu Sayyaf groups."

The NDFP, the political arm of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) holding peace talks with the government, said the NPA and MRLO will "keep a safe distance" while coordinating and cooperating with the military, amid the absence of a ceasefire.

The statement was released hours after Duterte, in a speech in Sultan Kudarat, invited the NPA to join the military in fighting the terrorists. Clashes between government forces and terrorist groups prompted Duterte to declare martial law in Mindanao on May 23.

Duterte also called on the Moro National Liberation Front and Moro Islamic Liberation Front to join the fight against terrorists. Both groups expressed willingness to do so,  although the President said there should be operating guidelines to avoid confusion.

Related: Military, police open to additional help from Moro rebels to fight terrorism

Localized ceasefire

The NDFP is calling on Duterte to allow the peace panels to discuss the possibility of declaring a localized ceasefire.

"The GRP (government of the Republic of the Philippines) must at best unilaterally withdraw its all-out war policy and martial law declaration or at least allow its negotiating panel to meet with the NDFP negotiating panel to start discussing coordination and cooperation in Marawi and subsequently on a wider scale," Agcaoili said.

The rebels have accused the government of waging an "all-out war" against revolutionary forces, which they said could worsen amid the declaration of martial law in Mindanao.

The government recently suspended talks with the rebels, citing the communists' pronouncement they will intensify attacks against government forces.

In February, Duterte said he also considers the armed communists as terrorists, saying they "were killing his soldiers" and violating a unilateral ceasefire they had earlier declared.

The CPP has waged a 48-year-old insurgency, the longest-running armed rebellion in Asia.