Police on alert for possible NPA attacks

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, December 17) — The Philippine National Police (PNP) is guarding against possible offensives of the New People's Army (NPA), ahead of the 49th founding anniversary of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP).

In a press statement Sunday, the PNP alerted all police units to "maintain a high state of vigilance against possible hostilities" caused by the NPA, the armed wing of the communist group.

PNP Director for Operations Camilo Cascolan sent out a memorandum for the police to initiate countermeasures against possible terrorist attacks.

"Preventive combat patrols in coordination with the AFP (Armed Forces of the Philippines) should be launched  in addition to target hardening of all camps and vital installations," Cascolan said.

On December 5, President Rodrigo Duterte made good on previous statements against the insurgents by signing Proclamation No. 374, which declared the CPP-NPA a terrorist group.

READ: President Duterte declares the communist party and its armed wing a terrorist organization

Last November, the government canceled all planned peace talks with the communist rebels, following the rash of violent incidents by the NPA.

READ: Gov't cancels all planned peace talks with communist rebels

In a statement Sunday, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said there would be no suspension of offensives against the CPP-NPA during the holiday break.

"The CPP-NPA is notorious for conducting treacherous attacks even when there was unilateral ceasefire in the past during which we have lost scores of our brave defenders," he said.

Roque added that declaring a "suspension of military operations" would only embolden the NPA to commit more atrocities.

On Saturday, about 50 NPA rebels ambushed soldiers from the 20th Infantry Batallion in the town of Catubig, Northern Samar.

According to Civil Military Operations Officer 2Lt. Michelle Estares, the troops were conducting Humanitarian Assistance Disaster Response (HADR) for victims of Tropical Depression Urduja when they encountered the insurgents.

Two soldiers were wounded.

"It is unfortunate and sad that our soldiers were engaged by terrorist NPAs while serving the people," Estares said in a statement.

More than 87,000 individuals nationwide were affected by Urduja, which made landfall in Eastern Samar on Saturday.