Abella: Death of 4 cops will influence peace talks with NPA, but the bigger picture is still peace

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(File photo) Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella said the government is determined to continue on a path of peace.

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines) — The government will not be deterred in pursuing peace despite attacks from communist rebels, Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella said in a media briefing at Malacañang.

"It will provide some sort of influence but, however, there's the bigger thing which is the pursuit of peace," Abella said, referring to the killing of four policemen in Bansalan, Davao del Sur allegedly by members of the New People's Army.

Abella said the President wants to see soldiers and policemen taken hostage by rebels set free, as well as for rebels to stop demanding revolutionary taxes and other favors from government.

"The President has actually laid down some conditionalities...the CPP-NPA-NDF... should stop extortion and that there should be a bilateral ceasefire... they should, in fact, take it upon themselves to be responsible for their own people and also to release prisoners," he said.

Four policemen killed

Interior Secretary Ismael Sueno condemned the death of four policemen in Davao del Sur believed killed by the NPA.

"I am deeply saddened by this unfortunate and needless incident that took away the lives of our policemen. My heart bleeds for the families of the victims and, as a father, they have my word that I will look after them," Sueno said in a statement.

The policemen were identified as PO1 Rolly Benelayo, PO1 Joe Narvaza, PO1 Saro Mangutara of the Bansalan Municipal Police Station, and PO3 Jayden May Rabor of the Scene of the Crime Operations of Digos City. PO3 Allen Arnado was wounded.

Sueno said they were heading to Barangay Sibayan, Bansalan to investigate a murder when they were attacked at around 6 a.m.

He instructed Philippine National Police chief Ronald Dela Rosa to prioritize the investigation the killings.

"I have clear instructions to our Chief PNP to respond accordingly and deliver swift action against the suspects who are allegedly members of a lawless armed group. Our police force will get into the bottom of this case," Sueno said.