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Philippines Orders Arrests as Communist Talks Close to Collapse

21 July 2017

"The Solicitor General already instructed the. solicitors to ask the courts to cancel the bail bonds of the (rebel) consultants, order their arrests, and recommit them to their detention facilities", Calida's office said in a statement.

And on Wednesday, July 19, members of the communist New People's Army engaged in a firefight with members of the Presidential Security Group, the main agency tasked with the president's security.

The holding of the informal talks, which was announced recently by Silvestre Bello III, chair of the government peace panel talking with the communist rebels, was agreed by both parties earlier in a bid to resume the stalled fifth round of formal peace negotiations.

The presidential guards opened fire at the gunmen, who numbered around 50, sparking a clash that injured four guards, Aquino said.

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Duterte was not with the PSG convoy.

Regarding the Philippines, the report said the country "continued to make progress against terrorism", but "President (Rodrigo R.) Duterte's focus on anti-narcotics and counterterrorism operations slowed progress towards shifting internal security functions from the Armed Forces of the Philippines to the Philippine National Police."The report added the "focus on counter-narcotics has increased workload and operational tempo for security forces".

This was confirmed by Malacañang, but provided no details of the President's trip.

But the government suspended formal peace talks in May, and on Thursday chief government lawyer Jose Calida said guerrilla leaders who were let out of prison to take part in talks were now subject to arrest.

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The rebels have been in off-and-on peace talks with the government since Duterte, a self-described socialist, was elected previous year.

This year marks a turning point on the Philippine front, in main part due to the siege of Marawi City by the Maute group that has dragged on for two months.

The battle between government forces and the Maute group in Marawi, which started on May 23, prompted Duterte to place all of Mindanao under martial law, now set to expire on July 22.

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