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Combative AFP chief Año: 'We will hit them hard'

"We will go after the NPA to prevent them from conducting atrocities and criminal activities against the public. And we will hit them hard!," Año said in a statement issued Friday afternoon, February 3. (READ: Duterte orders AFP: End ceasefire tonight)

A veteran intelligence officer, Año has always been notorious in the communist movement. He was blamed for the disappearance of high-profile activist Jonas Burgos and is credited for the arrest of top communist leaders such as Benito Tiamzon and wife Wilma. (READ: Rebel hunter Año is new AFP chief)

At least 6 soldiers and one NPA rebel have been killed since violence resumed on January 23 – days before either side terminated the existing ceasefire. The NPA also announced it took 5 soldiers are "prisoners of war."

The military and the NPA traded blame for the collapse of the ceasefire. The NPA claimed they launched 20 offensive operations against the military to fight supposed deployment against the rebels. The military accused the NPA of violating its own ceasefire. 

In an interview at the military headquarters, Camp Aguinaldo, Año said the communist rebels deceived them by claiming that their unilateral ceaefire was still in place. "The last 4 days were disdainful and disturbing. While Fidel Agcaoilli was assuring the public thru media that NDF-CPP-NPA will continue the unilateral ceasefire,  the CPP/NPA were attacking our soldiers who were doing community support and development work," said Año.

NPA spokesperson Jorge "Ka Oris" Madlos said they were only forced to fight back against the military's supposed deployment against their forces and communities on the ground.

But Año said the military will continue to support the peace talks. 

"Rest assured that the AFP will continue to support the peace talk with the NDF to find a permanent peaceful solution to this 4 decades long conflict. We hear the people's clamor for peace and are willing to work hard to attain it but it is unfortunate that the CPP-NPA- NDF chooses to play deaf," he said.

The government seeks to reinstate the ceasefire through a bilateral ceasefire agreement that will put in place common rules for the military and the NPA. 

But these talks will be challenging. The military is demanding that the NPA stop the collection of revolutionary taxes while the NPA is pushing for the military to "go back to barracks" in at least 500 villages. (READ: Twitter convo with NPA: Duterte, ceasefire, and revolutionary taxes– Rappler.com