MANILA, Jan. 18 (Xinhua) -- The Philippine government vowed Saturday to continue to defend the people from the threat of the leftist rebel group of the New People's Army (NPA) while the group continues refusing to go back to the negotiating table.
Presidential Spokesperson Edwin Lacierda made the assurance as the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) admitted on Friday that although the government troops made significant gains in striking the group in 2013, the NPA has remained as the "most potent internal security challenge."
"While they still don't want to go back to negotiating table, the AFP has the obligation to defend our country. The mandate of the AFP is to protect and defend our countrymen, so that will continue," he said in an interview over a state-run radio station.
He reiterated that the Aquino administration has always been open to talk with the leftist rebels. However, Lacierda said the government could not give in with the conditions being sought by the rebels.
Peace talks between the government and the National Democratic Front (NDF), the political front of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP)-NPA, bogged down in February last year. Since then, no progress has been made.
The NPA, an armed wing of the CPP, has been waging war against the Philippine government for over four decades.