MANILA (Philippines) -- Seven soldiers were wounded by a landmine set by suspected communist rebels in central Philippines. It was one of the first attacks on the government since Ferdinand Marcos Jr. assumed office last week.
Army troops were examining reports from the villagers about anti-personnel miners laid by rebels of the New People's Army's armed wing. The explosion, Maj. Gen. Edgardo De Leon, said, occurred along a village trail in Mapanas, Northern Samar province.
He said that two of the soldiers who were wounded were in critical condition and that no villager was hurt.
De Leon stated that some soldiers were killed because rebels used powerful landmines.
De Leon stated that the government would file criminal charges against rebel leaders in relation to the attack and use of international banned landmines.
He said that the soldiers could not open fire on the rebels because they fled the scene and were being pursued by government forces.
The army stated that government troops killed one communist rebel in a gunbattle in central Negros Oriental on Friday, just a day after Marcos Jr. was elected to office.
Marcos Jr. will have to deal with the decades-old communist and Muslim insurgencies as well as long-standing territorial disputes with China, and other claimants in South China Sea.
During the campaign, Duterte stated that he would seek peace negotiations with communist insurgents. He also expressed support for the government task force, established under Rodrigo Duterte's predecessor, to combat the insurgency and bring infrastructure, housing, and livelihood projects to the poor-stricken countryside.
Critics have criticized the task force for linking left-wing activists to the communist Insurgency. This was in what Duterte's opponents called "red-tagging", a baseless attempt to suppress legitimate dissent.
Despite setbacks in battle, infighting, and factionalism, the communist rebellion has continued to rage in rural areas for over 50 years. It is one of Asia's longest-running rebellions. It currently boasts 2,700 armed fighters.
In a statement released when Marcos Jr. became president, the Communist Party of the Philippines stated that the New People's Army had defeated Duterte's plan to crush the rebellion in his six-year term. Marcos Jr. would continue rebel offensives, it said, citing human rights violations, plunder, and other crimes committed under Ferdinand Marcos, his father.
Marcos the elder's counterinsurgency program was well-known for torturing, killings and disappearances left-wing activists, rebels and their supporters. In the 1986 pro-democracy rebellion "People Power", backed by the army, he was overthrown and his family forced into exile in the United States.
His widow and children died in Hawaii in 1989. They then returned to the Philippines with his family. Critics claim that they made a remarkable political comeback by whitewashing Marcos's image on social media.