PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte branded communists as terrorists Sunday, February 5, hitting the rebels for launching several attacks against the military even before the New People’s Army’s (NPA) announced termination of its unilateral ceasefire on February 10.

Duterte also ordered Sunday the arrest of National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) peace negotiators once they set foot in the country as the collapse of the talks looms.

Duterte made the announcement following his Sunday’s visit to the wake of the three soldiers at the 4th Infantry Division (4ID) headquarters.

The soldiers were killed by the NPA last February 1, just as the Communist rebels first announced the termination of its unilateral interim ceasefire effective February 10.

"They are categorized as terrorists who do not look upon the Communist Party of the Philippines, the New People’s Army, and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) as a rebel group anymore," Duterte said.

Duterte arrived at Camp Evangelista around 4:45 p.m. and headed to the St. Loyola Chapel to pay his respects at the wake of Sergeant (Sgt.) Owen Yee, Corporal Pat Non and Corporal Nino Christopher Talador, who were all killed at Sitio Kaleb, Kibalabag, Malaybalay City last February 1.

The three soldiers under the 8th Infantry Battalion were shot 76 times by the NPA while heading back to their unit.

"What they did, they announced publicly that they are lifting the ceasefire February 10 but they were killing my soldiers in the meantime. Saan ang honor mo dyan? (Where is your honor there?)" Duterte said.

"Why do you kill government soldiers 73 times? Why do you do that? Anong tingin nyo sa sundalo, aso? (What do you think of the soldiers, are they dogs?)" Duterte said.

Duterte awarded medals of gallantry to the killed soldiers and extended cash assistance to the families amounting to more than P200,000, excluding the another P200,000 cash aid given by the 4ID.

Duterte also promised to provide educational assistance to the children of the soldiers and employment for the soldiers' wives.

Duterte also lambasted the NPA for burning equipment of companies who refused to pay revolutionary taxes.

"They have wreaked havoc in the economy. So anong gustong gawin niyo sa tao o sa gobyerno, gagawin ko sa inyo (What you want to do with the people and the government, I will do unto you)," Duterte said.

But Duterte said instead of waging an all-out war against the NPA guerrillas, the armed forces will conduct legitimate law enforcement operations against the terrorists.

But Duterte said he is offering peace to the NPA guerillas and asked them to go down as he promised to settle them and proceed to the land reform.

The families left by the slain soldiers are asking for justice.

Jerome Yee, younger brother of Sergeant Yee, said they want the authorities to capture the perpetrators of the brutal killing.

"Nangayo gayud mi og hustisya. Dili mi katoo nga ingon ani ang pagkapatay sa akong magulang. Murag dili man makatawhanon (We are asking for justice. We can't believe that was how my brother was killed. It's inhumane)," the younger Yee said.

The 7-month pregnant wife of Talabor said she was glad that at least the government is securing the future of the families left by the soldiers.

"Pasalamat mi sa president kay giatiman niya ang kaugmaon sa akong trabaho ug sa pag eskwela sa akong anak (I thank the president for taking care of my future in my job and my son's education)," she said.

The remains of the soldiers will be brought to their respective places before being laid to rest.