Martial law targets terrorists, not NPA rebels — AFP

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President Rodrigo Duterte signs Proclamation No. 216 declaring martial law and suspending the privilege of the Writ of Habeas Corpus in the whole of Mindanao.
/PCOO FILE PHOTO

The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) on Thursday explained that the possible extension of martial law in Mindanao was to quell rebellion from terrorist groups and not to target communist rebels.

“Nalulungkot po tayo na ang naging interpretasyon ni Ginoong (Joma) Sison na ang pagdedeklara ng martial law ay pagdedeklara ng digmaan laban sa kanila (We are saddened that Mr. Sison’s interpretation of the martial law declaration is the government’s declaring war against them), AFP Spokesperson Col. Edgard Arevalo said in a press briefing.

“Ang naging basehan ng pagdedeklara ng martial law ay hindi ang New People’s Army (NPA) kung hindi ang rebelyong naganap sa Marawi na ginawa ng Maute-ISIS Group (The basis for the martial law declaration is not the New People’s Army but the rebellion happening in Marawi initiated by the Maute-ISIS Group),” Arevalo said.

The military spokesperson said President Rodrigo Duterte’s martial law was upheld by no less than the Supreme Court in a ruling on July 4, declaring the validity of its implementation in Mindanao, specifically in the war-torn Marawi City.

“Malinaw na sinasabi natin na ang target ng martial law ay ang Maute-ISIS Group at hindi ang New People’s Army (We are clearly saying that the target of martial law is the Maute-ISIS Group and not the New People’s Army),” Arevalo added.

The AFP official, however, said that if the NPA would support the terrorist groups in any way, then the AFP would destroy them too.

“If they are considered to be part of the terrorist groups, if they are supporters and sympathizers… kailangan nating sirain ang infrastructure nila (we need to destroy their infrastructure) that puts them up, that allows them to continue fighting government and spreading havoc in our country,” Arevalo said.

On Tuesday, the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) asked the NPA to launch “armed counteractions and offensives” in response to the government’s plans to extend martial law in Mindanao until the end of 2017.

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