NPA among targets of martial law declaration — AFP
Alexis Romero (The Philippine Star) - July 5, 2017 - 4:00pm

MANILA, Philippines -  The New People’s Army (NPA) is among the targets of President Duterte’s martial law declaration because of its directive for communist rebels to intensify offensives against government forces, the military said yesterday.

Armed Forces spokesman Brig. Gen. Restituto Padilla noted the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) had ordered the NPA to launch attacks against soldiers and policemen enforcing military rule in Mindanao.  

“They issued a directive that said you should heighten or enhance the attacks against the PNP (Philippine National Police) and the Armed Forces, so that was just in answer to that. If there were no declarations, then that would not have been part of it,” Padilla said.

“It’s tit for tat. So why would we not forewarn our men, like what the secretary (of defense) has mentioned, if we know that they are leaning forward to attack and destroy our forces?” he added. 

Duterte placed Mindanao under martial law after the Islamic State-inspired Maute terrorists laid siege in Marawi City. 

The move was challenged before the Supreme Court by critics who claimed that the President has no sufficient basis for imposing military rule in the entire island. The Supreme Court upheld the legality of the martial law declaration last Tuesday. 

While martial law was directed mainly at the Islamist militants, one of the key tasks of the security forces was “to degrade armed capabilities of the NPA,” according to a presentation by the military before the Supreme Court.

Padilla, nevertheless, said the task does not mean the military is against the peace talks. 

“Actually, the NPA and the Armed Forces are in a talk-and-fight and fight-and-talk situation,” the military spokesman said. 

The militant Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) said the Supreme Court decision favoring martial law will also take its toll on the ongoing peace talks with the CPP-NPA.

Electric fan

Duterte yesterday compared the communists to a moving electric fan, saying he no longer understood the mixed signals being sent by the rebels. 

Duterte noted the communists had ordered their forces to attack government troops but at the same time offered to help in the campaign against Maute terrorists in Marawi City.

“You know guys, you’re like an electric fan… (You are) vacillating. First, you said during the martial law proclamation, you ordered your troops, the NPA, to engage us, the government forces, actively. Then you change your mind and you said you’re going to cooperate…I really cannot understand you guys,” Duterte told the crowd during the 64th founding anniversary of Hagonoy, Davao del Sur.

“You’re like an electric fan: right to left, left to right,” he said. 

In a speech in Camp Agaab in Sarangani also yesterday, Duterte said he is puzzled why soldiers continue to die at the hands of communist rebels. 

“What I cannot understand, if there is an NPA member listening, why does your head keep on exploding?” the President said.  

“You directed your soldiers to fight, to engage us, government. Later on, you said you will fight alongside government. Then you said you will fight with us again. (Instead) of just really doing what you want to say or what you want to do, we still have encounters. That’s the reason why I am not complacent,” he added. 

Duterte reminded soldiers to “learn the ways of survival” and to remain vigilant to avoid being shot by the rebels. 

Last May, the government suspended the fifth round of negotiations after the CPP had directed the NPA to carry out more attacks against government forces enforcing martial law in Mindanao. 

The National Democratic Front (NDF), the umbrella organization representing the communists in the peace talks with the government, then ordered the NPA to refrain from launching offensives against government troops so they can focus on defeating terrorists in Mindanao.

The NPA even expressed readiness to fight alongside the soldiers flushing out the Maute bandits in Marawi, but Duterte rejected the offer. 

– With  Rhodina Villanueva

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