No need for martial law in Negros Oriental – AFP Visayas chief
MANILA, Philippines — The military commander in the Visayas is not inclined to recommend the declaration of martial law in Negros Oriental, describing the security situation in the province as “manageable.”
“From our level here, I don’t think at this time we need to implement martial law,” Lt. Gen. Noel Clement, chief of the Armed Forces of the Philippines’ Central Command (AFP-Centcom), told defense reporters on Sunday.
“It (security situation) is still manageable,” Clement pointed out, adding, “Right now, we’re not inclined actually to recommend martial law.”
The AFP Centcom, based in Camp Lapu-Lapu in Cebu City, is primarily tasked with combating terrorism and insurgency in the Visayas region.
Clement said: “When you talk about martial law there should be rebellion or any insurrection. I think, at this time, that is not happening there (Negros Oriental). There are incidents of killings but [these are] within manageable levels to the point that it is not widespread in the province.”
He said he ordered several months ago the deployment of the 302nd Brigade from Bohol and the 11th Infantry Battalion from Zamboanga City to Negros Oriental. These are “enough forces to contain the situation there,” he said.
More troops were fielded “because of the insurgency problem there, not actually because of the spate of killings,” Clement said.
He said he had yet to receive any instruction to assess the situation in Negros Oriental and come up with a recommendation. He said he was prepared for such an order.
Military officials are consulting with the local government and other concerned sectors in the province to deal with the problem, according to Clement.
“We can’t continue to accuse each other [of the] killings. That’s not the problem there. It has to be addressed from a different perspective, not just to address the killings per se,” he said.
Communist rebels and groups with alleged ties to the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and its armed wing, the New People’s Army (NPA), have been blaming the spate of killings on government forces. Police and military authorities countered that the CPP-NPA was actually behind the attacks.
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