If NPA a ‘spent force’, why extend martial law? – Hontiveros
If the New People’s Army (NPA) is considered by the government as a spent force, then why would the government want to extend martial law in Mindanao by citing it as one of the key reasons?
This was the question of Senator Risa Hontiveros to Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, as she quizzed the administration officials on their basis to seek extension of martial law in Mindanao.
“If the NPA has been characterized by the Armed Forces and the Palace as spent force until as recently as early this month, why extend martial law by using it as one of the key reasons?” Hontiveros said during the joint session of Congress to discuss President Rodrigo Duterte’s request to extend martial law in Mindanao for another year.
Hontiveros quoted the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Public Affairs Office (PAO) Chief Edgard Arevalo, who said in March that the NPA was a spent force, as well as Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque, who parroted the military’s statement on December 3.
She pointed out that such measure to repress civil liberties, including the suspension of the writ of habeas corpus, helped in the spike of NPA recruitment. She also said that when the military began one of its biggest attacks against the communist rebels in 1984, the NPA reached its peak the following year with 30,000 to 45,000 members.
“And its acts of violence reached their height with 1,282 military and police deaths and 1,362 civilian deaths. So bearing this in mind, what exactly do you hope for martial law to achieve with the respect to the CPP-NPA?” Hontiveros asked.
Lorenzana said that the NPA, the armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP), intensified its attacks in recent weeks, especially in eastern and southern Mindanao.
“The reason why they are now part of the martial law—they’re not actually the main target of the martial law but still the continuing rebellion of Isis-inspired groups in Mindanao—is because they are already branded as a terrorist organization,” Lorenzana said.
“And in fact, because of that, they have also alerted, directed the troops on the ground to intensify attacks on military troops that is why they are part of the martial law,” he explained.
Last Monday, Mr. Duterte formally asked Congress to extend martial law and the suspension of the writ of habeas corpus in the entire Mindanao, citing persistent threats posed by terror and rebel groups in the region. /kga
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