Duterte threatens to declare martial law if 'lawlessness' of NPA continues

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, April 24) — President Rodrigo Duterte warned anew that he may declare martial law due to the alleged lawlessness of communist rebels.

“I am warning everybody and putting notice sa [to the] armed forces and the police, I might declare martial law,” Duterte said in a taped address aired on Friday.

The President also vowed to ‘finish’ all of the communist group members before his terms ends in 2022.

His warning came after two soldiers were reportedly killed by armed New People’s Army guerillas in Aurora province on Tuesday.

The NPA is the armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP), which has been waging an insurgency that has spanned more than five decades.

He said he would resort to putting the Philippines under military rule if the NPA’s ‘lawlessness’ continues. He did not elaborate.

“Pag nagpatuloy kayo ng lawlessness niyo, and it is happening all over the Philippines, maybe I will declare martial law,” added Duterte, who has made similar warnings in the past. 

He accused the rebel group of taking the aid meant for the people.

There has been a number of clashes between government forces and the NPA despite the rebels' declaration of a unilateral ceasefire until April 30. The ceasefire was in response to the call of the United Nations for a global truce so all states can focus on the COVID-19 pandemic.

In response, CPP said Duterte’s accusations just cover up the government’s shortcomings on the crisis.

“Imposing martial law will not stop the COVID-19 pandemic but will only cause greater hardships on the people,” the group said in a statement.

It added the government stepped up its counterinsurgency efforts.

“Since Duterte's ceasefire lapsed last April 15, the AFP has further stepped up its counterinsurgency operations.,” it said. “In fact, the AFP never went on ceasefire, even when Duterte ordered a suspension of offensive operations last March 19 to April 15.”

The government's ceasefire declaration ended last April 15.