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Military says NPA also target of martial law

By: Argyll Cyrus B. Geducos

Aside from Islamist militants, the Armed Forces of the Philippines said that the New People’s Army and drug syndicates are also targets of martial law in Mindanao.

AFP spokesperson Brig. Gen. Restituto Padilla said that the NPA is also a target of their operations following the directive of the Communist Party of the Philippines to its armed wing to intensify attacks against the government troops in Mindanao.

“They issued a directive that said they should heighten or enhance the attack against the PNP and the Armed Forces.

That was just an answer to that. If there were no declaration then that would not have been a problem,” Padilla said during the Mindanao Hour press briefing yesterday.

“It’s a tit-for-tat, so why would we not forewarn our men if we know that they are leaning forward to attack and destroy our forces?” he added.

Padilla said that the key task of the AFP to degrade the armed capabilities of the NPA is part and parcel of their military operations, particularly in areas where the communist threat is present.

“That was made part and parcel of the presentation because the AFP and our security forces asserted that the NPA also issued an attack on them, ‘di ba?” Padilla said, referring to the AFP’s presentation of their key tasks under Martial Law before the Supreme Court.

Padilla said that the operations against the NPA will not affect the possible resumption of peace talks with the communists in August.

He added that the government stays true to its commitment on pursuing lasting peace in Mindanao.

“Having that does not necessarily mean that we’re stopping the peace talks. The NPA and the Armed Forces are in a talk-and-fight and fight-and-talk situation. But it would have been more desirable to have the silencing of the guns when the peace talks is ongoing,” he said.

“But the commitment to continue with the peace talks is there. The government is sincere in showing many times over, the armed forces has done the same,” he added.

“We are waiting for the act of sincerity on the part of the other party as well, but it does not necessarily mean na ititigil na ‘yung (that we will stop the) peace talks,” he continued.

The SC on Tuesday affirmed President Duterte’s declaration of martial law in Mindanao following the Marawi City siege last May 23.