Duterte warns of declaring martial law if NPA continues with lawlessness
President Rodrigo Duterte has threatened to declare martial law if the communist New People's Army continues with its attacks despite the coronavirus disease crisis when government forces are focused more on aiding the public.
In a taped public message aired on Friday, Duterte said he never mentioned that he would declare martial law while some parts of the country are under enhanced community quarantine to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
However, Duterte said, "Now let me be very clear on this, if this lawlessness which was imposed on us by the NPAs for the longest time, 53 years...if you continue the lawlessness, you're killing spree and it's happening all over the Philippines, maybe I will declare martial law."
He noted the recent attack by the rebels to government forces engaged in the delivery of supply to the people, resulting in the death of two Army escorts, and their seizure of food reliefs in some areas.
"That's why I am now warning everybody and putting notice the Armed Forces as well as the police, I might declare martial law and there will be no turning back," Duterte said.
The President said he has two more years in office and "let's finish (this problem with the NPA) in my time."
"I will try to finish all of you," he said as he issued the same warning to the legal fronts of the NPA.
He said the NPA rebels have been getting financial support from the legal fronts, which have bank accounts.
"All the legal fronts, it's better for you to hide," he said.
Duterte also slammed the rebels for their extortion activities.
"You (Maoist group) have lots of money. The government does not want it. Government is very jealous. There is only one entity who can collect taxes. It's government. And that money must be put to good use," he said.
For those who would accuse him of destroying democracy, Duterte said, "No, I will solve democracy."
Duterte has declared the Communist Party of the Philippines-NPA as terrorist organizations after he terminated the peace talks in November 2017. Celerina Monte/DMS