MANILA, Philippines — Communist rebels have been ordered to “plan and carry out more tactical offensives across Mindanao and the entire archipelago” in response to President Rodrigo Duterte’s declaration of martial law over the southern island.
“In the face of the Duterte regime’s martial law declaration in Mindanao, the necessity of waging revolutionary armed struggle becomes ever clearer,” the Communist Party of the Philippines said in a statement released Wednesday.
Duterte declared Mindanao under martial law late Tuesday night from Moscow, where he cut short an official visit after fighting broke out between government forces and the Maute group in Marawi City.
“The New People’s Army must be ready to accelerate the recruitment of new Red fighters as Duterte’s martial law convinces more and more people to take up arms against the rotten system,” the CPP said.
It said the experience during the Marcos dictatorship proved “waging revolutionary armed resistance is the most effective way of resisting martial law, defending the people’s democratic rights and inspiring them to wage ever greater struggles.”
In 1972, then President Ferdinand Marcos, claiming imminent danger of a communist takeover, placed the country under martial law and embarked on a 14-year dictatorship marked by massive human rights violations and plunder that ended when he was ousted by the 1986 People Power uprising.
It was also during these years that the communist armed movement reached its peak.
The CPP denounced Duterte’s martial law declaration, saying he had “gone beyond the threats and theatrics of the past months” and claimed that he had “a much wider target and purpose.”
“With martial law in Mindanao, Duterte has imposed himself as a military ruler ready to ram through the bureaucracy and trample on civilian processes,” it said, predicting that if the president “succeeds in securing congressional support for martial law in Mindanao, he will surely be emboldened to impose martial law on the entire country” through such “pretexts” as “fighting criminality.”
It indicated that Duterte’s declaration and “the worsening human rights abuses that will come out of it” will be a main subject of discussion when the fifth round of peace talks between the government and National Democratic Front of the Philippines opens this weekend.
The CPP called Duterte’s vow to be “harsh” and that his martial law would be no different from that of Marcos a “foreboding (of) the worst kinds of human rights violations and fascist attacks against the people.”
“Duterte has practically ordered the AFP (Armed Forces of the Philippines) soldiers to impose its rule and carry out more abuses with extreme impunity,” the CPP said and predicted that, with martial law, “the reactionaries will surely be more barefaced in employing military and police forces to suppress the struggles of workers and peasants and other sectors for genuine land reform, higher wages, better living conditions as well as environmental protection against foreign mining operations.”