MANILA, Philippines — Malacañang challenged communist rebels on Wednesday to “stand against a common enemy” and not make an issue out of the imminent extension of martial law in Mindanao to prove they are “truly in pursuit of peaceful coexistence.”
Presidential spokesmen Ernesto Abella said the administration “has shown in numerous occasions its strong commitment to bring peace” and that “it is time for the (Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army-National Democratic Front of the Philippines) to reciprocate the government’s gestures of goodwill by ending their extortion and criminal activities and re-directing their energy to help eradicate terrorism and violent extremism in Mindanao.”
The call came the same day at least four personnel of the Presidential Security Group were wounded in what authorities described as a clash with NPA guerrillas in Arakan town, Cotabato province and a day after President Rodrigo Duterte instructed the government panel in peace talks with the communists not to resume negotiations until the rebels agree to stop their attacks on government forces in Mindanao.
Ironically, not long after clashes broke out in Marawi City between extremist gunmen and security forces on May 23, the rebels had offered to help government battle terrorists but were turned down.
On Tuesday, Duterte formally asked Congress to extend martial law in Mindanao, whose 60-day effectivity ends Saturday, July 22, to December 31 this year. Congress is meeting in joint session on Saturday to discuss and vote on the extension.
Responding to these developments, the CPP said the government was “not at all interested” in pushing the agenda of the of peace negotiations with the rebels and was setting the stage for nationwide martial law.
In a statement, the CPP said the fighters of the NPA “must firmly grasp their weapons, confront the fascists in the battlefield, wage guerrilla warfare intensively and extensively, further deepen and expand the people’s support and carry forward the people’s war to ever greater heights.”