Duterte's proposed martial law extension also targets NPA

MANILA, Philippines – Communist rebels will also be targeted if Congress approves President Rodrigo Duterte's request to further extend martial law in Mindanao. (READ: Duterte asks Congress for 1-year martial law extension)

In his letter to Congress, Duterte cited continued threats from armed groups linked to international terrorist network Islamic State (ISIS) as the primary reason to justify another extension of martial law. But he dedicated about a third of his letter – 5 paragraphs out of 17 – to also detail alleged atrocities committed by the New People's Army (NPA).

"The New People's Army took advantage of the situation and intensified their decades-long rebellion against the government and stepped up terrorist acts against innocent civilians and private entities, as well as guerrilla warfare against the security sector and public and government infrastructure, purposely to seize political power through violent means and supplant the country's democratic form of government with communist rule," Duterte wrote to Congress.

The President claimed that another extension of martial law is needed to "quell completely and put an end to the ongoing rebellion in Mindanao and prevent the same from escalating to other parts of the country."

Duterte first declared martial law on May 23 after clashes erupted between government troops and ISIS-linked terrorists.

After 5 months of clashes, the military killed terrorist leaders Isnilon Hapilon and Omar Maute and "liberated" the city. Martial law is supposed to expire by the end of the year.

The Duterte administration previously held on-again, off-again talks with the communist rebels. The President has since signed proclamations to formally end the peace talks and to begin the process of declaring the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and the NPA as "terrorist organizations."

In his letter, Duterte said the NPA committed 385 "atrocities" in Mindanao, which killed 41 government forces and 23 civilians. He highlighted the death of a 4-month-old infant in an ambush that was supposed to target government forces.

Duterte said the NPA is also responsible for at least 59 arson incidents in Mindanao alone which destroyed properties worth up to P2 billion.

"These recent developments involving the NDF-CPP-NPA forebode another year of intensified armed hostilities which, together with other security concerns described above, continue to make Mindanao a hotbed of rebellions," the President said. – Rappler.com