AFP chief on nationwide martial law: 'We can never tell'

MANILA, Philippines – Armed Forces chief General Rey Leonardo Guerrero offered no public assurance that martial law will not be expanded nationwide. 

"We can never tell for now. We can only extend our projections up to what the information we have at hand. Based on the information we have at hand, we need to focus in Mindanao," Guerrero told reporters on Friday, December 15.

"As for the other parts of the country, nobody can tell. It depends on developments and of course it will depend on the actions of the other side," he added. 

President Rodrigo Duterte earlier said a nationwide declaration of martial law is possible if the New People's Army (NPA), the armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines, grows and becomes a bigger threat after the cancellation of peace talks. (READ: Duterte on nationwide martial law: All options on the table)

Duterte said this will be the call of the military and the police. 

Retired generals advising Duterte had dismissed this possibility, however. National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon Jr, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, and newly retired AFP chief Eduardo Año said they saw no reason for an expanded martial law.

Año is now an Undersecretary at the Deparment of the Interior and Local Government tasked to supervise the police. (READ: Duterte generals see no reason for nationwide martial law)

NPA presence is concentrated in Mindanao but they are also active in pockets of Luzon and the Visayas. But Esperon, Lorenzana, and Año said the communist rebels outside Mindanao can be reduced to a police concern. –