Duterte generals see no reason for nationwide martial law

MANILA, Philippines – Generals advising President Rodrigo Duterte said there is no reason to fear that martial law would be expanded nationwide.

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. 

Three generals close to Duterte, gave assurances this will not happen –National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon Jr, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, and Interior Undersecretary Eduardo Año, who is now supervising the Philippine National Police. 

Esperon and Año are former military chiefs.

Duterte earlier said any decision to expand martial law to also cover Luzon and the Visayas will be based on recommendations from the military and the police. 

"I don't see it happening," Esperon told the media after Congress approved the extension of martial law in Mindanao on Wednesday, December 13.

"I would like to express confidence also that it (martial law) will not be expanded. Kasi dito sa Visayas at Luzon, ang insurgency dito ay kayang-kaya na ng maliitang deployment. At habang umuusad tayo, palagay ko magiging common criminal or police problem 'yan," he said.

(In Luzon and Visayas, the communist insurgency can already be addressed by deploying small units. And as we move forward, I think that will become a common criminal or police problem.)

Año, the newly retired Armed Forces chief who is now supervising the police, shared Esperon's assessment. He was the first implementor of martial law in Mindanao.

"I don’t see any reason na mag-expand. Talagang Mindanao lang. 'Yung CPP-NPA sa Luzon at Visayas, very minimal. Kapag sinabi natin na talagang confined lang sa Mindanao, we mean it (I don't see any reason for expansion. It's really just Mindanao. The CPP-NPA [presence] in Luzon in the Visayas is very minimal. If we say confined to Mindanao, we mean it)," he said. 

Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana already dismissed the idea of nationwide martial law during the deliberation that preceded the vote on Wednesday. (READ: Drilon: Martial extension 'prelude' to PH-wide declaration? and For the second time, Sulu lawmaker pushes for nationwide martial law)

"In Visayas and Luzon, the activities of the CPP-NPA are manageable so I don’t think it will be used to include Visayas and Luzon under martial law,” Lorenzana said. – Rappler.com