MANILA- The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) on Thursday refuted claims of Communist Party of the Philippines founding chair Jose Maria Sison that martial law is a declaration of war against the revolutionary movement.
In a press briefing, military Public Affairs Office (PAO) chief Colonel Edgard Arevalo said the AFP was saddened by Sison's statements as he clarified that going after the New People's Army (NPA) was not the purpose for the declaration of martial law in Mindanao in the first place.
"Ang binabanggit natin dito, nalulungkot po tayo na ang naging interpretasyon ni Ginoong Sison na pagdedeklara ng martial law ay pagdedeklara ng digmaan laban sa kanila," he said in a press briefing.
(What we are saying here is that we are saddened by the interpretation of Mr. Sison that the declaration of martial law is a declaration of war against them.)
Sison on Wednesday told ANC that expanding martial law nationwide, a prospect that the Left has been concerned about, would "certainly be a declaration of war against the revolutionary movement," and warned that the move would "kill" peace negotiations.
"And even the extension of martial law in Mindanao, that would involve the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Philippine National Police and their auxiliary forces attacking the revolutionary forces, especially the NPA and the communities where they are," Sison said.
He made the statement after President Rodrigo Duterte asked Congress to extend until the end of the year the 60-day military rule in Mindanao, set to lapse on Saturday.
Duterte had declared martial law in Mindanao on May 23, when firefights between state troops and Islamic State-linked Maute and Abu Sayyaf terrorists erupted.
The communist movement had earlier criticized President Rodrigo Duterte for placing all of Mindanao under martial rule because of the conflict in Marawi.
Arevalo said martial law was declared due to the threat of terrorists, adding that communist rebels should only fear the declaration if they are part or supporters of terror groups.
"Even the factual basis of the declaration of this martial law has been upheld by the Supreme Court no less," he said.
"Malinaw na ang sinasabi natin na ang target ng martial law ay ang Maute, ISIS group at hindi ang New People's Army," he added.
Duterte on Monday requested Congress to consider the extension of martial rule until December. Congress is set to convene in a joint session on Saturday to decide on the President's request.
On Wednesday, government suspended backchannel talks with the Left following the string of NPA attacks against government forces despite the push for peace negotiations.