Expect more action in NPA-affected areas: AFP chief

By Priam Nepomuceno

December 15, 2017, 4:09 pm

MANILA -- With the one-year extension of martial law, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) is expected to put up more checkpoints and conduct more patrols in Mindanao, particularly in New People's Army (NPA) affected areas.

This was disclosed by AFP Chief of Staff Gen. Rey Leonardo Guerrero during a press briefing Friday.

He made this comment when asked what Mindanaoans should expect now that martial law has been extended for one year in Mindanao.

"There will be less skirmishes in Marawi now that operations there have winded down but in NPA affected areas, they can expect more actions (e.g. patrols and checkpoints from) the military, it will be more intensified (in) scope and coverage," Guerrero said in Filipino.

The rationale for this is to establish visibility and presence in population centers to deter the NPAs' terroristic actions, the AFP chief added.

Aside from the communist rebels, military efforts will also focus on Sulu, Basilan, and parts of Central Mindanao where lawless elements like the Abu Sayyaf and other terrorist elements like the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters and their allies are known to operate.

Martial law in Mindanao was declared on May 23 following heavy attacks by Maute Group terrorists in Marawi City. Congress, in a special joint session in July, granted the extension of martial law until December 31 this year at the President's request.

The Senate and House of Representatives, convening in a joint session early this week, granted President Rodrigo Duterte's request for the extension of martial law and the suspension of the privilege of writ of habeas corpus for a period of one year from Jan. 1 to Dec. 31, 2018.

A total of 240 members of Congress voted to approve the resolution of both houses calling for martial law extension in Mindanao, while only 27 voted against it.

There was no abstention. A total of 14 senators voted in favor of the motion and four were against it, while 226 House members approved the motion and 23 rejected it. (PNA)