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Bayan scores Duterte's martial law threat

There are enough mechanisms to address encounters between state troops and communist rebels, Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) secretary general Renato Reyes, Jr. said Friday as he scored President Rodrigo Duterte's threat to declare martial law.

Reyes claimed the public's attention is being "diverted" with threats of martial law amid what he claimed were the "biggest problems" under the Luzon quarantine: "inadequate mass testing, slow social amelioration for the poor, the economic slowdown and the relentless assaults on human rights."

"Why devote so much airtime on the NPA and Martial Law? These issues were hardly tackled and they are so much more important with the extension of the ECQ (enhanced community quarantine) in many areas of the country," he said.

In a televised address, the President threatened to declare martial law over the New People's Army's (NPA) alleged blocking of aid amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Philippine Army recently claimed that suspected NPA members forcibly took relief goods meant for residents in a sitio in Balangiga, Eastern Samar.

“Maybe I will declare martial law. Ikaw na NPA, numero uno, hinaharang ang tulong sa tao, pati supply ng pagkain nila. Kaya I’m now warning everybody and putting notice sa AFP pati pulis. I might declare martial law and there will be no turning back kung ano ang martial law na klase na gagawin ko,” Duterte said.

According to the 1987 Constitution, the President may only declare martial law "in case of invasion or rebellion, when the public safety requires it."

Reyes also said there was no mention of the government's action on the fatal shooting of a former soldier by a policeman in Quezon City; "why social amelioration has only benefited 4.7M families out of 18M"; and the high rate of COVID-19 infection among healthcare workers.

"Why is our attention being diverted with threats of Martial Law? Why take advantage of the COVID crisis to impose more fascist measures while covering up the more pressing problems?" he said.

"As for questions of the armed encounters, the peace panels of the GRP and NDFP should meet to discuss why such encounters continue despite a cease-fire extension by the CPP. There are enough mechanisms to address these concerns," he added.

Duterte has extended the ECQ to arrest the spread of COVID-19 in the National Capital Region, Central Luzon, Calabarzon, and several other provinces until May 15, with some areas subject to reassessment.—AOL, GMA News