MANILA - The additional deployment of troops in Bicol, Samar, and Negros provinces under the orders of President Rodrigo Duterte targets members of the New People's Army, a Philippine National Police official said Monday.
Senior Supt. Benigno Durana, PNP spokesperson, cited recent raids in those provinces, as well as the farmers' "bungkalan" activities in Negros, calling them "early indications" of "lawless violence and acts of terror" that might spread if not prevented.
"These are early indications that if the state does not address the lawless violence and acts of terror committed by the CPP-NPA-NDF, it might spread in some other areas. So this is just a proactive measure based on the normal power of the state," he told ANC.
But Rey Casambre, consultant of the National Democratic Front's peace panel, said memorandum order 32 should be challenged in court as it formally tags communist rebels as terrorists, without any court ruling.
"There is a declaration by the President last year, declaring CPP-NPA as a terrorist organization. But that doesn't make it legal, you need a court order to do that... It's dangerous for the PNP to repeatedly describe the CPP-NPA as communist terrorists," he said.
Citing a "number of sporadic acts of violence," Malacañang on Friday issued memorandum order 32, ordering the deployment of more troops to Bicol, Samar, and the Negros provinces to "prevent such violence from spreading and escalating elsewhere in the country."
Several members of the opposition slammed what they say is a "fear-mongering" and a "dictatorial and terroristic" move, with some even saying it's a prelude to martial law, if not de facto military rule.
Durana, for his part, assured the public that the PNP has "no appetite" for the declaration of a nationwide martial law.