The Philippines’ president, Rodrigo Duterte, accused communist rebels of disrupting the government’s efforts to help its citizens amid the Covid-19 pandemic. He said he is seriously considering imposing martial law.
“I’m warning everybody, and putting the armed forces and the police on notice, that I might declare martial law. There will be no turning back,” Duterte said on Friday, threatening to take swift action against the Communist New People’s Army (NPA), which has been active in the country since the late 1960s.
“I have two more years. I will try to finish all of you – including you, the legal [fronts]. You should go and hide,” Duterte said.
The Philippine leader accused NPA fighters of disrupting relief measures amid the Covid-19 pandemic, saying that they have recently “gunned down” soldiers who were helping with the distribution of aid to citizens.
According to the Philippine military, the insurgents ambushed an army unit in the Aurora province in the northern island of Luzon on Wednesday. Two government soldiers were killed and three more wounded in the firefight. The unit was patrolling the area during the delivery of aid by social welfare services amid the lockdown, the Philippine Army said.
The rebels have previously denied interfering with Covid-19 relief activities and claimed they were helping locals cope with the pandemic.
Duterte said last week that he is considering imposing martial law to enforce quarantine rules.
The NPA is listed as a terrorist group by the EU and the US.
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‘It would be like martial law. You choose’: Philippines leader Duterte threatens to deploy troops to enforce Covid-19 quarantine
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