NEGROS Occidental Representative Alfredo Benitez said Monday, July 24, that the ambush staged by suspected members of the New People's Army in Guihulngan City, Negros Oriental, last Friday could not be used as basis to declare martial law in the Visayas.
The attack claimed the lives of six policemen, including station chief Superintendent Arnel Arpon. Three other police officers were also wounded.
READ: Police chief, 6 others killed in NPA ambush
Benitez said the ambush was staged by the communist rebels to make their presence felt by the government.
"It was a knee-jerk reaction of the communists when President Rodrigo Duterte halted the peace talks with them. We didn't see a spillover. They are just activating their activities," the lawmaker said, adding that
there is nothing to fear now.
He noted that the Department of National Defense and the Armed Forces of the Philippines said it is not necessary to extend the declaration of martial law in the Visayas or Luzon.
So it is contained in Mindanao, Benitez said.
"In fact, there were those who said that martial law should be concentrated in Marawi especially that the military is gaining ground. But our understanding is, the extremists in Mindanao is not just in Marawi. They are spread elsewhere. The problem is not an overnight issue," he added.
"Why extend it? Mindanao has been lagging in terms of development. For one reason, it is because of peace and order. Until the issue on peace and order is address, Mindanao will never develop properly," Benitez said.
He added: "There is no effect on the people as they still act the same way. There are arrests initiated by the military, also tactical warfare in Marawi, but all the rest of Mindanao is still the same. The way I see it, it is actually not impeding the daily lives of people there."