President Rodrigo Duterte declared martial law in the Philippines. The Tuesday order from Duterte applies to only the Mindanao area in the southern region of the country – for now.
Approximately 20 million people live in the southern region of the Philippines where martial law is now in effect. About one-third of the entire population of the Philippines lives in the Mindanao area.
President Duterte said ISIS Philippines problem has escalated. Bloody clashes between ISIS militants and Duterte’s security forces could prompt martial law to be levied across all of the Philippines. For quite some time Duterte has been warning citizens, he was prepared to use martial law to eliminate ISIS threats he felt were hampering safety levels in the Philippines.
Ernesto Abella, a representative of the president, made the shocking announcement during a press conference in Moscow yesterday. Rodrigo Duterte was in Russia on an official state visit when the announcement declaring martial law was issued.
The Philippines martial law order will remain in effect for 60 days. The edict is in line with constitutional restraints placed on the use of military rule in the country, MSN reports.
“Our country needs modern weapons to fight against the Islamic State group we need weapons,” President Duterte said while in Russia meeting with Moscow officials, including President Vladimir Putin.
— RT (@RT_com) May 23, 2017
President Rodrigo Duterte abruptly cut his trip to the Kremlin short so he could return home to the Philippines.
“Units of the Islamic State Group are occupying a province, and there are clashes, a military operation is still ongoing. Unfortunately, I must go there now,” Duterte said in the early stages of his meeting with Putin and other Russian leaders.
Security forces in the Philippines have been fighting with dozens of ISIS-linked militants in the city of Marawi – which is located inside the martial law zone. Approximately 200,000 Mindanao people live in Marawi. The city is located about 500 miles from Manila, the capital of the Philippines.
Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana told the media two soldiers and one police officer were recently killed during violent clashes with ISIS fighters. The carnage occurred when security teams raided a home where they believed Isnilon Hapilon was hiding. Hapilon is reportedly the leader of ISIS groups in the Philippines and the head of the Abu Sayyaf gang known for its kidnapping tactics.
The Abu Sayyaf gang is based on islands located at the southern tip of Mindanao. The gang has claimed responsibility for the kidnappings of hundreds of both Filipinos and visiting foreign tourists. Last year two Canadian citizens were beheaded by the gang after ransom demands for millions of dollars were not met.
Earlier this year an elderly German citizen was also beheaded for the same reason. The group has been blamed for the most vile terror attacks in the Philippines, including the bombing of a Manila Bay ferry in 2004 that killed more than 100 people.
Abu Sayyaf is classified as a terrorist organization by the United States federal government. The State Department has offered a $5 million reward for the capture of Isnilon Hapilon.
Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte declares martial law across Mindanao, after deadly clashes between security forces and Islamists pic.twitter.com/8iCDL258Qo
— AFP news agency (@AFP) May 24, 2017
Social media posts of photos taken inside the Philippines appear to have revealed an armed ISIS fighter strolling through the streets of Marawi putting up black flags which at least look similar to the flags waved by the Islamic State.
According to the defense secretary, more than 100 armed ISIS militants occupy the Marawi jail, hospital, a Catholic church, and burnt out buildings in the Mindanao area.
Many of the ISIS fighters hide in the buildings they occupy and act as snipers to prevent police officers and security forces from entering the area, Lorenzana also said.
— japanenglishnews (@japanenglishne1) May 24, 2017
Muslim militants have been fighting to create an independent homeland in the Mindanao region of the Philippines since the 1970s. To date, the conflict has claimed in excess of 130,000 lives.
This is not the first time martial law has ever been declared in the Philippines. Former dictator Ferdinand Marcos placed the country under military rule during his 20 years in power.
The martial law order by Ferdinand Marcos was handed down primarily to retain his position of authority. Military rule only ended in the Philippines in 1986 as a result of the “People Power” revolution, the Philippine History website notes.
Do you think the martial law order in the Philippines will be renewed after 60 days? Will ISIS security concerns ever prompt the declaration of martial law in the United States?
[Featured Image by 1000 Words/Shutterstock]