Rodrigo Duterte Vows To Be ‘Harsh’ On Terrorism, Would Extend Martial Law In South Philippines If Required

Following the attack in Marawi, a predominantly Muslim city in the Philippines, President Rodrigo Duterte has vowed to be harsh in handling terrorism on Wednesday. The pledge from the president has come after his declaration of martial law on the island of Mindanao for 60 days.

Rodrigo Duterte said that if required, martial law could also be extended to a year in the south Philippines. Martial law was declared by the Philippine president on Tuesday. The Marawi attack saw a clash between security forces and the Maute group, leaving two soldiers and a policeman dead and 12 people injured.

The Maute militant group members hijacked the buildings and set fire to a church, a school, and also a detention center. Marawi is a place with almost 200,000 people, a majority of whom are Muslims. Philippine Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said that the battle began when security forces allegedly raided a house where Isnilon Hapilon was believed to be hiding. Hapilon is the leader of Abu Sayyaf kidnapping gang and also Philippine head of the ISIS.

“To my countrymen who have experienced martial law. It would not be any different from what President Marcos did. I’d be harsh,” Duterte said in an interview while on a flight back from Russia to Manila as reported by The Wire. “If it would take a year to do it then we’ll do it. If it’s over with a month, then I’d be happy. To my countrymen, do not be too scared. I’m going home. I will deal with the problem once I arrive.”

Rodrigo Duterte said that the handling of terrorism in a harsh way was one of the promises he made in 2016 during his election campaign. He said that he was required to take a strict step against terrorism as he needed to protect “the Republic of the Philippines, the Filipino people.”

The tough move taken by Rodrigo Duterte seems to have gathered support from all niches across the Philippines. The Supreme Court announced on Wednesday that no court will remain closed in Mindanao until the martial law period of 60 days is over.

“In view of the President’s declaration of Martial Law for 60 days over the entire Island of Mindanao, the Chief Justice directs all courts in Mindanao to remain open and all judges to remain in station,” the high court said.

Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno, in addition, said that all the judges in the city will need to report the situations to their respective executive heads, who will then report the instances to the Office of the Court Administrator, or OCAD. OCAD is a legal set-up that looks after all the courts and their personnel across the Philippines. This includes regional and metropolitan courts as well as their judges and other staff.

The president also said that martial law in Mindanao will be similar to what late leader Ferdinand Marcos applied in the nation. It was in the early 1970s when he placed the Philippines under martial law, which continued throughout his two-decade presidency. The incident led to the People Power Revolution in 1986.

Martial law, in the most general sense, is when a head of a nation declares a particular area to be under the control of their armed forces. Once martial law is imposed in an area, it is subject to the imposition of curfews, suspension of civil law and civil rights, and application of military law and justice. It is similar to the “state of emergency” in some nations across the globe. Rodrigo Duterte announced the status of Mindanao in a briefing held in Moscow. He cut short his Russia trip after the Marawi incident.

[Featured Image by Wu Hong/Pool/Getty Images]