President of the Philippines Rodrigo Duterte

MANILA – Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte threatened to impose martial law nationwide to combat the rising threat of terrorism after extremist militants rampaged through a southern city.
Duterte declared martial law on Tuesday, May 23 for the southern region of Mindanao — which makes up roughly one-third of the country and is home to 20 million people — in an immediate response to the attacks by the gunmen, who have pledged allegiance to the Islamic State group.
The fighting erupted on Tuesday after security forces raided a house where they believed Isnilon Hapilon, a leader of the infamous Abu Sayyaf kidnap-for-ransom gang and Philippine head of IS, was hiding.
The militants responded to the raid by burning buildings and conducting other diversionary tactics in Marawi, a mostly Muslim-populated city of 200,000 people.
The roughly 100 militants roamed through Marawi city, killing five soldiers, taking a priest and an unspecified number of other people hostage from a church, setting fire to buildings and flying black IS flags, according to Duterte and his aides.
The fighting eased on May 25, as army tanks packed with soldiers rolled into Marawi to try to restore control and troops began clearing out the city.
At least 21 people had died in the fighting, including 11 civilians murdered by the militants, according to government officials.
Marawi Mayor Majul Gandamra said some rebels from the Maute, a militant group that has pledged allegiance to Islamic State, were still holed up in buildings and sporadic gunfire could be heard. He said troops had isolated the guerrillas but were not engaging them.
Duterte said the militants had beheaded a local police chief after capturing him at a road checkpoint they had set up, as he expressed outrage at what he called the growing threat from militants allied to IS in Mindanao.
“I will not hesitate to do anything and everything to protect and preserve the Filipino nation,” the president said. “I might declare martial law throughout the country to protect the people.”
“Martial law of Mr. Marcos was very good,” Duterte said as he railed against human rights campaigners and other critics of his drug war.
Duterte said his own version of martial law would mean security forces would be able to conduct searches and arrest people without securing warrants first.
He also said there would be curfews for some provinces in Mindanao, and that martial law would remain until the terrorism threat had ended.
Japantimes.com/ AFP, Reuters

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