Philippine president declares martial law for 60 days following extremist attack

Philippine president declares martial law for 60 days following extremist attack

Blake Casey
May 25, 2017

CBCP president Archbishop Socrates Villegas said in a statement on Wednesday that members of the terror group forced their way into St. Mary's Cathedral and took Fr. Teresito "Chito" Suganob, along with a few others.

Hapilon, the man whom Philippine soldiers had sought at the start of the operation, "allegedly served as deputy or second in command for the foreign terrorist organization, Abu Sayyaf Group", according to the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte on Tuesday declared martial law in the south because of the militants' siege on the city.

"The President has called me and asked me to announce that as of 10 p.m. Manila time, he has already declared Martial Law for the entire island of Mindanao", Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella said in a press briefing in Moscow, Russia just before midnight on Tuesday PH time.

A staff member from the Marawi City local government said that they have activated a city crisis committee and peace and order council to pacify the situation.

Abella made the announcement in a press conference in Moscow, saying the President made the decision after meeting his group of advisers in Russian Federation to discuss the situation in Marawi City.

"We have increased the deployment of troops and increased our points of engagement in several places", said Hermogenes Esperon, national security advisor, to president Duterte.

Maute fighters took over a disused building in the region in November and endured five days of military air and ground assaults before fleeing, with 61 fighters killed.

Ano said Hapilon, who was wounded by a military airstrike in January, and more than a dozen of his men summoned reinforcements from their Maute allies.

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Critics and even economists chided Duterte for what they saw as an overreaction in declaring martial law on an island the size of South Korea after an incident in one city.

Martial law allows Duterte to use the armed forces to carry out arrests, searches and detentions more rapidly.

"We will conduct house-to-house clearing and do everything to remove the threat there". We can do that easily, " Ano said, but added it was more hard in an urban setting because of the need to avoid civilian casualties.

Duterte repeatedly threatened to impose martial law early in his term as he faced criticisms on his war against illegal drugs, which led to thousands of deaths.

But authorities were still working to confirm reports that the extremists had disarmed the guards at the Marawi City Jail and freed some of the inmates.

Security analysts say Hapilon has been trying to unite Filipino militant groups that have professed allegiance to IS.

The government has blamed the Maute for a bombing in September 2016 at a street market in Duterte's hometown of Davao City, which killed 14 people and wounded dozens.

Troops found homemade bombs, grenades, combat uniforms and passports of suspected Indonesian militants in the camp.