Duterte Declares Martial Law, Moves Putin Meeting

Duterte cut short a visit to Russian Federation and placed the southern island of 22 million people under military rule on Tuesday, and said he would keep it that way for a year if necessary. He said if necessary he would keep it that way for a year, while assuring that there will be no abuses under martial rule.

Most recently, in March, he said he may impose martial law to aid his brutal crackdown on the country's drug trade.

The southern region of Mindanao is home to about 20 million people and on Tuesday night gunmen who had declared allegiance to the Islamic State group rampaged through a southern city.

However Tuesday's announcement restricted martial law to Mindanao. "Unfortunately, I must go there now", he said at the start of the meeting. Duterte declared martial rule for 60 days in the entire Mindanao region, the restive southern third of the Philippine archipelago.

Several militants were killed in the fighting in Marawi city in Lanao del Sur province, about 830 kilometers (520 miles) south of Manila, but others continued to lay siege to the largely Muslim city of more than 200,000 people, officials said, adding that power was cut in the city in a chaotic scene.

"And if I declare martial law in Mindanao, I will solve all that ails the island".

"It is actually Maute or ISIS because they are the same", the defense secretary said, adding that he believed that the crisis in Marawi City had worldwide backing.

The husband of a church worker abducted along with a priest and parishioners by Muslim extremists in a southern Philippine city is appealing for the release of the captives.

"In light of what is happening in Marawi City, we call on our fellow Filipinos in Mindanao to be security conscious at all times and remain vigilant in your day to day activities". He said Wednesday he is anxious about his wife, a secretary at the cathedral, because she does not have her medicines for a heart problem.

"Please do not force my hand into it".

Mayormita said he had not been able to contact his wife since then.

For months Duterte had been warning that he would enforce military rule.

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.

Police said the May 6 blast was sparked by a personal feud, but the Islamic State group claimed its fighters were responsible. The priest, Father Chito, and the others had no role in the conflict, Archbishop Villegas said.

The fighting in Marawi erupted on Tuesday afternoon after security forces raided a house where they believed Isnilon Hapilon, a leader of the infamous Abu Sayyaf kidnap gang and Philippine head of IS, was hiding.

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.

  • Leroy Wright