Duterte declares martial law in southern Philippines

Duterte declared martial rule for 60 days in the entire southern Mindanao region, the restive third of the Philippine archipelago, Tuesday evening to try to crush Muslim extremists who have aligned themselves with the Islamic State group and occupied a hospital, jail and other buildings and battled troops in an audacious attack in Marawi City.

Lorenzana said on Tuesday night that many gunmen were hiding in buildings as snipers, making it hard for security forces to combat them.

"I have to do it to preserve the Republic of the Philippines, the Filipino people", he said.

On Tuesday, government forces clashed with Maute fighters in Marawi City.

He said many were hiding in buildings as snipers, making it hard for security forces to combat them.

By 10 p.m. local time (10 a.m. EDT), Duterte had ordered martial law to be imposed in Mindanao after the region was plagued by confusion and violence. They had learned Isnilon Hapilon was in the area, but according to Lorenzana, the military had not expected him to be backed up by "more or less 100 fighters" - many of whom were members of another ISIS-linked organization, the Maute Group.

He said military reinforcements from Manila and the nearby province of Zamboanga were on the way to Marawi.

"But if there will be loss of lives needlessly, and without reason, just to kill, kill, and kill, I will declare martial law in Mindanao".

In a press briefing on Tuesday night in Moscow, Russia where Duterte is on a four-day official visit, Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano said that the president would not be staying on until the 24th and 25th of May, effectively cutting his trip there by two days.

Photos posted on social media by residents showed the gunmen walking through the streets of Marawi and placing black flags that looked similar to those used by IS.

Duterte met late Tuesday with Russian President Vladimir Putin and said he is counting on Russia to supply weapons for the Philippines to fight terrorism.

These include the Maute group, which is based near Marawi, hundreds of kilometres to the north of the Abu Sayyaf strongholds. I hate to do it.

"I said I would be harsh, and I warned everybody not to force my hand into it", Duterte said.

Opposition Senator Francis Pangilinan, president of the Liberal Party, expressed concern on Wednesday that martial law could lead to military abuses, citing extrajudicial killings under Marcos.

"Of course, our country needs modern weapons, we had orders in the United States, but now the situation there is not very smooth and in order to fight the Islamic State, with their units and factions, we need modern weapons", he said, according to state news agency Tass.

  • Leroy Wright