Philippines: Duterte's hometown Davao in lockdown

The emergency declaration took immediate effect and will last for 60 days, according to presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella, who made the announcement on Tuesday from Russian Federation, where Duterte was on a scheduled four-day official visit.

Duterte also told press that he might expand the scope of martial law to the Visayas region.

The Maute has been blamed for a bombing that killed 15 people in southern Davao city, Duterte's hometown, last September and a number of attacks on government forces in Lanao, although it has faced setbacks from a series of military offensives.

Partly in response to American criticism, Duterte has loosened the Philippines' traditionally strong ties with its ally.

Duterte's declaration fulfilled an often-repeated promise to impose martial law to combat the IS-linked militants, whom he has said are a growing threat to national security.

Duterte's seeking of weapons from Russian Federation comes as he dials down cooperation with the U.S., the Philippines' former colonial ruler that has for decades been its most important military ally and protector.

The constitution limits martial law to 60 days unless congress agrees to extend it. Duterte warned today it could last for a year. He has repeatedly threatened to place the south, the scene of decades-long Muslim separatist uprisings, under martial law.

The Maute Group started to occupy some establishments in the city, including a hospital, the city hall, the city jail and part of the Mindanao State University compound, he said.

Or, as Philippine Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano put it Tuesday: They are groups that "have been auditioning for recognition in ISIS".

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte says "we are in a state of emergency" and skirmishes with Muslim militants who attacked a southern city are continuing.

One policeman and two soldiers were killed in the clashes, which began when police and soldiers raided a house where they believed Isnilon Hapilon, a leader of the infamous Abu Sayyaf kidnap gang and Philippine head of IS, was hiding. "I've never seen anything like they are, but we don't have to use this, but he could be insane, so we will see what happens".

"We can't let a madman with nuclear weapons let loose like that", the president stressed, "We have a lot of firepower, more than he has, times 20, but we don't want to use it".

"I'm appealing to residents of Marawi City to stay home, drop on the ground if they hear gunshots. If it's over within a month, then I'd be happy", Duterte said in a video posted on Facebook by Mocha Uson, the assistant secretary to the Presidential Communications Operation Office. The bureau has placed him on its own list of Most Wanted Terrorists.

Hapilon, an Arabic-speaking Islamic preacher known for his expertise on commando assaults, pledged allegiance to the Islamic State group in 2014.

  • Leroy Wright