Duterte makes rape joke after ordering martial law

More than 44 people have died since terrorists launched their attack Tuesday against the city of Marawi on the island of Mindanao.

President Rodrigo Duterte, who declared martial law on the island of Mindanao in the southern Philippines on Tuesday night, vowed to crack down on local militants who have alleged links with ISIS and seek to carve out a caliphate out of Mindanao.

Military spokesman Brig. Gen. Restituto Padilla said combat operations were still going on but the militants were weakening.

"They want to leave".

At least 19 civilians have been killed in continuing clashes between the armed forces of the Philippines and Islamist insurgents in the city of Marawi, military officials say. Thousands of people were stranded, anxious they could be intercepted by militants that have set up checkpoints on routes out of the city. The military says Maute has yet to be endorsed by Islamic State, or ISIS, as one of its affiliates.

They were apprehended by some 20 Maute Group members at a bridge in Barangay Napindan, and all were told to recite a Muslim prayer. "The others were not so lucky", a visibly shocked Bandung said.

With fears growing that IS is seeking a presence in the country, Duterte offered to pay and even house fighters from groups that have long opposed the Philippine state if they would work to defeat a common enemy, the Maute group.

The military announced on Saturday, the start of the holy month of Ramadan, that it would intensify the bombing campaign.

"Our ground commanders have assured that the end is nearly there", Brigadier General Restituto Padilla said in a televised briefing in Manila on Monday (May 29).

"Any arrest, search, and seizure executed or implemented in the area or place where martial law is effective, including the filing of charges, should comply with the Revised Rules of Court and applicable jurisprudence", it also said.

Meanwhile, an AFP reporter heard intense gunfire on Monday afternoon near the main university in Marawi, and saw smoke apparently from a bomb explosion rise up in the distance.

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.

Hapilon's group then called in reinforcements and torched buildings, posted snipers on roof-tops to repel troops and took an unknown number of hostages, including a Catholic priest. Duterte has vowed to extinguish the threat of the militants, whom he has said belong to the local Maute terrorist group but are being backed by criminals in the area.

Malaysia, Indonesian, Singaporean and other foreign fighters had joined them, the military said.

He said there were still dead bodies in Marawi and civilians wanted the military to stop air strikes. "It will just exacerbate the situation", said Renato Reyes of the New Patriotic Alliance group.

"The arms we ordered from America [was] cancelled", Mr Duterte said.

The main Muslim rebel groups have signed accords with the government aimed at forging a final peace, giving up their separatist ambitions in return for autonomy.

However there appear to be an extremely small chance of talks, unless they are to negotiate the release of the hostages.

  • Leroy Wright