President Duterte Declares Martial Law in Part of the Philippines

Gabriel Pore, Staff Reporter

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has declared martial law in order to fight ISIS in his home province of Mindanao. “I had to declare martial law in the Mindanao group of islands,” he told in a news conference Wednesday. “It is our constitutional duty to enforce the law and provide security.”

His decision of putting martial law in place expands over the city of Marawi and the bigger side of Mindanao, was because of the violence of the Islamic group against the public and the Filipino government.

The fighting began in Marawi with a population of 200,000 residents. President Duterte says if any violence continues, he would not be afraid to go farther.

“If I think that the ISIS has already taken foothold also in Luzon and terrorism is not really far behind, I might declare martial law throughout the country to protect the people,” he told reporters, in footage on CNN.

This announcement meant his visit to Russia had to be shortened.

“Fighters of the Islamic State launch a wide-scale offensive on positions of Philippine troops in the city of Marawi,” ISIS’ media wing, Amaq Agency, said in an online announcement.

Political spokesman Ernesto Abella said that the group has taken control of a few government buildings within the city. They have also torched others such as a church, school, and the city jail. There has been three government officials who have died, and twelve who are wounded from the fighting.

The jihadists claimed their first attack on the city last year. During the past year there has been several military leaders assassinated. CNN coverage called this latest attack on Marawi has been the “most ambitious yet.”

Mindanao is home to a relatively high population of Muslims, but the rest of the country, is overwhelmingly Catholic.

Terrorism has been a constant problem in the southern Philippines for almost a decade. Maute and Abu Sayyaf are located in this region.

Duterte is known worldwide for his extreme stance against drug users and dealers; he has claimed in previous statements that he has personally killed more than one dealer.  His policy in the Philippine capital of Manila has allowed the street execution of suspected drug dealers without arrests or trials.