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Duterte declares martial law in Mindanao as fighting erupts in Marawi, 44 are killed

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Photo from Facebook | @rodyduterte

 

MOSCOW/MANILA (via PhilAmPress) — President Duterte declared martial law in entire Mindanao on  May 23 after fighting raged in Marawi City between government forces and terrorists from the Maute group which is linked to the Islamic State (IS) group in which a policeman and two soldiers were killed and many soldiers were reported to have been injured.


It was gathered that  the terrorists have reportedly taken over several establishments, including a hospital, a church and a college and held many persons, including a Catholic priest.

 

As of May 27, a total of 44 persons on the government and terrorists’ side have been killed, including a chief of police and two other policemen, several soldiers and more than 30 suspected Maute Group terrorists, during the skirmishes as the terrorists took over several government installations, including a hospital and the city jail and  a church held a priest and many civilians hostage.

 

It was reported that some Indonesians, Malaysians and Singaporeans were among the terrorists killed.

 

Lt. Gen. Carlito Galvez, commander of the Western Mindanao Command (Wesmincom), said six soldiers were killed while seven were wounded during clashes with the terrorists on Friday, May 26.

 

The fresh government casualties are in addition to the seven soldiers and two policemen killed and 31 soldiers and two policemen wounded earlier reported by authorities.

 

Many civilians were also killed in the clashes even as many people evacuated to safer places outside Marawi City.

 

Thirty-one supposed members of the Maute group were killed since the start of the siege in Marawi City on Tuesday, May 23, according to Brig. Gen. Rolly Bautista, commander of 1st Infantry Division of the Philippine Army.

 

For the past years, Mindanao has been besieged with the IS-linked Maute group, the New People's Army, the Abu Sayyaf Group and secessionist rebels.

 

Mr. Duterte made the declaration from Moscow, where he was on a four-day official visit, according to Presidential spokesperson Ernesto Abella who said the declaration took effect at 10 p.m. on Tuesday, May 23. 

 

Duterte cut short his official visit in Moscow and flew back to Manila Thursday, May 26, while some members of his party like Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Pinol and Tourism Secretary Wanda Teo stayed behind.

 

Piñol signed later a Memorandum of Understanding with the Russian Federation’s Ministry of Agriculture to bring about food security in the Philippines through cooperation and research in agriculture and fisheries, livestock breeding, processing, and transportation and storage of agriculture and fishery products and other agricultural products.

 

Tourism Secretary Wanda Teo, on the other hand, signed a Joint Action Program on Cooperation in the Field of Tourism 2017-2019 at the Four Seasons Hotel in Moscow, saying the signing of the agreement is a manifestation of the joint pursuit of Russia and the Philippines towards a wider range of cooperation. The Philippines targets to attract part of the three million Russian tourists who travel to Southeast Asia every year, she said.

 

Prior to boarding his plane back to Manila, Duterte  martial law in Mindanao will be no different from the martial lawperiod during the time of President Ferdinand Marcos, saying he will deal harshly with terrorists.

 

The President told Filipinos not to be scared, saying he is cutting his short his trip to Russia to deal with the terrorist attackin Marawi City.

 

"Mga kababayan, do not be too scared. I am going home. I am cutting my visit here to be with my countrymen and I will deal with the problem once I arrive," he said.

 

He also pointed out that he had vowed to deal harshly with terrorism even during the presidential campaign.

 

"Let me just tell everybody that I have declared martial law for Mindanao. How long? Well, if it will take a year to do it, we'll do it. If it's over within a month, I will be happy. Pero ang martial law is martial law ha. So kayong mga kababayan ko, you have experienced martial law it will not be any different from what the President Marcos did. I'll be harsh."

 

"I have to do it to preserve the Republic of the Philippines," Duterte stressed.

 

Abella said the declaration was good for 60 days.

 

"The President has called me and asked me to announce that as of 10 p.m. Manila time, he has already declared Martial Law for the entire island of Mindanao," he said in a press briefing in Moscow, Russia.

 

Abella said the President placed the entire Mindanao island under martial law to suppress terrorist groups from wreaking further havoc in Southern Philippines.


“In order to suppress lawless violence and rebellion and for public safety, it is necessary to declare Martial Law in the entire island of Mindanao, including Sulu, Jolo and Tawi-Tawi for a period of 60 days,”  Abella said in a statement released by Malacanang.

 

“The government is in full control of the situation and is fully aware that the Maute/ISIS and similar groups have the capability, though limited, to disturb the peace; these have shown no hesitation in causing havoc, taking innocent lives and destroying property,” Abella added.

 

Earlier, Malacañang said that foremost in President Duterte’s mind is the nation’s interest and asked for public calm and cooperation.

 

“Let us be clear that first and foremost, the President's priority is the nation's interest. He has full confidence in the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Philippine National Police’s management of the situation. We ask that the residents take all precaution, cooperate with authorities, and stay calm,” Abella said.

 

Foreign Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano said Mr. Duterte decided to cut short his visit as he is required by the Constitution to submit a report to Congress within 48 hours of the declaration of martial law.

 

Mr. Duterte’s meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin was set to be postponed but Mr. Putin returned to Moscow Tuesday evening in time and met Duterte.

 

The two leaders smiled and shook hands with each other upon meeting.

 

Duterte explained the reason for his abrupt departure, saying he had a problem with the ISIS and had to head home to attend to the urgent matter.

 

He offered friendship to Putin and assured the Russian President that the Philippines has gone beyond the ambit of western influence.

 

During the meeting, Duterte asked Putin for a softloan that would be used to purchase firearms because the arms deal with the United States was cancelled.

 

He also told the Russian leader that members of ISIS have occupied some provinces in the country.

 

Duterte also said he had to halt his visit to Moscow and return home as there was still fighting with ISIS's militants there.

 

Putin said he hoped the conflict in the Philippines would be resolved "with minimum losses". He also said there were the prospects for economic and military cooperation between Moscow and Manila.

 

During the meeting, Duterte asked Putin for a softloan that would be used to purchase firearms because the arms deal with the United States was cancelled as he informed the Russian leader that members of ISIS have occupied some areas in the country.

Duterte also said he had to halt his visit to Moscow and return home as there was still fighting with ISIS's militants there.

Putin said he hoped the conflict in the Philippines would be resolved "with minimum losses," adding there were the prospects for economic and military cooperation between Moscow and Manila.


Cayetano said the priority of Duterte is the safety of people in Mindanao.

"They understand that the presence of the President, of President Duterte is essential in the Philippines. But I will be staying behind. The agreements will be signed," he said.

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