MOSCOW, Russia — President Rodrigo Duterte on Tuesday declared martial law in Mindanao following an attempt by a local criminal organization take over Marawi City.
Presidential Spokesperson Efren Abella made the announcement here in Moscow where Duterte is scheduled to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin. He added that the President will cut short his five-day visit to Russia which is supposed to end on Friday although it is not clear whether he would cancel his Thursday meeting with Putin.*
According to the 1987 Constitution, martial rule will be in effect for 60 days. It may be lengthened or shortened by the President depending on the security situation. It may cover the entire country or just a portion of it.
Moreover, Duterte has 48 hours to submit to congress his reason/s for imposing martial law. Congress may then decided to overturn his decision by calling its members for a vote. With the imposition of martial law, warrantless arrests, curfew hours and other stringent security measures, including the suspension of habeas corpus, will be implemented.
The declaration of martial rule was made at about 10 pm Philippine time after Duterte learned that members of Maute Group ambushed a combined police and army units and tried to take over the city’s hospital and police station. The Maute Group earlier pledged allegiance to the international terrorist group Islamic State or Daesh operating in Syria and Iraq.
Meanwhile, the Philippine armed forces issued an updated statement regarding its operation in Marawi City:
“Our operation is still ongoing in Marawi City and sporadic firefight is still continuing. We can not provide specifics at this point. The joint AFP-PNP team that is after Isnilon Hapilon and his cohorts is determined to finish him off. We are also acting on reports of armed men occupying the hospital and some other buildings. This operation initiated earlier today by the AFP and PNP was based on reliable information from many concerned citizens tired of terrorism and its effects. We have enough troops and law enforcers on the ground as well as all the appropriate equipment to support our troops. We strongly urge the residents in these areas to remain calm and stay in their homes or evacuate to safer areas if they still can. We also appeal to all our citizens to continue to provide information on enemy location and their movements so we can swiftly conclude this important security operation. Our citizens have the opportunity to contribute and are encouraged to perform their patriotic duty to ensure the safety of their community.”
- Russian President Vladimir Putin and Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev are now meeting with Duterte before his scheduled flight back to the Philippines.