MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte on Wednesday, May 24, said he declared martial law in Mindanao due to the threat of the terrorist group Islamic State (ISIS).
"The hardest thing to deal with would be the arrival of ISIS in our country and it has come to pass, that there is really war going on," Duterte said in a press briefing upon his arrival from Russia, where he had an official trip.
"Government must put an end to this. I cannot gamble with ISIS because they are everywhere and you know what is happening or you must be very aware of what is happening in the Middle East," he added.
Duterte also volunteered that he may expand the scope of martial rule to the entire Philippines if the threat of ISIS persists. (READ: Duterte eyes expanding martial law to entire PH)
Duterte made these remarks a day after he declared martial law in Mindanao on Tuesday, May 23, due to a terror attack by the Maute Group in Marawi City.
Duterte on Wednesday morning said he will be "harsh" in implementing martial law, which he said "will not be any different" from the military rule under dictator Ferdinand Marcos.
The President had earlier warned about martial law in Mindanao. The last time he raised this prospect was on May 19, or 4 days before he declared martial law in the southern Philippines.
"And if I declare martial law in Mindanao, I will solve all that ails the island," Duterte said on May 19.
Clashes in Marawi City began on Tuesday afternoon after the Philippine military launched a surgical strike against "high-value targets" belonging to the Abu Sayyaf Group and the Maute Group. Clashes with the Maute Group killed at least one policeman as of 8 pm.
With a population of more than 201,780 people, Marawi is the most populous city in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM). – Rappler.com
Paterno R. Esmaquel II is a senior reporter leading Rappler’s coverage of religion and foreign affairs. He finished MA Journalism in Ateneo and MSc Asian Studies (Religions in Plural Societies) at RSIS, Singapore. For story ideas or feedback, email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.