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Duterte declares martial law in Mindanao


President Rodrigo Duterte declared the entire island of Mindanao in Southern Philippines under Martial Law. The announcement was made by Palace spokesperson Ernesto Abella a few minutes past 11 p.m. on Tuesday.

He added that the effectivity of the martial rule will last 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 quoted Deputy Executive Secretary Menardo Guevarra for legal affairs that the declaration was possible on the grounds of rebellion.

Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano, during the same press conference, said Duterte will cut short his Russia trip following the atrocities in Marawi City.

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.

"The President will not be staying until the 24th or the 25th," he added, but clarified that a formal announcement would be made later.

Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana named the establishments and facilities supposedly burned by the terrorist Maute group.

"Our troops reacted properly but as of tonight, the Maute group burned several facilities, the St. Mary's Church, city jail, the Ninoy Aquino school and the Dansalan college. The Maute fighters still occupy also the main street of Marawi City," Lorenzana said.

Lorenzana also took note that there were three fatalities while 12 were injured following the incident.

"As of tonight, there were three killed government troops, one PNP and two army... and 12 wounded. The whole of Marawi City is blacked out, there is no light and there are Maute snipers all around. So the troops are still on holding and several troops have joined them from other several neighboring units," he said.

The Defense Secretary added that on Wednesday, more troops from Zamboanga and Manila will be brought in Marawi City.

He also said there were no civilians roaming around the streets as they stay in their houses.

Abella underscored that the declaration had to be implemented in the region.

"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," he said.

"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," he added.

Duterte's announcement is the third time martial law is declared in the country.

The first was declared by the late President Ferdinand Marcos in 1972, placing the entire country under martial law.

The second time was declared by President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo in 2009 when the province of Maguindanao was under a state of martial law after at least 57 people were killed in Ampatuan town.

Proclamation No. 1959 placed the province under a State of Martial Law and suspended the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus, except for certain areas. — BAP, GMA News

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