Crowds protest Duterte's martial law

Elias Hubbard
May 27, 2017

"We expect it between 2 days to one week from now", Lorenzana told Rappler in Iligan City.

Former Philippine president and democracy hero Fidel Ramos on Friday slammed President Rodrigo Duterte's threats to impose martial law, warning against inevitable abuses under military rule. Duterte won the presidency a year ago on a campaign to eradicate drug crime and has since launched an expansive national counter-drug trafficking operation that many in Europe have criticized for allegedly not taking the safety of civilians into consideration. Their condition is unknown.

Authorities said 11 soldiers, two policemen and 31 militants had been killed in the three days of fighting, while the military said another 39 soldiers had been wounded. That has slowed efforts to end the most serious crisis President Rodrigo Duterte has faced since he took power almost a year ago.

Malaysia's Special Branch police said its intelligence indicates at least five other Malaysians are still in Marawi City and that it will take the time to verify the numbers and their identities, said The Malay Mail Online.

He said the refusal of the militants to surrender is holding the city captive. The violence forced thousands to flee and raised fears of growing extremism in the country.

According to some Philippine military officials, there were about 50-100 Islamic gunmen on the island. Civilians waved flags from their windows to show they are not combatants.

While the government was able to reclaim some previously Maute-occupied areas and rescue trapped civilians, the Armed Forces said clearing operations are still ongoing.

Philippine military spokesman Brig-Gen Restituto Padilla said six foreign fighters were believed to have been killed in the Marawi fighting, including Malaysians, Indonesians and another nationality which he did not specify. They want to make Mindanao as part of the caliphate.

Padilla said that this will be part of the Martial Law guidelines being crafted which will now be on the part of the administrator to exercise.

Duterte recently warned that Islamic State fighters driven from Iraq and Syria would end up in the southern Philippines and his country was at risk of "contamination". The province is a stronghold for the Maute group, which has pledged allegiance to so-called Islamic State (IS). President Rodrigo Duterte said a local police chief was stopped at a militant checkpoint and beheaded. The ensuing battle between government forces and the ISIS-affiliated Maute groups with the Filipina troops launching strikes from air and land to the predominantly Muslim city. The operation went wrong as the militants called in reinforcements and swept through the mostly Muslim city of 200,000 people.

The Abu Sayyaf is also blamed for the Philippines' deadliest terror attacks, including the 2004 bombing of a ferry in Manila that claimed 116 lives.

All of the groups are inspired by the Islamic State group, but so far there is no sign of significant, material ties. He also heads an alliance of at least 10 smaller militant groups, including the Maute, which has a presence in Marawi and was instrumental in fighting off government forces in this week's battles. Washington has placed him on its list of most-wanted terrorists and offered a $5 million reward for information leading to his capture.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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