Martial Law in Mindanao: 15 Things you Should Know

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Marawi attack
Marawi City attacked by suspected ISIS inspired militants belonging to the Maute group on May 23, 2017. Photo by Chico Dimaro Usman

President Rodrigo Duterte declared martial law in the entire Mindanao on Tuesday night, May 23,2017 following the recent terror attacks in Marawi City. This act also gained rapid-fire comments on social media, both negative and positive. There is no doubt that martial law in the Philippines remains a hot issue after former dictator President Ferdinand Marcos imposed it nationwide from year 1972 to 1981. Some people are afraid and in ire after the declaration of President Duterte. However, there are also few who are cautiously in favor of it.

Meanwhile, I listed down 15 things you should know about the martial law in Mindanao.

1. Third Martial Law happened in the country
Aside from the 14-year martial law declared by late President Ferdinand Marcos in 1972, former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo also declared martial law in Maguindanao on December 2009 following the Ampatuan Massacre that killed 57 people including media practitioners.

2. Clashed between the Government Troops, Mautee Group and ISIS

• An armed group that has pledged allegiance to the Islamic State (ISIS)| clashed with the government troops in Marawi City, Lanao del Sur on Tuesday, May 23,2017.
• At around 1:45 p.m. a joint operation of the Armed Forces of the Philippines and Philippine National police began in Marawi to arrest leader Isnilon Hapilon that is believed to be Islamic State (ISIS) leader in Southest Asia.
• By 2:28 p.m. the residents in Barangay Malutlut, Marawi City heard the firefight between the Mautee group and the Government troops.

3. Hapilon is the most wanted terrorist worldwide.
Hapilon has been chosen to lead an ISIS branch in Southeast Asia and is on the US Department of Justice list of the most-wanted terrorists worldwide with a reward of up to $5m for his capture.

4. Abu Sayyaf and Mautee Group have been blamed for the attacks against government forces.
They have been blamed for the bombings, attacks against government forces, beheaded hostages and kidnapping in the Philippines. They have also been blamed for the country’s worst attacks, including the 2004 bombing of a ferry in Manila Bay that killed more than 100 lives.

5. Black Flag was raised.
A black flag was raised in front of the Amai Pakpak Hospital at around 4:34 p.m. which is believed to be of ISIS.

6. Soldier and police officers were killed while some got wounded
Two soldiers and one police officer were killed in the firefight while twelve government forces were wounded.

7. Houses, Colleges, and Churches were shook with gunfire

• At around 9:13 p.m. Dansalan College and Marawi City Jail were on fire, but Senior Supt. Rolly Andaya did not provide further details whether the buildings were deliberately torched by the Mautee members or set ablaze during the encounter.
• Also, attackers reportedly burned a Catholic church, the city jail, and two schools, as well as occupied the main streets and two bridges leading to the city of more than 200,000 people.

8. The President declared Martial Law in Mindanao while he was out of the country.
President Duterte declared martial law in the entire Mindanao at around 10 p.m. due to the ongoing clashes between the government troops and Mautee group terrorists in Marawi City.

9. Martial Law will be in effect for 60 days.
The martial law will be in effect for 60 days, as stipulated in the constitution. The declaration should be affirmed by Congress and should even be reviewed by the Supreme Court in an “appropriate proceeding filed by any citizen.” Congress then has the power to revoke the proclamation by a vote of at least a majority of all members of both the Senate and the House. Conversely, Congress can also — if requested by the President and if public safety requires it – extend the period of martial law beyond 60 days.

10. President Duterte’s meeting with the Russian Prime Minister was postponed.
President Duterte’s meeting with the Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev was postponed as he feels he is needed in Manila as soon as possible. The President has decided to cut his Russia trip short due to the incident, and fly back to the Philippines. But the new Foreign Affairs chief said agreements between the two countries would still be signed.

11. Martial Law to be as harsh as that of Macos
Duterte recalled that during his campaign, he had been asked how he would deal with terrorism and he said that would be harsh. He warned everyone as well not to force his hand to it. Also, he called on Filipinos not to be scared because he will deal the problem once he arrived in the Philippines.

12. No electricity in Marawi City
The whole Marawi City is blacked out. No civilians are roaming around, they are all in their houses but there are several houses that were burned.

13. Davao City was lock down.
They also implemented a lock down for Davao City where they have three checkpoints for those entering the town. Mayor Sarah Duterte also said that police and military are on the lookout for the possible presence of the terrorist group. Also, she is already pursuing efforts by the city’s security forces to remove any Mautee Group members from Davao.

14. Mautee Group occupied several establishments.
The Mautee group occupied several establishments in Marawi City: the Amai Pakpak Hospital, the City Hall, as well as part of the Mindanao State University.

15. British government warned nationals.
On the other hand, the British government warned its nationals to avoid traveling to western Mindanao especially in Marawi where clashes are still ongoing.

The authorities will also start to pick up people whom they suspect to be sympathizers of Mautee, ISIS, or Abu Sayyaf once they receive an official copy of the President’s order to suspend the ‘writ of habeas corpus’.