Philippine’s Duterte: I will be harsh with army rule on island
Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte warned on May 24 that he would deal harshly with militants, after declaring martial law on Mindanao island following a failed raid on a hideout of Islamic State-linked rebels.
Duterte cut short a visit to Russia and placed the southern island of 22 million people under military rule on May 23, and said he would keep it that way for a year if necessary.
Fighting abated in the mainly Muslim city of Marawi as troops sought to contain dozens of rebels of the Maute group, who escaped a botched raid on May 23 on an apartment and took over streets, bridges and buildings and sought to block army reinforcements. Duterte is a Mindanao native and has long threatened martial law to destroy two groups linked to Islamic State, which he warns is trying to gain a foothold in the Philippines.
He said the situation would be similar to the tough 1970s rule of late dictator Ferdinand Marcos, remembered by many Filipinos as one of the darkest chapters of their recent history.
“To my countrymen who have experienced martial law. It would not be any different from what President Marcos did. I’d be harsh,” Duterte said onboard a flight back to Manila, in a video sent by his staff.
“If it would take a year to do it then we’ll do it. If it’s over with a month, then I’d be happy. To my countrymen, do not be too scared. I’m going home. I will deal with the problem once I arrive.”
Two soldiers and a policeman were killed in Marawi, where Maute fighters took over buildings and set fire to a school, a church and a jail.