The Philippine President, Rodrigo R. Duterte recently declared martial law over Mindanao following a terrorist attack by the Maute group in a city in Western Mindanao, Marawi City last Tuesday, May 23, 2017.
Before the declaration, photos and videos of some ISIS group storming the city have been circulating on social media sites. People started panicking, while some people were still waiting for update. A few hours after the posts, it was confirmed that the Maute group, not ISIS has been striking terror in the city, holding hostages in a hospital and burning establishments as well as vehicles, 21 were killed and 31 more were injured and wounded.
The Maute group is known as a radical Islamist group in Lanao Del Sur. It has been said that the group is linked to the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria but is not ISIS. The group is however also known as the Islamic State of Lanao. A town mayor of the province, Ibrahim Macadato, stated though that the Maute group is not affiliated to ISIS. They are residents who are armed and are merely acting in rebellion to the government. Some of these residents are former members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, an Islamic group that has been seeking autonomy in the Philippine island, Mindanao.
However, in some military operations to capture Maute camps, several documents and manuscripts were recovered. Among these documents include training manuals for militants under the Islamic State. This led to the conclusion, but is still under further investigation that the Maute group might be linking up with ISIS.
Declaration of Martial Law
President Duterte or Digong as he is often called declared martial law because of the violence, rebellion and invasion. This is his drastic measure to put to rest all forms of rebellion and threat to the peace and safety of the residents of the island of Mindanao. And he has vowed to be harsh about this.
This is the third time that the Martial Law was declared in the Philippines. The first time was back in September 21, 1972 when former Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos declared Martial Law to suppress the rise of the communists in the country. Under the Martial law of 1972, the President can suspend the privileges of the writ of habeas corpus as stated in the 1935 Constitution, which allows warrantless arrests.
The Martial Law back then however was coupled with so much violence that left the country in a traumatic state. The people cringe at the thought of Martial Law since then. Because of that, the Constitution was changed and a new set of regulations were placed should another Martial Law be declared by future presidents.
The second time Martial Law was declared was in 2009 but only in the province of Maguindanao. Then President Gloria Arroyo declared Martial Law over the province following the massacre of over 50 people which included journalists and civilians, the single deadliest event for journalists in history. Martial Law was declared to facilitate swift arrest of suspects and prevent further lawless violence.
The third time that Martial Law was declared was by current President Duterte last May 23, 2017. This time it was for the whole island of Mindanao. The declaration gathered various comments and sentiments.
Almost all residents of Mindanao agree with the declaration of Martial Law because of their desire and desperation for the island to finally enjoy peace and security. However, several Filipinos most especially those living in Luzon and have experienced Martial Law under the Marcos regime are skeptical about the declaration.
There are notable differences though between Marcos’ Martial Law and Duterte’s. Martial Law during Marcos reign is not time bounded. Back then, only the president has power over the country together with the Armed Forces of the Philippines. Furthermore, the writ of habeas corpus is also suspended “to prevent or suppress lawless violence, invasion, insurrection or rebellion, or imminent danger thereof, when the public safety requires it.”
In contrast, the Martial Law declared over Mindanao at present, limits the President’s powers. Upon declaration, the President is to submit a report within 48 hours to the Congress either in writing or in person. The Congress will then vote to revoke the declaration or extend the validity of the Martial Law. In the 1987 Constitution, Martial Law is valid only up to 60 days.
Duterte Coming Home
During the attack of the Maute group over Marawi City, Duterte was having a state visit to Russia. He was set to have a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin and sign an agreement with him the day after the attack.
However, due to the terrorist attack that left 21 dead and 31 more wounded, the meeting was moved earlier on the night before the scheduled date. President Putin had to adjust their schedule because President Duterte was determined to go home for his constituents saying, “Do not be too scared. I’m coming home.”
Martial Law Aftermath
A week after, investigations and operations are still on going to stabilize the situation in Marawi City and capture the people responsible for the terrorism in the city. Several cities in Mindanao are placed under strict monitoring by establishing checkpoints in national highways.
Davao City, for one, is placed on lockdown since the declaration of Martial Law. Being the hometown of President Duterte, Davao City Mayor Inday Sara Duterte, who happens to be the daughter of the President, made sure that the city is kept safe and peaceful. People are advised to just stay in the city and in their homes if possible, saying, if people do “not have important things to do outside their residences, (you) just stay home.”
What will happen in the Philippines in the next 60 days?
Is there a specific solution to terrorism all around the world?
What can a country like the Philippines benefit from Martial Law?