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Duterte declares martial law in Mindanao; cuts short state visit in Russia

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President Rodrigo Duterte declares martial law in the entire Mindanao island in the wake of firefights between government troops and members of the Maute terrorist group, a suspected Islamic State-affiliated terror group in Marawi.

According to presidential spokesperson Ernesto Abella, the President initially said the martial law will last for 60 days.

But in a statement made aboard a plane back to the Philippines, Duterte said the declaration could be extended for a year depending on the crisis’ length.

Duterte has cut short his supposed week-long official visit to Russia and plans to “deal with the problem once I have arrived”.

In a live Facebook interview with Mocha Uson, assistant secretary of the Presidential Communications Operations Office, Duterte said the martial law in Mindanao would not be different from the martial law during the time of Ferdinand Marcos.

“Martial law is martial law. You’ve experienced martial law, it would not be any different from what president Marcos did. I’d be harsh,” Duterte said before leaving Moscow. “I have to do it to preserve the Republic of the Philippines and the Filipino people.”

Meanwhile, netizens expressed alarm over the declaration with fear and indignation.

Twitter user @caylfranco said, “Martial Law, revised or not, has NEVER been for the people.”

Cristina Palabay, secretary general of Karapatan Alliance for the Advancement of People’s Rights, said the declaration will not alleviate the current situation in Marawi, but will “aggravate the insecurity in the area”.

“Martial law is not the answer; it will never result in anything but gross violations of people’s rights,” Palabay said. “It is imperative for the Filipino people to remain vigilant amid Duterte’s Martial Law declaration if it will be used to further justify denying people of their political and civil rights.”

On the other hand, Marawi City Mayor Majul Usman Gandamra said the declaration of martial law is timely, but he also called on the government to uphold the human rights of “innocent civilians”.

“Ang deklarasyon ng martial law ay napapanahon… And hinihingi lang natin sa gobyerno ay sana ma-uphold, marespeto natin ang human rights ng innocent civilians,” Gandamra told ANC in a phone interview.

(The declaration of martial law is timely… We are just asking the government to please uphold, respect the human rights of innocent civilians.)

Credit: GBP News

Abu Dhabi Police busts car scam ring

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