Police chief beheaded and others killed by IS militants in Philippines

Cheryl Sanders
May 25, 2017

Controversial president Rodrigo Duterte said a policeman was beheaded by the militants, and he has since enacted 60 days of martial law on Mindanao, the island where Marawi City is located, and is considering expanding it to apply nationwide.

Mr Duterte, who cut short a trip to Russian Federation and arrived in Manila yesterday, said he is considering placing the whole of the Philippines under martial law for the rest of his six-year term to deal with a rebellion inspired by Islamist extremism.

Section 18, Article VII of the 1987 Constitution says that the President may "in case of invasion or rebellion, when the public safety requires it" suspend the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus or place the country under martial law.

During the nine years of martial law under Marcos, police and troops tortured, abducted and killed thousands of people who were critical of the dictatorship, according to rights groups and historians.

Philippine security forces are battling Muslim militants who have laid siege to a city in the volatile southern region of Mindanao.

Around 100 heavily armed gunmen linked to Islamic State swept into Marawi City, on the island of Mindanao, burning buildings, seizing a Catholic priest and his worshippers and raising the black flag of IS.

The resident, who had asked to remain anonymous, also said that there were many roadblocks put up by the military and that security checks had been set up along the roads in order to identify militants, who are reportedly mainly from Islamic State and Abu Sayyaf.

Marawi bishop Edwin de la Pena said the militants forced their way into the Marawi Cathedral and seized 14 people, including a Catholic priest. "And if many people die because of defying, so be it", the president said.

Though details are still spotty, official and local reports suggest the fighting that triggered the declaration of martial law on Tuesday continued through Wednesday.

At least 21 people have died in the fighting, officials said. "If you fight us, you will die".

"If I think that ISIS has taken a foothold also in Luzon [the main northern island] and terrorism is not really far behind, I might declare martial law throughout the country".

He is on the list of the most-wanted terrorists worldwide, with a reward of up to $5 million for his capture. "If it takes one week, I will be happy, but if it takes five years of my term, I will not withdraw it", the President said, referring to the martial law. These include the Maute group, which is based near Marawi.

General Ano said Mr Hapilon was recovering from wounds sustained in a military airstrike in January. He said troops had isolated the guerrillas but were not engaging them, and that the rebels were posting images on social media to make known their sustained presence in Marawi.

"We will conduct house-to-house clearing and do everything to remove the threat there".

"As President I wanted to share with Russian Federation (at an openly scheduled W.H. meeting) which I have the absolute right to do, facts pertaining to terrorism and airline flight safety", he said.

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