Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte said Wednesday that martial law in Mindanao could remain in force for a year and that it will be “tough” against terrorism.

The Constitution of the Philippines allows the introduction of martial law for 60 days in case of rebellion or invasion
CERILO EBRANO / EPA

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte said on Wednesday that martial law he introduced on Tuesday in the southern region of Mindanao could remain in force for a year.

Martial law – imposed by military forces in case of emergency or danger when civilian authorities fail to maintain order and safety – was established on Tuesday in Mindanao after violent clashes between the Philippine armed forces and Combatants linked to the extremist Islamic State.

“If it takes a year to do it [to restore order] … [but] if it ends in a month, I will be happy,” the Philippine head of state said in a video published by the government.

Addressing the Filipinos, Rodrigo Duterte recalled that the country experienced martial law during the dictatorship of Ferdinand Marcos, which took two decades and ended with a revolution in 1986.

“It can not be different from President Marcos,” he said in the video, recorded shortly before shortening his official visit to Russia and returning to the Philippines due to the emergency situation in the south.

The Philippine President has promised to be “tough” against terrorism, telling Filipinos that this was, in fact, one of his campaign promises last year.

“I must do this to preserve the Philippine Republic, the Filipino people,” he said.

Duterte established martial law in the region of Mindanao, which comprises the main island of the same name and a series of neighboring islets. The region, which constitutes about a third of the country, has about 20 million inhabitants.

The Constitution of the Philippines allows the establishment of martial law for 60 days in case of rebellion or invasion. It was precisely a 60-day term that presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella said when he announced from Moscow that the President of the Philippines had enacted martial law in the Mindanao region.

However, Duterte, who has sparked widespread criticism worldwide over the ‘war’ on drugs that has killed thousands, has repeatedly threatened to be willing to ignore the constitution in case he needs to apply the martial law.

 

 

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