MANILA— Malacañang on Wednesday said President Rodrigo Duterte placed the entire Mindanao island under martial law to suppress terrorist groups from wreaking further havoc in Southern Philippines.
“In order to suppress lawless violence and rebellion and for public safety, it is necessary to declare Martial Law in the entire island of Mindanao, including Sulu, Jolo and Tawi-Tawi for a period of 60 days,” Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella said in a statement.
“The government is in full control of the situation and is fully aware that the Maute/ISIS and similar groups have the capability, though limited, to disturb the peace; these have shown no hesitation in causing havoc, taking innocent lives and destroying property,” Abella added.
Earlier, Malacañang said that foremost in President Duterte’s mind is the nation’s interest and asked for public calm and cooperation.
“Let us be clear that first and foremost, the President’s priority is the nation’s interest. He has full confidence in the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Philippine National Police’s management of the situation. We ask that the residents take all precaution, cooperate with authorities, and stay calm,” Abella said.
President Duterte declared the entire Mindanao island under martial law following clashes between government troops and members of the Maute group in Marawi City.
The development also prompted Duterte to cut short his official visit to Moscow and fly back home at the soonest.
The violence started Tuesday afternoon after the military conducted operations to flush out Isnilon Hapilon, a top terrorist suspect, from his hideout in Marawi City.
Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said that two soldiers and one police officer were killed, while 12 others were wounded in the ongoing clashes.
Several facilities were also torched by the terror group including St. Mary’s Church, the city jail, the Ninoy Aquino School, and Dansalan College.