The reason behind Duterte's decision for Martial Law in Mindanao over ISIS-linked group

President Duterte had to cut his trip to Moscow in order to deal with the growing conflict in Marawi City, southern Philippines where is currently shook by violence after ISIS-linked militants raised black flags that led to hostaging Catholic churches which ignited to fighting that led to at least 44 deaths involving militants, soldiers and police. The Philippine President then decided to declare Martial law in Mindanao.

As of now Duterte dubbed as the “The Punisher” is being closely watched on how he handles a situation like this that could potentially destabilize any chance for meaningful peace.

These ISIS-link fighters are known like the Abu Sayyaf who are fighting for their full independence by capturing and killing foreigners as their way of turning their back on the Philippine government that pushes autonomy.

In 2014, Abu Sayyaf's Arabic-speaking commander, Isnilon Hapilon, pledged fidelity to ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the self-declared leader of a caliphate straddling Syria and Iraq.

Isnilon Hapilon, Abu Sayyaf’s Arabic-speaking commander, pledge fidelity ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.

$5 million worth reward is waiting for someone who can seize Isnilon Hapilon, who is believed to be on the  FBI's most-wanted terrorists list since 2006. Hapilon is accused by the U.S. of terrorist acts against American citizens as an Abu Sayyaf deputy.

On the talks on how much influence does ISIS have.

Terror groups are believed to be sticking to ISIS’s cruel reputation just to gain influence and push for a separate Islamic state.

 On Thursday, a military spokesman said that there has been no "concrete evidence of material support" from ISIS, yet local groups might still be asking for help. Officials worry also that foreign fighters from Malaysia and Indonesia could be infiltrating the southern Philippines in order to establish a Southeast Asian caliphate.

Black flags are now raised in Marawi City.  According to observers. This signals that seriousness of the turning over of their ties to terror group.

President Duterte however is not new to this, since he is from the southern city of Davao. And he has promised to eradicate activists by being brutal for about 10 times more.

"I'll put at stake my honor, my life and the presidency," Duterte said during a speech last August.

On questions on how the siege in Marawi began. The troops of the government tried to raid Hapilon’s hideout as a mission. That move provoke the militants to call for backup from Maute and they sent 50 gunmen to the city.

They took over the Marawi Cathedral and hostaged a catholic priest, 10 worshippers and three church workers, while other buildings in the city are being burned. They also took over hospitals, city halls and local jail.

Hapilon is said to be in the city. Soliders however  have been setting up checkpoiunts as they help residents evacuate.

What happens now that Mindanao is under Martial law?

This decision by the president resulted to military’s access to go anywhere in the region to search homes, impose curfew and make arrests without warrant that has been issued by the court

Duterte had brought up the possibility of martial law on several occasions since becoming president, citing the need to combat terrorism and the drug trade. But the Constitution requires that martial law be imposed because of either an invasion or rebellion — and Duterte has labeled the violence in the south as the former.

The president’s purpose is to fight terrorism and the drug trade. The Constitution requires that martial law be imposed of either an invasion or rebellion.

It injected fears to Human right groups that Duterte might use Martial law as a way of abusing his power.

He reported that he alone would be responsible for the consequences that the Martial Law will ended up with.

He also joked to the troops that if they rape up to three women, he would claim responsibility for that as well. The president is known for making crude remarks decried as offensive, and he previously joked about rape before his presidential election win last year.

Duterte is known for his unsophisticated remarks. He joked that if the troops rape up to three women, he would claim responsibility too.

Another rising question now is can the president enact martial law nationwide. 

Duterte has the power to declare martial law for up to 60 days but it would require approval from the congress if it can get extended.

Martial Law is reminds them of a said dark chapter in the Philippines’s history when the former President Ferdinand Marcos declaration of the same law suspended civil rights and changed democracy into an authoritarian-like regime.

But now is different, Duterte no longer has the ability under martial law to suspend the Constitution, close Congress or supplant the civil courts, said Carl Baker, the director of programs at the think tank Pacific Forum CSIS in Hawaii.

Will the fighting in Marawi end?

The records of the Philippine military and special forces is not that good in the south, which has been destroyed by terrorist clashed. One example is on 2015 during the predawn raid to capture a terrorist bomb expert which has gone wrong and deozens of Philippines commandos were killed.

"My order to the troops is to kill all those who are not authorized by the government to carry firearms, who fight back; kill them all," Duterte reportedly said.

But, he clarified, if those who aren't hardliners want, then, "Let's talk peace."

How is the U.S. responding?

On the reported phone conversation of Presidnet Donal Trump and President Rodrigo Duterte, it showed that it has regained the strained realationship of both countries when Duterte had issues with the former President Barack Obama.

The White House on Thursday condemned the violence in Marawi.

On Thursday the White House released an statement saying "The United States is a proud ally of the Philippines, and we will continue to work with the Philippines to address shared threats to the peace and security of our countries."

Source: NBC News