MOSCOW — President Rodrigo Duterte has declared martial law in Mindanao yesterday due to attacks carried out by the Maute terror group in Marawi City, Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella said here.
“In order to suppress lawless violence and rebellion and for pilic safety it is necessary to declare Martial Law in the entire island of Mindanao, including Sulu, Basilan and Tawi-Tawi for a period of 60 days,” Abella said.
Tuesday afternoon in Moscow (evening in Manila), President Duterte conferred with Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea and Special Assistant to the President Christopher Lawrence Go on the declaration of martial law in southern Philippines due to attacks carried out by ISIS-backed Maute terror group in Marawi City.
In an interview here, Department of National Defense (DND) Secretary Delfin Lorenzana told the Philippine News Agency that the clash in Marawi City is focused on neutralizing Isnilon Hapilon, former leader of the kidnap for ranson Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) which had pledged allegiance to Islamic State.
Hapilon was believed wounded when the military bombed his hideout in Lanao del Sur last January.
“They are already there. In fact the leader in Basilan, Isnilon Hapilon, is actually, I think, he is the anointed leader of the group there,” Lorenzana said on PNA Exclusive.
He added that Hapilon transferred to central Mindanao and organized the Maute Group.
“We were able to find out that he was there so we found where he was hiding, so we bomb, but unfortunately he wasn’t taken. He was wounded. And he kept dodging our operations,” the DND chief said.
The clash occurred Tuesday afternoon in Marawi City as the military received information that Hapilon is hiding in the area.
“Until now, there’s an ongoing fight in Marawi City because the army found out where he was hiding. So hopefully, it will result to a good score for the military,” Lorenzana said. (PNA)