Marawi ISIS: Militants take church-goers hostage in Philippines

VP Leni Robredo

Philippine Finance Minister Carlos Dominguez on Thursday tried to allayed investors' fears over President Rodrigo Duterte's decision to impose martial law on the island of Mindanao, saying the local economy remains intact.

The upheaval began after troops raided a hideout in search of a man at the heart of the crisis - Isnilon Hapilon, one of Asia's top militant suspects.

Several factions of the militant organisation, notorious for kidnapping for ransom, have pledged allegiance to IS in recent years. He is on Washington's list of most-wanted terrorists with a $5 million reward for information leading to his capture. But when he last called her, someone else answered her phone, telling him to ask the military not to go near the area.

Militants have torn through the streets of Marawi since Tuesday night, torching buildings, taking a priest and his worshippers hostage and sealing off much of the city.

Mindanao is home to an estimated 20 million people.

"Our city was so dark".

Akbayan Sen. Risa Hontiveros meanwhile said aside from the briefing, key officials from the Executive branch may also be invited to the Senate to further explain details of Duterte's order. He managed to contact his family and tell them to leave their home at dawn the following day and head for the city of Cagayan de Oro, some four hours' drive away.

"In Marawi city, [the militants] are now in a game of chase with the military", he said.

These main Muslim rebel groups are involved in peace talks with the government. Marawi has a population of around 200,000.

Upon arrival from his shortened official trip to Russia, Duterte said he might expand coverage of the military rule to Visayas in case of a spillover of terror activities to the area. Here it is the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus that is suspended, not the writ itself, i.e., once the officer detaining the person shows to the court that he is being detained for an offense, the court may not inquire further. "Just take care of yourself, and we will take care of North Korea". About 120 civilians were rescued from the hospital, the military said.

Army trucks roll deeper into Philippine city
But on Thursday, Solicitor-General Jose Calida also hinted it would also target "groups rebelling against the government". The military said it was hunting Isnilon Hapilon, an Abu Sayyaf leader who has been named the Philippine head of IS.

MANILA-The National Food Authority (NFA) assures the public that there is enough rice in Marawi City, which is now being gripped by a running gun battle between government troops and the Maute terrorist group.

The DFA stressed that it is "necessary" to declare martial law in Mindanao to "suppress lawless violence and rebellion and for public safety".

The Marcos martial law however is not the same as the martial law now allowed by the 1987 Constitution.

"We think the declaration is not valid because there is no factual basis".

The National Union of Peoples' Lawyers, a group of human rights attorneys, called it "a sledgehammer, knee-jerk reaction" that would "open the flood gates for unbridled human rights violations". "Because first, when you say rebellion, there has to be an armed uprising with the goal of removing your allegiance with the government", Atty.

The Marawi residents who spoke to IWPR said that imposing martial law had been premature, arguing that it would only stoke fears of state-sponsored human rights abuses similar to the Marcos era.

Police have reported killing about 2,700 people since Duterte took office at the end of June and immediately launched his war on drugs.

IGP Tan Sri Khalid Abu Bakar says the police will tighten security in waters adjacent to the Philippines following the declaration of martial law in Mindanao.

Martial law is essentially a police power for the goal of preserving order and insuring public safety.

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