By Fred Lobo
President Duterte has placed the entire Mindanao under martial law to suppress lawless violence and rebellion, after the Maute terror group laid siege on Marawi City in Lanao del Sur.
It is necessary “to suppress lawless violence and rebellion and for public safety,” said Malacañang.
The President cut short his visit to Russia and rushed back to the country to oversee the security situation, saying favorable agreements have been reached with Russian President Vladimir Putin and his men.
“From Russia with Vlad, I fly to you,” DU30 seemed to be singing.
“As of 10 p.m., Manila time (May23), he had already declared martial law for the entire island of Mindanao,” presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella said a televised press conference in Moscow.
“This is possible under the grounds of existence of rebellion because of what is happening in Mindanao based on Article VII, Section 18, of the Constitution. This is good for 60 days,” he added.
Abella said Duterte decided to immediately return to Manila Wednesday to attend to the terrorist threat of the ISIS-influenced Maute rebels who had laid siege on Marawi.
Tuesday afternoon’s attack by Maute gunmen reportedly wounded at least eight troopers, with separate reports saying three of them were killed.
Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said, “Joint elements of the army and the police were trying to serve a warrant of arrest on Isnilon Hapilon in Barangay Basak Malutut when they were met with gunfire.”
There was no failure of intelligence but “lack of appreciation of the intelligence information gathered by the military and police,” he explained.
Duterte assured the nation that government troops could effectively address the security situation in Marawi City and other parts of Mindanao.
But he appealed to the public to remain calm and vigilant.
“Let us be clear that first and foremost, the President’s priority is the nation’s interest,” Abella said.
“He has full confidence in AFP/ PNP’s management of the situation; and we ask that the residents take all precaution, cooperate with authorities, and stay calm,” he added.
Foreign Affairs Sec. Alan Peter Cayetano said Duterte and Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev also met in Moscow and looked forward to intensifying diplomatic and bilateral ties.
PH-Russia ties warming up under DU30’s watch.
PH and Russia will forge agreements for the sale of precision weapons that would help PH eliminate terrorism with the least collateral damage on civilians, Philippine Ambassador to Russia Carlos Sorreta said.
Better and effective weapons for rebels’ annihilation, PH asked.
Agriculture Sec. Manny Piñol added that Russia will buy from PH some $2.5 billion worth of fruits and fish over the next 12 months while the country will open its doors to Russian farm machinery and meat products.
Arms and agricultural trade with no conditionalities, DU30 wished.
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