Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said troops raided the hideout of a top terrorist suspect in Marawi on Tuesday, sparking a gunbattle that prompted the militants to call for reinforcements from an allied group, the Maute.
President Rodrigo Duterte imposed martial law across the entire Muslim-majority region of Mindanao late May 23, but ucanews.com reported that many, including church leaders, characterized the imposition of martial law as an overreaction. "I have a serious problem in Mindanao and the ISIS footprints are everywhere".
According to the country's current constitution, the martial law can be applied for a maximum period of 60 days, after which the Congress decides if an extension is required.
"I might also decide to suspend the writ of habeas corpus in the Visayas", Duterte said, pointing out that because of the many islands in the south that were "just walking distance" from each other, lawless elements could always escape to any of them. If there's an open defiance you will die and if it means many people dying, so be it.
Thousands of people have fled the city, said Myrna Jo Henry, an emergency response official.
The controversial leader who's been brutal in his drug crackdown, promised that law-abiding citizens had nothing to worry about and that he wouldn't allow abuses, AP reports.
Duterte said that he "might declare martial law throughout the country to protect the people". The gunmen also forced their way into the residence of Bishop Edwin de la Pena of Marawi. They raised the black flag of the Islamic State group while also taking the hostages.
US President Donald Trump told his Philippines' counterpart that he was doing a good job fighting an illegal drug epidemic in his country, an effort that has led to thousands of deaths and drawn global condemnation from human rights groups.
"Duterte's martial law declaration in Mindanao has gone beyond Marawi".
The United States has since 2001 offered a bounty of $5 million for Hapilon's arrest.
The CPP claimed that Duterte's imposition of martial law "was made on the narrow pretext of armed clashes in Marawi City between the AFP and the so-called Maute Group, a bandit group whose leaders have known links with military officials".
Under the 1987 constitution, the president has the ability to place the country under martial law, though Congress has the ability to revoke the proclamation. Islamic State has been making troubling inroads in Mindanao in recent years, seeking to co-opt homegrown militant factions that have long roiled the island-and that should cause no less concern than Duterte's excesses.
The Chief Executive said he may consider other areas in the event the militants seek sanctuary or expand "their terroristic activities".
Last month, troops backed by airstrikes killed dozens of Maute militants and captured their jungle camp near Lanao del Sur's Piagapo town.