Philippines president Rodrigo Duterte just declared martial law

Philippine president Rodrigo Duterte. Photo: Noel Celis/ AFP/ Getty Images.

Philippines president Rodrigo Duterte has just declared martial law on the southern island of Mindanao after clashes between government troops and Islamist militants on Tuesday left three people dead.

Two soldiers and a police officer were reportedly killed.

Duterte’s spokesperson made the announcement in Moscow, where the president is currently visiting, saying that Mindanao — which makes up almost one third of the country — would be under martial law for 60 days.

He said instating the law would “suppress lawless violence and rebellion and for public safety”.

Duterte cut his trip to Russia short to return to Manila, according to Philippine foreign secretary Alan Peter Cayetano said.

Martial law is the temporary rule by military authorities during a time of emergency when the civil authorities are deemed unable to function.

Philippine soldiers. Photo: Michael Liglig/ AFP/ Getty Images.

For months Duterte had been warning that he would enforce military rule.

Most recently, in March, he said he may impose martial law to aid his brutal crackdown on the country’s drug trade.

He also mentioned implementing it in response to criticism of his drug war in August.

He again mentioned it in December, in remarks lamenting the constitutional limits on the president’s power to deal with security threats.

And he returned to the subject on January, saying, “no one can stop me,” in reference to the Congress and Supreme Court.

“If I declare martial law, I will finish all the problems, not just drugs,” Duterte told reporters in March. Read more on that here.

*Additional reporting by Christopher Woody.

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