Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte has said the martial law in southern Mindanao region will not be lifted though he earlier announced the vital Marawi city has been freed by security forces from Islamists after a near five-month-long struggle. He said the martial will remain in place until the final extremist is flushed out from the region.
Duterte was speaking on Thursday, 19 October, two days after he announced the decision about Marawi.
"When the time came, I declared martial law. Everybody is asking when will it stop? It will not stop until the last terrorist is taken out," he said in Manila. "The siege of Malawi was purely ISIS and that was why I had to declare martial law and I said we have to finish this or we go kaput. Then I give you the same, maybe advice that as the military has been mouthing it and the police several times to be careful of retaliation."
By the end of May 2017, Duterte clamped martial law in the Mindanao region after the Islamist Maute group launched an attack. Since then, the region has been gripped by conflict leaving more than 1,000 people dead and hundreds of thousands displaced.
The Filipino military has been fighting a home-grown military group, Maute, and a faction of Abu Sayyaf, which has pledged allegiance to the Isis. The Marawi announcement came just a day after two key extremists, Isnilon Hapilon and Omar Maute, by security forces.
Following Duterte's remarks, the presidential spokesperson Ernesto Abella issued a statement on Friday, 20 October that the martial law will very much remain in force. The statement read: "The death of the ringleaders of the Marawi rebellion, which include Omar Maute, Isnilon Hapilon, and Dr. Mahmud Ahmad, does not automatically result in the lifting of martial law."
The presidential palace added until the "remnants" Maute group is wiped out in the region, the Filipino forces will continue their combat.