Duterte resurfaces after rest, says battle with militants winding down

Duterte has declared martial law in the south to deal with the most daring attack yet by IS-linked militants that has alarmed governments in Southeast Asia.Responding to reporters’ queries about Duterte’s remarks, presidential spokesperson Ernesto Abella said Sunday: “The President’s media interview yesterday after visiting the troops in Butuan underscores that he adheres to the rule of law and judicial independence”.Security agencies here have denied that an Indian fought alongside the Islamic State (IS) at Marawi in southern Philippines which was seized by the Islamist militant group a month ago.”If that rebellion burns Mindanao, and the other parts of the Philippines, and I’ll be forced to declare martial law again, this time I will not consult anybody, and there is no telling when will it end”, he said.Despite his threat of a stronger crackdown, Mr Duterte conceded he would be willing to revoke martial law if the Supreme Court found it unlawful. He also stressed that he would not seek the advice of any government branch as he intends to “preserve the nation” on his own.”Let this put to rest the fears and anxiety of some quarters against martial law”.”The NSC sees the situation in Mindanao as something serious. So I think we should take that in context”, Duterte’s spokesman said.”However po, ang bottomline pa rin po ng Martial Law is public safety”.Armed Forces of the Philippines Chief of Staff Restituto Padilla said that the Maute terrorists have nowhere to run.Padilla said martial law now being implemented has “complete regard for human rights, worldwide humanitarian law, and other protocols that have been established”.Former congressman Teddy CasiƱo had earlier claimed that the military blocked his group when they were about to deliver assistance to Marawi residents last Thursday.”Definitely, the President will not be referring to abuses”.Her call comes as government forces are trying to reclaim the besieged city of Marawi from militants who claim allegiance to the Islamic State.”It’s hard to fight those who are willing to die”, Mr Duterte said.President Rodrigo Duterte said at the weekend he will abide by the Supreme Court ruling and order the troops’ withdrawal should the high court strike down his martial law declaration in Mindanao, where government forces have been locked in deadly fighting with terrorist groups since May 23.”So in the interest of safety, we have been working closely with local government and its social welfare arm and health arm to provide the services needed by the evacuees without necessarily having other people from the outside exposed to danger”, he continued.