The Cable

Duterte Declares Martial Law, Moves Putin Meeting

Russian authorities were apparently understanding.

duterte marshall law

Rodrigo Duterte, president of the Philippines, has declared martial law in his country’s South for 60 days.

Amid clashes in Marawi City between government troops and Maute militants, who are extremist allies of the Islamic State, Duterte imposed martial law on the entire Mindanao island.

Duterte, best known for his war on drugs that has seen thousands killed, was in Moscow when he made the announcement. He was supposed to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin and Russian Prime Minister Dmitri Medvedev, but those meetings were pushed up so he could return to Manila earlier, Philippine Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano said. (Russian officials were apparently understanding, according to Cayetano.)

At his Tuesday evening meeting with Putin, Duterte told the Russian president that he expected Russia to help support the Philippine quest for arms to fight the Islamic State.

Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said the Maute group had killed two soldiers and one police officer. He also said the attack was sparked when Philippine troops raided the hideout of a terrorist suspect in Marawi City. Maute gunmen apparently occupied city hall and burned down houses. More troops are being called into the city, he said.

It was not immediately clear why martial law was declared over the entire island, as opposed to just in Marawi City.

Correction: This post was changed to reflect that the meeting was moved forward, not back, as Philippine media outlets had reported, and also updated to say Duterte told Putin he expected Russian military support.

Photo credit: ALEXANDER NEMENOV/AFP/Getty Images

Emily Tamkin is a staff writer at Foreign Policy covering ambassadorial and diplomatic affairs in Washington. @emilyctamkin

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