Duterte on martial law: 'I'd be harsh'

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, May 24) — President Rodrigo Duterte did not say how long martial law will be in effect in Mindanao, but he did warn he will be "harsh" in dealing with terrorists.

Duterte, who is on his way to the Philippines after cutting his official visit in Russia, said he will be happy if it is over within a month, but is also not hesitant to keep it for a year.

"Pero ang martial law is martial law ah. So kayong mga kababayan ko (my fellow Filipinos), you have experienced martial law. It could not be any different from what the President Marcos did. I'd be.. I'd be harsh," Duterte said, in a video posted by Presidential Communications Assistant Secretary Mocha Uson.

[Translation: Martial law is martial law. My fellow Filipinos, you have experienced martial law. It could not be any different from what the President (ferdinand) Marcos did. I'd be.. I'd be harsh.]

Duterte declared martial law for the whole island of Mindanao, including Basilan and Sulu, late Tuesday evening, following the clash in Marawi City between government troops and local terror group Maute.

What the Constitution says

Under the 1987 Philippine Constitution, the President, as commander-in-chief, may "in case of invasion or rebellion, when the public safety requires it" suspend the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus or place the country under martial law.

The period covered should, however, not exceed 60 days. The writ safeguards individual freedom against arbitrary state action.

Other branches of government have a say in the declaration of martial law - to prevent grave abuse of discretion on the part of the chief executive.

Within 48 hours after its declaration, the President shall submit a report "in person or in writing" to Congress.

The declaration should be affirmed by Congress and should even be reviewed by the Supreme Court in an "appropriate proceeding filed by any citizen."

Congress then has the power to revoke the proclamation by a vote of at least a majority of all members of both the Senate and the House. Conversely, Congress can also — if requested by the President and if public safety requires it - extend the period of martial law beyond 60 days.

Aside from the 14-year martial law declared by late strongman Ferdinand Marcos in 1972, former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo also declared martial law in Maguindanao on December 2009 following the Ampatuan Massacre, which killed 57 people, including media practitioners.

DND: Military has the city under control

In a press conference Tuesday evening, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said three government troops were killed, and 12 others were wounded in the clash.

The Maute group, who was reported to hoist black ISIS flags in Marawi, was reported to be backed by international terrorist group Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), Lorenzana said.

"There have been reports that came to me from Baghdad that they are already seeing these pictures in the website of ISIS," Lorenzana said in a press conference in Russia, Tuesday evening, referring to the Middle East-based website of ISIS.

He said the Maute group occupied several establishments in Marawi City: the Amai Pakpak Hospital the city hall and the city jail, as well as part of the Mindanao State University Compound.

Some facilities were also burned: the St. Mary's Church, the city jail, the Ninoy Aquino School, and the Dansalan College.

There is currently no power in the whole city.

Lorenzana claimed the government is in full control of Marawi City. He added more troops from Zamboanga and Manila will be deployed in Marawi, Wednesday morning.

"We will just try to hold the ground tonight so that we can bring in more troops maybe tonight and tomorrow morning. So under control 'yan," he said.

READ: 3 gov't troops killed in Marawi clash — Defense chief

Duterte to come home

Meanwhile, Cayetano said the President has decided to cut his Russia trip short due to the incident, and fly back to the Philippines. But the new Foreign Affairs chief said agreements between the two countries would still be signed.

"The physical presence of the President is needed in the Philippines. That is the President's assessment, and his priority is always the protection of each and everyone of the Filipino, he will act within the framework of the Constitution, we will follow all rules and regulations," Cayetano said.

Duterte, who was set to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Thursday, is expected to be back home Wednesday afternoon instead.

(Story updated 2:50 p.m. of May 24 to include martial law video.)