Philippine Congress agrees to extend Mindanao martial law to end of year

Jul 24, 2017 17:00 IST

Philippines extends martial law in Mindanao until the end of the yearPhilippine lawmakers on 22 July 2017 voted to retain martial law on the southern island of Mindanao until the end of the year.

The step gave President Rodrigo Duterte more time to tackle armed extremists allied with the Islamic State group.

Some 261 legislators agreed to extend military rule in a seven hour-long joint special session of the House of Representatives and the Senate.

Background

Duterte had placed Mindanao under martial law on 23 May 20017 when heavily-armed militants belonging to the Maute and Abu Sayyaf groups along with foreign fighters stormed Marawi City, igniting the biggest security crisis of his presidency.

The battle to liberate Marawi continues two months after, with more than 420 militants, 100 soldiers and 45 civilians killed.

Government troops annihilated and recaptured some of the Maute strongholds after weeks of artillery attacks and airstrikes. However, an estimated 70 militants remained holed up in the downtown area.

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About Mindanao island

Mindanao is the second largest island in the Philippines.

The island is divided into 6 Regions; Zamboanga Peninsula, Northern Mindanao, Caraga, Davao, Soccsksargen, and the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).

Mindanao is considered the food basket of the Philippines.

Violent conflicts in the southwestern regions of Mindanao began in the 1960s.

These conflicts led to the 1971 Manili Massacre, Pata Island Massacre, the founding of the Moro National Liberation Front, Moro Islamic Liberation Front, and the formation of the Ilaga.

In March 2000, President Estrada declared an "All Out War" against the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, after the militant group committed a series of terrorist attacks on government buildings, civilians and foreigners.

In December 2009, President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo officially placed Maguindanao under a state of martial law following the Maguindanao Massacre.

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