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Philippines' Duterte jokes about rape amid concern over martial law abuses

28 May 2017

Civilians trapped by fighting in Marawi city are waving white flags from their windows to show they are not combatants.

The city of Marawi, home to some 200,000 people, has been under siege by IS-linked militants since a government raid on Tuesday night on a suspected hideout of Isnilon Hapilon, who is on Washington's list of most-wanted terrorists. The militants responded to the raid by storming the city, burning down buildings, including a university and Catholic churches, and taking hostages, including a priest.

He and Filipino rights activists warned it sent the wrong signal to soldiers that they could commit rights abuses as they enforced martial law in the southern region of Mindanao, which Duterte imposed to quell what he says is a major Islamist terrorist threat.

"This development validates a series of reports of atrocities committed by the militants earlier", said military spokesman, Restituto Padilla.

"Let us be vigilant", said the statement released by Mindanao's lone Cardinal, Orlando Quevedo, the Archbishop of Cotabato, "with the approval of the Bishops of Mindanao".

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Clashes between the government troops and the Maute and Abu Sayyaf terror groups erupted Tuesday afternoon in Marawi.

Aminola Mitmug, a native of this city, said they prayed on Saturday morning while bombs were exploding in nearby villages.

"President Duterte's bold and decisive action is imperative in quelling the rebellion in the region, halting the escalating inhumane atrocities by the extremists, as well as insuring our national security and the safety of Filipinos, and demonstrating the government's resolve in combating worldwide terrorism", Valera said. "But if you marry four, you will be beaten up", he said.

Wadi said he expected the militants to scatter after suffering casualties but then regroup, winning from the experience a "badge of honor" that could draw IS fighters fleeing the Middle East battlefields.

Mangadang said the eight men were bakers and carpenters who were evacuating to Iligan, a city near Marawi, but were intercepted by the militants. Maute now controls most of Marawi, with government troops setting up a perimeter outside the city.

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"[The] rule of law and human rights should prevail in the place or part of the Philippines where the martial law was declared and effective", said the Department of National Defense (DND) in its memo to the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), as reported by local media. The military says he is still wounded from a January air strike and the fierce Maute resistance is aimed at protecting him.

"We will make this their cemetery", he said. "It has transmogrified into an invasion by foreign fighters", Calida told Today Online in the southern city of Davao.

"In as much as we would like to avoid collateral damage, these rebels are forcing the hand of government by hiding and holding out inside private homes, government building and other facilities", Padilla said.

Hapilon, the former leader of Abu Sayyaf, has sworn allegiance to Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. At least eleven soldiers and 31 militants had been killed.

The United States listed one of the world's most risky terrorists and has offered a bounty of US$5 million (S$6.9 million) for his capture.

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Its activities are a source of concern for Mindanao native Duterte, who is familiar with separatist unrest but alarmed by the presence of radicals inspired by Islamic State's radical agenda.