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On Monday, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte asked Congress to extend martial law — for a second time — in his home region of Mindanao. Two days later, Congress did just that. Mindanao is a restive southern province and home to 94 percent of the country’s Muslim population. Martial law is part of Duterte’s plan to ensure the “total eradication” of Islamist extremists — but this approach can backfire. Here’s why.

Why did Duterte first declare martial law?

In May, Duterte declared 60 days of martial law after security forces raided a suspected terrorist hideout. The raid was a failure: Instead of capturing the leader of the terrorist group Abu Sayyaf, Philippine troops found themselves in a firefight with different Islamists, the Maute group.…  Seguir leyendo »

The main battle area in the southern city of Marawi on Oct. 25, after the Philippines’s military proclaimed the fighting over against militants backed by the Islamic State. Credit Ted Aljibe/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

On Oct. 23, the defense secretary of the Philippines, Delfin Lorenzana, announced the end of combat operations in the southern city of Marawi, after the armed forces spent 154 days fighting local and regional Islamist terrorists. At last, victory — of a sort.

Marawi, which declared itself an “Islamic city” in 1980, is the capital of Lanao del Sur province, on the island of Mindanao, and the religious center of the Maranao, a tight-knit indigenous Muslim community. Marawi and the Maranao have been at the forefront of a decades-long insurgency against the central government in Manila. In recent years, however, disgruntled factions have splintered off, some embracing gangsterism or Islamist terrorism.…  Seguir leyendo »