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Duterte: Martial law to remain until last terrorist is 'taken out'

President Rodrigo Roa Duterte, in his speech during the 7th anniversary of the public service show, 'Buhay OFW', at the Sofitel Philippine Plaza in Pasay City on October 18, 2017, orders the National Bureau of Investigation and the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group to act on reports of illegal recruitment. RICHARD MADELO/PRESIDENTIAL PHOTO

MANILA, Philippines — Despite the liberation of Marawi City, Mindanao would remain under martial law until the last terrorist is killed, President Duterte said on Thursday.

“I declared martial law. Everybody is asking when it will stop. It will not stop until the last terrorist is taken out,” the President said during the 43rd Philippine Business Conference in Manila. 

Duterte said the Islamic State-inspired terrorists could still launch retaliatory attacks against government forces who are conducting clearing operations in the battle area.

READ:  Marawi freed but martial law remains

“Be careful of retaliation. We know and I know it’s coming. When we really do not know,” he said.

Isnilon Hapilon and Omar Maute, leaders of the terrorists who laid siege to Marawi last May 23, were killed in an early morning raid last Monday, a development seen as a major setback to extremists in the region.

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The siege, which officials said was funded by narcotics money, prompted the President to place Mindanao under martial law.

READ:  ‘Another Marawi siege? Never again’

Officials claimed that politicians who were into illegal drugs trade conspired with the Islamist militants to stage a rebellion against the Duterte administration. The opposition and human rights groups have expressed concerns that military rule would pave way for abusive practices and suppression of liberties.

A day after the death of Hapilon and Maute, Duterte declared that Marawi had been liberated from the influence of terrorists, allowing the government to shift its focus to rehabilitating the city.

Some sectors have asked Duterte to lift martial law now that the security forces have eliminated the leaders of the bandits.

Duterte said he declared martial law to finish the threat posed by the Islamic State-linked militants.

“The siege of Marawi is purely ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and Syria). That’s why I declared martial law and I said we have to finish this or we go kaput,” the Philippine leader said.

“Time and again, I told the Filipino people the rebellion, ISIS, is coming in and it is funded by shabu,” he added.

A total of 847 militants, 163 soldiers and 47 civilians have died since the siege started last May. The crisis also displaced 78,466 families or 359,680 persons.

Duterte thanked China, the United States and Israel for supporting the government’s anti-terrorism campaign in Marawi.

He also informed Chinese Ambassador Zhao Jianhua that the rifles that killed Hapilon and Maute were made in China, a claim disputed by some websites on defense equipment.

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