Duterte: Marawi crisis introduced new type of urban warfare

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, July 19) — President Rodrigo Duterte said the Marawi crisis birthed a "newly evolving type of urban warfare" and his declaration of martial law in Mindanao is meant to fight this menace.

In the full text of his letter to Congress released today, Duterte said this type of warfare is "characterized by the rebels' total disregard for civilian lives, cruelty to combatants and non-combatants alike, widespread looting, and pillaging of occupied communities."

He added this particular kind of warfare resulted in a "significant number of casualties," and firefights that have prevented government troops from moving forward as well as clean up operations.

On July 3, Lt. Col. Jo-ar Herrera, spokesperson for Joint Task Force Marawi, said the military has been receiving "disturbing narratives" from escaped hostages telling how civilians were made to loot houses and establishments for cash, gold, jewelry and ammunition.

READ: Mautes crumbling as a group, resorting to looting - AFP

In a press briefing on June 27, Herrera said remaining members of the Maute terror group in Marawi City are forcing women to marry them and become sex slaves.

READ: AFP: Female hostages in Marawi forced to marry Maute members, become sex slaves

Duterte's letter said that areas adjacent to Marawi may be used as escape routes as well as channels where reinforcements and ammunition may enter, and rebels involved in the seige have been captured in areas such as Iligan City and Cagayan de Oro City

READ: Terrorists attempt to escape war zone through Lake Lanao

It is for these reasons, Duterte said, "and as public safety clearly requires it, the proclamation for martial law and the suspension of the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus in the whole of Mindanao need to be extended until 31 December 2017, or for such period of time as the Congress may determine."

READ: Duterte wants to extend martial law until end of 2017

Duterte said he is pushing for the extension of martial law because he came to the conclusion that the rebellion in Mindanao would not end completely by July 22, the date where the 60-day period for martial law in Mindanao would lapse.

He declared martial law in Mindanao hours after fighting broke out in Marawi City on March 23.

Under the 1987 Constitution, the President may declare martial law for up to 60 days in cases of invasion or rebellion and when public safety requires it.

The Senate and the House of Representatives will meet on Thursday to discuss rules to govern the joint session before convening to talk about the proposed extension of martial law in Mindanao this weekend.

Lawmakers earlier confirmed Duterte called for a special joint session on Saturday, the day that martial law lapses in line with the 60-day limit under the Constitution.

House Secretary-General Cesar Pareja said the program and other rules, including determining the quorum, will be discussed ahead of the session.