Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte said May 24 that he may expand martial law to the Visayas region and even Luzon if terrorist groups spread their activities beyond the restive southern island of Mindanao, ABS-CBN and Rappler reported. Duterte declared martial law in Mindanao and adjacent Sulu Archipelago on May 23, after Philippine troops clashed with Islamic State-linked militants in Marawi City. According to Duterte, under martial law checkpoints, searches and warrantless arrests will be allowed in Mindanao. The president said he has also suspended the writ of habeas corpus in the region and is considering implementing a curfew. Meanwhile, a spokesman for the Philippine military declared that it had retaken control of most of Marawi City.
Martial law was last declared in the Philippines for eight days in 2009 by then-President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo following a politically motivated massacre in the Mindanao town of Ampatuan. The Visayas region in the central Philippines has been relatively insulated to the violence in Mindanao until recently. Militants with the jihadist Abu Sayyaf Group clashed with security forces in the Visayan island of Bohol in early April. And in late December, the Maute Group — the same group involved in the May 23 clash in Marawi City — was believed to be behind a market bombing in the Leyte town of Hilongos. Duterte said he had ordered the Philippine navy to form a blockade in the waters between Mindanao and Visayas.