RELIGION

The Latest: Protesters oppose martial law in Philippines

The Latest on the siege of a southern Philippine city by militants linked to the Islamic State group (all times local):

6 p.m.

Hundreds of protesters have marched to the Philippine presidential palace in Manila to protest President Rodrigo Duterte's declaration of martial law in the southern Mindanao region, where a city is under siege by militants linked to the Islamic State group.

They held banners while chanting "Never again to martial law."

A leader of Friday's protest, Renato Reyes, said martial law is not an answer to the problem of armed conflict in Mindanao and would only make it worse.

Duterte has warned that he might expand martial law nationwide, an unnerving prospect for many who lived through the rule of late dictator Ferdinand Marcos. Marcos declared martial law in 1972 and used it to maintain his grip on power for more than a decade.

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5:50 p.m.

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte is telling troops fighting Muslim militants for the control of southern Marawi city to use martial law powers to defeat the Islamic State group-linked extremists.

Duterte said in a Friday speech to the troops in Illigan, near Marawi on southern Mindanao island, "you can arrest any person, search any house without warrant."

He defended his proclamation of martial law in Mindanao, saying it was necessary to root out the militants who attacked Marawi on Tuesday, burning buildings and taking some dozen hostages. At least 44 people, most of them suspected militants, have been killed.

The fighting started when security forces launched a raid that failed to capture Isnilon Hapilon, one of Asia's most-wanted militants.