Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte's declaration of martial law in Mindanao is yet another indication that he seeks to follow in the footsteps of his mentor, the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos — in whose Cabinet Duterte's father served. The declaration followed the takeover of Marawi city by rebels claiming to be Islamic State group fighters.

There might be some justification for martial law there and in some other Muslim majority parts of the Mindanao and the adjacent Sulu archipelago. There have been many flare-ups recently in the region, although those conflicts have been going on for 50 years. Marawi has long been at the center of a particular trouble spot, the Lanao del Sur province (of which it is the capital).

However, there is a strong suspicion that Duterte is using Marawi as the thin end of a wedge for the broader application of martial law.