Trump said to praise 'great job' in Philippine drugs fight


"Martial law is martial law".

Carolyn O. Arguillas of MindaNews, which has extensive coverage on the ground, recalled that President Duterte has repeatedly said that if he declares martial law in Mindanao, he would "finish" all the problems there. The US government is offering a $5-million bounty for his capture.

"(The Russians) understand that the security of the Filipino people, especially in Marawi and in Mindanao, is a priority", Cayetano said.

Provincial Vice Gov. Mamintal Adiong said late Wednesday that more troops had arrived in the city, which was dark because 80 percent was without electrical power.

As details of the attack in Marawi city emerged, fears mounted that the largest Roman Catholic nation in Asia could be falling into a growing list of countries grappling with the spread of influence from the Islamic State group in Syria and Iraq.

- What happened to trigger martial law?

In March, Duterte pleaded for help from mayors in Muslim areas of the south of the country to deal with Islamist militants, and threatened to impose martial law there if the problem was not tackled.

A senior US official said the Trump administration did not dispute the accuracy of the transcript and declined to comment further.

On Wednesday, President Duterte is set to have bilateral meeting with Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev.

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"The Filipino people, having suffered martial law under the Marcos dictatorship, fully appreciate the important role played by human rights activists, the legal community, and the independent media in defending rights", he said.

One group of about 20 gunmen took position in a hospital, where they raised a black Islamic State group-style flag at the gate, and 10 other militants went near a provincial jail where troops and policemen engaged them in fighting, he said.

The announcement came after security forces battled dozens of IS-linked gunmen in a Marawi, a city of about 200,000 people in Mindanao, on Tuesday.

They also discussed the fact that the Philippine government is fighting very hard to rid its country of drugs, a scourge that affects many countries throughout the world.

Extrajudicial executions have been running rampant in the country since Duterte assumed office in 2016, sparking an outcry from United States allies, such as the European Union, to halt the violent campaign that has seen at least 4,500 deaths in the last five months alone.

Fires raged in Marawi but the military and the city's mayor said the situation was now under control.

The city of Marawi is slowly becoming a "ghost town" as thousands of residents have already deserted their beleaguered place from the time the dreaded Maute Group started to wreak havoc there. The local press reported that special commando groups surrounded a house in Maravi, where Abua Sayaf leader was supposed to be living in. Previous military offensives against the Maute, based in Lanao del Sur province, have lasted several days.

"This is not a reflection of a major conflict looming, but this is a reflection of the capacity of our security forces to respond to any threat", he said.

Troops found homemade bombs, grenades, combat uniforms and passports of suspected Indonesian militants in the camp.