Philippines: Army says country more secure under Duterte despite Marawi fighting
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Philippines: Army says country more secure under Duterte despite Marawi fighting

AFTER President Rodrigo Duterte’s first year in office the security situation in the Philippines has been greatly improved, says its military.

Duterte took office last June and has presided over a bloody war on drugs estimated to have cost around 8,000 Filipino lives and declared martial law in Mindanao after fighting broke out with the Islamic State-affiliated Maute Group in Marawi City.

“Under the Duterte Administration, the security situation in the country has been a serious concern that is decisively addressed and has greatly improved,” said Armed Forces of the Phillippines (AFP) spokesman Brigadier General Restituto Padilla on Sunday, as quoted by state-run Philippines News Agency.

Duterte’s war on drugs has been widely criticised by human rights advocates and the Catholic church in the Philippines. The president has also attracted criticism that his intense focus on eradicating drugs has allowed Islamic State militants to gain momentum.

SEE ALSO: Philippines military says it may use donated Chinese arms in Marawi

But the army says the response to Marawi, plans to acquire “modern weapons” from China and Russia, and peace efforts with other armed groups in the Philippines as evidence of greater security under the current government.

“The President has exhibited strong political will and directly dealt with the existing threats we are facing,” said Padilla.

“The KFRG (Kidnapping for Ransom Group) Abu Sayyaf Group was a headache that caused national embarrassment with their rampant kidnapping sprees in the high seas and may soon be rendered insignificant because of the decisive military action taken to deal with it.”

China donated a shipment of more than 3000 assault and sniper rifles along with ammunition on Wednesday worth US$7.35 million, which the AFG suggests it is likely will be used on the battlefield in Mindanao against Islamic State-inspired militants.

The transfer of firearms was previously discussed when Duterte met President Xi Jinping during a state visit last October.