Don't fear killing civilians, Filipino President Rodrigo Duterte tells troops

President Rodrigo Duterte has committed an injustice against the Moro people with the continuing onslaught of the military in Marawi City, a progressive Moro organization said.

"I will never, never, never, compromise with terrorism", Duterte said in a speech he delivered before local officials at the Sports and Tourism Complex in Tagum City to mark the 50th founding anniversary of Davao del Norte.

Duterte made the statement a few days after Abdullah Maute, one of the two brothers leading the terrorist Maute group, reportedly offered to release a Catholic priest, in exchange for the freedom of his parents and relatives who are under the government's custody.

Duterte has faced criticism at home for being what some people see as too soft on China over the long-running territorial dispute, but he considers his approach to be pragmatic and says challenging China risks triggering war. The rebels known as the Maute Group declare allegiance to Islamic State and they were believed to be planning terrorist acts. "You gain nothing from their nationalism", Duterte said. But he said the Maute group is showing signs of leadership problems.

President Duterte returned in Beijing in May a year ago to attend the Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation which, Cayetano said, was the Philippines' show of support to China's ambitious economic integration that connects Asia to Europe and Africa.

On top of the P15 million rehabilitation assistance, China also donated another P5 million to the families of soldiers who died or were wounded in battle.

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"When I first visited China in October 2016, our governments agreed to address the emerging threats of terrorism and piracy in Mindanao", Duterte added, after witnessing the turnover ceremony.

He said he felt "more in shame" for sending soldiers to the war that caused the loss of precious lives. If I don't exist anymore by that time, you make your own assessment.

Duterte also said he is not happy with the way the government has suffered casualties during the conflict.

Duterte said he just needed to face the fact that he needed to implement stronger measures for a greater responsibility - which is to preserve the Filipino and defend the Republic.

"My only consoling issue there is that I have to do it because it is my constitutional duty to preserve and defend the Filipino people", he added.

"We have been calling on the worldwide community to play a larger role, we are calling for the United Nations to launch an impartial investigation of the situation in the Philippines but you know this is going to be a long-haul project", Mr Robertson said.

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