SAN MIGUEL, BULACAN -- Amid terror fears in the south, President Rodrigo Duterte on Wednesday revealed that Russia will be donating at least 5,000 Kalashnikov assault rifles to the Philippines.
"We'll have the Kalashnikov [rifles]. It's around 5,000. So there will be 5,000 Kalashnikov rifles... Expect the arms to come in," Duterte told troops here in Calumpang/Tartaro village in San Miguel, Bulacan.
The President made the announcement during the groundbreaking ceremony of a housing project for Army Scout Rangers.
In a chance interview with reporters, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said the Russian government, Duterte's most-sought ally, granted donations to the Philippine government "at no cost" in a bid to help it in its fight against terrorism.
Duterte placed the whole of Mindanao under martial rule on May 23 after Islamic State (IS)-inspired extremist group laid siege to Marawi City.
Lorenzana said Russia was expected to send around 5,000 rifles and 20 units of army trucks, which were all "brand new," to help the Philippine troops quell the rebellion in the southern Philippines.
"The turnover of equipment and rifles will be on [October] 25, which will be held in Manila. The equipment that they would be sending are 5,000 Kalashnikov rifles and 20 units of big army trucks," the Defense chief said.
"That's a grant at no cost. They want to help us to fight terrorism because they are also fighting terrorism in their country and they want to help the worldwide fight against terrorism. That's their reason," he added.
'No let-up in fight vs. terrorists'
In his latest speech, the Commander-in-Chief maintained that the government forces would not end its battle against Islamist extremists unless the "last terrorist is taken out."
Duterte also pleaded to the troops to remain "patient," stressing that hostile acts in perpetrated by IS-affiliated Maute bandits might continue in about "seven to 10 years" from now.
"I am very sad we have lost a lot of men in Marawi and as I said, there will be no let up until the last terrorist is taken out," the President said.
"You know be patient. This terrorism inspired by ISIS will not go in about seven to 10 years. There will be violence everywhere. They will not disappear, they will go anywhere and everywhere," he added.
During his tour of Australian Navy's vessel on Tuesday, Duterte said he was expecting that the armed conflict in Marawi City would end "in about one week."
The President, however, issued a fresh warning that terrorism "is a deadly movement to confront us and our children."
Lorenzana, speaking to reporters, said the government was hopeful that the fight between state forces and Islamist fighters would last in just "the next few days" since the enemies' strong-hold is getting smaller.
"[The end of Marawi conflict] is getting near. The [ground] commanders said three days ago, [Maute group is] claiming just three hectares. That was three days ago. So now, it might just be one hectare," he said.
"So perhaps, within the next few days, we hope it would end," he added. (SunStar Philippines)