PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte on Tuesday told contingents of the Royal Australian Navy who are in the country for a five-day goodwill visit that the Philippines is doing its best to put an end to the war in Marawi City.
Duterte gave assurance that his administration was doubling its efforts to ensure that the terror activities that are currently posing a threat in the southern Philippines would end "in about one week."
"We are also suffering from a severe case of terrorism. We're coping up. We hope that it would be finished in about one week. We have suffered casualties, the biggest so far in my present year. And I am sad that terrorism has arrived in my land," Duterte said.
Duterte earlier said that government plan to finish the battle with the Maute group last September but it apparently did not materialize.
Last Monday, Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) spokesperson Major General Restituto Padilla said the government forces were still engaged in a firefight with around 40 to 50 Islamist fighters.
The martial law, which Duterte declared for the entire Mindanao at the start of the crisis in May, remains in effect until December 31.
The Philippines has received assistance from foreign allies, including the Australia, to help the Filipino soldiers to end the rebellion in the south.
On August 30, Malacañang said that Australia offered to train the Philippine troops in its fight against Maute terror group.
On Tuesday, Duterte toured the Royal Australian Navy's largest vessel, Her Majesty’s Australian Ship (HMAS) Adelaide, docked at Pier 15 at South Harbor Manila.
Duterte was welcomed aboard by officers of the Australian Navy led by Australian Ambassador to the Philippines Amanda Gorely and Australia’s Assistant Defense Attaché Lieutenant Colonel Gideon Scrimgeour.
HMAS Adelaide, a landing helicopter dock ship, docked at Manila's harbor along with guided missile frigate HMAS Darwin on Tuesday for a five-day goodwill visit as Australia aims to bolster its defense ties with the Philippines. (SunStar Philippines)