Sunday September 17, 2017
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Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte speaks during the closing ceremony of the 50th Asean Regional Forum in Manila August 8, 2017. — Reuters picPhilippine President Rodrigo Duterte speaks during the closing ceremony of the 50th Asean Regional Forum in Manila August 8, 2017. — Reuters picMANILA, Sept 17 — Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte said 50 billion pesos (US$975 million, RM4.08 billion) will not be enough to rebuild the southern city of Marawi, citing massive damage caused by the conflict between government troops and Islamic State-linked militants that’s been running for almost four months.

In a Saturday night speech after presenting a police officer released by communist rebels to the media, Duterte also said he wants the budget that was slashed from the Commission on Human Rights to be spent instead on police equipment. He had accused the human rights chief of being a spokesman of his political opponents, who he alleged want him ousted as president.

Duterte said his drug war will continue and that big-time personalities will be hunted down even as the campaign has led to killings of teenagers, inflaming public indignation. “There are some people who died, even teenagers, it doesn’t mean to say that you have to stop. We cannot stop.”

Duterte said he’s still considering if he will resume peace talks with communists after they released the police officer taken as hostage. He said he will take into account the views of the police and the military.

The military said in a separate statement yesterday two more strongholds in Marawi have been retaken from Islamic State-linked militants and it expects to seize more positions as the battle continues. — Bloomberg

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