Philippines president jokes about rape in speech to soldiers

Government troops head for a continuing military operation against Muslim militants who lay siege in Marawi city Friday, May 26, 2017 at Bal-oi township, Lanao del Norte province in southern Philippines.

MANILA Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte has sought to reassure soldiers who might be accused of committing abuses under martial law, and jokingly said that if any of them were to rape three women, he would personally claim responsibility for it.

The raid went spectacularly wrong as dozens of gunmen emerged to repel the security forces, then tore across the city while flying black IS flags.

The whole of the southern region of Mindanao is under martial law, bringing roughly one-third of the country or up to 20 million people under the emergency measure. Padilla said 11 soldiers, two policemen and 31 militants had been confirmed killed in the fighting, which has involved the military bombing buildings where the militants have been hiding.

Thousands of civilians have been fleeing the city of some 200,000 people. "But if you marry four, son of a whore you will be beaten up", he said on Friday.

He gave his troops a free hand to wrest control of Marawi, saying: "You can arrest any person, search any house without warrant".

"But where can we go?" she said, adding that she had been able to take temporary shelter in her sister's house but would have to find more permanent accommodation. "And if you can not be convinced to stop fighting, so be it. Let's just fight". The military says he is still wounded from a January air strike and the fierce Maute resistance is aimed at protecting him.

"Right now, he is still inside (the city)", Gen. Eduardo Ano told The Associated Press. "I can not gamble with Isis because they are everywhere and you know what is happening or you must be very aware of what is happening in the Middle East".


Hapilon was the target of Tuesday's botched raid and Duterte said Islamic State in the Middle East had anointed him as its man in the Philippines, and Hapilon was revered as its leader. "We were sure they would get to us", he said. "We have to finish this".

In a sign that the long-standing problem of militancy in the south could be expanding, the solicitor general, Jose Calida, said foreigners were fighting alongside the gunmen in Marawi, including Indonesians and Malaysians. "We suspect that, but we're still validating", he said.

With much of Marawi a no-go zone, confusion reigned. Duterte has told police to "spare no one" fighting them and has assured terrorists, "you will die" if confronting officers.

According to Mr Enriquez, the former chief was shot dead in a clash with the extremists on Tuesday outside a Marawi hospital. Mr Enriquez has been in the job for about two months.

Filipina president Rodrigo Duterte declared martial law in Marawi and all of Mindanao hours after a fight broke between the Armed Forces and Maute insurgents on Tuesday, May 23.

Armed forces helicopters fired guided rockets at Islamist militant positions on Saturday in the southern city of Marawi. The group, formed in 2012, pledged allegiance to the Islamic State in 2015. The United States regards Hapilon as one of the world's most unsafe terrorists, offering a bounty of $5 million for his capture.

The southern Philippines has been troubled by decades-long Muslim separatist uprisings in the predominantly Catholic nation.

The president, who is known for remarks often deemed offensive, reiterated that only he would be liable for any backlash.

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