President Rodrigo Duterte of the Philippines said on Saturday that a battle with Islamist militants in Marawi City was winding up, but the insurgency had deep roots. The President had been avoiding public appearances for nearly a week to recover from what spokesmen described as fatigue.
More than 300 people have been killed in the southern town, where troops have been fighting for over three weeks to oust militants who have sworn allegiance to Islamic State.
While addressing soldiers in the town of Butuan, an event covered live on television, Duterte told Reuters: "The fighting is going on, but it's winding up".
"It's difficult to fight those who are willing to die. They have corrupted the name of God in the form of religion to kill many innocent people, for nothing," he added.
Duterte said the presence of fighters from the Middle East had made it a brutal conflict.
Since last Sunday, Duterte had not attended any public event. According to his spokesmen saying the president was tired and resting. He did not appear at any function to mark the Philippines' independence day last Monday, which raised eyebrows.
On Saturday, he appeared and attended two functions in the southern region of Mindanao, both near his hometown Davao. He said: "Do not worry. My state of health is immaterial. There is the vice president who will take over."