Philippines crisis: Duterte to hire 20,000 soldiers to fight militants

Philippines' President Rodrigo Duterte seeks lawmakers permission to hire 20,000 soldiers to fight militants in the southern part of the country.

Philippines says Islamist militants withdraw from school, no casualties
Reuters (Representational Image)

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has appealed to Philippine lawmakers, this week, to support his policy to hire 20,000 new soldiers to battle the growing radical militants in Southern Philippines.

Duterte made this announcement after he met with selected senators this week and provided them with new intelligence information that after the Marawi siege, Islamic extremists are planning to attack three major cities in Mindanao.

Philippine senator Vicente Sotto, who attended the closed door meeting with Duterte said that the president wanted to resolve the peace and order problem in Mindanao, which is the reason why he needs additional soldiers to join the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).

The senators refused to name the three cities in Mindanao so as not to cause alarm in Mindanao, where a state of Martial Law is being extended up to December 31, 2017.

Duterte submitted a budget request of P 145 billion (USD 2.8 million) for the Defense Department, a government agency that supervises the Philippine military.

Aside from the 20,000 foot soldiers, he is also seeking to hire additional police officers who will be trained as commandoes or Special Action Forces and support the Philippine military's fight against the militants.

There are four rebel groups operating in the Philippines, the New People's Army, the Abu Sayyaf Group, the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters and the Maute Militant Group. The Maute group has raided Marawi City and is battling Philippines soldiers for almost three months now.

The death toll in Marawi has already reached the 600 mark and most of those killed were fighters from the Maute militant group.