Trump praises Duterte's deadly drug war in leaked transcript

"I'd be harsh", Duterte said onboard a flight back to Manila, in a video sent by his staff.

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte on Tuesday declared martial law in the south because of the militants' siege of the city.

A Philippine Roman Catholic church leader says a priest and several churchgoers have been taken hostage from a cathedral by gunmen in a southern city.

"I understand that and fully understand that and I think we had a previous president who did not understand that", Trump said, referring to Obama.

In a video released Wednesday morning by Assistant Communications Secretary Mocha Uson, the President insisted that the Martial Law he declared in Mindanao will be similar to what Former President Ferdinand Marcos declared in 1972.

Duterte cut short a visit to Russian Federation and placed the southern island of 22 million people under military rule on Tuesday, and said he would keep it that way for a year if necessary.

Duterte, who is known internationally for waging a war on drugs that has claimed thousands of lives, had said on many occasions since becoming president past year that he was prepared to declare martial law nationally as well as in Mindanao.

"I may declare martial law throughout the country to protect the people", Duterte told reporters as he returned from Russian Federation on Wednesday.

The Maute group has engaged in repeated deadly battles with the military over the past year in rural areas around Marawi.

Villegas says the gunmen have threatened to kill the hostages "if government forces unleashed against them are not recalled".

The military said it was hunting Isnilon Hapilon, an Abu Sayyaf leader who has been named the Philippine head of IS. "He was a threat to none", archbishop Villegas said in a statement.

"Fighting terrorism does not need the declaration of martial law, because our existing laws are more than enough to enforce it", said Aiyub.

DUTERTE: Thank you, Mr. President. "I have to do it to preserve the republic".

Fighting between government forces and the Maute group, an Islamist militant organization based in Mindanao, began Tuesday afternoon in Marawi, a city of about 200,000 people. The entire island has been placed under martial law for 60 days in response to attacks in which armed men seized the city hall, a hospital and a prison, and set fire to homes, a college and a Catholic church, killing at least three members of the security forces and injuring a dozen others.

A senior administration official said after the April 29 call that Trump "is interested in human rights issues, but he's not going to allow that interest and concern keep him from defending the national security interests of the United States". "I came to Moscow to ask for your help and support", the Kremlin quoted Duterte as telling Putin in a meeting on Tuesday.

Police said the May 6 blast was sparked by a personal feud, but the Islamic State group claimed its fighters were responsible. We can do that easily, " Gen Ano said, but added it was more hard in an urban setting because of the need to avoid civilian casualties.

  • Leroy Wright