President Rodrigo Duterte on Thursday said he would visit military camps on Friday as he marks his first year in office.
In a speech at Camp Quintin Merecido in Davao City, Duterte said he was told by the Presidential Security Group (PSG) not to mention which camps he intends to visit on Friday.
“With the outbreak of this [Marawi] conflict, ang sabi ng PSG ko eh not to mention to anybody, especially in public, where I would go tomorrow to visit the camps,” Duterte said.
The President previously said that he wants to visit Marawi City on Friday, where clashes between government troops and Maute extremists and other rebels have been going on for more than a month.
On Wednesday, Duterte said he had decided to do more rounds in military camps to raise the morale of government troops, some of whom are now battling Islamist militants in Marawi.
“You’ll see less of me until the Marawi incident is over. Nandoon ako sa mga kampo everyday, lumilipad ako sa mga kampo just to raise the morale [of the troops],” Duterte said on Wednesday.
Clashes between state forces and the Islamist rebels erupted last May 23, forcing over 200,000 people to flee their homes.
The military on Thursday said the death toll in the Marawi crisis has risen to 418, including 303 terror suspects, 71 government troops, and 44 civilians.
Duterte, who had recently been absent from the public eye, broke his 6-day hiatus on Tuesday, hosting Muslim leaders in a celebration of Eid al-Fitr in Malacañang.