Channel News Asia cited AFP as reporting that the United States gave the Philippine army a huge package of weapons totaling $150 million on Monday. The weapons are intended to help government troops defeat ISIS insurgents that have taken over a major town in the Southern island of Mindanao. The assistance is aimed to boost the effectiveness of the Philippine army to combat terrorism and to improve the U.S.-Philippine relationship that has gone sour over the last few months.

What is the progress of the war on terror in the Philippines?

The Philippine army is having a hard time in the Southern Island of Mindanao as ISIS terrorists have taken the whole city of Marawi. For two weeks, the army battled the terrorists inside the city and is currently bogged down. It is known through sources from the Philippine military that the terrorists are well-armed, strategically entrenched in the city and are growing in numbers.

At the moment, the Philippine army is not prepared to conduct swift urban warfare, which explains the delay in retaking the city. The leader of the ISIS contingent in the Philippines released a video urging Filipino Muslims to take arms and join them in their struggle. The ISIS leader also commanded radicalized Muslims in the Philippines to attack non-Muslims to the point of pouring gasoline on them and burning them alive.

Currently, the whole Island of the Mindanao is under martial law by order of Philippine President Duterte. The Marawi siege is by far the most serious attack made by a foreign terrorist group in the Philippines. It is unsure when the Filipino army will take back the city but the fighting is still raging and many civilians are caught in the crossfire.

What can the United States do to help the Philippines fight terrorism?

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte had drastically limited the influence of the U.S. Military inside the Philippines.

The military drills scheduled by the previous administration of both the Philippines and America was almost scrapped by Duterte and limiting it to teaching Filipino soldiers how to build temporary shelters during storms.

However, the much-needed training of Filipino soldiers was on hold as the Philippine president closed deals with China and Russia for support. In a visit to Moscow, Duterte personally asked Russian President Vladimir Putin to help him in supplying arms and in the fight against terrorism.

Putin agreed and said that both countries are in the process of finalizing deals that will greatly improve the Philippines Army.

The United States had done what it can do by donating $150 million worth of arms, which are brand new according to the U.S. Army representatives present at the handover ceremony.

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