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Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte (C) gestures as he delivers a speech during the State of the Nation Address (SONA) on the Joint Session of the 17th Congress at the House of the Representatives in Quezon city, metro Manila, Philippines July 24, 2017. REUTERS/Romeo Ranoco(reuters_tickers)
MANILA (Reuters) - Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte said on Monday he would build a military over the next two years that could fight on all fronts by recruiting 35,000-40,000 new soldiers, and buying planes and drones to tackle communist and Islamist rebels.
Duterte said security threats had increased in the Philippines and the military needed more troops and more modern equipment to meet those challenges.
"Today's demand necessitates an army that is strong," he told reporters. "I will build an armed forces that can fight all fronts everywhere."
He said he was prepared to "wait it out" before retaking Marawi City from Islamic State-inspired rebels holed up there for two months, because protecting civilians and hostages in the conflict zone was of paramount importance.
(Reporting by Neil Jerome Morales and Martin Petty; Editing by Nick Macfie)