President Duterte
The Filipino President Rodrigo Duterte has ordered the army to take action before the Philippines is 'contaminated' by the Isis 'disease' MANMAN DEJETO/AFP/Getty

President Rodrigo Duterte of the Philippines has ordered the country's army to destroy the Abu Sayyaf militant group and warned the country risks being "contaminated" by Isis if they do not. Abu Sayyaf is a small but violent insurgent group which has been an enemy of the state for 25 years.

According to Reuters, President Duterte described Abu Sayyaf as terrorists and bandits who wanted to kill civilians for no reason. Addressing the army at a base in the southern province of Zamboanga del Sur on the Mindanao island, which has been at the centre of violent outbreaks, he ruled out negotiations and ordered them to handle the insurgents..

He said: "Destroy them, that's an order. I see a looming problem, in three to seven years from now, we will have a problem with Isis."

He pledged to provide them with modern equipment to fight Abu Sayyaf, adding that everything had to be done now before the Philippines becomes "contaminated by the Isis disease". The southeast Asian leader has been touring army camps since he came to power five weeks ago and has expressed plans to recruit more than 20,000 additional soldiers.

The new recruits come as part of Duterte's plans to protect the country's territorial integrity. Tensions have been high in the region in recent months after China reacted angrily to a tribunal ruling that sided with the Philippines in the South China Sea dispute.

Stressing his close partnership with the United States, Duterte said: "We want to control all areas and we don't want to lose any territory."

Abu Sayyaf are well known for kidnappings and bombings, as well as taking foreign hostages, including people from Norway, the Netherlands and Malaysia. In June, they beheaded two Canadians after kidnapping them from a Filipino resort and recently freed 18 Indonesians and Malaysian tugboat crew members after a ransom was paid.