June 19, 2017 – Mindanao Hour Briefing by Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella with Armed Forces of the Philippines Spokesperson Brig. Gen. Restituto Padilla, Jr.
|Mindanao Hour Briefing by Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella with Armed Forces of the Philippines Spokesperson Brig. Gen. Restituto Padilla, Jr.|
|Press Briefing Room, New Executive Building, Malacañang|
|19 June 2017|
PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: Good morning. There are Joint Task Force Marawi updates.
On the rebellion in Marawi as of 8 p.m., 18th of June 2017:
Progress on the ground continues to be positive, although action is carefully calibrated.
Civilians killed by terrorists – 26; civilians rescued by government troops, LGUs, CSOs – 1,637 or an increase of 1; government casualties…
Recovered firearms by government troops – 250; terrorists killed – 257; government casualties killed in action – 62.
The focus of military operations remains to be the continued clearing of Marawi of remaining armed terrorist that continue to pose pockets of resistance to the advancing troops.
Also, the continued rescue of trapped residents to include those held hostages.
Also, the continued recovery of civilian casualties or cadavers of victims.
Also, to assist the LGU, CSOs, NGOs on relief operations.
Also, to prepare to assist Government/LGUs for the rehabilitation, reconstruction, and rebuilding phase as soon as the rebellion is quelled.
Note: Troops have recovered sachets of shabu and paraphernalia at formerly Maute-Daesh/ISIS occupied positions in many instances during the clearing operations
Constraints and limitations:
Gen Año, the Chief of Staff, AFP reiterates that the AFP is prepared to embark on other key tasks such as rehab and reconstruction of Marawi.
It has already prepared the Combat Engineering Brigades [from] the Army and the Navy for immediate deployment as soon as the clearing operations are [completed].
In the meantime, focus remains on combat, intelligence, and civil military operations.
Task Force Ranao that has just been activated is in full swing in ensuring that efforts to save lives of innocent non-combatant civilians remain a primary specific task to be complied with.
It likewise takes charge in the collating and in the distribution of relief goods to evacuees in tandem with the LGUs.
In this connection, and in response to the people expressing their desire to help Internally Displaced Persons or evacuees and the families of our troops Killed-in-Action during the Rebellion in Marawi City, Special Accounts were opened by the AFP [at] the Land Bank of the Philippines for these purposes.
If you wish to donate:
For the families of our Soldiers Killed-in-Action:
Account Name: AFP Marawi Casualty
Account Number: 00000552107128. This is for the families of our soldiers killed-in-action.
If you wish to donate for the evacuees from Marawi City:
The bank is Land Bank, the Account Name: Marawi IDP (For Internally Displaced Persons)
And the Account Number is: 00000552107136
For purposes of transparency, the AFP will be posting the amount of donations and disbursements.
Donors may call or text LCDR Rose Abud at mobile number +63 928 264 3337. Let me repeat that +63 928 264 3337 to inform the AFP of such deposits made, the branch, the date, time, and [amount.] She will maintain the records of donations and disbursements.
The AFP remains committed to the decisive resolution of this rebellion to ensure that the Maute-Daesh/ISIS terrorist rebels will not be able to pose a threat in any part of the Philippines.
And the support and active participation of LGUs and the citizens will play a key role in ensuring that terrorism shall not thrive in this part of Asia.
On the NPA raid in the Iloilo police station
It’s unfortunate that the NPA raid of a police station in Iloilo happened on the same day the government reciprocated the National Democratic Front’s declaration to refrain from undertaking offensive operations in Mindanao.
Although the attack was not in Mindanao, the act was opportunistic in nature and disregards the nature of the NDF declaration.
We ask the NDF to call on their armed comrades on the ground to walk the talk and to show genuine sincerity on the confidence-building measure initiated by the government and their side.
Part of the statement, released by Peace Adviser — Presidential Peace Adviser Jess Dureza regarding the recent attacks, the last paragraph says:
“The impact is not just on the peace negotiations, it illustrates the tragedy of the insurgency. Hopefully the attack is just part of the birth pains of the agreement to stop offensive military actions, even if it covers only Mindanao as of now. It is an argument for a nationwide ceasefire.” End of statement.
We defer to General Padilla, please.
BRIG. GEN. PADILLA: Good morning members of the Malacañang Press Corps and all others monitoring.
As was already announced, one significant development from Joint Task Force Marawi AOR was the discovery of 11 kilos of high-grade or first-grade shabu.
The presentation of these items that were taken from clearing operations in a certain part of Marawi, name I cannot disclosed, will be done at about 12:30 to 1:00 this afternoon at the headquarters of Joint Task Force Marawi in Marawi itself.
And the elements who were involved in the clearing operations that led to the discovery of this sizeable amount of illegal substance will be present to answer questions from the media regarding the nature of their operation.
So may I give that advisory to all our friends from the media who are there and who may be able to facilitate their connection to have their people cover that for a complete background of the clearing operations yesterday that led to this discovery.
And last weekend we didn’t have any update report and you may have other figures discovered or passed on to you, but we would just like to highlight that last Saturday our troops on ground zero were able to seize a sizeable arms cache from the area of operation and the number of firearms, numbering more than 20 if I recall and these are not ordinary firearms but high-powered firearms.
Last week, during the visit of the Secretary of National Defense and the National Security Adviser plus other members of Cabinet, the firearms were presented to them and may I request, look at those pictures.
So you may not be aware of the nature of the confiscated firearms. These are among the firearms that have been confiscated and they are not ordinary firearms at all but high-powered firearms that can fire from afar, hit targets and destroy them.
And this is indicative of the length of planning that went to this operation of these rebels, when they were able to get this number of firearms and bring it to the area of operations over a period of time.
Besides this, other war materials that have been confiscated are IEDs and other explosives that the amount of which are also significantly high.
They are also using combustible materials like fuel or gasoline to burn many of the areas that they leave behind when enemy — when government forces captured these areas where they have been staying.
To date also, as we continue to get the vantage points that have been held by these terrorists, the discovery or the recovery of cadavers beside firearms and arms caches and equipment are ongoing.
And this is why the high number of confirmed enemy killed continues to grow because of this continued discovery.
I am now open to answer any questions you may have.
QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS:
Maricel Halili (TV-5): Hi, sir. Good morning. Sir, just a clarification on the arrested members of Maute group during the weekend. Meron po kasing reports na sinasabi na kapatid daw ng Maute brothers ‘yung babae na na-arrest, pero may reports clarifying na hindi. So ano po ba talaga ‘yung connection?
BRIG. GEN. PADILLA: We have already sought clarification and we have not received the answer yet. That’s why I did not take it up in the significant development.
The identity or exact relationship is still being established and until such time that we don’t get the categorical answer from the field, we could not include it in the report.
Ms. Halili: Pero ano po ‘yung circumstances when the three individuals were arrested? I understand near Iloilo port?
BRIG. GEN. PADILLA: Well, they left port and boarded, based on the report, in Cagayan de Oro, if I’m not mistaken or somewhere in the area of Iligan.
And the advisory was sent by the Coast Guard, having seen them boarding and it was then forwarded to the next port so that they could prepare and effect an arrest of the said individuals and that was how it was made.
This in line with our effort to continue to guard the nearby cities of potential freeing members of the group who may have gone through earlier in the cordoned areas that we have established.
So this is just to ensure that many of those who may have gone through these checkpoints, earlier during the first week of fighting do not hide in other areas out of Mindanao.
Ms. Halili: So as of now, sir, hindi pa malinaw kung ano ang participation nila?
BRIG. GEN. PADILLA: Wala pa. We’ll wait for that final report before we can fully say their relationship.
Ms. Halili: Sir, panghuli na lang po on my part, what are the chances na nakarating na rin doon sa may Iloilo area or sa Visayas area ‘yung ilang members ng Maute?
BRIG. GEN. PADILLA: Kaya nga po binabantayan natin ‘yung mga port. So ito pa lang ‘yung unang pagkakataon na may ganito tayong report.
And based on the initial monitoring, there was nothing similar to this previously.
Hannah Sancho (Sonshine Radio): Good morning, sir. Sir, itatanong ko lang po, sir, may news report na kinote (quote) ang Pangulo na nagsu-supply po ng firearms ang MILF at MNLF sa Maute group?
BRIG. GEN. PADILLA: Itong mga firearms na maaaring nandiyan ngayon sa loob ng Marawi, potentially noong araw pa at matagal nang panahon. Some of the members of the Maute group may have relatives in other groups or armed groups.
There are so many armed groups in Mindanao that could potentially be a source of firearm for this group. And that is why, there needs to be an effort to get all these loose firearms that are held by private armed groups and other illegal armed groups that are operating, such as this terrorist group.
And this is a cause for concern that has been there since a long time ago and has been addressed many times over but unsuccessfully. And we hope that during this period of martial law, we can successfully cover this and get rid or confiscate all these loose firearms that are there.
Ms. Sancho: Usec. Abella, doon sa statement po ng Pangulo, maaapektuhan po ba ‘yung peace process natin sa MILF-MNLF?
PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: Statement ng alin?
Ms. Sancho: Na-mention… There’s a news report na sinasabi po kasi na ‘yung MILF and MNLF nagsu-supply ng mga firearms, ‘yung kaya nagkaroon ng nag-imbak ‘yung Maute group sa Marawi po ng mga firearms dahil daw doon sa peace process kaya soft daw ‘yung government. So with this na statement po, ano pong statregy ng Pangulo — ng pamahalaan na ongoing po ‘yung peace process natin kung ipagpapatuloy pa rin po nila ‘yung pagbebenta, pagsu-supply po ng mga firearms sa mga rebel groups sa Mindanao po?
PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: I think it was clarified by General Padilla that this was in the past.
BRIG. GEN. PADILLA: Yes, sir.
PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: It’s not a current thing that’s happening. So it will not affect the peace talks. Thank you.
Pia Ranada (Rappler): For General Padilla. Sir, on Saturday the President was saying that — he was threatening that if he had to declare martial law again after the Supreme Court decides to lift it, then it could be a copycat of Marcos, he was talking about a second martial law regime. But the military has always been saying that there will be no human rights abuses for this martial law, that it’s very different from the time of Marcos, but then we have the President saying, threatening again that it will be similar to Marcos time. What does the military think of these kinds of statements?
BRIG. GEN. PADILLA: Well, definitely the President will not be referring to abuses. He may refer to the breadth and the depth of how to impose it but I guess it’s not because of the abuses.
You can see how the military is implementing martial law now, its complete regard for human rights and IHL and the other protocols that have been established.
So if there are any complaints, we are open to receiving those complaints and acting on it immediately.
And that is also one of the instructions of the President previously that you also may have heard that he must ensure we are able to protect and save lives.
After all, in the pronouncement and declaration of martial law, ‘di ba sinabi niya: “If you are a law-abiding citizen, and a peace-loving citizen, martial law is not a problem that you should worry about because martial law is intended for the lawless elements and the rebels that are around.”
So wasn’t that clear enough? And the AFP will always guarantee the safety of each citizen who are doing the right things and not the wrong things and not breaking the law.
Ms. Ranada: So, sir, you heard it specifically from the President that he gave instructions or statements to the military saying that when he threatened ‘yung copycat of martial law, he actually meant the breadth and depth, that’s what he meant? He explained this to the military specifically?
BRIG. GEN. PADILLA: No, no, he did not. That’s why, you know, the nature of the question and answer that transpired in Butuan was of an extent that — nagkakabiruan na.
Remember when he was asked, “Sabi niyo naka-coma ako pero nagkamali yata kayo sa spelling dahil ang totoo nasa ‘kama’ lang ako naka-higa.”
So the nature of the exchange between the media and the President was light enough that shouldn’t be reflected or translated otherwise.
So by that nature alone, alam mo ‘yung banter was light. So he could not have meant that abuses and all about martial law.
He may have been very serious about tackling and dealing with the problems at hand and one of the solutions could be martial law but not in the extent of the abuses. And we can be sure of that because of the previous guidance that he has already given.
Dexter Ganibe (DZMM): Hi, Sec, hi General, good morning. Sir, ‘yung bank accounts para doon sa tulong para sa families and doon sa mga evacuees, last week lang po ito na-open, sir, ano?
BRIG. GEN. PADILLA: Opo. Nai… Nabuksan po itong mga bank accounts na ito, mga bagong bank accounts po ito dahil nakatanggap po kami nang napakaraming hiling or kagustuhan ng mga pribadong mamamayan at ng mga kumpanya na magbigay ng tulong para sa mga nasawi nating sundalo at ‘yung mga pamilyang iniwan nila.
Ngayon, hindi po maaaring gamitan ng ibang bank account ito na other than a new one. So dumagsa na rin po ang tulong sa ating mga nasugatan sa ospital.
At nakiusap mismo ‘yung commanding officer po ng V. Luna, si General Torrelavega, na unang-una, nag-request ‘yung mga sundalo ng kanilang puwedeng gamitin sa kanilang personal necessities kaya bumaha na po ng tabo doon at saka mga ano pajama at iba pang kagamit.
So they have more than enough for their personal necessities right now. And that’s why the request was if you wish to help and donate, you can just do it in cash so that we can provide it to the families of the — of our heroes as well as provide directly to the wounded.
You may visit our wounded by the way. We are open to having our citizens come over and lift up their spirits, and you just have to coordinate with our personnel at V. Luna.
They would appreciate your visit and it may be better if you ask them what they would really appreciate rather than bringing something that may be over and above already what they have been getting.
Mr. Ganibe: Sir, mga ilan na po ‘yung mga nai-transfer na mga wounded soldiers, sir?
BRIG. GEN. PADILLA: Noong nakaraang linggo, ‘yung bed capacity ng Cagayan De Oro, sa Cagayan De Oro ay over filled na. Nasa may mga daanan na ‘yung mga sugatan natin at…
Pero noong naglipat tayo, meron na po tayong mga 80 yata or 60 dito sa V. Luna na mga critical care at saka recovering.
And many of the wounded, by the way, just for the information of everybody, those who have been slightly wounded were determined to go back to the field. They have requested their doctors attending to them to release them immediately from the hospital.
And we have about close to 50 of our own soldiers who have, by their insistent demand, the doctors consented and allowed them to return back. They want to be with their units to continue the fight, finish it and once and for all liberate Marawi.
So isn’t that enough indication of the morale of our troops and their desire to serve our people?
Mr. Ganibe: Sir, last na lang on my part. Sir, may bank account din para doon sa mga internally displaced?
BRIG. GEN. PADILLA: Meron po. Iyong pangalawang account na ipinakita po natin, intended po ‘yan para sa mga kapatid nating Maranao na naaapektuhan ng kaguluhang ito.
So both ways, you may want to help soldiers’ families left behind directly, use the first account. And for those who are suffering from the effects of this conflict, the second account will do.
We will turn this over to the necessary local government entities who will facilitate their turnover to our own Maranao brothers and sisters.
Mr. Ganibe: It doesn’t mean naman, sir, na kapos na sa budget ang pamahalaan?
BRIG. GEN. PADILLA: Ay hindi po, hindi po. That does not reflect that we are not giving the appropriate support to our wounded and our heroes.
On the contrary, ito pong ibinibigay niyong tulong is over and above ‘yung sa ibibigay ng ating pamahalaan at ng ating Armed Forces.
At kaya nga po kami nagpapasalamat dahil natutuwa po ‘yung mga kasundaluhan natin sa — ‘yung buhos ng suporta sa kanila.
Kaniya’t ang nakukuha ninyong balik ay ‘yung tunay na serbisyo, kagustuhang bumalik at tapusin itong laban para ipakita natin na once and for all, libre na po itong Marawi.
Mr. Ganibe: Kay Secretary Abella. Sir, ‘yung nakuhang 11 kilograms na shabu kahapon sa Marawi, ito na ba ‘yung, kasama na ito doon sa laging binabanggit ng Pangulo na ito ‘yung nagfu-fuel doon sa ano — doon sa movement ng Maute?
PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: We assume that is so. We assume that is so. Galing siya sa Marawi itself. Except that we cannot reveal the exact location kung saan nanggaling.
Mr. Ganibe: Sir, ‘yung binabanggit niyo na regular na magbibigay ng update doon sa kung magkano na ang laman ng bank accounts, mangyayari ba ‘yan sa Mindanao Hour briefing?
BRIG. GEN. PADILLA: Yeah, oo. We’ll have a transparency mechanism here kaya nga po meron tao po tayong na-identify si Lieutenant Commander…
PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: Rose…
BRIG. GEN. PADILLA: Si Rose Abud. Siya po talaga ang mangangalaga niyan. Kaya kung may magde-deposito po, paki-text po sa kanya ‘yung pangalan niyo kung nais niyo kayong ma-recognize or anonymously kung ayaw niyo pong mapangalanan, at ‘yung amount at ‘yung deposit reference niyo para naa-account natin.
PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: Perhaps it is also important to just inform the people that even if you don’t submit your name, pakilagay lang po ‘yung transaction number para alam na may pumasok. Mahalaga po ‘yun so that naa-update, whether or not you want to be acknowledged.
Ina Andolong (CNN Philippines): Usec. Abella, sir, hi. This is a follow up to Pia’s question, so what did the President mean — can you clarify to us when he said that if he will declare martial law a second time it may be a copycat of Marcos? Was he joking like —
PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: No, it’s not…
Ms. Andolong: — or was it made in a light or…
BRIG. GEN. PADILLA: In jest…
Ms. Andolong: Or made in jest as what General Padilla said?
PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: I would assume that’s you know… I would assume, first, the way General Padilla explained it is that, first and foremost, it’s not — it does not include at all, reference any human rights abuse.
For example… I think we need to take note of the fact that CHR just came out with a statement, that they have not seen, they have not been — there have been no human rights abuses.
So, I think we should take that in context and I agree with what the General said that the President is talking about the length and breadth and the depth of the efforts to be placed through martial law, especially because his first and last consideration regarding ML is public safety.
Ms. Andolong: Another one. Over the weekend also President Duterte said that he will withdraw troops if the Supreme Court rules that there is no basis for martial law. Will that be really be the case because as General Padilla also said a few days ago, hindi naman po daw kailangan matigil ‘yung mismong offensives even if martial law is lifted?
PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: So, the President has made his position clear, you know, if necessary, he will.
Ms. Andolong: But again…
PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: But the efforts will continue.
Ms. Andolong: Yeah, will… I mean, he said troops will be withdrawn if Supreme Court decides na hindi nga valid ‘yung martial law, but that does not actually stop naman po military offensive, right, Sir General Padilla, because you mentioned it may directly affect particularly the arrests, but…?
BRIG. GEN. PADILLA: Offensives will continue because there’s a threat that’s being faced. And it would be foolhardy to stop the fight because the martial law was lifted.
So if there’s a threat to public safety, tuloy pa rin po. But the fight becomes increasingly hard because you cannot effect certain moves that will facilitate the taking care of some threats that area looming somewhere.
So you need to line up for a search warrant, you need to get an arrest order, and if the courts don’t issue them as quickly as they should, then naaantala ‘yung gagawin mong mga operasyon.
At the course of time between the effecting the arrest and the search and possibly neutralizing a potential threat will become longer and opening up the possibility of escape.
So they will keep on being at large and being a threat to public safety.
Ms. Andolong: So bakit po sinabi ni Presidente, Usec Abella, that he will withdraw troops if offensives will continue anyway?
PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: I think the good General just explained it, you know. They will withdraw from, for example, exercising the arrests without warrant.
BRIG. GEN. PADILLA: Arrests, yeah. Siguro ‘yung distribution ng tropa hindi ganun kasing lawak kasi ‘yun nga hindi na kailangan dahil may hindrances na ng pagkawala ng martial law.
We will turn it over to the civilian side of law enforcement and that means to say the police or even the local government. So your military will pull back a little bit.
PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: From certain actions.
BRIG. GEN. PADILLA: From certain actions. So hihina ‘yung galaw natin.
Ace Romero (Philippine Star): Usec. Abella, you mentioned in your statement yesterday that the President’s statement that he would pull out the troops from Marawi if ordered by the Supreme Court indicates that he respects rule of law and the independence of judiciary. But he also said that once he declared martial law, he will do it his way and he will no longer listen to anyone else. Hindi ba magka-kontra ‘yung — ?
PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: Hindi po. Hindi ba sinabi niya na if it is… If public safety is jeopardized, then he will reimpose, tama?
Mr. Romero: But ‘yung sinabi niya na I won’t listen to anyone else and do it — I’ll do it my way, what does he mean by that?
PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: It simply means to say that he will go by… He doesn’t mean to say he will not go by the force of law. He will still do that.
Except that he will go by the — by his — by his [likes?] and his perception of whether public safety is jeopardized or not.
Mr. Romero: So he will still listen to the courts kung sakali mang magkaroon ng second — ?
PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: At the end of the day, at the end of the day, yes. On the other hand, he will still have to exercise his own — his own judgments.
Mr. Romero: Thank you, Usec.
John Bencito (Manila Standard): Hi, General Padilla, good morning.
BRIG. GEN. PADILLA: Yeah.
Mr. Bencito: Sir, last Saturday, nagpa- meeting po si ARMM Governor Mujiv Hataman sa Lanao del Sur mayors. He was… He told them na local government should prepare for possible terror attacks by the Marawi within Lanao del Sur. Sir, have we monitored such possible movements by the Maute?
BRIG. GEN. PADILLA: So far, we have not had… Wala, walang namo-monitor na significant development as a cause for alarm.
But this thing I can tell you, the enemy we face right now is a different breed. And with the presence of foreign fighters in the area, a matter that we are trying to validate and prove based on whatever we recover from the field, is part of that continuing concern because they bring something different than those from local — from the local have been bringing.
What I mean by that is, the kind of terrorism that you have seen elsewhere in the world and attributed to this group that is in the Middle East and suffering setbacks is something that is foreign to us at the moment because our local terrorist groups have not practiced it.
But if we do not work as a nation and band together to fight it, the threat might increase. And that is why we appreciate the move of Governor Hataman to inform and educate the local executives to be prepared to fight this because we have to draw the line.
As we have said last week, this is already a fight between good and evil, and the evil is looming in these areas. And if we give it a chance to grow and take hold of certain parts of our country, it might be harder to get them out.
But if we work together as one nation, as one people and unite, then it will be harder for them to take rule and we can eventually deal with them because these terrorists use low cost high impact means to effect terror.
They are practicing ultra violent intimidations and are doing recruitment remotely through the Internet and social media and what have you and they have been very good at this because they are net savvy and net capable. That is why if you see this evolving —
Ang tinatarget nila dito ‘yung mga bata eh and that is what we have to safely guard against with. So if we can strengthen our family, parents watching over the activities of their children so that they know what’s going on whenever they are on the net, then that will be better so they can immunize our children from potential works that are being done by these groups.
So that in all is an indication of the big task at hand that remains in the hands of our authorities and in the hands of our society partners who should work together with everyone in order to counter this.
Mr. Bencito: Thank you, sir. For Spox Abella po. Sir, the President has mentioned he will be allotting a 50-billion trust fund for the education of soldiers’ children. Sir, the President is saying that he has already found something na to fund the initial 20 billion. Saan po kaya kukunin ‘to ni Presidente? Have you already identified this? Then how can we earmark the additional 30 billion for the next six years, sir?
PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: We don’t have the exact resourcing that he has promised, but part of it should be his own special fund.
Mr. Bencito: Special fund, sir?
PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: Yes, as a —
Mr. Bencito: President’s special fund?
BRIG. GEN. PADILLA: The assistance provided by the President to our soldiers who die comes from his special fund.
He gives an outright amount of 250 to the families of the deceased or the heroes and that is the initial cash that they use during their time of bereavement.
Then what follows after is ‘yung tulong na sa pamilya para matustusan ‘yung pangangailangan nila pagkawala nung kanilang breadwinner.
Mr. Bencito: Sir, ‘yung special fund is from the budget of the Office of the President?
BRIG. GEN. PADILLA: Yes.
Ian Cruz (GMA): Good morning, sir. Sir, nabanggit mo General Padilla ‘yung presence ng foreign jihadists. And just recently po may mga na-aresto sa Sandakan two Indonesians and one Malaysian po na bound daw sa Marawi kasi ‘di ba may panawagan po ang ISIS na if they can’t go doon sa Iraq or sa Syria, sa Pilipinas sila. Ano po ang ginagawa natin para mahadlangan po ito?
BRIG. GEN. PADILLA: Bilang kasagutan sa tanong mo, right at this very moment, ongoing na po ‘yung launching nung trilateral agreement natin for patrols sa trilateral border areas ng Indonesia, ‘yung Sabah area at saka itong sa atin sa Pilipinas.
So ‘yung kasunduan po na ‘yan nailatag na lahat ng mga protocols at ‘yung angkop na agreement ay napirmahan na. At ngayon, ‘yung launching ay pagpapatupad na lamang.
So bahagi ‘yan ng pagpapatibay nitong ating mga lagusan at daanan ng mga nationals from the different countries that are involved in this partnership.
So hopefully, ma-address natin ‘yung porous borders natin sa bagay na ‘yan. Pagkakaroon nang mas maayos na pag-patrolya. Unang-una, para ma-prevent ‘yung abduction at high sea, ‘yung mga nangyayaring pagdukot.
At more than that is the movement of personnel bound from one country to another who are fugitives of their own laws and seeking haven in these parts of these different countries as well as providing assistance to the groups of jihadists in these areas.
Mr. Cruz: General, ‘yung sinasabi mo sa dagat ‘yun ano pero ‘yung na-cover ko dati sa Piagapo sa Lanao del Sur, may mga nakuhang passport doon sa napatay na jihadist na foreign na nung na-trace ng Immigration natin, dumaan siya sa airport. Nag-eroplano ito from sa native land niya sa Indonesia, nagpunta ng ng Singapore, tapos nagpunta ng Manila at nagpunta ng Cagayan de Oro. So ganoon na sila kagaling ‘no. Paano ang ginagawa natin doon?
BRIG. GEN. PADILLA: Kaya kailangan din patibayin natin o palakasin natin ‘yung ating procedures sa Immigration.
So ito ‘yung unang line of defense natin eh. Kaya nga noong nakaraang linggo, sinabi natin, iminungkahi natin na kinakailangan siguro na tingnan nang mabuti ‘yung Human Security Act para mas maging matibay ‘yung pwedeng gawin para harangin ‘yung pag-pasok ng mga ganitong klaseng indibidwal.
Mr. Cruz: General Padilla, ‘yung role po ng US, may nakikita po ba tayo na mas malaking role ng mga Amerikano? Kasi nababahala na rin po sila ‘no na merong lumalaking ganitong kalawak ‘yung impluwensya ng ISIS sa Southeast Asia.
BRIG. GEN. PADILLA: The best weapon among nations ‘yung mga magkakatulong sa mga bagay na ganito is ‘yung information sharing.
So hindi kinakailangang manghimasok sa bawat bansa at makialam because we’re all sovereign nations. And in that manner, the best weapon we always rely on is these exchanges of information and information sharing about the movements of terrorists and what have you.
And you can see this from previous instances that we have been helping each other. Take the case of the 9/11 incident. ‘Yung impormasyon na ‘yun kaya nalaman na may mangyayaring ganon, nakuha rin natin sa mga impormasyon na nakuha natin dito at ganon din ‘yung iba pang pangyayari na may mga advance warning dahil may nakukuha tayong impormasyon sa ibang lugar.
‘Yung pagka-aresto ng dalawang foreign terrorist kamakailan, galing ang impormasyon na ‘yan sa ibang network — ibang nation na concerned din sa nangyayari.
Mr. Cruz: Last na po kay Usec. Abella. Sir, marami pa rin po ang nagtatanong sa kalusugan ng Pangulo. Nabanggit nga po niya na nagpahinga lang siya pero ano po ang alam ng Malacañang tungkol sa kanyang kalusugan?
PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: Ang alam po natin ay naglalakad na siya. He’s out there and he has already met with the press, he has already met with a number of people. So let’s go by that, okay? Thank you.
Philip Tubeza (Philippine Daily Inquirer): Good morning, Sir General Padilla.
BRIG. GEN. PADILLA: Yes.
Mr. Tubeza: Sir, ‘yung commitment po natin not to attack or less attacks against the NPA, is it nationwide or sa Mindanao lang po?
BRIG. GEN. PADILLA: For now, wala pa po tayong ganyang directive. But we defer to the formal peace panel — the peace panel we have to get instructions on what the position of government is. So whatever their instructions and guidance are, we will comply with it.
Mr. Tubeza: Ah so wala pa pong directives from ano — from the peace panel?
BRIG. GEN. PADILLA: Hinahantay natin ‘yung formal na statement per ‘yung guidance po ay kinakailangan manggaling sa formal panel natin.
Mr. Tubeza: Would we stand by it despite the attack sa Iloilo?
PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: Can I just read the statement by… I’ll just quote PA Jess Dureza:
“Since the latest statements of the National Democratic Front and the government to mutually refrain from taking offensive operations against each other cover only Mindanao, and since there is yet no mutually agreed bilateral ceasefire agreement in place nationwide, the NPA attack in Maasin, Iloilo and elsewhere must be dealt with accordingly and decisively by the AFP and the PNP with the cooperation of civilian agencies and the affected communities.
Having said this, it’s important to note that such attacks provide a negative impact in our mutual commitment with the NDF to provide the enabling environment conducive to the continuation of peace negotiations with them.”
Last paragraph, “The impact is not just on the peace negotiations, it illustrates the tragedy of the insurgency. Hopefully, the attack is just part of the birth pains of the agreement to stop offensive military actions, even if it covers only Mindanao as of now.”
And the operative statement is: “It is an argument for nationwide ceasefire.”
Mr. Tubeza: So the commitment stays?
PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: Yeah.
Mr. Tubeza: Ah, sir, doon po ano patrols natin with Indonesia and Malaysia, does it mean that they would be allowed to enter our territory ‘pag may hot pursuit operations sila?
BRIG. GEN. PADILLA: Yeah, in… Hot pursuit pwede. Pwedeng lumagpas — pumasok sa mga territory habang hinahabol hangga’t nakuha ng kabilang side ‘yung paghabol at pag-accost doon sa hinahabol.
Mr. Tubeza: At tayo rin po?
BRIG. GEN. PADILLA: Ganun din tayo ‘pag may hinahabol tayo, pwede tayong lumagpas sa international waters papunta sa territory nila in pursuit of that — a threat.
Mr. Tubeza: Tapos, sir, mag-iisang buwan na po ‘yung operations natin sa Marawi, I know you’ve said na hindi na tayo magbibigay ng deadlines but do you think aabot pa po ito ng 60 days?
BRIG. GEN. PADILLA: Well, hopefully not, hopefully not. Sinisikap nating matapos ito sa madaling panahon tulad nang sinasabi natin nitong mga nakaraang araw pero ang reality sa ground kasi eh hindi mo pwedeng madaliin eh. Hindi mong pwedeng madaliin dahil door to door na ngayon eh, inch by inch na ‘yung galaw natin.
Kokonti na lang ‘yung hawak nilang lugar pero nandyan pa rin sila, at kung bibiglain mo, inilalagay mo at risk ang buhay ng sundalo at saka yung mga sibilyan na maaaring naiipit pa sa loob. That’s why we need to do this slowly, deliberately and carefully.
And what else?
May I just add something ‘no. By the way, to all the members of the media over the weekend who helped make Father’s Day very meaningful for our soldiers, we’d like to pass on our thanks to everyone for providing airtime and what have you for our soldiers to be able to communicate with their loved ones and at the same time their loved ones to communicate with our soldiers, and in fact also for the passing on of the message of the Chief of Staff.
In fact the Chief of Staff, his daughter shared something ‘no, and I’d just like share it with you. They celebrated Father’s Day yesterday with their grandmother — ‘yung tatay yata ni ma’am o ni sir sa 75th birthday niya. And they did it right after the Chief of Staff came from Butuan last Saturday. So they had a late dinner at 10 o’clock but they could not celebrate Father’s Day the following day because the Chief of Staff had to leave again for Indonesia to launch this trilateral. So that’s just an indication of our soldiers not being beside their daughters, sons during significant occasions.
So we miss many birthdays, we miss many anniversaries just because we want to serve you all.
Prince Golez (Panay News): To Usec Abella, sir, the NPA Panay said that they targeted Maasin Police Station because its personnel allegedly extorted from the local vendors and tolerated the proliferation of illegal drugs and gambling. Should authorities consider this matter and to look into this claim, sir?
PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: Should they look into it? Of course, they need to do that. However, it seems to be ill time, don’t you think so? You know if there was an agreement that was being signed, so what kind of message that is sent? So I suggest that they carefully calibrate their actions.
BRIG. GEN. PADILLA: May I add?
Mr. Golez: Yes, sir.
BRIG. GEN. PADILLA: Panis na ‘yung excuse na ‘yon. Huwag niyo nang pinapatulan.
They do this intentionally because of — their objective is to get more arms. And one of the reasons they did the attack in Maasin, we know, is because many of our troops went to help in Mindanao.
So when the forces were spread thin, they knew that they can do this, they took advantage. That’s why we say it’s very opportunistic on their part.
So I don’t know we shouldn’t believe their excuses. They’re always a pretense of the real motive and that’s we should know.
Mr. Golez: Okay, sir. Sir, on Maute sir. Sir, following the arrest of three Maute members in Iloilo, is there a possibility that the Marawi conflict would spill over to the Western Visayas since what were the military operations in Marawi City, you know, some terrorists would probably seek refuge in Visayas or other parts of the country?
BRIG. GEN. PADILLA: Well, there is a possibility of one or two making it through but being able to do something in the scale of Marawi, I don’t — we don’t think so. There couldn’t be anything like that.
And that’s why we have strengthened our security along the borders and the areas where they could possibly use as avenues of escape.
In the City of Marawi itself, it’s locked down na. Imposible na talagang makaalis diyan at ‘yung mga nakaalis diyan earlier, yun yung nagiging problema ngayon na saan sila nagpunta, saan sila pwedeng pumunta, at anong pwede nilang gawin.
That’s why one arrest after the other have been made because we have been able to locate some of them. Case in point is ‘yung si Abu Jadid, diyan sa may Cagayan de Oro na nahuli noong 15 June. Nahuli siya dahil nakadalawang beses na siyang lipat ng tinutuluyan and was using a false ID to cover his true identity. But when he was shown his identity that we know who you are, he can’t deny it.
And he shared so much already that have been very valuable in chasing after. But case in point, our other units in every area of Mindanao and nearby islands have been doing a lot also to protect the communities there.
And may I take the case and the example of 4th Infantry Division who covers Iligan and Cagayan de Oro. They have been conducting together with the counterparts from the police over 8,000 checkpoints already since the start of the conflict.
So since May 24, 8,752 checkpoints have been established to safeguard the main supply lines and the avenues that could be possibly done. Among…
Other than that, they’re doing foot patrols everywhere to safeguard communities and they have done already over 5,000 — 5,087 to be exact from the date of 24 May to 16 June. And because of these operations, they have been able to arrest 10 individuals who were then filed cases as part of the rebellion and confiscated a number of firearms that were with them.
So I showed this because it’s an indication that your security personnel from the Armed Forces and the police and other partners are doing their job to do what needs to be done to safeguard our communities in the areas around Marawi. But more than that is again I’d like sound — magsa-sound na naman akong parang sirang plaka dito — is the responsibility of each and every citizen. Kailangan kabahagi sila. Kailangan ‘yung bawat mamamayan sa lahat ng lugar na ‘to and everywhere in the archipelago, they have to partner with us.
You have to be vigilant, alert, and always on the lookout for suspicious characters in your areas. So let that action from government be quick if you are able to provide it.
And the best example was Bohol. Just look to Bohol kung anong nangyari doon at nagawa nating resolbahin ‘yung problema doon nang mabilis.
Kung lahat ng lugar parang Bohol, na ‘yung local government nangunguna, nakikipagugnayan o nakikipagtulungan ang bawat mamamayan, maigi po ang magiging security po natin. Hindi sila makakaugat sa bawat lugar na pwede nilang puntahan.
Mr. Golez: Sir, last question lang, sir. Sir may timeline — may timeline na ba, sir, kung kailan mawa-wipe out ‘yung Maute sa Marawi, sir?
BRIG. GEN. PADILLA: Again, like I’ve mentioned a few minutes ago, we don’t set timelines anymore because of the complexity of the urban environment.
So we’ll do what we need to do slowly at first but what is important is that every armed element inside the city is dealt with.