Mindanao Hour Briefing by Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella with Armed Forces of the Philippines Spokesperson Brig. Gen. Restituto Padilla Jr and PCOO Assistant Secretary Kris Ablan
|Mindanao Hour Briefing by Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella with Armed Forces of the Philippines Spokesperson Brig. Gen. Restituto Padilla Jr and PCOO Assistant Secretary Kris Ablan|
|Press Briefing Room, New Executive Building, Malacañang|
|Press Briefing Room, New Executive Building, Malacañang|
PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: Good morning. We’d like to welcome you to Mindanao Hour. It’s a regular update on the Mindanao situation with carefully vetted information coming from the ground through the AFP.
This project is in joint cooperation between the Office of the Presidential Spokesperson, the AFP and the PCOO.
Today with us is Atty. Kris Ablan of PCOO and Brigadier General Resty Padilla, spokesperson of the AFP.
Before we hand it over to them, we’d like to make a special announcement:
President Rodrigo Duterte approved the setting up of a “peace corridor,” spearheaded by the implementing panels of the Government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) to hasten the rescue and humanitarian operations for civilians still trapped in the conflict zone in Marawi.
President Duterte approved the creating of a peace corridor to ensure the safety of the civilians and the delivery of the needed humanitarian aid for the displaced persons in the ongoing armed conflict in Marawi, according to Irene Morada Santiago, chairperson of the Government’s Implementing Panel.
Santiago, who was designated by President Duterte to oversee the humanitarian efforts said the establishment of a peace corridor was agreed following the meeting with President Duterte, members of the joint implementing panels, and top officials of the MILF on Monday here.
During the meeting, the MILF vowed to cooperate with government in securing the areas where these peace corridors will be established.
Santiago said members of the implementing panels will meet within the week to formalize the modalities and parameters of the peace corridor.
She said the implementing panels would utilize existing peace mechanisms, particularly the Joint Coordinating Committees on the Cessation of Hostilities (CCCHS) for the establishment of said corridor.
It is a secure space for humanitarian groups may evacuate wounded and trapped civilians and retrieve dead bodies for burial, Santiago said.
It is a safe space for goods to reach hungry people in the rural areas whose access to Marawi’s markets have been cut off.
Both the Government and the MILF implementing panels are strongly committed to work as partners in finding creative ways to address the root causes of violent conflict in Mindanao at the soonest possible time starting with the passage of the Bangsamoro enabling law.
President Duterte noted the ongoing efforts to sustain the process between government and MILF. He also earlier called on Moro fronts to help the government in the fight against terror groups.
According to Santiago, the Bangsamoro Transition Commission also briefed the President on the developments of the drafting of the Bangsamoro Basic Law.
She said President Duterte emphasized the need to fast track the drafting of the bill for it to be submitted to Congress in June.
Also, questions for Ms. Santiago and the peace corridor may be asked later. She will be available by phone patch. She’s just waiting on the sidelines.
Following is the latest update on military action in Marawi as of 8 p.m., 30 May 2017. All right.
Civilians killed by local terrorist groups – 19
Civilians rescued – 960
Enemy killed – 89. This has been confirmed by body count – 42 and confirmed by eye witnesses – 47.
Recovered firearms – 91
Recovered High-Powered Firearms – 81
Recovered Low-Powered Firearms – 10
Killed in action – 21
Wounded in action – 72
The current focus of operations remains as follows:
1) Cleaning of Marawi of militants still in the area
2) Rescue of trapped residents.
3) Recovery of civilian casualties and victims.
4) Assisting the LGU, CSOs, NGOs on relief operations.
Also, government intervention:
To date, a total of P36,377,610.00 worth of augmentation assistance has been provided to affected families in ARMM, all of which has been provided by the Department through DSWD-Field Office X and Field Office XII.
As of today, there have been 18,609 families or 92,628 persons displaced in Regions X and ARMM. Of which, 2,722 families or 13,194 persons are still staying in 22 evacuation centers and 15,887 families or 79,434 persons are staying outside the centers.
The DSWD Field Office 10 immediately placed a Disaster Operation
Center in Iligan on the 23rd of May to augment the operations of the DSWD ARMM.
Next, the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) on May 25 enforced a price freeze on basic necessities and prime commodities in Mindanao.
Next, Department of Energy implements price freeze on kerosene and LPG until June 7, 2017.
Next, the National Power Corporation declared that the operations of power plants in Marawi and Lanao are normal.
Next, Department of Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre sent Undersecretary Renante Orceo to Iligan City on 30th of May to oversee the creation of Panel of Prosecutors for Maute cases.
Next, Department of Education Secretary Leonor Briones postpones opening of classes on the 5th of June 2017 in Marawi and move it to a later date.
Next, that’s it.
We now defer to Spokes Resty for his report.
AFP SPOKESPERSON PADILLA: Thank you very much, Secretary.
As was reported a while ago, there continues to be a very positive development in the area of Marawi, especially with the recent recovery of numerous high-powered firearms.
The recovery of these high-powered firearms continues to reduce the capability of these armed groups to do the violent activities that they have been doing for quite some time.
Likewise, our continued emphasis on the humanitarian side of this conflict increases.
As was pointed out, we have over 960 individuals who have been rescued from the area of conflict and we hope to — we expect to have an increasing number in this coming few days.
Maybe at this very minute that we are talking and making this report, there could have been more numbers to this added.
Our residents or our kababayans who are trapped in the area, we have gathered, have been afraid to come out for fear that they will be caught in the middle of the firefight and killed by crossfire.
So we would like to guarantee and assure them that we are doing all we can to avoid any collateral damage that may ensue from this violent activity.
The notice from our ground commanders to ensure that nothing of that sort comes out is this advice.
If you are trapped in areas of conflict and you are aware of the presence of our military forces, please follow the following procedure:
First, please prepare a white cloth, your white cloth that you may have your hand on and raise this white flag in the area where you are.
When you see our soldiers approaching, come out, first women and children with their hands up. When they signal, you stay in the area where you are and only move when you are asked to move forward.
Once told to move forward, please follow the instructions of our forces. Then the rescue procedures will begin.
We would like to state this because of some confusion that may have been happening in the area of conflict.
So ang punto po namin dito huwag po kayong matatakot. Kung kayo po ay nangangamba at hindi kayo nakakasigurado sa mga mangyayari, sundin niyo lang po ‘yung sinabi kong gagawin ninyo sa pamamagitan ng pagtataas ng isang puting bandila o puting kumot o anumang mahahawakan niyo na puting gamit.
Pagka nawagayway na po ito, lumabas po muna ‘yung mga kababaihan at kabataan na nakataas ang kamay. At simula doon, sesenyasan na po kayo ng ating mga pwersa na lumapit at matutulungan po kayo.
Ang ganito pong susunding patakaran ay upang maiwasan ang anumang pangangamba sa hanay ng mga sibilyan na nasa loob pati na rin po sa ating mga pwersa na maingat pong pumapasok sa mga lugar na kinaroroonan ng mga kalaban.
On another account, we continue to work with all the NGOs and CSOs in the area to facilitate the entry of much needed humanitarian help in areas where evacuees are staying and in areas where IDPs are located.
So far, sir, this is our report and we continue to provide or give the assurance of our Armed Forces that we are abiding by all established rules and protocols in this period of conflict.
Our rules of engagements have not changed. We put priority on civilian lives and private property. The amount of force that we are using right now in the area is commensurate only to the resistance and the enemy force that we are facing.
We are not going to use any more than that and employ military power only as needed.
Thank you, sir.
PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: Thank you. We are open to questions.
QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS:
Leila Salaverria (The Philippine Daily Inquirer): Good morning. For General Padilla, sir, can you give us an update on your verification of the video of Father Suganog? And how are you treating his appeal in the video for the government to give the enemies what they want?
AFP SPOKESPERSON PADILLA: First off, our first reaction upon receipt of the video is to provide our technical staff the copy of the video for their complete assessment.
As of this time, I have not received the assessment yet. But seemingly the video may seem to be authentic. But beyond the authenticity and the message of the video, there lies in the real reason for coming up with the video, which is propaganda purposes.
And we would not want to get into that. The propaganda of the enemy is already of — means that are indicative of their fighting for survival. They are trapped. They are contained. They are in areas that they will never come out alive unless they surrender.
And that’s why we are asking them and we are appealing to these armed men to come to their senses, lay down their weapons and surrender.
In this manner, we will be able to reduce the increasing cost of innocent lives as well as damage to property and at the same time further lessens the number of numerous crimes they have been committed.
Again, the force that we have been using will be commensurate to the resistance that we are meeting and we will not employ anything else.
In the matter of the message of Father Chito, we are taking cognizance of this and this will be deliberately assessed from the perspective of our ground commanders.
As of this time, as I’m making this report and days prior to this, there have also been efforts to reach out through the backdoor for backchannel talks with possible parties who may help.
Our assurance to the families of all those who may still be hostage in the hands of these armed men is the assurance that we are doing all our best to keep them safe, to guarantee their safe release as much as possible, and within the parameters for which we are trying to operate now.
These are the only things that I can share with you at the moment and as developments come, we will be more than happy to share this with you.
Joseph Morong (GMA): Sir, ‘yun pong sa operation, how much… Would you be able to quantify how many more days you would need and — ?
AFP SPOKESPERSON PADILLA: The matter of when this will finally end actually rests with the assessment of the ground commanders who are actually in the combat area.
So sila ang nakakaalam ng tamang kondisyon, ng tunay na kondisyon sa baba at sila lang ang makapagsasabi kung kailan talaga matatapos ito.
Pero sa kanilang pinapadalang report, with the reports that have been coming our way since last night and as you have seen in the updates that we have provided, increasingly positive ang indication na ito.
And if I may allude to some of the statements that have been previously done and made and released yesterday by some of our fighting forces, they estimate that they are reaching about 90 percent completely cleared and a little bit more than 10 percent more to go.
However, that 10 percent is most likely going to be the area that will be heavily guarded and defended by any of these armed men if they are protecting any individual of high value.
Mr. Morong: Would you be able to disclose — okay lang kung hindi, sir — but would you be able to disclose the 10 percent na area?
AFP SPOKESPERSON PADILLA: Unfortunately, even if some of our media friends are revealing specific areas where this battle is going on, I on my part, I am not at liberty to discuss these particular pockets of resistance within Marawi.
Mr. Morong: Okay, just one last point, sir. Regarding the basis for martial law, I think, si SND in an executive session told the senators that our AFP would have been able to contain Maute without martial law. So any comments on that, sir?
AFP SPOKESPERSON PADILLA: There was a clarificatory statement that was issued by the Department of National Defense earlier today regarding that. And if you will allow, may I read that clarificatory statement.
Because you see matters discussed in executive session are not supposed to be revealed in public and I was surprised that this came out. But… Thank you, sir.
So this is the message that came out from the Office of the Secretary of National Defense. And it states: “Clarificatory statement of the Secretary of National Defense: Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana clarifies that during an executive session in the Senate on 29 May 2017, what he said was that the government security forces can contain the situation in Marawi even without martial law. However, he emphasized that martial law is imperative to once and for all address security concerns in the entire Mindanao immediately and decisively. The situation currently being dealt with by the state security forces goes beyond Marawi City. President Duterte’s imposition of martial law aims to put an end to the long-running rebellion in various provinces in the south. As evidence by the incidents that have happened in Zamboanga, Davao, Bohol, Lanao, Basilan, Sulu, Tawi-Tawi and Maguindanao. As the President has repeatedly said, ‘Kung magde-declare ako ng martial law, tatapusin ko nang lahat ito,’ referring to the threats posed by ISIS-linked local and foreign terrorist groups whose network covers the entire Mindanao.” So end of statement.
I think that more than clarifies the statement that was said by the Senate.
Mr. Morong: Sir, did the senators put words into his mouth?
AFP SPOKESPERSON PADILLA: I cannot say. You will have to ask them.
Tuesday Niu (DZBB): Hi, sir, to General Padilla, sir. Sir, can you confirm ‘yung sinasabi po na mayroon na raw pong isang kaanak or kapatid o kung anuman ‘yung relationship sa Maute ‘nung isang Omar Maute na na-intercept daw o nahuli sa airport just this morning? Hawak na raw po ng intelligence officers po natin?
AFP SPOKESPERSON PADILLA: Iyan pong balitang ‘yan na pumasok po eh hatinggabi kagabi at saka a little bit earlier, naitanong po sa atin ito and we have clarified with all the agencies particularly airport authorities and this is untrue, negative.
Ang tunay na lumabas dito ay meron pong isa tayong nagngangalang [Bandram?] [Abdulla Nasser Bandram?] na inimbita lang po para tanungin at ito’y nangyari sa Terminal 3 at ang — pagkatapos ng imbitasyon na ‘yan at pag-usisa po sa kanyang pinanggalingan, paroroonan, at ng kanyang tinitirahan, pinakawalan na rin po siya.
Ms. Niu: So pwede pa natin sabihin, sir, na safe ang Metro Manila from any members of the Maute terror group?
AFP SPOKESPERSON PADILLA: Ang masasabi po natin is ginagawa po ng lahat ng ating awtoridad ang kanilang tungkulin upang pangalagaan ang seguridad ng ating airports at ng ating siyudad.
Ms. Niu: Last part, last from my part. Iyong sa appeal po ni Father Chito, meron na po ba tayong na-identify na whereabouts nila at ‘yung veracity nung kanyang sinasabi kung meron daw 200 pa siyang mga kasama na hawak sila daw po ng Maute?
AFP SPOKESPERSON PADILLA: Tulad ng nabanggit ko, Tuesday, ito ay may laro ng propaganda sa hanay ng kalaban at hindi nga natin batid kung tama ‘yung sinabing mga pigura.
Isa pa, ayaw natin pasukan muna ito. Bagamat nasabi ko iyan, meron pong mga ginagawang hakbang sa lugar na para po matiyak ang kanilang safety at kung maaari ay mai-release sila nang maayos.
So I’ll leave it at that for the moment and that guarantee. And may I also refer to you — to the comments of some of our bishops who you asked for comments and they mentioned that it is apparent that the Reverend is speaking in duress, so pressured siya. So that is indicative of many things.
Ms. Niu: Thank you, sir.
Ted Tuvera (Daily Tribune): Good morning, General. Sir, binanggit niyo po kanina ‘yung sa statement nga ng DND na ang pag-declare ni Presidente ng martial law ay to end all the problems in Mindanao. Sir, assuming na matatalo natin ‘yung Maute in a few days, would the AFP recommend extending or cut ‘yung martial law po, sir?
AFP SPOKESPERSON PADILLA: Ito po ang ginagawa natin ngayon ay nakatuon ang pansin sa Marawi dahil nandiyan pumutok ‘yung gulo na ‘to.
Pero hindi pa po natin naa-address ‘yung iba pa pong lugar na kung saan maaaring merong supporting structure, sympathizers, and the like.
So ‘yung panahon po na ibinigay sa atin ay gagamitin po natin upang ma-address itong mga ibang bagay na ito.
So hindi po natin papangunahan dahil itong hinaharap nating problema ngayon ay localized kasi ito ‘yung pinakamalaki at pinaka-immediate na nangangailangan ng ating attention.
But there are also efforts in other areas to address potential and possible threats that may be coming out in the offing.
AC Nichols (CNN Philippines): This is for spox. Sir, just to clarify ‘yung statement about the peace corridors. It was agreed upon during the meeting, sir, on Monday between…
PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: Yes.
Ms. Nichols: Okay. Sir, may iba pa po bang napag-usapan ’yung MILF and President Duterte that you can share with us?
PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: Basically, ‘yun lang po ‘yung mase-share ko dahil — that’s the only thing that was shared with us from OPAPP, okay.
Ms. Salaverria: For Spokesperson Padilla. Sir, there have been reports of foreigners fighting along with Maute members. Aside from Asians, what are the… Are there other foreigners joining them? What are the nationalities of the foreigners fighting alongside them?
AFP SPOKESPERSON PADILLA: As to the exact nationalities of foreign fighters allegedly in the area, we cannot say yet, because we have not yet adequately proven even the existence of any of them in this particular fighting.
What we have been saying is that we were able to come across some information, still for confirmation that indicate that some of those who died, who have been named seemed to be foreigners.
But we don’t have proof yet. But with the amount of material that has been coming out and being recovered in the areas of conflict, there could be in this collection of documents and other materials proof that would indicate the existence of these foreign fighters.
So let’s wait for our intelligence people and our analysts to look into this collection of documents and materials and perhaps they may be able to take or extract something from those.
But for the previous operations that we have conducted in the area of Mindanao, there were identified eight foreigners who have been helping all these armed groups, these terrorist groups.
In fact, that may have been increased to 12 in number and out of the 12 or out of the eight earlier identified, madami na doon sa kanila na-neutralize in successful operations.
One of them is Sanusi, the religious figure who helped create Maute, who died in one of the operations. Another one is the Singaporean Muawiyah and others ‘no.
So out of the eight perhaps, there were five or six who have been neutralized already.
So there may be replacements for all these people who have been lost. And in earlier operations, as I mentioned, there is proof: recovery of passports, materials, pictures, and the like.
But for this particular incident in Marawi, we hope to find out more as soon as we go through these documents that have been recovered. So let’s wait for it.
Ms. Salaverria: Sir, did you get any indication of the participation of non-Asian foreigners in the — ?
AFP SPOKESPERSON PADILLA: Of the 42 bodies that have been recovered in the area, it is so hard to make any distinction kasi magkakamukha naman eh.
Ang Asians, they kind of have the same profile. So unless we do a DNA or do an exact forensics on the recovered bodies, that may be the only time when we can be very sure.
So for now, we cannot and based on what we have.
Ms. Salaverria: What I meant, sir, none of other races? Clearly Caucasian —
AFP SPOKESPERSON PADILLA: Wala. So far I understand that from the bodies that have been recovered, the profile kind of suits one origin.
Ms. Salaverria: Sir, another topic, sir. Where are we now in the search for Hapilon?
AFP SPOKESPERSON PADILLA: We believe he’s still there and we believe that is why they’re putting up a very stiff resistance in the areas that they are still being held up and being cleared. So let’s wait for developments as to this issue.
Ms. Salaverria: There — being Marawi, sir?
AFP SPOKESPERSON PADILLA: In Marawi, yes.
Pia Ranada (Rappler): Sir, I just want to clarify what you mentioned earlier that the military aims to maximize the 60 days martial law? So, sir, can we expect that at the very least, the shortest time martial law will be implemented is 60 days? It won’t be shortened, there’s no chance of that?
AFP SPOKESPERSON PADILLA: Yes, I cannot speak yet with finality because right now in Congress is a session ongoing to assess and approve the declaration.
But at the Senate level, we were very clear and we’re very thankful of the support we got from our senators who clearly understand the breadth and width of the security problem that we are facing and, in fact, have been encouraging us.
And for Congress, let’s wait and see for today whatever their decision is. But given the opportunity, we will really use that time to help bring back Mindanao to normalcy and at the same time ensure that any of these security threats will be reduced to nothing or the least capability to do any harm.
Celerina Monte (Manila Shimbun): Sir, good morning, General Padilla. So follow up po doon kay Pia. So it doesn’t mean that once ma-clear na ‘yung Marawi, it doesn’t mean na ili-lift na ‘yung martial law? It will continue?
AFP SPOKESPERSON PADILLA: Maliwanag ko po yatang naipaliwanag kanina na ito pong pinagtutuunan natin ng pansin ngayon ay Marawi kasi ito po ‘yung pinaka-immediate problem.
Pero hindi naman nangangahulugan na pagkatapos ng Marawi, hindi natin pagtutunan ng pansin ‘yung ibang lugar.
Kailangan nating patuunan ng pansin ‘yan kasi itong mga nasa Marawi ay karamihan ay hindi taga-Marawi.
Ang atin hong mga kababayan sa Marawi ay peace-loving, very industrious, business-like ang kanilang buhay, kaya nga nagmamakaawa sila na kung maaari walang aerial bombardment kasi ‘yung pinaghirapan nila sa kanilang pangangalakal na pinundar nila na mga bahay nawawala sa kanilang tingin ngayon.
Kaya ‘yung mga dayuhang ito ay galing sa ibang lugar. At ‘yung mga ibang lugar na ‘yun, kailangan bigyan din natin ng atensyon.
Ms. Monte: Sir, during the meeting yesterday by Secretary Cayetano with the members of the diplomatic corps, one of the concerns raised was the security of the foreign nationals in Mindanao. Do you any estimate as to how many foreigners are there in Mindanao and if ever are you going to recommend that they leave the place?
AFP SPOKESPERSON PADILLA: Unfortunately, I don’t have the statistics on expats who are in Mindanao. And we will not recommend their pullout.
In fact, we will recommend that they continue with their business and we will guarantee them protection.
The only thing that we can request of all these expats is to let us know their whereabouts, so that suspicion is taken out of the picture.
So if we know what they’re doing as legitimate and there’s no reason to suspect, then they can go about their business freely.
Ms. Monte: So meaning, sir, they have to report to the military or to the police in the area why they are there?
AFP SPOKESPERSON PADILLA: I think it’s just an accounting. Just to know where they are so that we can facilitate the provision of security and at the same time keep tabs of their possible whereabouts, so in case of any incident, we can react accordingly.
Ms. Monte: Sir ‘yung priest, do you think he’s still in Marawi? Iyong based doon sa initial assessment sa video?
AFP SPOKESPERSON PADILLA: Hindi ko po masasabi. Tulad nang binanggit ko kanina, the material is submitted for examination and for assessment.
So after the forensics on those material then — and I get this report — then probably we can say.
Ms. Nichols: Sir, just as a follow up on what you said na nasa Marawi ‘yung immediate problem but, of course, you have to look into other areas as well. Are you talking about ‘yung members pa rin nitong particular group responsible for what’s happening in Marawi right now? Or are you saying all other possible terror groups operating in Mindanao?
AFP SPOKESPERSON PADILLA: It’s the whole and complete picture of the security situation in Mindanao.
Remember, there are BIFF elements operating in Maguindanao-Cotabato area. There have been elements of a certain group called AKP in General Santos area that have been discovered and neutralized before.
There are still the existence of kidnap-for-ransom group ASG in Basilan, Jolo, Tawi-Tawi and the like.
So, by and large, they are still in the areas and we haven’t addressed them completely. So they need to be looked into and addressed completely before we can definitely say that we have addressed all the security problems in Mindanao.
Ms. Nichols: As a follow up, sir, these groups have been around for a while, so is it safe to assume that martial law will not — in Mindanao will not be lifted anytime soon nga kasi it’s gonna take a while to go after — ?
AFP SPOKESPERSON PADILLA: The decision to keep martial law remains to be in the hands of political leaders. It’s not with us. We only make recommendations.
If in the event that in 60 days we still need the suspension of the writ or the privilege of the writ, then we can recommend it because we need to address and look after the security situation in other parts.
Right now, martial law is implemented not in the fashion of 1972, but in accordance with the spirit of 1987 Constitution, which is in effectively malaki ang kaibahan.
The courts are still working and we are still obliged to submit to the court people we arrest. The only difference, in as far as we are concerned, is that we are given a longer period of time to make the arrest and submit them to court.
In ordinary times, I think it’s only one and a half day, 36 hours. ‘Pag naaresto ang isang indibidwal bago mo siya maaresto kinakailangang pumila ka pa para kumuha ng isang arrest warrant or warrant to search.
Ngayon ‘pag meron tayong martial law, sinuspinde po ‘yung privilege at hindi na namin kailangan pumila para kung merong mga masasamang loob na dapat arestuhin maaresto kaagad.
At ‘pag naaresto sila, we are given about three days to process them and have them charged in court which is in contrast double the time under ordinary period.
So it provides a degree of flexibility and a degree of latitude for our security forces to really enforce the law and make arrests in as far as all these individuals are concerned.
Ms. Nichols: Sir, last. So just to clarify, you will go after these groups, ‘yung itong BIFF and others through martial law?
AFP SPOKESPERSON PADILLA: Yes, government is dead serious in bringing back peace — longer, sustainable peace and a good security environment for Mindanao.
Rosalie Coz (UNTV): Hi, sir. Good afternoon. Sa pinagsamang pwersa po ng ASG, Maute at ng BIFF, sino po ‘yung, sir, — sino po ‘yung particular commander sa ground na information from AFP po?
AFP SPOKESPERSON PADILLA: Ang atin pong in charge ngayon sa ginagawang —
Ms. Coz: No, sir, sorry, sa mga terrorist group.
AFP SPOKESPERSON PADILLA: Do you mean the one who is monitoring them?
Ms. Coz: No, no, sir. Iyon pong commander on the ground po ng mga terrorist group sa Marawi?
AFP SPOKESPERSON PADILLA: Oh I see, ‘yung leader. Sa ngayon, sa Marawi ang kinikilalang pinuno diyan ay nanatiling si Isnilon Hapilon. Being the declared “emir” as they say.
But in other areas, leadership is not confined to one single personality.
They have many sub-leaders who are operating in different parts and they are going to be the subject of all these arrests soon.
Ms. Coz: Sir, sa report ay 90 percent po ng Marawi City ay na-clear na po ng AFP. So ilan po ‘yung mga residenteng na-trap pa po doon po sa mga lugar na kontrolado pa rin po ng mga terorista?
AFP SPOKESPERSON PADILLA: Rose, hindi ko hawak ang datos dito pero batay doon sa binitawang salita ng local government at matapos nitong mga nakaraang araw na umabot na ng isang libo ‘yung na-rescue natin, maaaring may isang libo mahigit pa na natitira.
Ms. Coz: 1,000 still trapped po, sir?
AFP SPOKESPERSON PADILLA: About, about — thereabouts. Based on the figures provided by local government. So we hope and pray it’s less because it lessens the complications in the battle areas.
Ms. Coz: Next, sir, 19 civilians killed by Maute. Marami pa rin po bang mga napatay na residente na hindi pa po nakukuha ng pamahalaan?
AFP SPOKESPERSON PADILLA: Ang confirmed natin ay 19 kasi ito po ‘yung mga na-recover at na-document na.
Meron pa pong mga ibang report na patuloy pang vina-validate at ‘yung kanilang mga labi kung sakaling totoo itong mga report na ito ay hindi pa po natatagpuan.
Kaya nga po nung sa unang parte ng ating update, pangatlo po ito sa mga priority na gagawin natin.
Ms. Coz: May info rin po ba tayo ng mga civilians killed sa mga airstrike po ng military?
AFP SPOKESPERSON PADILLA: We are confident that we have not had any collateral damage in the use of airstrike. That is why we have continuously emphasized that the use of airstrike, precision airstrike, if I may qualify, is using graduated force commensurate to the resistance and the force that we are facing.
Kung sakaling may tinatago silang sniper nasa ibabaw ng bubong, hindi po kami nagbabagsak ng isang bomba para sirain ‘yung buong gusali. It doesn’t work that way.
Ang ginagawa po natin ay tinitira po natin ‘yung pinanggagalingan ng resistance na ito sa pamamagitan ng angkop na lakas. So this could be any kind of available means to us.
So ang ginagamit natin lang ay tamang power tulad ng isang rocket o isang granada para ma-neutralize itong patuloy na nagre-resist sa ating pagpasok.
So hindi po ganon. Judicious use at pinagiisipan po natin ang paggamit ng pwersa para nang sa ganon wala pong nadadamay na inosenteng sibilyan at nasisirang mga gusali na pag-aari ng pribadong sektor.
Ms. Coz: So pwede po nating sabihin, sir, na sa eighth day ng operation ng military wala pong residenteng tinamaan ng airstrike?
AFP SPOKESPERSON PADILLA: Yes, based on the reports that we have got, we have not had any collateral damage to that effect on lives. On property meron, pero on lives wala.
Ms. Coz: Last question na lang. Sorry, sir.
AFP SPOKESPERSON PADILLA: And lives are much more important by the way. That’s why we put emphasis on it.
Ms. Coz: Sir, bakit po, kay Sec. Abella din po. Bakit po hindi kino-consider ng pamahalaan na i-cut ‘yung communication facilities sa Marawi City dahil nakakapag-upload pa ng mga propaganda videos itong ating mga kalaban?
PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: I defer to Spox Resty for that.
AFP SPOKESPERSON PADILLA: Madali pong gawin ito pero madami po tayong CSOs at NGOs na nandoon din sa lugar na ginagamit din ‘yung pamamaraan ng komunikasyon na ito.
Kaya ang ating evaluation, mas higit na mas importante ‘yung pangangalaga ng buhay kaysa doon sa nawawala sa atin ‘pag pinatay o pinutol natin ‘yung komunikasyon.
Reymund Tinaza (Bombo Radyo): Sir, kay General Padilla, sir, good noon. Sir, aside from the offensive, military offensive sa Marawi City, are the elements of martial law, for example, the suspension of the writ of habeas corpus and warrantless arrest are also being implemented outside Marawi like Sulu and other parts of Mindanao?
AFP SPOKESPERSON PADILLA: The whole of Mindanao is where martial law is being applied. That means to say, east to west, north to south, the whole of Mindanao even the outlying islands.
Mr. Tinaza: Sir, how about those MILF, the MILF who are also owning or having their guns, which I understand the only authorized to have or use a gun at this time are the military and the police. So to avoid misencounter and kindly clear the protocol?
AFP SPOKESPERSON PADILLA: Bago po tayo nagkaroon ng martial law, may existing na mechanisms tayo. May peace initiative tayo na ongoing sa hanay ng MILF.
At doon sa pag-uusap na ‘yun, may mga protocols at mechanisms na nakasaad tungkol sa pagbubuhat ng baril.
So kung tunay na pwersa ito ng MILF o ng MNLF at ito’y alam ng militar, alam po natin ‘yan, aware tayo at nire-regulate lang ang kanilang movement kasi meron tayong peace talks.
So hindi ho nangangahulugan na maga-apply sa kanila kung ano man po ‘yung nakasaad sa martial law kasi ang nasa martial law is rebellion and some indications of invasion.
So ‘yung mga nagrerebeldeng grupo ang aming pinupuntirya at hindi ‘yung mga kausap natin sa mga usapang pangkapayapaan.
Mr. Tinaza: Sir, last point. I understand parang natanong na rin kahapon pero just to press now kasi nabanggit mo ulit ‘yung parang backdoor or backchannel talks just — diyan sa case ni Father Chito. So it’s now clear, it’s now a policy of the government to negotiate with terrorists?
AFP SPOKESPERSON PADILLA: We’re not negotiating with terrorists. We’re merely working closely with civil organization whose objective is to save more lives.
Mr. Tinaza: Sir, no change of the policy? Still no negotiation?
AFP SPOKESPERSON PADILLA: There is no change in the policy. The policy stays firm. It has not and will not change.
Mr. Morong: General Padilla, sir, can you tell us more details about an arrest made last night of six individuals?
AFP SPOKESPERSON PADILLA: Regarding? Where?
Mr. Morong: Six daw, sir, dalawang Maute and apat na members. Dalawang Maute family members and apat na member ng group.
AFP SPOKESPERSON PADILLA: I’m not aware of the report. I am… I have not received it and I have not read it and I have not seen it yet.
But suffice to say, what we did get is from the unit of General Parcon, there were eight members hold up in Marawi who surrendered to his forces.
And these individuals have been talked to and debriefed and have provided very, very valuable intelligence.
Mr. Morong: Were there individuals arrested last night in Manila?
AFP SPOKESPERSON PADILLA: There were none. We got reports. I got queries as early as 11 past, about the arrest of a certain Omar Maute in the airport which proved negative, because the airport authorities through General Jacaban who heads the Aviation Security unit said there’s none, walang ganung klaseng insidente.
At kanina sinabi ko merong inimbitang tanungin na pangalang binanggit ko at itong taong ito ay inimbita ng aviation authorities at saka ng ibang personnel sa airport na nagbabantay pero pinakawalan din after nagkaroon ng clarification.
Mr. Morong: Pero wala ‘yung six, sir? Sakay ng isang —
AFP SPOKESPERSON PADILLA: Wala po. Hindi ko po batid na meron ganung — naging ganung klaseng pag-aresto.
Hannah Sancho (Sonshine Radio): Sir, regarding doon sa peace corridor, may ibang groups po ba na nag-express na sumali? Kasi so far MILF lang. And as you can remember doon sa challenge ng Pangulo sinabi rin niya he opened it for the MNLF and the NPAs po? Nag-express din po ba sila to join?
PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: As of the statement, it was just the MNLF.
Ms. Sancho: MNLF?
PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: MN, MN.
Ms. Sancho: So far wala pa namang nag-express coming from other groups?
PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: As of the statement.
Ms. Sancho: Sir, for how long. General, for how long po natin ico-continue ‘yung airstrikes? Like you’ve mentioned po kanina na other residents are saying na i-consider kasi ‘yung mga properties nila na pinaghirapan ang naaapektuhan din po? For how long natin gagawin?
AFP SPOKESPERSON PADILLA: All of these are within the purview of the commander on the ground. Hanggat kinakailangan niyang gawin, gagawin niya ito. At ito ay kasi sa kanyang assessment na kailangang i-save niya ‘yung buhay ng kaniyang mga tauhan at pangalagaan ‘yung seguridad ng mga sibilyan.
So for as long as it is needed, the judicious application and selective application of airstrikes and whatever military force is needed will be done.
Ms. Sancho: Sir, may estimate po ba tayo, sir, ng remaining strength ng Maute po sa Marawi?
AFP SPOKESPERSON PADILLA: Right now, we don’t have the exact figures ‘no. Tulad nga ng… As in previous statements that we have released, the number may have swelled from the initial beginning because they went to the jail to free up over a hundred prisoners.
Quite a number of those are definitely with them already. And then other than that, there may have been other sympathizers from other areas who may have made their way into the area earlier on in the fight, and maybe already in their ranks.
With the number of the terrorists that we have killed, 80, 89 to be exact as of this day, there could be less — there could be a fewer of them or there are more.
But the exact number, hindi po natin masabi ‘yon dahil nga may mga pumasok na iba at may mga sumanib na iba.
Ms. Sancho: Sir, I know, sir, ang conflict po ngayon naka-sentro sa Marawi. Sakaling nagkaroon ng other kaguluhan sa ibang bahagi po ng Mindanao, like ‘yung common na ginagawa ng NPAs, mga pag-destroy ng mga properties, are we going to… Magse-send din tayo ng forces doon, kasama din po sila doon sa huhulihin natin — kino-consider din nating mga huhulihin din po?
AFP SPOKESPERSON PADILLA: A good question, but unfortunately I’m not at liberty to discuss operational distribution of troops.
But, rest assured, your Armed Forces is adequately spread out in the whole of Mindanao to safeguard the security of our major cities and our citizens.
Ms. Sancho: But may instruction po ba ang Pangulo, sir, kasama po ba ‘yung NPA sa mga hinuhuli natin ngayon?
AFP SPOKESPERSON PADILLA: Unang-una, ang pakay po ng martial law ay i-address ‘yung security situation na tungkol dito sa rebellion na nangyayari, which is ‘yung pagtataas ng bandila, kagustuhang makakuha ng teritoryo nitong mga bandidong ito.
On the other hand, it was not aimed at any of the other forces. We have peace talks with the MNLF, with the MILF, and ongoing peace talks with the NPA. So the NPAs would never, at the very start, the subject of these efforts.
However, when the declaration was made, there was a separate declaration of a resumption or increase in hostilities and offensive by the NPA.
On that account, we have to put our people on high alert to be on guard against any of these offensives, at ready tayo.
And at the very start we said, whatever group, whatever affiliation you have, for as long as you violate the laws of the Philippines, the laws of the land, and is threatening the peace, you will be the subject of security action.
PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: I’d just like to end with a — with a reminder that Mindanao Hour is regular, Monday-Wednesday-Friday. There will also be Tuesday-Thursday regular updates. And on Saturday-Sunday, Radyo ng Bayan updates.
Thank you very much.
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