Mindanao Hour Press 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
14 June 2017

OPENING STATEMENTS: 

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: Good morning. To begin with, we’d like to give the substantial developments — significant developments in Marawi as of 6 p.m. 13th of June 2017:

  1. Clearing operations continue to be positive, out of 96 barangays, only four barangays remain as problematic areas and where focused military operations in urban terrain is currently ongoing.
  1. Troops continue to gain important foothold into the inner areas of terrorist-held areas.
  1. Enemy resistance continues to dwindle and enemy-held areas are getting smaller as troops advance.
  1. Critical sectors in peripheral areas are now being cleared.
  1. Compounding development remains to be the use of civilians as human shields and madrasahs and mosques as staging areas and safe havens.

General Eduardo Año, the Chief of Staff of AFP, reiterates his continuing guidance to put premium on civilian lives, respect for civilian property during clearing operations and complete discipline among our men in uniform conducting military activities in the area.

The primordial concern remains that our forces are to continue to execute military operations to ensure we save lives through judicious military action.

The AFP has also issued a clarificatory note: “The AFP respects places of worship and other cultural and heritage sites. As such the Chief of Staff of AFP gives his assurance that the AFP will do everything possible to protect and preserve these places. We do call on our religious leaders of every faith to call upon all parties to respect these places.”

Also, on a related matter, on Tindeg Marawi Bill, in anticipation of the rehabilitation of Marawi, Congress has proposed a 10-billion supplemental budget to rebuild Marawi through House Bill 5874 or the Tindeg Marawi Bill.

It is therefore a very welcome development and this complements an executive order for Bangon Marawi which is awaiting PRRD’s approval.

I now defer to Spox Padilla.

BRIG. GEN. PADILLA: Thank you very much, sir. And in addition to that clarificatory note, I just like to provide a background and read a statement from the Armed Forces as well regarding this.

So late, or early yesterday, or mid-morning yesterday, a presscon was conducted by our unit in Marawi to update our friends in the media about current developments in Marawi.

During the said presscon, I think it was mentioned that one of the problems that we still encounter is the continued use of the mosque of these armed groups or the terrorists in the area as safe havens and as defensible areas where they can stash arms or launch any kind of military activity or armed activity.

The spokesperson in the area also mentioned that the sacredness of the area is decreasing and, hence, it may call for us to deal with those forces inside.

I would like to clarify that the Armed Forces will not bomb — and I would like to read this — the mosque in the area.

And in relation to that, may I read to you the statement that we have prepared as well as directly ordered by the Chief of Staff to be disseminated to clarify the matter.

So the statement we had states: “We categorically state that we have not bombed and will not bomb mosque in Marawi. The Armed Forces leadership is firm in its commitment to use other options that would flush out this Maute/Daesh-inspired group from these places of worship that they have converted into machine gun and sniper nest, defensive position, and arsenals for their war activities.

The AFP assures our Muslim brothers and Islamic faithfuls that it will not go down to the level of these terrorists who desecrate places of worship to lure government security forces into responding to their violent activities in a similar manner.

We are confident that through other options available to the Armed Forces, we will be able to retake the remaining portion of Marawi occupied by these terrorists, neutralize the remaining members who continue to hold out and begin the reconstruction and rehabilitation of the city.” End of statement.

So that will be on our Armed Forces website and if it’s possible to please pass it on to our Muslim brothers and sisters who have since last night been clarifying the issue and so this categorical statements hopefully will put the questions that have been put forward to the Chief of Staff because of this news.

QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS:

Maricel Halili (TV-5): Hi, sir, good morning. General Padilla, you mentioned last week that the target of AFP is to liberate Marawi last Monday, Independence Day. Whatever happened to this target, sir?

BRIG. GEN. PADILLA: You know, it was a pronouncement that was made by the Chief of Staff when they visited Marawi that we will seek to liberate Marawi at the soonest time possible and that was possibly on Monday.

Monday being a very symbolic and a very meaningful day for all of us because it is the Independence Day.

But as we have clarified also during our other statements that regardless of whether the area is clear or not, we will assert our control of the area and commemorate Independence Day in a very meaningful manner.

And you have seen that our local government was able to do exactly that. They went to their offices in the capitol and the municipal area and raised the flag and it is up to this moment flying freely and signifying our control of Marawi, except for some areas that are still areas where terrorists are holed up.

So we are now seeking to continue to clear Marawi in urban terrain operations that are being conducted and this is where the problem lies.

The military activities that are conducted in open terrains like jungles are a different story when it is compared to urban terrain. In an urban terrain where civilians are still currently trapped and may possibly be used as human shields or may be hit by crossfire, troops have to be very careful.

Our rules of engagement are very different in urban terrain. We have to be very careful, we have to very judicious, we have to be very deliberate so as to avoid hitting innocent lives.

And this is where the slow process of liberating Marawi is currently happening. Of the 96 barangays of Marawi, four remain to be problematic areas where forces of the Maute/ ISIS-inspired or Daesh-inspired group still remains.

So we will continue to take care of these areas. We will progressively get in and neutralize these targets if they opt to keep on fighting. But we will have to do it on a very painstaking manner in consideration of lives still trapped in the area. As you have seen yesterday, there were several policemen protecting some Christians who were still in the area and were able to escape. 

So opportunities of this nature are things that we are working on so that anyone else trapped in area can make it through safe refuge and save their lives.
So if it needs, if it takes a little more time then so be it, for as long those lives are safe.

Ms. Halili: Sir, please correct me if I’m wrong. But I remember last week you mentioned that there were only three barangays controlled by the Maute.

BRIG. GEN. PADILLA: We mentioned three areas. 

Ms. Halili: Three areas? 

BRIG. GEN. PADILLA: And these three areas contained those four barangays.

Ms. Halili: I see. Pero, sir, tama ba ‘yung stated on news this morning na nasa 20 percent daw po ng Marawi ‘yung controlled by terrorists?

BRIG. GEN. PADILLA: We clarified that and that’s why we’re getting more specific to barangays so to get the confusion out of they way.

Well, percentage-wise, we can never say exactly because we are not measuring the whole place but if we are talking of barangays, then we can be more specific.

Again, we are entering the 23rd day of this conflict and perhaps, there were some mixed up numbers when the reporting was done.

Remember, the commanders are in field conditions and they are not in the best places where we can work this out. 

Dexter Ganibe (DZMM): Secretary Abella, sir, good morning. Sir, kung hindi ako nagkakamali you mentioned yesterday that the Palace knew beforehand ‘yung plano ng Maute group doon sa pagsasagawa ng karahasan sa Marawi City, am I right? May mga intelligence report na natanggap na as early April? 

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: Come again? 

Mr. Ganibe: As early as April? 

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: I’m not specific about the timeline, yes. But there was information, yes? 

Mr. Ganibe: Sir, napag-usapan ba ito sa mga Cabinet meeting ‘yung kung ano ang magiging aksyon ng government kung saka-sakali mang ma-verify ‘yung intelligence nung bago mangyari ‘yung sa Marawi? 

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: There were — the discussion on this… It was also mentioned in the Cabinet but it was also mentioned with several people who were most closely — could closely be responsible for these matters: SND, NSA, stuff like that, people like that, yes.

Mr. Ganibe: Before nangyari ‘yung atake? 

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: Ang alin po?

Mr. Ganibe: ‘Yung sa Marawi? 

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: The President has always been mentioning about — he has always been talking about the presence of ISIS- related groups in Mindanao. So he has been talking about that for the longest time. So it’s not as if it’s anything strange, yes.

Mr. Ganibe: Pero hindi ba na-specify kung pagpasok ng Ramadan nila isasagawa ‘yung pag-atake? 

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: Look, first and foremost, ‘yung ano, the President was aware of information — there was information coming in the ground as the top brass, the top was very, very aware of these things.

However, the ones who would really fully implement these matters will going to be left to the ground commanders, right? So there was, there was knowledge of — yes, there was sufficient information. So your question is?

Mr. Ganibe: Kasi kung may sufficient information na magi-i-stage nga sila ng ganung pag-a-atake before Ramadan, why the top officials left the country? 

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: No, there was enough… As we were earlier discussing, there was enough information.

On the other hand, the top commanders need not need to be there physically present because they were not — they didn’t have to be there to pull out guns. These matters were going to be related to ground commanders. However, there was sufficient information and the ground commanders themselves had said, “Look, it’s… You can travel.” Yes? 

BRIG. GEN. PADILLA: Dexter, unang-una, nais ko pong ipabatid sa lahat. Lahat po ng pinag-uusapan natin is after the fact. Nangyari na.

Ang pinaka-importanteng bagay sa amin ngayon na nasa aming plato na aming binibigyan ng atensyon ay ‘yung ating dapat tugunan, ‘yung natitirang armadong grupo dito at ‘yung bantang dala nito, galing sa mas malaking grupong nanggagaling sa Gitnang Silangan.

So these are the things that we must concentrate on. We must as a nation unite and condemn because after all, they were the ones who started it. And they have invaded and come into this country already to wreak havoc, to burn, to kill, and what have you. That is terrorism right in our very doorsteps and this is the problem and we call on everyone to unite behind government to work on that.

Whatever happened before are just a matter of the fact already. So sa nangyayari po ngayon na hearing sa Supreme Court, lahat po ng resource persons na kakailanganin, ipapadala po namin diyan.

Pero ito lang po ang masasabi natin, doon po sa kinukumpleto nating picture ng banta na hinaharap natin noong mga panahon na ‘yun at ‘yung pagkakaroon ng mga opisyales na nag-ibang bansa dahil may byahe sa Russia, ito po ay pruweba ng government — kasi historical po ‘yung visit ng pagpunta sa Russia.

Kinakailangan pong nandoon ‘yung ating mga pinakamataas na opisyal ng Hukbong Sandatahan upang ipakita ‘yung commitment na nais nating simulan doon sa pagbubukas ng relasyon na ‘yun. At tama lang po ‘yun kasi malayo po ’yung byahe at nararapat namang maging angkop ‘yung mga magiging aktibidades doon para maging ganap na makahulugan and that was the portion that the top brass went there for.

Irregardless of where they were, they could have been elsewhere in Asia, any part of the world, when any kind of trouble erupts anywhere in the Philippines, we have ground commanders who are very competently looking after the security situation in these areas and we trust their judgment.

The Chief of Staff has delegated his responsibilities to these ground commanders who will act on those information. It does not necessitate na dapat nandoon ang Chief of Staff. It does not necessitate na lahat ng mga may estrella sa kanilang balikat ay naroroon para mag-direct. Hindi po ganon ang nangyayari.

Dapat po nandoon ‘yung ground commander na siyang naatasan na mangalaga ng seguridad doon at siya mismo ang gagalaw nasa kanyang awtoridad.

Hindi po kinakailangan nandoon ang Pangulo, ang Commander-in-Chief, ang Secretary of National Defense. Ang importante po, nabigyan sila ng abiso na may ganitong kaganapan para kung meron man silang ibibigay na guidance, maibigay nila. At ‘yun po ang nangyari.

Ang atin pong ground commander, hinarap po ‘yung banta dahil nakuha na nila ‘yung useful intelligence. Tandaan po natin, may mga impormasyon na lumabas na ganap na nagbibigay abiso pero itong mga imprmasyon na ito ay kinakailangan pang suriin, pag-aralan kung talagang tama ang pinanggalingan, mapagkakatiwalaan, at tunay na nangyayari.

At nung lumalabas na itong ganitong kaganapan, nabubuo po ‘yung malaking picture na ‘yun at lubhang naiintindihan na may ganitong mga nangyayari.

Kaya ganap na naintindihan po ng ground commander kaya’t agaran niyang inorganisa ang isang joint task force na kanyang dadalhin sa lugar na ‘yun upang hulihin o i-neutralize ‘yung isang teroristang matagal na nating hinahabol, na nanggugulo sa bansa natin. ‘Yun po ‘yung hinahabol doon.

Pero nung pagpunta po ng tropa natin para gawin ang kanilang trabaho at sila po ay sinalubong ng matinding depensa ng kalaban, ‘yung mga inosenteng sibilyan na naroroon sa mga kabahayan at sa lansangan ay nag-panic at nagsitakbuhan.

At ang ating mga sundalo, dahil mayroon silang tinatawag na “rules of engagement,” ay kinakailangang maging maingat. Hindi basta-basta may nagpaputok sa lugar na ‘yan ay puputukan mo na rin at gagantihan habang may tumatakbong may mga inosenteng bata, babae at iba pa.

So itong mga inosenteng sibilyan nagpa-panic, nagtatakbuhan kung saan-saan and our people hesitated to fire because they might hit innocent lives. This was the way your Armed Forces and the police reacted in those instances.

So they pulled back but in the process, we lost four lives. And that was when this group, having known that their plans were thwarted, retreated back to the inner peripheries of the city and executed the terroristic activities that they did.

The burned, they entered into places of worship, destroyed the icons, symbols of saints, of what have you.

So they were wreaking havoc and they were letting hell all broke loose because of the plans that they laid out were preempted already. So ‘yun po ‘yung naging simula nito.

Kaya sa amin po mas importante tugunan natin ng pansin ‘yung hinaharap nating problema ngayon.

Mr. Ganibe: Sir, last on my part, sir. Nirequest ng AFP ‘yung tulong, technical support from the US? Am I right, sir? 

BRIG. GEN. PADILLA: Itong usapin tungkol sa pagkakaroon ng mga Amerikanong tumutulong, hindi ko po maintindihan kung bakit pinapalaki natin.

Kasi noong araw kung matatandaan niyo, pinaguusapan natin bakit sila nasa Zamboanga. ‘Di ba ipinaliwanag natin na tumutulong sila, nagpo-provide ng technical assistance dahil may hinaharap tayong banta galing sa Abu Sayyaf Group.

At tama, humingi tayo ng tulong, nag-request tayo na manatili sila doon, ibigay ‘yung tulong na ‘yun kasi wala tayong ganung kakayahan.

Ang punto po dito, wala tayong ganung kakayahan. Ngayon, nasa proseso na po tayo ng pagkakaroon ng ganung kakayahan.

Sinisikap natin ngayong bumili ng mga kagamitan na magbibigay sa atin ng kapasidad.

[Sandali lang po at merong — meron yatang nananabotaheng ano.] [laughter] 

Mr. Ganibe: Sir, natanong ko po kasi ‘yun dahil ang pagiging malapit ng Pangulo sa China at sa Russia. Hindi ba tayo nag-request din ng tulong from Russia and China? 

BRIG. GEN. PADILLA: Tulad ng nabanggit natin, bukas din ang ating gobyerno at ang ating Sandatahan na kumuha ng tulong.

Kasi ito’y laban ng buong mundo sa mga terorista. At ang may ganap na mga ekperyensya tungkol sa paglaban sa terorista ay nasa Estados Unidos at meron na tayong nakalatag na proseso, nandiyan na sila.

Bukas tayong kumuha ng tulong sa iba pero it will take time. May panahon pa po na igugugol para ayusin, organisahin, ilipat ‘yung mga kagamitan nila dito. Pero itong mga ito na nandito ngayon, nandiyan na sila eh. Madali na silang ililipat. Inilipat lang naman sila mula Zamboanga  papunta sa Marawi para makatulong.

So ‘yun po ang konteksto ‘nun. Kaya hindi po dahil nagkaroon po tayo ng paghingi ng tulong sa iba. Bukas po ang pagtulong. At nagpapasalamat kami sa mahal na Pangulo dahil binuksan niya ‘to dahil meron tayong ibang options. Pero ‘yung options na ‘yun it will take time.

So we have already a ready set of capabilities we can request for and that’s what we did because the ground commanders already needed it even before the request was made.

Hannah Sancho (Sonshine Radio): Good morning. General, follow up ko lang po kung may nadagdagan po ba doon sa mga foreign fighters na nasawi sa side ng militante po?

BRIG. GEN. PADILLA: Unang-una, may kumpirmasyon po na may talagang mga banyagang nakikipaglaban sa hanay nung hinaharap natin diyan na grupo.

Ang patibay dito ay hindi namin nakukuha pa sa mga katawan o labing nakuha kasi mahirap patunayan pero na-document na ‘yun. So it will have to go through DNA, forensics, et cetera.

But we did get across certain documents that prove the existence of foreigners. And these are the recovery of certain passports.

There are still a lot of documents that have been recovered from the battlefield that will need to be examined and studied.

And hopefully, whatever these documents are may lead to the proof that we are seeking for of the presence of more than 8 or 12.

Ms. Sancho: Nadagdagan po ba lately, sir, ‘yung bilang nila?

BRIG. GEN. PADILLA: Wala, wala pong impormasyon dahil ang Marawi po ay naka-lockdown.

Ang Marawi po ay hindi pwedeng pasukin o labasan nang hindi natin pinapahintulutan.

Ms. Sancho: Sorry, nadagdagan po ba ng namatay na foreign fighters mula sa militante?

BRIG. GEN. PADILLA: Katulad nga ng sabi ko kanina, maaaring meron pero wala kaming pruweba para patibayan ‘yan dahil we have not gotten across the proof that we are seeking.

Ms. Sancho: Sir, nag-express ‘yung Indonesian government na makipagtulungan po sa pamahalaan regarding doon sa mga Indonesian na sinabi din nga na possible ring nakikipaglaban. Na-mention na rin kasi ni Secretary Lorenzana na may mga Indonesians nasawi po. Na-identi… Nakilala na po ba natin sinu-sino itong mga Indonesians na ‘to?

BRIG. GEN. PADILLA: May ugnayan po tayo sa bansang Indonesia at may sharing of information.

May mga ibinigay silang pangalan at hindi ko po batid kung sinu-sino ‘yung mga ‘yon. Pero ‘yun po ang maaaring hanapin at kung ma-recover natin ‘yung kanilang papeles, maaari nating masabi na nandoon sila talaga. Pero hangga’t…

Sa kasalukuyan, wala pa po tayong nakukuhang matibay na patibay. So those are things that we’ll have to be done after we get all through these documents that have been recovered.

Ms. Sancho: Thank you, sir.

Pia Gutierrez (ABS-CBN): General, gusto ko lang pong tanungin ‘yung proseso ng pagkuha ng tulong mula sa Amerika. Under our existing agreement, sir, ito po ba ay motu propio o kailangan pa po ng request, formal request, from the Philippine government, sir?

BRIG. GEN. PADILLA: Meron po tayong treaty ‘di ba na ang panahon ng pagkalagda ay 1951. Iyon po ‘yung mother document na nagbibigay-daan para sa pagkakaroon nitong engagement natin.

Ngayon, sa ilalim po ng Mutual Defense Treaty ng 1951, may inorganisa na tinatawag na Mutual Defense Board-Security Engagement Board.

Ito po ay pinangungunahan ng Chief of Staff at ng kanyang counterpart na four-star general sa Pacific Command. Sila po ang nag-uusap ng mga bagay na tungkol sa militar bilang pagpapatupad ng kasunduan ng MDT. At anumang bagay na pinagkakasunduan nila na maaaring hinaharap nating banta.

So the MDB-SEB provides that structure where coordination and engagements can be made. Primarily karamihan dito ay training engagement, subject-matter experts at saka exercises. Pero sa mga panahong may importanteng banta na dapat harapin, ‘yun din po ‘yung nagiging avenue ng ating koordinasyon.

At meron pong mga aktibidades na nire-request natin for approval na training at engagements taun-taon na inaaprubahan ng ating Council of Foreign Ministers.

Iyong Council of Foreign Ministers po ay kinabibilangan ng ating Secretary of National Defense at ‘yung counterpart niya sa Estados Unidos. Pero ‘yung pagpaplano, paguugnayan, ‘yan po ay nasa pruweba lahat ng military commanders — si Chief of Staff at ‘yung kanyang counterpart.

Ito po ‘yung mekanismo na kung saan tayo nagkakaroon ng palitan at pagre-request.  

Ms. Gutierrez: So under that mechanism, sir, ‘yung sa Marawi, sir, ni-request po ba ito o parang motu propio na ibigay po?

BRIG. GEN. PADILLA: Tulad nga po ng sabi ko, ‘yung Western Mindanao Command ay isang command lang po kung nasaan nandoon na ‘yung mga Amerikano na nagbibigay ng tulong upang habulin itong Abu Sayyaf.

Kaya lang sila ay nandoon nakatuon ang pansin doon sa Jolo, sa Tawi-Tawi, sa Basilan, at karatig na lugar.

Ngayon na nagkaroon po ng bakbakan sa Marawi, inilipat lang ‘yung kapasidad na ‘yun at para makatulong doon sa ground commanders na nasa Marawi.

So isang command pa rin, isang commander pa rin ang kanilang sinusuportahan. Kaya hindi po dapat kumplikado dahil ‘yun pa rin po. Isang commander pa rin ang kanilang pinakikiusapan.

Ms. Gutierrez: Sir, si President Duterte expressed surprise na sinabi niya hindi niya alam na may ibinibigay na assistance ang Amerika. So ibig sabihin po ba nito, sir, ‘yung ating Commander — ‘yung Commander-in-Chief, is not included in the process of receiving assistance, doon sa mechanism hindi siya kasama, sir?

BRIG. GEN. PADILLA: Hindi ko lang po batid pero lahat po ng impormasyon na nanggagaling po sa atin sa baba ay ibinibigay sa taas upang ibahagi sa lahat ng ating mga pinuno.

So the briefing will have been done to everybody and may have been passed on. Ang issue lang po dito, nung simula po tayo na nagkaroon ng military operation sa Marawi, ibinigay na po lahat ng ating Pangulo ang pruweba sa ating ground commanders — sa Chief of Staff, sa SND, gawin ang nararapat upang masupil o matugunan itong banta na nandoon at ‘yung gulo na nandoon na.

Philip Tubeza (Philippine Daily Inquirer): Sir, good morning po. Sir, ilan pong sundalong Amerikano ang nasa Marawi ngayon?

BRIG. GEN. PADILLA: Hindi ko po batid ang bilang. Pero napakaliit po. Iyon lang pong mga tumutulong na i-operate ‘yung kagamitan at ‘yung mga nagmimintena nito.

Mr. Tubeza: Ano pong unit nila, sir, sa US military?

BRIG. GEN. PADILLA: Hindi ko rin batid at hindi ko rin maaaring ibigay.

Mr. Tubeza: Pero ‘yung specific assistance po na ibinibigay nila is it intel gathering?

BRIG. GEN. PADILLA: Nasa technical assistance po sa pagbibigay po ng impormasyon sa battlefield.

Ito ang kinakailangan niyong maintindihan ano, sa isang bakbakan o lugar ng bakbakan, ang pinakaimportanteng bagay sa isang commander ay malaman kung anong nangyayari sa buong lugar. Iyon ‘yung tinatawag na situational awareness.

Nasa ganoong bahagi po ang ibinibigay nilang assistance. Hanggang doon na lang po ako.

Mr. Tubeza: Meron din po kasing kumakalat sa social media ‘yung mga pictures supposedly of the soldiers ‘yung naka-sibilyan pero may dalang mga mahabang armas?

BRIG. GEN. PADILLA: Ito pong mga litratong ito ay maaaring nakuha kasi sila po ay nangangailangan din protektahan ang sarili nila.

So hindi sila kasama sa labanan pero kung nagkakataon na may makapasok o may maka-breach ng defenses, kailangan din nilang protektahan ang sarili nila kaya pinahintulutan po natin.

So doon lang po ‘yun pero hindi sila kasama sa mga bakbakan. Doon lang po sa pagbibigay ng ayuda at impormasyon sa ating mga tropa.

Mr. Tubeza: Thank you, sir.

Tuesday Niu (DZBB): General, sir, ‘yung result po ba ng Board of Inquiry tungkol sa friendly fire, na-submit na po ba kay Chief of Staff? May recommendations na po ba na isinubmit din kay Secretary Lorenzana, sir?

BRIG. GEN. PADILLA: Ang Board of Inquiry report na pinamunuang gawin ni General Raffy Valencia ay natapos na. Ito ay naisumite na kay Chief of Staff at sa ngayon ay nasa — na kay Chief of Staff na. At nandoon nakabahagi o nakalagay ang lahat ng mga rekomendasyon ng grupo ni General Valencia ukol sa mga nangyari noong insidente — ‘yung aksidente na nangyari na kung saan ang sarili nating tao ang tinamaan ng ating bomba.

So hindi ko po batid kung ano ang nilalaman ng report at sigurado po ako na kung anuman ‘yung nilalaman na ‘yun at ‘yung rekomendasyon na ‘yun ang gagawin po ng ating Chief of Staff, si General Ano, ay ibibigay po ‘yun sa mga kinauukulan para maisagawa ‘yung mga rekomendasyon ng ating Board of Inquiry.

At dapat lang po ninyong maintindihan ‘yung Board of Inquiry is a body that was created to immediately look into the possible cause. But they are not going to do a detailed investigation. So the recommendations may entail some units to do more detailed investigations. So that is as far as the Board of Inquiry is concerned.

Ms. Niu: Parang fact-findings lang, sir?

BRIG. GEN. PADILLA: Fact-finding pa lang, oo. So if there’s anything that needs to be done, kung meron man pong kailangang managot ‘yun na po ‘yung sa mga consequential o recommended activities na mangyayari after na ma-approve po ng ating hepe.

Ms. Niu: Maisasapubliko po ba ‘yan sir?

BRIG. GEN. PADILLA: Hindi ko lang po batid pero for transparency I think the Chief of Staff is contemplating doing that on certain matters that will not affect operational security.

Ms. Niu: Thank you, sir.

Henry Uri (DZRH): General, good morning. Batay ho sa inyong mga nakalap na impormasyon, lalo sa intelligence report po ninyo. Kung hindi ho nasawata itong terorismo sa Marawi, gaano kalawak ang posibleng likhain nito sa iba’t-ibang bahagi ng bansa? May nakita ba kayo na pwedeng ang ginawa nila sa Marawi ay sooner or later, gagawin din nila sa Metro Manila at iba pang siyudad sa iba pang parte ng bansa?

BRIG. GEN. PADILLA: Ito pong bantang nangyari o ito pong nangyaring kaguluhan sa Marawi ay isang bagay na pinaghandaan at nakita niyo naman ‘yan sa video ng mga na-recover at ipinakita noong mga nakaraang linggo.

At nabatid niyo doon sa video na ‘yun na mismo sila ang sinasabi nila, “sirain”, “mag-hostage”, “magnakaw”, “sunugin”, at ano pa man na talagang ginagawa ng mga terorista.

So kung saka-sakaling nagtagumpay sila at hindi natin natugunan ito, maaring mas malaki pa ang naging pinasala sa bayan ng Marawi at mas madami — maaaring mas madami pang buhay ang nasawi.

Pero dahil nga po na-preempt natin ito, ito na po ‘yung nangyayari ngayon. Ngayon, tungkol doon sa bagay na ito ba’y kakalat, ‘yun po ang iniwasan natin kaya tinugunan natin kaagad.

Kaya ngayon, ang atin pong mga puwersa ay nakatuon ang pansin upang tapusin ito kaagad nang sa ganon ni-isa sa kanila ay hindi makaalis sa lugar at maging banta pa sa ibang lugar.

And ‘yan ang sisikapin natin sa buong ka-Mindanaoan dahil may nananatiling structure pa sila diyan na nanggagaling po sa mga sumali na sumanib sa kanila, galing sa Jolo o Basilan, at ‘yung mga iba na nanggaling sa ibang lugar ng Lanao, Cotabato, Maguindanao.

So itong mga pwersang ito ay maaaring meron pang iilan diyan na naiiwan na dapat tugunan natin ng pansin at kinakailangang aksyunan kaagad.

Mr. Uri: Iyon hong sinasabi ninyong posible kumalat, saan ho ‘yun posibleng nangyari kung hindi naagapan?

BRIG. GEN. PADILLA: Sa mga karatig lugar, maaari at… Hindi naman po ito agad-agaran itong mangyayari dahil mukhang sila ay nagtuon o nag-concentrate ng pwersa dito sa Marawi dahil sa kagustuhan nila na kontrolin ito.

Pero kung meron man, nakakasigurado po tayo at confident kami na ‘yung ating nakalatag na mga preparasyon ay angkop naman.

Kung mababatid niyo, may mga pangyayari sa Europa, ‘yung mga pangyayaring ito ay mas grabe pa kaysa dito sa atin.

So by and large, what we have laid out as a security preparation is meant to preempt any of these activities from happening in our own land.

And that is where itong sinasabi nating konsepto ng shared responsibility and security pumapasok. Kaya ho paulit-ulit naming sinasabi na dapat bawat mamamayan sa bawat sulok ng kapuluan ay kabahagi ng pagbabantay ng buong kapuluan natin.

Kasi, if every citizen, we have over a hundred million, if all of our citizens participate and are involved in watching their environs, their communities, keeping watch, reporting suspicious-looking characters or items that are left unattended, our security forces and our police, and all those tasked in government to look out for the welfare of all of our citizens, will be able to do their jobs faster.

Iyon po ‘yung buod nung tinatawag nating shared responsibility and security. Kung dapat lahat nagtutulungan, magiging maayos.

Mr. Uri: General, nasa — narito na sa Metro Manila ang mag-asawang Maute. Kumusta ho ang seguridad ng buong kalakhang Maynila?

BRIG. GEN. PADILLA: Maayos naman po. Wala naman po tayong namo-monitor na banta. At ang ayon sa pulis, matibay naman po ang ating nakalatag na mga security para ho sa buong kapuluan.

Nandiyan din po ang ating sariling unit ng JTF-NCR sa pamumuno ni General Manangquil na siyang nakikipagtulungan sa NCRPO.

Mr. Uri: Salamat po.

Kris Jose (Remate): For Secretary Abella. Sir, meron pong civil society leaders na Maranao na nagpahayag po ng kagustuhan nila na makausap ang Pangulo nang personal para po maipaabot ‘yung alternative views po para ma-resolba ang Marawi City siege po, sir.

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: So your question?

Ms. Jose: Malaki po ba ‘yung possibility o maaari po bang mapagbigyan ng Pangulo ‘yung ganitong kahilingan ng civil society leaders?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: First and foremost, it’s ano talaga — ang intention ng President is basically to have peace in the land, especially within Mindanao.

So given the right venue and given the right channels, I’m sure the President will not only hear but will also respond at the right and proper time. Thank you.

Ms. Jose: For General. Sir, tama po ba na sisikapin ninyong tapusin ‘yung Marawi City siege nang wala po kayong ibinibigay na panibagong deadline?

BRIG. GEN. PADILLA: Yes. Itong ginagawa natin ngayon ay isang operasyon na tulad ng nabanggit ko kanina na hindi ganap na kadali katulad ng mga ginawa na natin sa mga kagubatan.

So it will entail a bit of time before we clear every house of any armed element. So kaunting pasensya lang po pero nandiyan na po tayo. Nag-iingat po tayo na hindi pa makasakit sa iba kaya ang ating pagpasok sa sa loob-looban ng siyudad ng Marawi ay maingat, precisely because of those reasons.

The guidance of the Chief of Staff is to ensure we are able to save innocent lives.

Ms. Jose: Pero, sir, may mga — may mga netizens po, may mga tao na tila naiinip na doon sa operations po ng inyong panig, sir. Ano po kaya ‘yung maaaring niyong mensahe sa kanila o apela?

BRIG. GEN. PADILLA: Alam niyo po kasi ang ating kabataan ay mahilig sa mga mabibilis at instant na mga pangyayari. Doon ho gumagana ‘yung adrenaline nila. Eh sa mga bagay na ito, buhay po ang nakataya talaga.

So kaunting pasensya lang at kailangan maintindihan niyo na kung ganito ang mga pangyayari ay kinakailangan maging maingat.

Ang amin pong challenge, kung kayo po ay gusto talagang tumulong sa bansa, sumali kayo, mag-ROTC kayo nang ganap na maintindihan niyo at ma-develop ‘yung pagmamahal sa bansa at maging kasama sa Armed Forces sa future para nang sa ganon, ganap niyong maintindihan kung ano ‘yung nangyayari ngayon dito.

Ina Andolong (CNN Philippines): Sir, hi sir, to General Padilla. Yesterday, Secretary Salalima of the DICT said that meron na raw pong mga aarestuhin —

BRIG. GEN. PADILLA: Cyber sedition.

Ms. Andolong: Yes, for cyber sedition. Can you give us a bit more details about this? Kasama po ba ito doon sa mga nag-o-operate nung 63 Facebook posts or accounts?

BRIG. GEN. PADILLA: Actually, there are more already, okay. Yes, there has been… We have been doing… We have been watching social media closely, particularly for those who have been sowing disinformation.

And we have touched base with social media companies to request their assistance to put down sites that are fomenting disinformation and discord as well as violence.

So we have been getting very good assistance from the companies as soon as a determination has been made that these accounts are actually being used for the purposes that I said, then it is brought down immediately.

But the point is, it only solves the closing of the account. The individuals behind those accounts are the more important targets of our operation.

So our cyber folks and the laws that we have will make room for that. I’ll leave it at that for the moment and we’ll leave it to the experts to discuss that.

Ms. Andolong: You can’t give us yet details, sir, on how many people will be arrested and what specifically they put up?

BRIG. GEN. PADILLA: I cannot. They might start running away going elsewhere and then we won’t be able to arrest them. So let’s not give them that benefit.

Ms. Andolong: Okay. And… But you mentioned dumami na ‘yung 63, ilan na po ngayon ang tinitignan niyong account, sir, and from what social media?

BRIG. GEN. PADILLA: Parang mahigit 70 o almost 80 na ata ‘yung binabantayan natin. At ‘yung mga accounts na ‘yan maaaring isa lang ang nagme-mentina at hindi necessarily individual.

Ms. Andolong: Sir, sa ibang topic pero napagusapan po kanina, ‘yung four barangays that are still —

BRIG. GEN. PADILLA: That remains problematic.

Ms. Andolong: — Problem areas. Actually I looked at the transcript and the last time, you did say that three barangays.

BRIG. GEN. PADILLA: Yeah, I mentioned barangays. I’m sorry but it’s supposed to be areas.

Ms. Andolong: Yeah. And anyway, tapos ‘yung reports today 20 percent, I believe previously it was about eight to 10 percent. What makes you confident in saying then given those data that lumiliit ‘yung enemy areas when those numbers show otherwise?

BRIG. GEN. PADILLA: Well, it’s a fact. It’s a feedback from our troops on the ground. This is past feedback from them. Other areas that they used to traverse where they encountered enemy fire is non-existent anymore.

So we can come in and out of all these areas at will, without any resistance. So isn’t that enough proof to say that their world is getting smaller? That’s one.

Second, in previous engagements, the volume of fire coming from the enemy side seems to be heavy and right now, it’s no longer that way.

So it’s either they’re preserving themselves for a last stand or they don’t have anything at all. So those are the indicators and whatever feedback we’re getting from our folks on the ground I guess are much more accurate.

Ms. Andolong: And lastly, kanina po nabanggit ninyo that security officials don’t need to be here when that happens. Hindi po ba contradicting ‘yun doon sa naging aksyon ng Pangulo because when he found out about it, he cut his very important trip short, brought with him the security officials with him dahil he felt the need to be here?

BRIG. GEN. PADILLA: Yes. There was an advice not to do that but I think it’s primordial in the mind and the consideration of the President to be sure that he is on top of the situation.

So he would feel much more in control when he is back in his own country. And I guess if you were the Commander-in-Chief, you would do the same.

And anyone else who has been a leader of his country would have done the same as well.

Case in point is the many instances when we had other leaders from other countries who would immediately cut short their trip because they would have — they would want to have a direct hand in how things are evolving.

And I guess the wisdom of the President proved right because when he got here, he had to take control and issue out guidance for our commanders.

Ms. Andolong: And no one thought of thinking about it? I mean, that wisdom never came before the Russia — leaving for Russia. Ganoon po ba ‘yun?

BRIG. GEN. PADILLA: Well, it’s no. It’s… I mean it’s unfair to say that because the Russian trip… We are maintaining relationship with other countries and our relationship with other countries are also important.

Those are strategic things that must be done by the leadership. Tactical as this is, what is happening on the ground, it’s a threat that could be addressed by our security forces.

Ace Romero (Philippine Star): General, you were interviewed by ANC this morning, right? You mentioned about lapses with regard to the airstrike accident. Is this an accurate quote?

BRIG. GEN. PADILLA: I mentioned that because of the possibility of what may be contained in the report. So the report may contain and may have observed lapses on the part of units, of individuals.

So maaari ring maging bahagi rin nung report ‘yan. Kasi ‘yung report ‘di ko pa rin nababasa eh. So kung anuman ‘yung nakikita na naging — marami kasi ‘yan eh procedural lapses or what have you. So maaaring failure ng equipment katulad ng binanggit natin dati.

So ‘yung mga bahaging ‘yan maaaring nakasaad sa report at base sa rekomendasyon ng Board of Inquiry, maaaring kailangan pang ungkatin para malaman ng todo-todo.

Mr. Romero: You were quoted as saying, “There are many lapses on the part of the troops on the ground and partly on the use of the assets. We are not blaming anyone.” So can we say now that there have been lapses that led to that accident? Are we sure?

BRIG. GEN. PADILLA: Because I have not read the report. There could be lapses and what may have happened on the ground is because of the immediate requirements that our commanders wanted from units.

When the fight was going on, so many units came to provide assistance in addressing the threats that were present in certain sectors.

In the case of this accident, what we do know is that there were several units. One was tasked to maintain that area but then reinforcements from another unit came and that unit was a small unit that was reporting to this unit.

Iyong kanyang employment na dapat kumukuha siya ng instructions sa mother unit niya, hindi nangyari. Bago na ngayon ‘yung pinagrereportan niya at kinakausap niya.

At doon sa kalagitnaan ng labanan, maaari na nakaligtaan na ito ay papunta sa lugar na ‘yan at hindi nai-report kaagad. So ‘yung mga ganong klaseng bahagi ay maaaring nandoon sa report kaya kailangan makita po natin.

Mr. Romero: So we’re not yet sure if there were indeed lapses

BRIG. GEN. PADILLA: We’re not yet sure because I honestly have not read the report but I did know that the gist of some of the findings may be in those areas.

Mr. Romero: Okay. With regard to the statistics you just mentioned, you previously said Maute terrorists are just holding on to 10 percent and now it’s 20 percent and then previously three barangays, and now four barangays. How do we explain these changing figures?

BRIG. GEN. PADILLA: That’s why we’re going down to better statistics. The area is better described in terms of barangays because that is where we separate geopolitical and territorial areas.

So now, it’s much more accurate to say that the four barangays are the problematic areas rather than saying percentage.

Kasi ‘yung report na initial natin, nakukuha rin natin sa ground commanders. At ‘yung ground commanders natin, ‘yun din ang kanilang pinagbabasehan ng report.

Ngayon, you know, there’s this thing called fog of war when everything is all breaking loose and then everything is very fluid, the reporting system may not be very accurate as exactly as we would want.

So now that we have lulls in the fighting, and we can more or less cross-check our data, there is a decision now to be more specific that the use of barangays would be better.

Mr. Romero: So just to be clear, there will be no more deadlines anymore for the Marawi operations?

BRIG. GEN. PADILLA: For… Yes, for now—

Mr. Romero: No more deadlines?

GEN. PADILLA: — we will not set deadlines. We will ensure that we are able to clear it of any armed element that still exists and it may take some time.

Mr. Romero: Thank you.

Ms. Gutierrez: Sir, confirm lang po ‘yung reports na ‘yung nanay ng mga Maute, nandito na po sa Maynila, sir? Nilipat na?

BRIG. GEN. PADILLA: I don’t have that information right now. I requested it to be checked, but I have not received any feedback yet.

Ms. Gutierrez: Sir, clarification din doon sa sinabi ninyo on mosques. So the military will not bomb mosques pero will the military still conduct operation inside the mosques ‘pag nalaman po natin na ginagamit ‘yun as staging area o taguan ng mga Maute group?

BRIG. GEN. PADILLA: We are not inside the mosque. The enemy is inside the mosque. So hindi pa tayo nakakarating doon.

But there’s a commitment on the part of the Armed Forces and the Chief of Staff himself, we will not bomb any mosques. But we call upon all religious leaders to more or less dissuade any of those that they may reach in those mosques from using those areas of worship as havens for this armed confrontation.

Ms. Gutierrez: Sir, it’s the 23rd day of fighting and you said Marawi has been placed on lockdown since the start. I’m just curious how is the enemy sustaining itself pagdating sa ammunition, pagdating sa pagkain and other resources, sir?

BRIG. GEN. PADILLA: I have answered that previously. The reason why they chose the commercial business district area is the presence of well-built buildings that can resist any kind of force coming in.

So mas better prepared silang mag-resist doon. Besides that, the commercial business district contains commercial establishments that have supermarkets and other sources of food that they can forage. So that is where they’re getting their sustainment.

As to ammunition, we said that they have been planning this all along. So they may have kept stashes of ammunition there and added to that, the things that they looted from the armories of the jail and the police stations that they have entered into.

Rosalie Coz (UNTV): Hi, sir. Good morning, sir. Indonesian military have spoken about sa joint naval patrol to be started next week, sir. Pwede niyo po kaming bigyan ng details? And second question ko is nanawagan ang ISIS na magkaroon ng reinforcement sa kanilang mga miyembro na magsagawa ng mga pag-atake sa iba’t-ibang bahagi ng mundo particular na rin po ang Pilipinas. How do we ensure… The government, how does the government ensure na hindi tayo malulusutan given the porous border and naka-focus ang military po ngayon sa pagresolba po ng suliranin sa Marawi?

BRIG. GEN. PADILLA: Thank you, Rose. In answer sa una mong katanungan, ‘yung pag-launch ng joint patrols, may prepared statement ang tatlong bansa dito na hindi pa natatapos at ‘yan ay lalabas ‘pag ka bago magkaroon paglulunsad. 

Ang launching nito ay sa June 19 sa Indonesia. And our Chief of Saff, our Secretary of National Defense will be there to officially join their counterparts from Malaysia and Indonesia to do that.

They trilaterally agreed, joint statement will be released from there. And if I may ask for your patience, let us wait for that agreed upon statement to be issued out before I make any.

Ms. Coz: Pero sir, matagal na po itong napag-uusapan, itong joint naval patrol—

BRIG. GEN. PADILLA: Oo, the protocols, the preparation for this activity have been ongoing since last year. And the staff-to-staff level coordination among the Indonesian and Malaysian counterparts of the Armed Forces have been done.

At may mga napirmahan na rin na mga dokumento dito na magbibigay daan para pagsasagawa nung mga patrols na ito.

Ms. Coz: Masasabi po ba nating napabilis ‘yung proseso dahil po sa nangyayari po ngayon sa Marawi? 

BRIG. GEN. PADILLA: Maaari kasi nakikita rin ng karatig nating mga bansa ang banta na maaari ring manggaling sa atin papunta sa kanila at ganon din ‘yung sa kanila papunta sa atin.

Kaya kinakailangan natin bantayan itong mga lugar na ito. Initially the concept of the joint patrol was to arrest the kidnapping issue.

But now, there’s a bigger issue on the threat coming from the Daesh. So that becomes more relevant. They have these trilateral patrols.

Now ‘yung sa second na tanong mo, okay na ‘yung first?

So second na tanong mo, ‘yung panawagan. Yes, meron lumabas na panawagan itong grupong ito at ‘yun nga ‘yung nakakatakot. Kaya nga po kami ay nakikiusap sa lahat ng sambayanang Pilipinas na magkakaisa tayo. Huwag nating payagan na ito’y mangyari sa atin.

Nakita naman niyo ang karahasan na nangyari sa Marawi. Eh kung ganyan po ang gagawin sa buong Pilipinas, kailangan po talagang bantayan natin. Kaya nga po dapat magkaisa tayo.

We must all work together, issue out a united and collective public condemnation of all these things that are happening in Marawi now and join hands together in resisting the entry of this evil force because this is no longer a simple matter. It’s already a fight between good and evil and you must all realize that by now.

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: No, we just… First, we just like to underline what Brigadier General has said that the Philippines needs to make a united stand and that it needs to understand that we — this is no longer intramurals within ourselves, but we need to be united against a common enemy.

And in the words of the General, it’s a fight between good and evil.

Really, the… Our sovereignty is being confronted and I believe it’s time to set aside petty politics and the things that separate us.

It’s really high time and I believe it’s a call to the Filipino nation to be able to stand together as one. It’s high time we do that. Thank you.

BRIG. GEN. PADILLA: Sir, if you will permit. Nais ko lang pong iparating ang pasasalamat ng buong Armed Forces at ‘yung leadership namin sa tulong po ng media at ng office po ni Secretary Abella sa saludong ginawa natin sa mga namatay sa Marawi na mga kasundaluhan.

Ang punto po dito ay sana huwag po nating makalimutan ‘yung sakripisyong ginawa ng bawat sundalo na nakipaglaban diyan at patuloy pang nakikipaglaban ngayon. Sana po suportahan niyo ang inyong mga tropa.

Maraming salamat. 

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