Press Briefing

Mindanao Hour Briefing by PCOO Assistant Secretary Marie Banaag with Armed Forces of the Philippines Spokesperson Brig. Gen. Restituto Padilla Jr. and Assistant Secretary Kristoffer James E. Purisima Deputy Administrator for Administration Office of Civil Defense

Location Kalayaan Hall, Malacañan Palace

OPENING STATEMENTS:

 ASEC. BANAAG: To give us updates on the Marawi situation, we have here Brigadier General Restituto Padilla Jr., spokesperson of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, and Assistant Secretary Kristoffer James Purisima, the Deputy Administrator for Administration of the Office of Civil Defense.

Ladies and gentlemen of the Malacañang Press Corps, let us all give a warm welcome to AFP spokesperson Resty Padilla and Asec. Toby Purisima. [applause]

On the lumad schools:

The President clarified the issue on lumad schools.

It is clear from the President’s remarks that he is not referring to all lumad schools, but to those which don’t have permits from the Department of Education or the DepEd, and refuse to comply with DepEd requirements on curriculum.

It is likewise clear that the President does not intend to bomb lumad children. On the contrary, he said that they should get out of the schools as he was referring to structures and not to children.

There are three main groups of left-oriented indigenous people schools, this is according to the Department of Education.

These are the Alternative Learning Center for Agriculture and Livelihood Development, Inc. or the Alcadev; second, the Center for Lumad Advocacy and Services, Inc. or the Clans; and third, the Salugpungan Community Learning Center.

The DepEd adds that Alcadev of Surigao has no permit to operate and refuses to get a permit from the Department of Education. The Clans, on the other hand, has been given 3 months to comply with DepEd requirements.

Aside from left-leaning lumad schools, we have schools established by the DepEd itself which are complying with our curriculum and other requirements of the Department of Education.

There are lumad schools established by religious groups and civic organizations, which are legitimate.   Also, there are three indigenous people schools that have been constructed by the Department of Social Welfare and Development. It is the illegal lumad schools which drew the President’s adverse reaction.

We now go to the updates on Marawi as of today, 28 of July, Day 67.

Data as of 7pm of yesterday, July 27:

Terrorists killed is at 471;

Civilians killed at 45;

Firearms recovered at 576, that is an additional 5 firearms;

Civilians rescued at 1,723;

Buildings cleared: 26;

And those killed-in-action at 114.

As of 2:45 pm yesterday, the status of cash donations are as follows:

For the Marawi AFP casualties: at P108,027,753.23;

For Marawi IDPs or [internally] displaced persons: P834,015.21

Thank you so much and we now go to Spokesperson Resty Padilla. 

BRIG. GEN. PADILLA: Thank you very much, Asec. Marie. I am happy to inform the body that our operations in Marawi continue to date and positively progressive.

The area of operation is confined to about two barangays, or to be exact, about two and a half barangays and confined to about less than one square kilometer of the most problematic areas.

Our troops are in a very high state of morale, all leaning forward to finish this operation at the soonest time possible.

Despite the number of casualties and wounded that we have had in the past few weeks, this does not deter the troops and our ground commanders from pursuing the mission and accomplishing the much-needed liberation of Marawi.

May I also pay particular focus on the recent support that we have been getting from the public sector, in the civilian populace, particularly the business sector.

The event that was held here in Malacañang a few days ago was a very heartening one. And it was a very inspiring one that allowed many of those who were affected, whose families were left behind, heroes who have died, to come and be with the President himself as well as the members of the business sector, particularly the group of Mr. Concepcion, who heads the Go Negosyo.

They were accorded the honor of… and the sympathy of the body and the messages of sympathy that they received was really heartwarming.

Many of them went home relieved that government is behind their back, that the populace, the business sector and many of our — the majority of our citizens are behind them in… as they go through this most trying time of their lives.

The assurance of the support that they have also received from the public sector and the business sector is something that they are counting on to help them go through these trying times.

And if I may make mention, the Armed Forces of the Philippines is particularly very grateful to the business sector for a total package of about P1.25 — P1,250,000 worth of cash given to each family during that event — P250,000 from the Go Negosyo group and from an anonymous donor, P1 million cash as their assistance to the families of all our heroes who were left behind.

Again, we’d like to pass on our sincerest appreciation to the Chief of Staff, the Secretary of National Defense, and the entire Defense establishment, along with every soldier, every sailor, every marine, every airman and every civilian employee of the Armed Forces.

We put out our hearts in thanks to all those who have extended their support and continue to extend their support up to this very moment.

From the anonymous donor who gave P1 million each to the families, he gave an assurance that as the fighting still continues and for whatever length of time it will take, for as long as we have casualties, their families will receive the same amount of help and this is continuing. So again our most profound thanks.

May I now pass on the mic to Asec. Marie for the next part of this briefing.

ASEC. BANAAG: Yes. For the updates on the rehabilitation of Marawi or Bangon Marawi, may we ask Assistant [Secretary] Toby Purisima. 

ASEC. PURISIMA: Thank you very much, Asec. Ladies and gentlemen of the Malacañang Press Corps, fellow workers in government, good morning.

Administrative Order No. 3 created an Inter-Agency Task Force on the rehabilitation and recovery efforts for Marawi and other affected localities.

Task Force Bangon Marawi was tasked to ensure that all efforts towards recovery and rehabilitation and rebuilding are coordinated and will serve the best interests of the affected communities.

The task force is composed originally of five sub-committees spearheaded by an NDRRMC member-agency, namely: DPWH for reconstruction; DSWD and DOH for health and social welfare; OCS for housing; DTI for business and livelihood; and DILG for peace and order.

Each sub-committee is composed of various national government agencies as members.

Recently, the composition of the task force was amended and the following sub-committees were added.

First, a sub-committee on finance and resource mobilization support to be headed by — co-headed by DBM and NEDA. We also have a sub-committee on information management and strategic communication support to be headed by PCOO; and sub-committee on legal support secretariat headed by the DND. We also have a secretariat which is headed by the OCD and an executive director appointed by the chairperson of Task Force Bangon Marawi in the person of Undersecretary Cesar Yano of the Department of National Defense.

The Office of the Presidential Adviser on [the] Peace Process shall also be represented in all TFBM sub-committees, particularly on reconstruction.

Transitional shelters are proposed to be established in an 11-hectare area in Barangay Sagonsongan near Marawi City.

On housing: several technologies are being explored and initial designs are being formulated based on the standards to be provided by the National Housing Authority.

On social welfare: assistance both in terms of food and non-food items are being provided to our IDPs.

On health: nutrition services and other related services are also being provided.

On business and livelihood: starter kits have been provided to those who want to engage in alternative livelihood.

A 13-hectare area was identified for vegetable production and identification of farmer IDPs.

On law and order: of course, police visibility and coverage of operations are heightened.

Various countries and multilateral partners have extended and pledged to provide humanitarian assistance to aid the needs of communities.

In particular, I would like to highlight the AHA Centre or the ASEAN Coordinating Centre [for] Humanitarian Assistance on Disaster Management or what we know as the AHA Centre, provided relief items and assistance in the form of 600 family tents, 600 family kits, 600 kitchen sets, 4 water filtration units, and at least 3,000 personal hygiene kits.

These were turned over last Friday at the Laguindingan International Airport and this highlights the One ASEAN, One Response mechanism of the ASEAN and which is particularly significant given the Philippines’ chairmanship and the 50th anniversary of ASEAN this year because of the AHA Centre’s support is around P17 million.

As a way forward, the design of temporary shelters shall be finalized and construction shall begin immediately.

A rapid damage assessment and needs analysis or RDANA shall be conducted though military operations on the conflict areas have not yet ended. Findings in the assessment shall be used for the initial establishment of a database of IDPs.

Now, a refresher of DANA or damage assessment and needs analysis has been ongoing.

This involved nine government — national government agencies, LGUs and the local disaster risk reduction management officers.

They have been briefed on the data that they should gather and verify and the IDP statistics that are needed and also the situation on the clusters.

We expect the report of this RDANA to be available by next week and this will assist in the formulation of the post-conflict needs assessment in Marawi and other affected localities.

And as an offshoot of the PCNA, we will have a Marawi comprehensive rehabilitation and recovery program.

Lastly, by way of a whole of nation and whole of society approach in realizing the rehabilitation and recovery efforts for affected communities, we assure our people that we will build back Marawi better. Thank you. 

QUESTIONS & ANSWERS: 

Reymund Tinaza (Bombo Radyo): Hi ma’am, good morning. Just to clarify doon sa lumad school. Meron bang existing na batas na actually prohibits any civil society or any NGO to establish an alternative or informal education setup structure doon sa, lalo na sa mga far-flung areas?

ASEC. BANAAG: Reymund, I can answer that after the Mindanao Hour but then… I’ll definitely answer that kasi we have answers from DepEd naman on that matter.

Deo De Guzman (RMN – DZXL): Magandang umaga po. Kay General Padilla po. General Padilla, meron pong mga na-interview doon sa mga evacuee sa Iligan City from Marawi na sinasabi nila na paano naman sila dahil ang lumalabas ay… Actually maganda naman na buong suporta ng gobyerno pati ng private sector ay nasa militar. Pero if you can look — if you can see the discrepancy, most likely doon sa mga ipinakikita natin sa ibinigay na donasyon ng publiko sa gobyerno ay wala pang isang milyon para doon sa mga IDPs pero nasa 100 million na ‘yung para sa mga AFP natin. Pero ang sinasabi naman ng tao, paano naman ‘yung mga evacuee samantalang ang AFP ay meron namang sariling budget although may budget din naman para sa kanila. Pero paano pong maibibigay na panawagan na suportahan naman din ng private sector ang mga IDPs?

BRIG. GEN. PADILLA: Unang-una, huwag po sana natin i-confuse ‘yung ating nakikitang mga figures. At nais ko lang po isatama na ang buong suporta ng pamahalaan at ng pribadong sector ay nasa mga apektadong mamamayan din ng Marawi.

Sa kasalukuyan, sa lahat po ng nasa evacuation center at hanggang sa current estimate at ng nagastos na ng pamahalaan para sa ating mga kapatid na nasa mga evacuation centers ay pumapatak na po sa halos 200 milyon.

Inuulit ko po, halos 200 milyon na worth of food and non-food items na napupunta po sa pagbibigay ng pagkain at ibang tulong sa lahat ng mga evacuation centers.

So sana po maunawaan ng ating mga kababayan na nariyan sa mga evacuation centers na ang buong suporta ng gobyerno ay naroroon.

Itong nakikita lang na pagbuhos ng tulong ng ating mga mamamayan at ng ating mga pribadong sektor ay para po sa mga namatayan.

Kung kayo po ay nagdadalamhati dahil may nawala po sa pamilya niyo na isang mahal sa buhay, tulad po ng nangyayari dito, mas nanaisin niyo po na maibsan ‘yung inyong nararamdamang kalungkutan sa pamamagitan ng suporta na nanggagaling sa iba at kadalasan ‘yan ang ating naibibigay na tulong sa mga namamatayan.

Nagbibigay tayo ng abuloy, nag-aabot tayo ng ano mang tulong na kinakaya natin. Kaya’t ito’y isang senyales lang po ng pakikiramay na nakikita namin na nanggagaling sa publiko.

At itong binigay na tulong po sa mga pamilyang to, hindi po ito mapapalitan ang buhay na nawala.

Inuulit ko po, ‘yung halaga po na ‘yan tulad ng sinabi ng mahal na Pangulo at ganon din po ang napakadaming donors na nagbigay ay nagsasabi na itong halagang itong binibigay namin ay hindi pwedeng itapat sa mga buhay na nawala.

Ang mga sundalo po natin ay nagpunta sa bakbakan upang ipagtanggol po ang ating bayan at ipagtanggol ang mga residente ng Marawi. Kinakailangang maliwanag po ito.

Nagpunta po tayo diyan upang ipagtanggol at kunin muli ang lugar ng Marawi galing sa mga kamay ng masasamang loob na nariyan pa hanggang ngayon.

So itong pagbubuwis ng buhay ng ating mga bayani ay kinikilala po ng karamihan. At bilang tulong sa kanilang pamilya, sila ay nag-aalay at nagbibigay ng kanilang maaaring itulong. At ito po ‘yung nakikita niyo pong halaga.

Kung ano man po ang halaga na maaaring umaabot doon sa mga bank deposits na ‘yan ay hindi po ganon na kaliitan ‘yan kasi meron pa pong nadadagdag na ibinigay mismo ng ating pamahalaan.

So by and large, these are the things that we’d like to point out. The private sector and the business community’s assistance to our families who have lost loved ones in the fight in Marawi is merely an indication of their commiseration and their sympathy for the families so as to assuage the hurt that they feel or the loneliness or the sadness that they are experiencing as a matter of loss because we cannot bring back the lives.

But someway, somehow our people and our business community have extended this help to somehow make up for that loss.

Mr. De Guzman: Sir, another issue po. Kahapon po sinabi ni PSC Chairman na si William Ramirez na sinasabi niya na lumalabas doon sa kanilang observation doon sa mga evacuation centers ay ina-idolize na ng mga kabataan ‘yung mga ISIS fighters na sinasabi niya na nakakabahala ‘yung ganung obserbasyon. Nakarating na po ba sa inyo ‘to? At kung nakarating na po, ano po ang gagawin ng AFP and even OCD and Malacañang to address that issue?

BRIG. GEN. PADILLA: Nakarating na po sa’min ‘yan at nakuha na rin namin ‘yung input na ‘yan actually noong pangatlo o pangalawang linggo pa lang ng bakbakan. Dahil meron po tayong mga nagmagandang loob na mga civil society organizations who are all for peace, who have visited the evacuation centers to take care of the children affected by the conflict.

And it was found out through their sessions that indeed yes, may mga ilan, hindi naman lahat, may iilan lang sa mga miyembro ng kabataan na ang kanilang ina-idolize at ang sinasabi nilang gusto nilang mangyari paglaki nila ay maging parte nung kinakalaban natin diyan.

Dahil hindi nila nauunawaan ‘yung mga nangyayari po sa kapaligiran nila. Kaya’t minarapat nitong mga organisasyon na ito na ipaliwanag itong mga pagkakataon na ‘to nang maliwanagan ang kaisipan, murang kaisipan ng mga kabataan na ‘to.

And that is precisely what is being done in answer to your second question kung ano ang mga hakbang na ginagawa natin sa pagpapalawig ‘nong ganitong klaseng sistema ng psychological debriefing, stress debriefing at tsaka ‘yung pagsasagawa ng mga alternative activities para sa mga kabataan, para sa murang edad nila, maliwanagan at maintindihan nila ‘yung mga kaganapan na nangyayari po diyan.

At hindi lang po ang mga civil society organizations at mga NGOs ang ka-partner natin dito kung ‘di mismong mga tauhan po natin sa Armed Forces ay tine-train po natin na maging kaparte nung mga prosesong ‘yun para ang sa ganon, maintindihan ng ating mga kababayan na simula’t sapul, sa simula nung kaguluhan na ‘to, hindi po natin ginusto na mag-intrude o pumasok sa lugar ng Marawi ng walang dahilan.

Ang hinabol po natin diyan ay masasamang loob na walang hinangad kung hindi sirain, wasakin, sunugin, at sirain ang buong kabuhayan sa buong Marawi.

Alam natin very progressive ang Marawi, very industrious ang ating mga kapatid na Maranao. At ayaw natin natin na magpatuloy itong paninira na nangyayari kaya’t kinakailangan matapos itong laban na ‘to at ‘yan po ang ating sinisikap na gawin.

Mr. De Guzman: Thank you sir.

JP Bencito (Manila Standard): Hi, Spokes Padilla. Good morning po. Sir, balik lang ako doon sa Lumad. Sir, is it enough justification that the President is trying to say na kapag ‘yung isang Lumad school is involved to subservient activities, communism, sir is it enough justification na bombahin ‘yan ng militar?

BRIG. GEN. PADILLA: Actually, kinakailangan mainintidihan niyo po ‘yung pananalita ng ating mahal na Pangulo. Binanggit niya po ‘yun pero hindi naman po talagang gagawin ‘yun na bobombahin mo ‘yung eskwelahan dahil may mga bata pa diyan ‘no.

It was just a matter of strongly communicating a strong position on behalf of government to warn this illegal educational centers who are not complying with government regulation.

That is how we understood the President and that is how we see and appreciate his comments regarding this. Not intended to really destroy the community but to extend a message, a very strong message, to the people behind the organization of this illegal learning institutions to comply with government regulation.

Mr. Bencito: So sir clarification, even if the President said that he will bomb schools without the children there, the military won’t be doing it?

BRIG. GEN. PADILLA: Kaya nga sinimulan ko ng pagsasabi na kailangan maintindihan mo kung papaano mag-communicate ang ating mahal ng Pangulo.

He wants to communicate a strong position against those behind the organizations of these illegal learning institutions.

So kung ano man ang hakbang na kailangan gawin ng ating Armed Forces, gagawin natin ‘to pero hindi sa ganun klaseng paraan.

Mr. Bencito: Sir, merong law na anti-subser—

BRIG. GEN. PADILLA: Anti-subversion law.

Mr. Bencito: Na-repeal na sir. So sir, pwede bang magturo… Is communism legal here in the country? Or paano po bang setup niyan sir?

BRIG. GEN. PADILLA: Well, the reason why DepEd is regulating the way we teach in schools is to make it comply and conform with the value system that we want our citizens to learn.

Now, it is not bad to teach communism per se because we in college learned about it. We read books about Marxism, Leninism, Socialism, and the like.

And it’s part of liberal education. So teaching it. But if you target very young minds, vulnerable minds and try to sway them to a certain kind of thinking, that is like brainwashing. ‘Yun po ang mali dito.

Sa murang edad, dapat ang binibigay mo na aral sa mga bata ay ‘yung tama. Ano ‘yung mga tama na ‘yun: Fear of God, love of country, love of family, the appreciation of the correct values that you want your citizens to have.

And these schools are not teaching that. This is an issue that has been going on since before the election. And you know that, I’m sure of it. It was an issue that was escalated and it was exaggerated by many cause-oriented groups whose minds and line of thinking we cannot fathom because it’s so evil.

Why would you want to brainwash a child just because you want them to perpetuate what you want them to do. It is not good from the perspective of pedagogical approaches, hindi ‘yan tama. At ‘yun po ang itinatama dito.

Dahil itong mga batang ito na nasa murang edad ang magiging kinabukasan ng bayan na ito kaya kinakailangan ilagay sila sa ayos.

Tandaan niyo, hindi po sila nagtuturo na magkaroon ng takot sa Diyos. Isa ho ‘yan.

Henry Uri (DZRH): General Padilla, I interviewed this morning Secretary Leonor Briones tungkol ho sa Lumad. At sinasabi niya na ang problema pala doon sa lugar, may mga eskwelahan na-establish na walang permiso from them and then ‘yun ang ginagamit daw ho ng mga, I think, mga NPAs to brainwash itong mga bata. Pero wala siyang data. Ilan ho ‘yung mga eskwelahan na ‘yun? If you have data please.

BRIG. GEN. PADILLA: Hindi po kasi hawak ‘yung datos eh. Kung gusto niyo, after this ibibigay namin sa inyo.

Mr. Uri: Pero, marami ba o ilang lamang?

BRIG. GEN. PADILLA: Sa kabuuan ng Mindanao, may illan ho diyan na naka-link sa ilang mga organisasyon at itong mga organisasyon na ‘to ang behind doon sa mga eskwelahan na ‘yan.

‘Yung binaggit dito na sa ating binasa kanina ni Asec. Marie, may isang grupo diyan na hinihakayat na humingi ng permiso pero ayaw nilang i-comply itong mga permisong ito.

Ito po ‘yung Alcadev ng Surigao, isa na po ‘yan. So they refused to get government permits.

Mr. Uri: Hindi daw ho kayang ipasara ng DepEd kasi wala sa kapangyarihan nila ‘yun. Kayo po sa kapangyarihan ninyo, pwede bang irekomenda ninyo maipasara ito? Anong gagawin niyo riyan?

BRIG. GEN. PADILLA: Alam niyo, nape-pressure po kasi ang DepEd sa dami po ng kanilang nagiging mga panawagan diyan. Pero sa regulasyon po, sa batas natin, ‘pag hindi nagtururo ng tama ang isang institusyon, maari po talagang isara ‘yan. At kami sa Armed Forces at sa kapulisan kung ano pong pinag-uutos sa batas, ipapatupad namin because we are here to establish the rule of law.

Mr. Uri: But para maiwasan ho ‘yung pagbobomba if ever, ‘yung nga ang isang opsyon—

BRIG. GEN. PADILLA: Alam niyo, ‘yung pambobomba, ano lang ho ‘yan eh, parang pamamaraan lang ho ‘yan, ‘yung istilo lang po ng pag-communicate na para matigas ang dating at maintindihan ng ibang karamihan. Pero ‘yung pananadya na gagawin ‘yan, hindi ho mangyayari ‘yun.

Mr. Uri: So you mean hindi mangyayari na magkakaroon nitong pambobombang ito from your end?

BRIG. GEN. PADILLA: I’m sure of that. The President is among the most compassionate, if I can say that. Matigas siya, matigas ang dating niya, matapang pero ‘pag ang pinagusapan kabataan, napakalambot ng puso ng mahal ng Pangulo at nakita namin ‘yan sa maraming pagkakataon.

 

Nestor Corrales (Inquirer.net): Good morning, Spokes. Malaysia yesterday called on the Philippines to convene a special meeting of ASEAN defense ministers to brief them on the latest developments in Marawi City. They said that this is suitable since Philippines is an ASEAN chairman. What can you say about this, Spokes?

BRIG. GEN. PADILLA: I think the matter has reached the attention of the Secretary and it is being assessed if it is a possibility. But I cannot make any announcement regarding this until an official one has come from the Department of National Defense itself.

Mr. Corrales: Sir, regarding Marawi din. Parang, yesterday, Western countries warned its citizens to avoid traveling to Mindanao due to serious risk of terrorist attacks and kidnappings. Any statement from you, sir?

BRIG. GEN. PADILLA: This is nothing new. There have been pronouncements before. And it’s because of the offshoot of the violent incidents happening in Marawi.

But by and large, Mindanao remains peaceful because of the enforcement of martial law and our strong security measures that are in place.

Case in point, there were so many checkpoints that have been established, and we have controlled the movement of suspicious people from getting to different places, because they may be — they may not be up to anything good.

Kris Jose (Remate): Sir, may report po na nagtataka at natatakot po ‘yung mga bakwit dahil po dun sa sunod-sunod na sunog na na— na nangyayari po dun sa controlled areas. Hindi ba po, ‘yung controlled areas, mga sundalo na po ang may hawak ng mga lugar na ‘yun? Konting kwento lang po, paano po nagkaroon ng ganung scenario, sir?

BRIG. GEN. PADILLA: Alam niyo po, simula’t sapul, noong May 23, ano bang unang pamamaraan na ginawa ng mga terorista? Sa anong parte ang sinunog nila? Nais ko lang pong tanungin kung naalala ninyo?

Ms. Jose: Sir, eskwelahan?

BRIG. GEN. PADILLA: Sinunog nila ang Dansalan College. Sinunog nila ‘yung presuhan. Sinunog nila ‘yung market place. Mas master nila ‘yung panununog.

Kaya, hanggang sa ngayon, bawat gabi na dumadara— dumadaan, sila ang mga nanununog. Dahil ho sa pinagkakaroon na ng labanan, ‘pag madilim, wala silang makitang pumapasok na kalaban. Kaya, para maibsan ‘yung ganung klaseng kondisyon, ang ginagawa ng kalaban, nanununog. Sinasadya.

So, tanungin po natin sa ating mga kapatid sa evacuation centers. Hindi po sundalo ang nagsasagawa nito. Ang kabilang panig po. At kung may nakakalusot na isa, dalawa, na nakatago sa mga liblib na lugar, maaari silang manunog, kaliwa’t kanan. Posporo lang ho ang kailangan doon.

Ms. Jose: So, sir walang dapat na ipangamba ‘yung mga bakwit sir?

BRIG. GEN. PADILLA: Wala po. Sa panga— mangangamba po na manggagaling po sa ating mga kasundaluhan, kami po ay nariyan upang tulungan kayo at protektahan kayo.

At, bilang pagpapatibay, kami po’y nakipag-isa sa ating mga myembro ng ARRM at ng local government na nandiyan upang dalhin ‘yung mga dapat na tulong na nakakarating sa mga evacuation centers, tulad ng pagkain, damit, gamot.

Ngayong araw po at kahapon, nagkaroon na po tayo ng airlift ng mga gamot at tsaka mga ibang goods na priority items po sa mga pangangailangan ng ating mga kapatid diyan. At gagawin natin ‘yan sa mga patuloy na kinakailangang gawin.

Mr. Tinaza: Hi, General. Good morning. Sir, i-contextualize ko lang na I understand ‘yung why the longer time of the operation. Pero, may — ‘yung element of time kasi, may mga na-interview na parang ‘yung iba, parang natatagalan at gustong gusto nilang makabalik doon sa kanilang lugar. At ang lumalabas ngayon sa mga sentimyento nila, ay para bang ang sinisisi ay ‘yung martial law, ‘yung militar, at hindi ‘yung ISIS or Maute terror group. At how do we address ‘yung parang ganun na nabubuo na parang sentimyento ng mga taga-Marawi na gustong gusto na? Pinoint out (point out) din ni — I think — Congressman sa joint session ng Kongreso ‘yung mga — may mga reklamo daw na gusto nang makabalik at may nangyaring mga looting sa kanilang mga supposedly ay cleared na mga areas na. So, how do we address para maiwasan ‘yung rising sentiment na ganun, sir?

BRIG. GEN. PADILLA: Ah, naintindihan po natin ang sentimyento ng ating mga kababayan. Kasi kung maski kayo man o ako ang naroroon, syempre ang gugustuhin ko, makabalik na doon sa tinitirhan ko, lalo na’t nakikita ko na patuloy na nagkakaroon ng pagsabog, pagbobomba, at ano pang mga — mga pagkakataon.

So, sinisikap natin tapusin itong laban na ‘to. Katulad ng binanggit ko, dalawa’t kalahati o dalawang barangay na lang ito na nasa isang one square kilometer na lugar. At kung kakayanin nating tapusin ito mamaya o bukas, bakit hindi? At ‘yan ang sinisikap natin.

So, ipaka— ipaabot lang natin sa ating mga kababayan sa evacuation centers na itong patuloy na ginagawang operasyon na ‘to, nakatuon talaga ang ating focus na tapusin sa madaling panahon. Pero, alam naman po ng lahat, batid ng lahat, ang kompleksidad ng main battle area.

At bago tayo magbigay ng senyales na maaari na pong pumasok lahat, kinakailangan pa natin diyan linisin nang mabuti kung meron pang mga bomba na hindi pumutok, mga patibong na inilatag ng mga kalaban, tulad ng mga IEDs na pagkarami-rami. May mga hinagis na mga granada ng kalaban na hindi pumutok, mga bagay na iniiwan kung saan-saan, na maaaring makasakit sa mga karamihan.

So, ‘yung mga bagay na ‘yan ang atin pong kinokonsidera dahil naka-survive ka nga ng matagal sa isang evacuation center, pero pagpasok mo naman sa bahay mo, sinalubong ka ng IED, nawakasan ang buhay mo, sayang lang.

So, ‘yun ang dapat pinag-iingatan. At dapat maintindihan po ng ating mga kababayan. Tandaan niyo po, mahigit isandaang sundalo na nagbuwis ng buhay para sa kanila. Ang mga nagpunta dun, iba. Iba ang pakay.

Mr. De Guzman: Sir, one quick question lang, General. You said, nasa one square kilometer, if I’m not mistaken, ‘yung area na lang ng mga ISIS o ng terorista doon sa Marawi.

BRIG. GEN. PADILLA: Yes. Iyon ‘yung pinagkukubkuban ng pinakamalakas na mga pwersa nila at kung saan nangyayari ngayon ang bakbakan. Pero, hindi ko po sinasabi na cleared na ang ibang lugar pa, kasi patuloy ‘yung clearing.

Mr. De Guzman: So, parang kumakalat pa rin sila o nakakaalis pa rin sila doon sa…

BRIG. GEN. PADILLA: There are possibilities. There are ways na nakakaikot-ikot pa rin ang isa, dalawa. Kaya ‘yan ay doon pa rin sa mag mga karatig-barangay.

Mr. De Guzman: Sir, ilan na lang po ba ‘yung estimate niyo na bilang ng mga ISIS fighters and kung nandodoon pa ba itong hinahanap natin, main target natin sa —

BRIG. GEN. PADILLA: Naniniwala kami na ‘yung liderato nila ay nariyan pa. Kaya siguro nila maigting na binabantayan ‘yung ilang lugar. Hindi ko lang po mabanggit ‘yan. At ang bilang po ng mga kinakaharap natin ay pinaniniwalaan namin na nananatili sa mga around 60. Mga ganun pa. More or less, yes.

Mr. De Guzman: Thank you, sir.

BRIG. GEN. PADILLA: May — kung inyong papahintulutan, kahapon po kasi nagkaroon ng isang issue tungkol sa isang komedyante. So, bago niyo po ako tanungin, unahan ko na kayo.

Kasi, may kautusan po ang ating Chief of Staf, si General Año, matapos na kami po’y nag-anunsyo na maglalatag ng isang kaso.

So, subalit kagabi, pinag-utos po ni General Año na masusing pag-aralan itong issue na ‘to. At if you will allow, I will read a statement from the Armed Forces regarding this. So, ito po ‘yung follow-on statement ng Armed Forces, and I would like to read it:

Last night, the Chief of Staff, AFP, General Eduardo Año, ordered a thorough review of the case of Ms. Paner, following information that Ms. Paner did not actually ridicule soldiers but even praised the sacrifices of our men in uniform.

It was also reported that she did this in the interest of the arts, being a recognized comedian. Based on this information and other findings, the AFP will no longer pursue the case but calls upon Ms. Paner and other unauthorized individuals to henceforth desist from the inappropriate use of our uniforms.

She and the others must understand that the particular uniform she wore is the battledress attire of our Armed Forces. It is the same uniform our soldiers wear whenever we go to battle, and the same uniform many of our heroes die wearing in the battlefield, and in the defense of the motherland and our people. This is the very reason we hold this particular uniform very sacred.

It is her desire — if it is her desire to extol the sacrifice, gallantry, and dedication to duty of all our soldiers and help recruit more patriotic Filipinos to the Armed Forces, your Armed Forces is open to have Ms. Paner among the ranks of our patriotic reservist who, without hesitation, continue to be among our most ardent partners for change.

End of statement.

So, ito po ang pinapaabot po ng ating butihing Chief of Staff, si General Año, na posisyon po ng Armed Forces matapos po na sinuri ng mabuti ‘yung mga nangyari pong kaganapan nitong mga nakaraang araw.

At pinapaabot po namin again ang aming taos-pusong imbitasyon kay Ms. Paner na kung nais niyang magpatawa at pasayahin ang ating mga sundalo, pwede po siyang maging kabahagi ng ating mga nagvo-volunteer na mga artista upang ma-entertain ang ating mga kasundaluhan sa ospital, even sa battlefield, at maging myembro ng reservist natin. Para nang sa ganun, authorized na po siyang magsuot ng uniporme anong klase man ito.

Joseph Morong (GMA): Sir, first question. Why the change of heart, sir?

BRIG. GEN. PADILLA: Well, the Armed Forces is a fair organization. We are — we are a thinking organization, and we will not subscribe to anything harsh if, in the interest of the public, we see it as reasonable.

And I think the Chief of Staff, based on what he saw and based on the feedback of other members of the public, they discussed this matter and found out and ordered our lawyers and our people to undertake a study. And this is what came out.

Mr. Morong: And I’m sure you’re aware that she’s not the only one wearing the military uniform ‘no?

BRIG. GEN. PADILLA: That is why there — that is why there was an appeal for those who — others who are unauthorizedly and inappropriately using the uniform to desist from using it.

Now, I’d like to just make a clarification. The case of Ms. Paner is different because hindi naman talaga niya nilait ang sundalo eh. Kesa ‘yung sa iba na nagsusuot upang magpanggap, upang pumasok sa isang establismyento, upang magnakaw o linlangin ‘yung mga pulis sa isang istasyon, tulad ng ginawa ng mga NPA sa Iloilo, ibang kaso po ‘yun. Mas matindi po ang kasalanan nun.

So, ‘yung kay Ms. Paner, may magandang loob naman ho yata na —

Mr. Morong: Sir, ‘yung unauthorized use of a military uniform, that also goes for people in government?

BRIG. GEN. PADILLA: Well, we have reservists in government. And that is what you must understand. We have reservists in the media. And in government, madami tayong reservist. If you are not aware, our ambassadors are automatically invited to become reservists.

Mr. Morong: I’ll take one for the team, sir. Si Mocha ba, authorized to wear the uniform?

BRIG. GEN. PADILLA: We checked on that, and she was not wearing a uniform. She was wearing a — she was wearing a — I think one that can be bought commercially. And for your information, Asec. Mocha is in the process of being a reservist.

Mr. De Guzman: Sir, noong Monday po, sinabi ni Presidente na he will beef up the — beef up the Armed Forces of the Philippines and add 40,000 I think na soldiers to our Army. Saan po pupwedeng lumapit ‘yung mga gusto na magsundalo? Ano po ang proseso na gagawin ng AFP dito at kaya ba na kunin ng AFP ‘yung 40,000 na ‘yun considering na meron pang mga utang doon sa mga nag-retire?

BRIG. GEN. PADILLA: Una — unang una, iba ho ‘yung — sa unang tanong mo ‘no — iba ‘yung issue ng recruitment sa retirement. So, ‘yung mga back pay ng mga ano… Itong administrasyon na ‘to, nagkaroon na ng dalawang pagkakataon na ibinalik ‘yung mga back accounts. Kakaunti na lang ang natitira actually eh.

At tinugunan na ng mahal na Pangulo at ng DBM ‘yung mga back dues na ‘to. So, just to clarify that. So, this administration has — on two occasions — given back many of those. So, there remains only just half of that.

Now, on the recruitment, as we understand, it is not 40,000 that we need to recruit. Twenty-thousand lang po. And we are on the process of filling up that number. The recruitment is the regular recruitment that is ongoing in all areas of the archipelago. And training are be— training for these new recruits are being done in all areas of the archipelago as well.

So, I think we have reached about close to half of the number as new recruits, and those who have had opportunities to clear their cases, who have been declared AWOL before but for some reason were able to clear those cases, they are now being asked to return and reinstated in the service.

This will lessen the cost of the taxpayer because they are already trained and they have come from the service. But we will train certainly all newbies who come to the force. They have also given special quotas for our IDPs. So, we are also recruiting our IPs.

Mr. De Guzman: Sir, meron pong whispered in question lang. Ah…

BRIG. GEN. PADILLA: Paki-whisper na lang [laughter]

Mr. De Guzman: Kasi po ano, nilabas daw po ng listahan ng European Union na kasama ang NPA sa — CPP-NPA-NDF — sa mga terrorist group. So, any comment on this, sir?

BRIG. GEN. PADILLA: Well, if that is the case and it’s really documented, then it’s a welcome announcement.

Mr. De Guzman: Thank you, sir. 

—END—

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