Press Briefing

Mindanao Hour Briefing by Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella with Assistant Secretary Kristoffer James Purisima, Deputy Administrator for Administration of the Office of Civil Defense and Brig. Gen. Restituto Padilla Jr., Armed Forces of the Philippines Spokesperson

Event Mindanao Hour Briefing
Location Kalayaan Hall, Malacañan Palace

OPENING STATEMENTS:

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: Good morning. To give us an update this morning on the Mindanao Hour is Brigadier General Restituto Padilla; and to give us updates on Bangon Marawi is Asec. Toby Purisima, spokesperson for Bangon Marawi and the Deputy Administrator of the Office of Civil Defense.

Before we go into that, I just like to say that today, as of August 7, Day 77 of the rebellion in Marawi, data as of 19:00, 6th of August:

Enemy killed is 528 or plus five.

Civilians killed 45. No change.

Firearms recovered 603 or plus one.

Civilians rescued 1,728. No change.

Buildings cleared 15. Yesterday, five.

Killed in action 122.

Status of cash donations as of August 4, 2017, deposited into the Land Bank account for Marawi casualty. We have P98,570,804.23. No change.

Also, for the Marawi internally displaced people, we have P873,515.21. No change.

I’d like to defer now to General Padilla.

BRIG. GEN. PADILLA: Thank you very much, sir. May I just also add that in relation to the advocacies of the military regarding our archipelago from all threats, we would like to express our appreciation to the civilian government of Central Visayas, particularly Cebu, for their manifestation of support for our troops who were also involved in the fight against terrorists in the area of the Visayas, particularly during the last few months.

We just got word that the city of Cebu, the city government of Cebu, in our fight against terrorists, particularly those that have fallen during the Inabanga encounters, received support from the Cebu government and we would like to express our sincerest appreciation.

Because the fight against terrorists does not cover only the whole of Mindanao, it covers the whole of the archipelago.

And as we have been saying, this fight, once it ends in Marawi, is only an indication that we have to strengthen and increase our security postures for any possible threats that may still emanate in the future, similar to what the President has been saying about terror threats that may be looming in the horizon.

So we continue to push our appeal to everyone, not only in Mindanao, during the period of martial law, but in the entirety of the archipelago that the fight against those who are putting our citizens in danger is a shared responsibility that must be borne by all.

Hence, we continue to encourage everyone to please work closely with our security sector in their respective areas by being vigilant, being alert and being proactive by providing information and any kind of potential assistance that could increase the security posture of your respective communities.

In the current situation in Marawi, we still continue to concentrate on the remaining problematic area, which is less than one square kilometer within the heart of the commercial business district.

Our forces are all in place and are doing their best to fulfill their mandate of liberating Marawi at the soonest time possible.

Joint Task Group Ranao has also been helping many of our residents in the surrounding areas of Lake Marawi for their return to their respective areas because these areas have remained unscathed by the recent fighting in Marawi.

What we do request from the residents of Marawi is just to be patient because as soon as the coast is clear, we shall declare it as safe.

The information that has been coming out lately about areas that have had some series of explosion — these are not series of explosions by the way but isolated cases.

And we’d like to clarify that because of the hundreds of unexploded ordnance in the area, we believe that these could have been among those that have been in the area for quite some time.

And because of the changing weather patterns in the city of Marawi, which has been experiencing a lot of rainfall lately and potential changes of static electricity in the area, it may have triggered some of these unexploded ordnance to explode and may have been the cause of this reported explosion. So this investigation is ongoing but we do believe that it could be part of the unexploded ordnance that were left.

We also call upon our citizenry because there have been… Lately, we notice that from a certain group in Mindanao, they have been commenting that the divisiveness or the partiality of the MILF to the peace process is something that they do not like.

And their partnership with the government is something that they also do not go for. Again, these are peace spoilers who have not contributed anything constructive to the process. And we call upon them to be more responsible in their commentary.

We are, after all, working towards a more permanent peace in Mindanao even at the cost of so many lives on the part of the AFP. And let us not belittle this sacrifice and dishonor our heroes for all these comments.

So as an appeal to these members of — some of whom are working closely with — even the peace panel. Something we don’t understand because they don’t seem to understand the passion for peace that we are doing as an advocacy on the part of government and the AFP.

So huwag po nating paghiwa-hiwalayin ang hanay ng MILF sa mga komentaryo niyo dahil solid po sila sa pagsuporta sa ating adhikain sa pagkakaroon ng isang mapayapang kalagayan sa buong Mindanao.

I was referring to a series of encounters between the BIFF and the MILF last week in the areas of Maguindanao. And lately, there have been even members of the MILF who have died, as they were pursuing these bandits in the area. There were about five of them reported.

So we extend our condolences to the leadership of the MILF and to all the men and women of the MILF who are our partners.

We share your loss and at the same time are all leaning forward to work and make this partnership even better so that we can guarantee the safety of all our communities in the area.

So this is all from my end, if there are any questions I will be… I will answer them gladly after the briefing of Asec. Toby.

ASEC. PURISIMA: Thank you. Good morning everyone.

By virtue of Administrative Order No. 3, a Post-Conflict Needs Assessment is currently being conducted by the OCD — led by OCD.

The PCNA or Post-Conflict Needs Assessment training was conducted on August 3, from August 3 to 6 at Iligan City with around 200 participants composed of employees from national government agencies and Mindanao State University, Philippine Army and affected LGUs.

The huge turnout of participants was a result of the call to involve more sectors and agencies who would best address the specific needs of our IDPs.

[Next slide please]

The PCNA is led by OCD and shall be the basis in the preparation of the Marawi Comprehensive Recovery and Rehabilitation Plan or MRRP.

The PCNA involves concerned national government agencies who are members of NDRRMC, as well as local government units and other organizations vital in the recovery and rehabilitation planning process.

The PCNA is a multi-sectoral and multidisciplinary structured approach for assessing disaster impacts and prioritizing recovery and reconstruction needs.

It is undertaken by government agencies, LGUs, community stakeholders in collaboration with international development partners and the private sector.

Basically, PCNA produces the following four core deliverables:

First is a consolidated assessment report which is based on sectoral reports presenting the overall effect and impact of the disaster, in this case a human-induced disaster on each sector.

The recovery needs for each as well as the explicit impact on cross-cutting themes with the gender perspective, conflict lens, historical, cultural, religious, and environmental considerations, including risk reduction and governance.

Second output is a recovery strategy that defines the vision for national recovery and provides strategy for recovery actions within each sector and affected region.

The third is it becomes the basis for resource mobilization in support of the country’s recovery, including a donor conference when required.

And fourth, it provides an outline for a country-led implementation mechanism for recovery.

The PCNA team shall be composed, as mentioned earlier, of national government representatives, LGUs, partners from the academe, people’s organizations and INGOs.

A national government agency shall lead the assessment of each sector namely infrastructure, the productive sector, social and cross-sectoral sectors.

For the ways forward of the PCNA, a deployment plan is being prepared for the human recovery needs assessment and the deployment shall begin on August 8.

Other fieldwork using various other methodologies as outline in the PCNA process shall follow upon seeking clearance from the AFP.

The next slide shows some of the photos of the initial meetings that were held in Iligan City, in relation to the conduct of the PCNA.

And again, the next slide shows the trainings conducted for the PCNA. As you can see, there are a lot of attendees who are involved in this process.

Lastly, I would just like to emphasize that the TFBM hotline numbers that were announced last Friday are open for those who wish to extend their assistance to the IDPs in Marawi and other affected areas, as stated, we have Globe and Smart hotline numbers.

That’s all I have for updates and I’ll be open for questions. Thank you.

QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS:

Ina Andolong (CNN Philippines): Asec. Toby, sir. When do we expect or how do we soon… How soon do we expect the consolidated assessment report?

ASEC. PURISIMA: It really depends on the situation on the ground. We are beginning with what we can — with what we can assess which is the human side. We’re going into the evacuation centers. We’ll go to areas on the ground that we can go to already.

But it really depends kasi itong PCNA comprehensive ‘to in the sense na pupuntahan lahat ng areas. So it really depends on clearance from our military authorities kung pwede nang pumunta. But we will begin with what we can assess now.

As I’ve been saying, this will assess a lot of the things that our IDPs need, kung… Dito malalaman kung ilan ba talagang shelters ang kakailanganin, ilan ba talaga ang makakabalik, ilan ba ang kailangang itayong permanent shelters at ilan ang kailangang i-accommodate sa transitory shelter sites.

So lahat ng ito pinag-aaralan sa PCNA at magsisimula na ito bukas. Itong PCNA na ‘to, trained na ang ating mga opisyal dito, ang ating mga empleyado ng gobyerno ng NDRRMC member agencies.

Kasi tuwing may typhoon, tuwing may bagyo, natural disaster na tinatawag natin parati tayong may ganito. Ang tawag naman natin doon Post-Disaster Needs Assessment, PDNA. Pero kapag human induced ang tawag natin dito PCNA.

So we’re just tweaking a few of our variables there of the things that we will have to study. But essentially, this is what we do every time there’s a disaster or a calamity.

Ms. Andolong: Sir, na-mention ninyo right now, the assessment is focused on the human side. So wala pa rin po kayong initial assessment on damaged infrastructure or meron na po ba?

ASEC. PURISIMA: Mahirap magsabi ng assessment ngayon sa damaged infrastructure dahil hindi pa natin talaga natin nakikita ‘yung buong area.

Kapag gumagawa kami ng PCNA or PDNA, we would like to give a comprehensive picture. Mahirap maglabas ng piecemeal updates pagdating sa comprehensive rehab and recovery plan dahil ito ay moving target so to say.

Lalo na ngayon na kung tutuusin hindi natin talaga alam kung ano ‘yung mismong target natin dahil hindi pa natin nakikita ‘yung buong picture.

We’re hoping that we could go into the area, ground zero, so to say, sa pinakamadaling panahon.

Ms. Andolong: Last lang, sir, ilan ng tao pong magko-conduct nung assessment and from what agencies will be tapped?

ASEC. PURISIMA: 200 plus from NDRRMC — NDRRMC member agencies, from Mindanao State University, from local government units, from the AFP also

So lahat ng stakeholders ini-involve natin dito para maging inclusive at comprehensive ‘yung ating assessment.

Joseph Morong (GMA): General Padilla, dun po sa BIFF, how serious are they as a threat? Kasi I’m sure ‘pag lumakad na naman ‘yung BBL sa Congress, they might, you know, spoil the peace, so to speak. So… But are they a serious threat?

BRIG. GEN. PADILLA: They pose a threat in the area of where they are right now because they continue to attack police stations, other areas and… But their capacity to do that is not as hea — as potent as previously kasi medyo controlled na sila.

Pero ganon pa man din, in the locality where they are, they are still a threat, but not that much. So we are closely watching them.

And as you’ve seen, even our peace partners from the MILF are also putting their attention in safeguarding their own communities because they don’t want this BIFF to get into their own communities.

And we’re very appreciative of this undertaking on the part — and the initiative on the part of the MILF. That’s why I had to make that announcement in appreciation for their efforts and to pass on our condolences to the families of those who lost loved ones in this fight.

Mr. Morong: Sir, regarding the Marawi crisis. Are we slowing down the operations there or hindi naman?

BRIG. GEN. PADILLA: No. Contrary to that, we are trying to do our best to expedite it.

But, of course, we have other tactical considerations that we have to put in mind. As we have been mentioning all along these last few weeks — the complexities on the ground, the considerations that we have to cons — to put in, like the presence of hostages still in the hands of the enemy and the presence of other civilians who continue to remain in their respective areas for fear that they might get caught in the crossfire.

Mr. Morong: Two barangays pa rin, sir?

BRIG. GEN. PADILLA: Two barangays, less than one square kilometer.

Mr. Morong: Thank you.

Rocky Ignacio (PTV): Okay, questions? Sir, kanina may sinabi ka na ano — ‘yung appeal mo sa public na mag-coordinate sa government, I mean, sa authorities regarding peace and order. May threat ba nakikita na possible na may gagawa ng another Marawi siege?

BRIG. GEN. PADILLA: Wala naman po. Itong mga anunsyo na nakuha natin nitong mga nakaraan ay proactive announcements natin dahil patuloy tayong nagmo-monitor at nagmamasid.

Pero sa kasalukuyan, nakalatag naman po nang maayos ang pwersa natin kasama ang mga pwersa ng kapulisan ganun din ang ibang security partners natin.

At naniniwala kami na angkop ito sa anumang banta na nariyan. Kaya madalas nababalitaan niyo may mga pagkakataon ng mga sagupaan kasi aktibo po ang ating militar at pulis na nagbabantay.

Ang amin pong panawagan ay para ho sa ating lahat ng kababayan sa lahat ng sulok ng ating kapuluan. Dahil tulad nung ating mga inanunsyo noong mga nakaraang buwan, mas mainam nating mababantayan ang bawat sulok ng ating kapuluan kung ang lahat ng Pilipino ay nagtutulungan. Kasi ito po’y base sa prinsipyo po ng pagkakaroon ng mas maraming nagmamatyag.

Kasi ang bilang po ng pulis at sundalo ay napakalimitado. We only have about 125,000-strong Armed Forces, and a 175,000-strong police. So that’s not even 10% of the population… That’s not even 10% of the population. Because the population is at — over a hundred million.

So each… If each and every citizen in every barangay is a partner for increasing our security posture in the concept of shared responsibility and security that we are pushing always, wouldn’t it be a better place for us because we know that there are people who are conscious about what’s happening in their communities? And then reporting if there are other incidents there that need the attention of our security forces.

So the appropriate measures that we need to undertake to prevent any occurrences becomes faster. Mas napapabilis po ang pagtugon ng ating pulis, ng ating military, kung may nakikita po na mga armadong grupo sa iba’t ibang lugar.

At idagdag ko na rin ano. Kamakailan nag-anunsyo kami na nagtalaga po tayo ng tina — ng isang pamamaraan upang maipaabot sa ating security sector ang inyong mga hinanaing o kaya mga issues na gustong iparating lalo na sa AFP.

Kaya para sa Mindanao po, naglagay po kami ng AFP Text Hotline. Ito pong AFP Text Hotline, sa Smart at sa Globe, ay maaari niyong gamitin para makapagpaabot po kayo sa ating Armed Forces na mga maaaring pinangangambahan niyo na nariyan sa lugar niyo. Mga armadong tao, grupo na nais niyong tugunan kaagad. Or kung may nang-aabuso po na sundalo sa inyong barangay na gusto niyong maaksyunan kaagad, pwede niyo rin pong ipadala dito sa text hotline na ito para matugunan natin.

Kasi mariin po nating ipinagbabawal na maging abusado lahat ng sundalo dahil kami po ay inyong tagapagtanggol. Kanya’t kung hindi namin ginagampanan ang aming trabaho, kinakailangan ho nating malaman ‘yan at maireport kaagad ng sa ganon maging accountable itong mga tauhang ito.

So ito po ang AFP Text Hotline para sa Smart. Ang numero pong gagamitin ninyo ay 7444, tatlong 4: 7444-1678. So nakuha niyo na po ito dati. So ulitin ko po. Ang Smart po na numero na gagamitin niyo ay 7444-1678. At ang ite-text niyo po ay capital letters AFP, space, ‘yung location o info na gusto niyong iparating po sa atin, at i-text niyo po sa numero na ‘yun.

Para naman po sa Globe po, i-text niyo po ang bilang na 26563 — 26563. At ilagay niyo po ang lokasyon at impormasyon na nais niyo pong matugunan ng ating Hukbong Sandatahan.

So ito po ‘yung mga numero na kasalukuyang nakatalaga at makukuha po ito direkta ng ating mga operation center hotline sa Mindanao.

Mindanao lang po muna ito kasi meron po tayong ipinatutupad na martial law. At kung anuman po ang ipararating niyo diyan sa mga hotline na ‘yan ay tutugunan po natin sa madaling panahon.  So ‘yun lang po.

Maricel Halili (TV-5): Hi, sir. Good morning. Sir, I understand President Duterte visited Marawi once again last week. So may we have additional details about it? How did it help the soldiers in Marawi?

BRIG. GEN. PADILLA: Well actually, the second visit of the President was something that he promised to our troops.

And again, this visit was very inspiring on the part of our troops. In fact, if I’m not mistaken, you received some pictures that were passed on by Special Assistant to the President Bong Go because he was with the President at that time.

So it was apparent from the pictures that was sent by Secretary Bong Go that the soldiers are very appreciative of the visit of the Commander-in-Chief.

And he not only visited the headquarters, by the way. He had a glimpse of the battle area itself. And one of the key messages that he sent to our troops is that every time he hears about a soldier being wounded or killed, it is something really emotional to the President.

And he really gets affected by that because of the families that they leave behind. And that is why in consonance with that, he gave them the advice of being very careful in their operation so that no numbers may be added anymore to the numbers. But he also knows that there is risk involved on the part of our soldiers in this fight.

And hence, it is not far-fetched that we will have casualties. But he understands that. But he just wanted to tell our soldiers that.

So he is very much appreciated by our soldiers who are there and at the same time, the guarantee of the President that he has been announcing every time that he will set up a fund for the requirements of all the children of our soldiers who will be left behind.

Kaya sabi niya dito ‘yung… Inulit niya uli ‘yung pangako niya na bago siya matapos sa kanyang pagiging Pangulo sa limang taon na nananatili, mag-iiwan siya ng mga 50 billion na trust fund para sa educational requirement ng ating mga anak na maiiwanan ng ating mga bayani.

So ‘yan ay kanyang ipinangako at inulit niya ‘yan nun sa kanyang pagbisita at mariin namang talagang pinagpapasalamat ng ating mga kasundaluhan.

Kaya in this visit, the second visit, our soldiers drew inspiration and renewed determination to finish this fight as soon as possible. So it’s very much appreciated.

Ms. Halili: Sir, ‘yung sinabi mo na he also had a glimpse doon sa battle area, meaning nagpunta talaga?

BRIG. GEN. PADILLA: Yes, he… He went there — there and had a look. So he visited some of our frontline forces. I just cannot name the units.

Ms. Halili: Hindi ba siya binigyan ng advice, sir, not to go there kasi baka may security risk?

BRIG. GEN. PADILLA: Alam niyo po, si Presidente kung gugustuhin niya, gugustuhin niya’t gagawin niya ito.

Kaya’t ginawa natin ang angkop na mga hakbang upang mapangalagaan ‘yung kanyang pagpunta doon.

Pero gusto niyang ipaabot talaga itong kanyang pakikiisa sa ating kasundaluhan.

Ms. Halili: Thank you, sir.

Rosalie Coz (UNTV): Good morning po. Kay Asec. Purisima po. Sir, regarding po sa PCNA, paano po natin gagawin ‘yung inclusive and comprehensive report kung karamihan po ng mga IDPs ay wala sa evacuation centers? How do we gather reports po?

ASEC. PURISIMA: Kasama ‘yung ating mga home-based IDPs sa pupuntahan at titignan ng PCNA team.

As a backgrounder, since the crisis began ‘no, ang ating DSWD ay nagve-verify na ng data ng IDPs. Both based in the 75 evacuation centers and the majority which are home-based.

So ginagawa na ito ng ating DSWD at ng NDRRMC dati pa. So may idea na tayo kung ilan talaga at nasaan itong mga IDPs natin na wala sa evacuation centers at isasama sila sa PCNA ‘no, sa pagbalangkas nitong PCNA na ‘to.

So walang maiiwan dito. Lahat isasama, lahat titignan. Alam naman natin kung nasaan sila at titignan natin ang kanilang mga pangangailangan.

Kasi ang ating DSWD ay gumagawa ng — ‘yung tinatawag nilang Disaster Assistance Family Access Card at kasama dito ay ang pag-verify ng mga identities at ng actual number ng ating IDPs.

So ongoing itong efforts na ‘to kasabay ng PCNA para malaman talaga natin ‘yung totoong figure ng ating IDPs at ‘yung totoong pangangailangan, moving forward, sa reconstruction, rehabilitation and recovery.

Ms. Coz: So, sir, ongoing po ‘yung pagkalap natin ng reports. So far, ‘yung timeline po para po malibot lahat ng mga apektado?

ASEC. PURISIMA: Mahirap magsabi ng actual timeline ngunit gagawin natin ‘yan sa lalong madaling panahon. Ongoing ‘yan simula nung nagsimula ‘yung crisis.

So I would like to believe na patapos na rin ‘yan at nakuha na rin natin ‘yung data na kailangan natin in terms of the numbers ‘no. Pero patuloy pa rin ‘yan. It has to be verified. It has to be verified.

Kailangan… Alam nating kailangang madaliin ‘to ngunit gusto natin itong gawin nang tama, sa tamang pamamaraan. Kaya’t kung may kailangang additional verification ay gagawin natin ‘yun para ‘yun namang gagastusin nating pondo ay tama at mapupunta sa tamang purpose ‘no.

Pia Ranada (Rappler): This is for Brigadier General Padilla. Sir, the President also mentioned in recent speeches that he would need 20,000 more soldiers to fight other security threats in Mindanao. May we just know if this figure came from AFP Chief or maybe the Department of National Defense? Where did he get this figure, sir?

BRIG. GEN. PADILLA: Yes, this has been a — an ongoing request on the part of the Armed Forces, Pia. If you will recall, even a year ago, there was already a request on the part of the Chief of Staff to add about 10,000 initially.

And we were fortunate to have a very good listening ear on the part of the President and he relented and approved it. And he gave initial budget to start the recruitment.

The total number by the way — however, is actually 20,000. ‘Yun ang request natin. To, one, fill up our forces in the areas that we need to put in our presence so that we can safeguard our communities properly and perform our mandate properly.

It is also a number that we gave so that we can fully man all the units that we have set — we have set up — so that they will have a full manning.

The other one is to avoid any vacuum in the security — concerned security areas that we need to put our attention to.

So ang nangyayari kasi nitong mga nakaraang mga taon, ‘pag nagkakaroon po tayo ng security operation, ang regular po na tropa natin ay gumagalaw at lumalakad.

Lumilipat uli sa kabilang mga probinsya para tugunan ‘yung mga security requirements doon.

So ang mangyayari diyan maiiwan lang ay ang kapulisan na talagang nandiyan naman, pero manipis ‘yung hanay nila.

So ang ginagawa natin dun ay ang napag-iiwanang lugar, kung minsan umiikot ‘yung mga kalaban, bumabalik sa iniiwan nating vacuum areas.

So para maiwasan ito, ang gagawin natin ngayon ay magtatalaga tayo ng mga pwersa sa mga probinsiya na mananatili doon on a semi-permanent basis so that we can fully fulfill our mandate to protect our communities and our people.

Ms. Ranada: Sir, the President also mentioned new security threats in Mindanao when he spoke with lawmakers in Malacañang.

BRIG. GEN. PADILLA: Yes.

Ms. Ranada: I’m sure you can’t divulge the specific details because of security concerns. But could you just give us an idea of what groups are involved, how big a threat is this new threat and which areas specifically you’re gonna be targeted?

BRIG. GEN. PADILLA: Actually, we’ve spoken about this already, when we were asked. The security threat that still comes from the remaining members of the Maute group in Marawi.

Nandiyan pa rin kasi ‘yung BIFF, ‘yung ASG. Nandiyan pa rin ang ibang grupo ng mga local terrorist groups. And if you recall, the sizeable force that we faced in Marawi was the combining of forces of these local terrorist groups.

So this is not far-fetched that some of their members who are still remaining in the island of Mindanao will want to join forces again to create trouble in certain areas.

So these are the kinds of threats that we may face because of the remnants. Hindi pa rin kasi natin nakukuha lahat ‘yan eh. May mga naiiwan pa ring iilan.

So ‘yun ‘yung mga ibang pwersa na pwede nating — kailangan nating bantayan.

So in what areas? So it’s still the same areas, Lanao, Maguindanao, Cotobato, areas of Zamboanga del Sur and the Sulu archipelago.

Ms. Andolong: Spokesman Abella, can you confirm, sir, the meeting between the President and the wife of Comelec Chairman Bautista, July 26. And another one, the wife said happened after the SONA. If it’s true, sir, what did they talk about there?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: As far as I can divulge, there was a private meeting with the President but he did not state the exact person… He did not state the person who was meeting with the President but there was a slot for a private meeting.

Ms. Andolong: So you’re not confirming that it was the… Mr. Bautista and his wife?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: At this stage, I cannot say that. I cannot say that with certainty since I don’t have the… I don’t… It was… There was a closed meeting but I cannot affirm.

Ms. Andolong: If sila ‘yun?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: If it was them. Okay.

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: There was a closed meeting. Let me just repeat, okay. There was a close-in meeting but he did not state who the parties were. Okay.

Henry Uri (DZRH): I have other issues but I just wanna add something on Ina’s query. We were interviewed Comelec Chairman Andy Bautista this morning at sabi po niya na nakausap siya mismo ng Presidente with his wife.

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: Nakausap siya?

Mr. Uri: At yeah, pinagka — parang pinarangalan po silang mag-asawa ni Chairman Bautista.

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: Okay. All right. Thank you.

Mr. Uri: At muntik na daw ho siyang napaluha, sabi ni Chairman Bautista sa pangaral ng Pangulo. Anyway, doon lang ho sa pinag-uusapan nating issue ngayon sa Bureau of Customs. Ano ho exactly, what did the President say doon sa — not on Commissioner Faeldon pero doon ho sa shabu na 600 kilograms na nakapasok sa Pilipinas galing sa China? Ano po ‘yung eksaktong sinabi ng Presidente rito?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: I don’t have the exact words regarding that. But I’m sure… But what I can affirm is that he said is that, it will be — the whole matter will be investigated.

Mr. Uri: Thank you, sir.

Philip Tubeza (Philippine Daily Inquirer): Sir, could we just get your reaction or the Palace statement on the corruption allegations against Chairman Bautista?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: My reactions regarding the — ?

Mr. Tubeza: The Palace reaction or statement on the corruption allegations.

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: Well, the whole matter has to be fully investigated. At this stage, that’s all we can say. Thank you.

Mr. Tubeza: The wife, Ms. Patricia Bautista, is saying that the President promised her help or assistance. Would you know what kind of assistance?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: Well, according to media, I think the words were that he would look into it.

Mr. Tubeza: Can I also have one? Chairman Bautista was interviewed this morning and he said that this might be, the allegations, might be politically motivated.

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: I don’t have any statement regarding that matter.

Mr. Tubeza: Last question, sir, on the point. Sorry. If the evidence eventually shows that he has a case to answer. Will the Palace support an impeachment bid against Comelec Chairman?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: Will the Palace support? Well as the President… The President’s stand is pretty clear regarding this matter that he will not tolerate corruption even a whiff of it. Thank you.

Mr. Tubeza: Thank you, sir.

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: Thank you.

Mr. Morong: Follow-up ko lang ‘yung meeting. You said that there’s a slot for a private meeting. When was this? Kasi dalawa ‘yun, sir?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: On those dates. I don’t… On the July 26 date.

Mr. Morong: 26, sir?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: Yes.

Mr. Morong: And then ‘yung sinasabi na ‘yung mag-asawa kinausap din si Presidente?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: That… We can confirm that but I don’t have the exact information regarding that but it’s something that we can affirm — we can confirm.

Mr. Morong: But the 26, sir?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: There was a private slot.

Hannah Sancho (Sonshine Radio): Sir, can I get a statement po doon sa statement po ng private association, a private hospital association na they find it unconstitutional ‘yung Anti-Deposit Law ni Pangulong Duterte. Unconstitutional daw ito at balak po nilang kwestyunin po ‘yung batas na ito sa Korte Suprema?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA:  They can do that but regarding that matter, it will have to be… We can refer that particular question to the right office.

But as of now, we don’t have any statement regarding that. But they can pursue if they want.

Ms. Sancho: Thank you, sir.

Mr. Morong: Sir, I’m sure you’ve read about the statement of the wife ‘no, may mga several bank accounts allegedly si Commissioner — si Chairman Bautista. In the Palace’s assessment, do you think that constitutes an impeachable offense?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: That would be a speculation on my part. Okay.

Ms. Halili: Sir, anong ine-expect po na possible na pag-usapan ni President Duterte and ni US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson? And, of course, sina Julie Bishop?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: Regarding the meet up with Secretary of State Tillerson.

We expect the President to discuss with Secretary Tillerson a wide range of relevant issues, including the security situation in Marawi, the global threat of terrorism, increasing Philippine-US economic and people-to-people engagement, the Balangiga bells, among others.

We also welcome the opportunity to address concerns, such as human rights, if and when raised.

We have always included this issue in our discussion and engagements with foreign governments, particularly Western democracies.

End of statement.

Q: Julie Bishop?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: We don’t have a statement regarding that. But there’s going to be a meet-up.

— END —

Resource