Press Briefing

Mindanao Hour Briefing by Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella with 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. Welcome to Mindanao Hour and also Bangon Marawi.

For today, we’d like to read a statement from… regarding Mara — Task Force Bangon Marawi. Commissioner Toby will not be with us, he is indisposed.

Task Force Bangon Marawi supports the call of the Ulamas and all Local Chief Executives of Lanao del Sur to condemn violent extremism.

This was done in the recent Regional Ulama Conference and signing of fatwa held in Iligan City on the 16th of August 2017.

This supports the declaration of war against the ISIS-inspired Maute terror group of all 41 Mayors in Lanao del Sur through a manifesto signed on the 12 of August 2017.

The 40 towns and one city of the province shall strengthen the civilian security plan of barangays mobilizing religious leaders with the said declaration.

The Task Force Bangon Marawi Operations Center was established at the National Emergency Operations Center with the recent transition from response to early recovery.

The Office of Civil Defense manages the Operations Center manned by ground officers assigned from the nine sub-committees and support groups of the Task Force.

This would ensure direct linkage between relevant agencies and communities in relation to the rehabilitation and recovery efforts of the affected population in Marawi City and other localities.

Consultation with various sectors and communities is ongoing to give utmost consideration with the prevail — of the prevailing conditions, culture, and belief systems of our brothers and sisters.

We assure the affected population and sectors that their needs shall be addressed in keeping with the fundamental principle of Civil Defense and Disaster Management on inclusivity, engaging the whole of Filipino society.

But the operative word here is the “fatwa.”

Also today, the 18th of Aug, Day 88 of the rebellion in Marawi.

As of last night, 7pm:

Enemies killed: 573 or plus 4;

Civilians killed: No change;

Firearms recovered: 635 or plus 5;

Civilians rescued: No change — 1,72

Buildings Cleared as of 17th of August: 32

Yesterday: 12

Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs): 8

Unexploded ordnance recovered: 16

Killed-in-Action: 128

Yesterday, for Marawi casualties, there are now… P10,671,703.23

Disbursements: P68,000,000.00 for Philippine Army Killed-in-Action

Beneficiaries and P22,000,000.00 for PN/PMC KIA Beneficiaries

For Marawi IDPs, there’s P938,695.21

We now defer to General Padilla.

BRIG. GEN. PADILLA: Thank you very much, sir. May I discuss three items with you this morning? And these are all very good news. But a little bit on the sad side later on.

And I will be concentrating on three roads that we are working on: this is the road to normalcy, the road to peace, and the road to victory and liberation of the city.

On the first aspect, the positive developments on the road to normalcy: One was already mentioned by Secretary Abella a while ago, which is about the support of our LGUs, which I’ll just discuss later on just the same. But the first one is the initial news about the 22nd of August 2017 opening of MSU.

Jointly working with the LGU and the MSU community, the AFP and the Philippine National Police are now busy helping prepare the whole campus and its environs as well as residents around the area for the return back to normal of MSU and we will be facilitating and providing transportation for 800 balik-eskwela students of MSU from the current areas they are now in in Iligan and vicinity back to MSU itself.

Also, among the most significant landmarks in Marawi, the Amai Pakpak Hospital, built in the early century, continues to operate normally, serving all its constituents and some of our soldiers even at the heat of the battle. And we will continue to assist Amai Pakpak and the DOH for whatever requirements they still have.

We would like to hail the heroes of Amai Pakpak Hospital for the sacrifices that they are also doing on behalf of all the residents of Marawi and our soldiers to also come to their hospital for treatment.

May we also pass on our acknowledgment and gratitude to Secretary Ubial and the DOH team of the province and the national level for the provision and facilitation of more than 17,000 vaccines for flu and pneumonia that were provided for our soldiers who are engaged in the main battle area and those supporting them.

The amount is worth more than 100 million, we were informed. And we are very grateful because it has increased the resiliency and ability to fight infection of our soldiers who are in the battlefield.

May I also happily convey that areas around Lanao Lake and other nearby municipalities that are far from the main battle area are slowly getting back to normal.

Together with the LGU, the AFP, and the Philippine National Police are hand-in-hand in working to expedite this, and working to provide additional assistance for the returning residence in all these areas.

On the second aspect of our positive steps on the road to peace, as was discussed earlier.

There were 41 mayors who, from various LGUs, who have signed the manifesto declaring war against the local terrorists and condemning the Daesh-inspired rebel Maute group for their violent extremist activities.

The declaration of support by all the religious leaders of Marawi and Lanao province for the two fatwas that were issued is also most welcome because these two fatwas from the MILF and the ARMM Grand Mufti and the Darul Ifta are very critical ingredients in our program to fight and prevent the spread of violent extremism and radicalism.

There is also a call-out from the Western Mindanao Command under Lieutenant General Charlie Galvez in tandem with all the Ulamas and other religious leaders for the convening of the National Ulama Council to address the recruitment of the vulnerable sectors, especially the youth and the orphans, by these rebel groups.

The Ulamas are also volunteering to take an active participation in the social healing and rehabilitation of Marawi.

The Commander of Western Mindanao Command, General Galvez, is also regularly meeting with all LGUs and other local executives, as well as the leadership of the sultanate of Marawi to draw up plans for the security of the city and the province against radicalism and violent extremism to facilitate its immediate return to normalcy.

These are also programs and efforts that we are doing along with all these sectors to inoculate our communities against the spread of radicalism and violent extremism.

On the third aspect, our current updates on the military operations, our road to victory and the liberation of the city: I am happy to inform you that military operations in the area is progressing very well.

The area of the main — the main battle area has been reduced to just over half a kilometer grid square.

Previously, we have been talking about slightly over a kilometer grid square, and then a kilometer grid square. Now, it’s slightly over half a kilometer grid square. So the world of the enemy is getting smaller.

The recent validation by our ground commanders also disclosed that we still face about armed fighters contrary to previous announcements and assessments that we said they were less than this.

But in the recent assessment by Western Mindanao Command, Lieutenant General Galvez has informed us that their best estimate is that the enemy remains at about 50 to 60. And hostages are believed to be still at 30-plus.

The main battle area remains complex with the continued discovery of many IEDs and unexploded ordnance. And this is a part of the continuing challenges that we are facing and continuing to address.

But operations, as I have mentioned, are progressing very well, and noting that we have had no one killed in action for the last eight days.

Unfortunately, wounded are still suffered and we just had two soldiers who lost their legs because of tripping into IEDs that were left in a building that they were clearing. That is the sad note of what I have for you this morning.

On a final note, we’d like to pass on our acknowledgments and thanks to the local government: from the governor, Governor Adiong and his vice governor, Vice Governor Bombit Adiong; to the city executives, led by City Mayor Majul Usman Gandamra and the Local Crisis Committee led by Zia Alonto Adiong for their ardent support and cooperation to our military authorities in the area and our common aspiration of bringing Marawi back to normal in the soonest possible time.

And that is all from my end, and thank you.

QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS:

Joseph Morong (GMA): Sir, good morning po. Sir, would you have a copy of the fatwa?

BRIG. GEN. PADILLA: Right now, I don’t have it. There are two fatwas that have already been issued. One was from the MILF, and one that I mentioned is from the ARMM Grand Mufti and Darul Ifta.

So these are significant developments, and hopefully, these will snowball once the National Ulama Council is convened into… it’s still a call-out. So hindi pa namin alam kung magco-convene, but we are really encouraging the convening based on the recommendations of the Commander of Western Mindanao Command, General Galvez, and the Ulamas in the area.

Mr. Morong: What will it bring, sir? And to… maybe in a long-term way, ‘no. I mean, in terms of…

BRIG. GEN. PADILLA: From our end, itong role ng ating mga religious leaders at ‘yung pag-convene ng mga grupo ng mga Ulama ay napakahalaga upang mailagay sa tamang konteksto ang ginagawa nitong mga rebelde na nasa loob ng Marawi.

Dahil ang kanila pong ginagawa ay iniiba po nila ang salaysay at ang ibig sabihin at kahulugan ng pagiging isang Muslim na hindi tama.

Dahil ang tunay na diwa ng pagiging Muslim at ng Islam ay kapayapaan. At hindi ‘yun po ang kanilang binibigay na… na salaysay.

At ang ating mga Ulama, dahil nauunawaan po ito, ang pagsasagawa po nila ng fatwa ay isang mahalagang hakbang sa pagpapaliwanag at pagtatama ng mga kasinungalingang nanggagaling po sa mga rebelde.

Mr. Morong: Thank you, sir.

Hannah Sancho (SMNI): Hi, sir. Good morning. Sir panawagan po ng mga Muslim scholars na itigil po ‘yung airstrikes sa Marawi City? Dahil nasisira pa po ‘yung — damage to properties and lives po ‘yung sinasabi nilang dahilan. At since sinabi niyo na maliit na po ‘yung mundo ng mga militante, is there a need pa po na mag… ipagpatuloy po ‘yung airstrike?

BRIG. GEN. PADILLA: Kami po ay patuloy na humihingi ng kanilang unawa sa ating ginagawang operasyon. Lahat po tayo, nais nating matapos ito.

Pero ang pagsasagawa po ng pagbobomba o ng airstrike sa ilang mga lugar diyan ay kinakailangan pa po, tulad nga ng aking nabanggit, nariyan pa po ang 50 hanggang 60 na mga kalaban na patuloy na nagiging balakid sa pagbabalik sa normal ng Marawi City.

Kinakailangan po naming gawin ito upang maiwasan po ang pagbubuwis ng buhay ng hindi lang po ng sundalo, kung hindi ng sino man po na maaaring naiiwan pa sa loob.

Dahil ang atin pong hangarin ay ma-rescue pa rin ang mga patuloy nilang hinahawakang bihag.

At nais naman po naming ibigay ang aming assurance sa lahat ng ating mga residente sa Marawi na hindi po natin iiwanan kayo dahil tutulungan pa rin namin kayo sa pagbabalik sa normal at sa pagsasagawa po ng rehabilitasyon, ng rebuilding, at saka ng reconstruction ng buong Marawi.

And this is a promise that we support the promise of the President to make Marawi better.

Ms. Sancho: Sir, may isa pang hiling ‘yung — Secretary — Usec. Abella, para po sa inyo. May isa pa pong hiling ‘yung mga Ulama. Sinasabi po nila, ‘yung appeal nila kay Pangulong Duterte na mag-appoint po ng Muslim Justice sa Supreme Court po?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: If you were asking whether may response na ba —

Ms. Sancho: Yes, sir.

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: — as of this moment, wala pa. We don’t have an —

Ms. Sancho: Is the President open po kaya na mag-appoint po ng Muslim Justice sa Supreme Court?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: If the right person is available, yes.

Ms. Sancho: Thank you, sir.

Reymund Tinaza (Bombo Radyo): Hi, good morning, gentlemen. To General Padilla, sir.

BRIG. GEN. PADILLA: Yes?

Mr. Tinaza: Sir, just to confirm, ‘yung remaining battle ground, nandoon kasama ‘yung malaking mosque sa Marawi?

BRIG. GEN. PADILLA: Hindi ko po batid kung ‘yung isang mosque, naroroon pa. Pero noong mga nakaraang araw, yes. Ginagamit po nila ang mosque na safe haven.

Mr. Tinaza: So it could be considered na this would be the last stronghold na ginagamit ng Maute, considering the, well, sensitivities of the mosque?

BRIG. GEN. PADILLA: Maaari po. Pero may iba tayong pamamaraan para ho ma-flush out sila sa mga lugar na ‘yan na hindi po sisirain ‘yung lugar.

Mr. Tinaza: Sir, during the last meeting of the President with the concerned agencies sa Bangon Marawi, sinabi ng NHA na they will start putting up temporary shelters already by September. So, could it be safe to assume na by September, clear na ‘yung Marawi?

BRIG. GEN. PADILLA: In fact, ‘yung temporary shelters po ay nagsisimula nang gawin. Inaantay lang ‘yung approval ng NHA at maaari, as we speak, the approval may have been there. But we have started working with DPWH to prepare the grounds of the relocation area.

Kaya nga, noong mga nakaraang linggo, ang naging buod po ng report ng ating Task Force Bangon Marawi ay ‘yung early recovery phase, which is — and that part of that is the preparation, the ground preparation of the relocation area.

So, once NHA has given its approval for the type of temporary shelter, ‘yun po ang gagawin sa mga lugar na ‘yun.

Mr. Tinaza: Thank you, sir.

JP Bencito (Manila Standard): Hi, General Padilla, good morning.

BRIG. GEN. PADILLA: Yes, JP.

Mr. Bencito: Sir, may we confirm, nakatanggap na po ba tayo ng reports na ‘yung mga Ulamas that signed the fatwa, they were being threatened, harassed by the Maute group? May ganitong report na ba tayong natanggap?

BRIG. GEN. PADILLA: Wala naman. But we heard this is expected because the rebels are of course going to work their way to getting the support of — of others. And, you know their style. Kung hindi nila makuha sa maayos na pakiusapan, dadaanin nila sa padaos-daos na ano’t mga bayolenteng pamamaraan.

Mr. Bencito: Sir, may report po ‘yung kasama natin sa Marawi, si Kuya Benjie ng DZBB. Sabi, may letter daw po ‘yung mga terorista, “If you signed the manifesto, you will be considered a munafiq or hypocrite.” Sir, anong gagawin nating intervention?

BRIG. GEN. PADILLA: It should — it is not for the Maute rebels to decide because they’re not religious leaders. The religious leaders are the last voice when it is a matter about their religion, about Islam.

Kaya po, ang mga Ulama ang mayroong otoridad upang sagutin ‘yan, at hindi ‘yung mga rebelde na nasa loob. Dahil wala silang karapatan dahil hindi po sila religious leaders. Kaya hindi po dapat paniwalaan ‘yan.

Mr. Bencito: Pero, sir, anong ginagawa ng militar para protektahan ‘tong mga nakatanggap ng threats?

BRIG. GEN. PADILLA: Kaya nga po kami ay mariing nakikipag-ugnayan sa local government at naghahanda para sa pagsasagawa ng security measures sa buong Marawi at buong Lanao province.

And that was part of my report on the aspect of our road to peace and security.

Pia Gutierrez (ABS-CBN): Good morning, sir. Confirm ko lang po. MSU will open on August 22?

BRIG. GEN. PADILLA: Yes, the opening will be on the 22nd of August. And once the 800 balik-eskwela students are ready, we will help facilitate by providing transportation to bring them to the campus.

Ms. Gutierrez: So, kailan po kaya magre-resume ‘yung classes, sir, following the opening of MSU?

BRIG. GEN. PADILLA: Siguro, soon after their arrival there. Because, even prior to this or right now, habang naglilinis doon at nagsasagawa ng mga pag-aayos, ‘yung mga myembro po ng administration ng MSU community ay naghahanda na rin.

Ms. Gutierrez: I’m just curious, sir, how far is MSU from the main battle area and how can we ensure the safety of the students ngayon pong sinabi niyo na airstrikes are still necessary in Marawi City, sir?

BRIG. GEN. PADILLA: Yes. The MSU compound per se is a number of kilometers away from the main battle area, kaya relatively safe. The threats to the MSU area before were coming from stray bullets dahil malapitan pa ‘yung labanan.

So ngayon, nakaka-sigurado tayo na wala nang maaaring mangyaring ganon kaya tayo nagbigay-daan sa pagbabalik ng mga estudyante.

Pero nariyan pa rin po ‘yung mga tropa natin. Hindi po sila aalis. We will provide securi — continuing security coverage until such time that we can assure that the main battle area is free of any rebel forces.

Ms. Gutierrez: Sir, last na lang po. Now that the AFP and the LGU are allowing the students to go back to MSU, is it safe to assume that civilians also can go back to their homes?

BRIG. GEN. PADILLA: Hindi po. Ginagawa po natin is phased approach ‘no? ‘Yung MSU community kasi ay medyo malayo sa bakbakan. At maaari na nating i-guarantee ‘yung safety nila dahil may mga pwersa rin tayong nakatalaga diyan.

So, for other areas that I have mentioned a while ago, ‘yung mga munisipyo sa paligid ng lake, about three kilometers out of the city, karamihan po diyan ay nagsisibalik na sa normal.

At ang ibang lugar na malalayo rin sa main battle area, ganon din po ang nangyayari.

So, we’re slowly opening the road to normalcy for many of the communities that are far from the main battle area as we work to really solve the presence of the armed elements — the remnants of the Maute group inside.

Ms. Gutierrez: So, sir, for civilians who live far from the battle area, pwede ba silang makabalik na sa kanilang tahanan?

BRIG. GEN. PADILLA: Pwede na po. Pwede na po. They can already go back. And we have encouraged those who have their residences still in affected or conflict areas na pwede namang makitira doon sa mga kamag-anak nila sa mga lugar na ito, kung ayaw na nila sa mga evacuation centers.

Ms. Gutierrez: Last na. Sir, for clarity, sir. How do we define ‘yung areas kung saan pwede nang bumalik ‘yung mga civilians?

BRIG. GEN. PADILLA: We have provided the local government a list of the municipalities that were cleared for return. ‘Yung listahan na ‘yan, alam po ng karamihan sa Lanao at tsaka sa Marawi. So, pati pa ‘yung mga local government executives na pinuno ng mga lugar na ‘yan, na-meet na rin po ng ating Joint Task Force Marawi at tsaka nila General — General Galvez.

Kaya, bago pa inanunsyo ‘yung announcement na ito, handa na po ‘yung local governments. Kasi nagkaroon sila ng preparation muna. So, para pagbabalik ng kanilang constituents, handa na sila.

Ms. Gutierrez: Kailan po sir nabigay ‘yung clearance?

BRIG. GEN. PADILLA: Naku, several weeks ago pa ‘yan eh. About three weeks ago pa. So Joint Task Group Ranao, under General Rey, was the one who was constantly in touch with the local executives and who discussed this with them and paved the way for the return.

Tuesday Niu (DZBB): Sir, follow up lang. May figures po ba kayo kung ilan na po ‘yung mga residente na nakabalik doon sa kani-kanilang bahay doon sa paligid —

BRIG. GEN. PADILLA: Paligid ng lawa?

Ms. Niu: Opo, opo.

BRIG. GEN. PADILLA: Unfortunately, Tuesday, wala. Wala pa akong figures niyan. And the Joint Task Force Marawi is going to have a press briefing this afternoon. If you have reporters in the area — I think you have Benjie there — paki-follow up sa kanila because the data will be coming from them.

Ms. Niu: Another one, sir. Paano po ‘yung magiging sistema on transport ng mga estudyante from Iligan to MSU? Everyday po ba ihahatid sila? Ibabalik sila?

BRIG. GEN. PADILLA: Hindi. Doon sila nakatira sa MSU.

Ms. Niu: Ah, okay.

BRIG. GEN. PADILLA: They are — they are part of the MSU community.

Ms. Niu: Parang dorm, dorm.

BRIG. GEN. PADILLA: Dorms. So they are in a safe zone. That is open for them to come back. They will get their community back again.

Ms. Niu: Okay. Thank you, sir.

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: Right. From the OPS.

On the Barcelona attack:

Our hearts and prayers go to the families and loved ones of the innocent victims who perished and those who got injured in Barcelona.

We are one with the peace-loving people of the international community in condemning this latest attack in Spain on Thursday that left at least 13 people dead and injured more than 100 others.

The DFA, through our Philippine Embassy in Madrid and Honorary Consulate in Barcelona, is closely monitoring the situation and has been in touch with the authorities and leaders of the Filipino community.

It has expressed the condolences of the Spanish Gov — to the Spanish Government following the incident that left four Irish Fili — citizens of Filipino descent injured.

Also, on the 29th Southeast Asian Games in Malaysia:

Today, August 18, marks the formal opening of the 29th Southeast Asian Games to be held in Malaysia.

We wish our athletes good luck. Incidentally, they have begun bringing honor to the country with three medals as of yesterday: a silver and two bronze medals.

We congratulate the Philippine team for Sepak Takraw for winning the first silver medal from this season’s Southeast Asian Games. We also extend our congratulations to our archers for the two bronze medals.

On the Philippines hosting of the 30th Southeast Asian Games:

We are pleased to announce that the Philippines will be hosting the 30th Southeast Asian Games in 2019.

We ask all concerned agencies to give their full support and cooperation in preparing the country’s hosting of the biennial event.

Together, let us show to the world our Filipino bayanihan spirit.

Some — some media were asking regarding PRRD’s meeting with the RAM:

President Rodrigo Roa Duterte met with the members of the Reform of the Armed Forces Movement (RAM) last Wednesday, August 16, where they expressed support and offered help to the President.

They likewise asked the President for amnesty so that they could receive their back pay and livelihood opportunities for the members of the RAM.

Also, regarding Secretary Judy Taguiwalo:

The President has repeatedly given full trust and support for Secretary Taguiwalo even when she sided with leftist groups opposing the President’s positions.

In the end, however, the law requires that we abide by decisions of the Commission on Appointments on Presidential nominations.

We wish Secretary Taguiwalo all the best in her future endeavors. She knows she will always have the President’s gratitude and friendship for the time, albeit brief, that they spent together in the service of our people.

We are open to a few questions.

Ms. Niu: Secretary, good morning po. Sir, ano ang pagtulak sa ating gobyerno na magbago ang isip doon sa hosting natin ng SEA games on the 2019?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: Ano po, ‘yung, kung babaguhin ba…

Ms. Niu: ‘Yung SEA Games, sir. Opo. Anong — ba’t — ‘yung change of heart. Kasi, in-announce na po na hindi na tayo magho-host. Ngayon po ay magho-host.

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: Opo. ‘Yung regarding the ano — regarding the factors that determined the shift, we don’t have the details regarding that. However, let us celebrate the fact that we are going to be hosting it.

Maricel Halili (TV 5): Hi, sir. Good morning.

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: Yes, ma’am?

Ms. Halili: Sir, meron na po bang napipisil si Presidente kung sinong pwede pumalit kay Secretary Taguiwalo?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: As of now po, wala pa. Wala po kaming — walang dumarating sa akin na pangalan at hindi po natin alam.

Ms. Halili: How about OIC, sir?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: We can confirm that later.

Ms. Halili: Okay. Sir, is there a chance na ma-reappoint si Secretary Taguiwalo sa ibang government agency after her rejection?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: I don’t know if that’s possible. I don’t know if that’s — it’s a precedent for that. But, I wouldn’t be sup — I mean, I don’t think it’s entirely — entirely unthinkable.

Ms. Halili: And, sir, may sinasabi si Secretary Taguiwalo na there’s a rampant corruption in government agencies. And I believe she already brought this up to the President. Ano na po ‘yung actions na ginagawa ng Malacañang tungkol po dito?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: Ma’am, regarding corruption, that is part of the President’s all-government approach, you know. And that is part of his campaign promise to truly address crime, corruption, and illegal drugs. Kasama po ‘yan.

Ms. Halili: Sir, panghuli na lang po. How about the President’s meeting with Nikki Prieto. Ano po ‘yung napag-usapan nila?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: I think there was a turnover on — donation. [How much was that? Magkano?] Well, we don’t know the update, okay. But, there — it has been a turnover of the donation.

Ms. Halili: Donation for?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: For Marawi.

BRIG. GEN. PADILLA: For Marawi affected children, advocacy niya tsaka residents.

Ms. Halili: Alright. Ano sir ‘yung dinonate (donate)? May we have details?

BRIG. GEN. PADILLA: It’s a cash amount. It’s —

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: Cash donation.

Ms. Halili: So this is different from the donation given naman by Robin Padilla?

BRIG. GEN. PADILLA: Iba ‘yun.

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: Iba ‘yun.

Ms. Halili: Thank you sir.

Tina Mendez (Philippine Star): Sir, in relation to the replacement of Secretary Taguiwalo. Si Asec. Mocha Uson conducted [her] poll survey —

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: Yes.

Ms. Mendez: — which turned out that VP Leni Robredo getting 80 percent, para bang votes. Then second si Usec. Lorraine Badoy, followed by Prieto-Teodoro, si Mrs. Nikki Teodoro. How will the Palace consider the poll survey of Asec. Mocha?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: I’m sure the President has other ways of measuring a candidate’s capability aside from surveys. Thank you.

Ms. Mendez: Does it mean it is not recognizing the polls?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: It means that the President has a different set of categories.

Ms. Mendez: Would the President — Do you think, would the President look into VP Leni as a possible candidate for DSWD?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: Perhaps, there might be conditionalities that may not be too favorable regarding that. I don’t know. It all depends on the President.

Ms. Mendez: Thank you sir.

Mr. Morong: Sir, I’d like to pick up on your point. You said that as far as VP Robredo is concerned, there may be conditionalities not too favorable for her to be appointed—?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: For the plain and simple reason that for example, she has already resigned from the — You know, she’s — That particular job is a Cabinet level job.

Q: [off mic]

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: It’s a different post. I agree with that. But I think the main reason was there were other matters that — That’s all. There were other matters—

Mr. Morong: So no for Leni ‘no?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: Come again?

Mr. Morong: No for Leni?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: No, no. Don’t quote me on that. I mean, I’m not saying no for Leni. I’m just saying that it seems to be a difficult choice.

Mr. Morong: Sir, do you think that Secretary — It may not be the pork issue that may be detrimental to her confirmation by the CA but the fact that she may be left-leaning? Meaning because the government is kind of shifting the strategy as far as the NDF-CPP-NPA is concerned, it may be best to keep her out of the Cabinet than maybe retain her?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: We cannot speculate regarding that matter. But certainly one reason why… one reason why the Cabinet is a rainbow-colored Cabinet, including left-leaning secretaries, was precisely because of the agreement that we could be more cooperative, the left would be more cooperative regarding that matter.

But that’s one reason why they’re part of this. But we cannot speculate on the reason why she was not finally appointed.

Mr. Morong: Sir, this is probably the third ‘no, tama ba? Si Yasay and then — And of course, you would agree that Congress — that the President has some sway over Congress.

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: But the President has said again and again that he will not interfere with the process.

Mr. Morong: But this is not a repudiation of his prerogative to appoint whoever he thinks is qualified for the position?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: Well, he also respects the boundaries between the three branches of government. Yes?

Henry Uri (DZRH): Good morning, sir. Other issues. Sabi ni VP Leni Robredo, ‘yung nangyari hong sunod-sunod na pagpatay sa mga drug suspects sa Bulacan at tsaka sa Manila, ang sabi ho niya, “‘Yung culture of impunity matagal na nating isinikwal.” And sabi niya, “Ito ay isang bagay na kailangan mag-express tayo ng outrage, hindi naman tayo ganyan eh, hindi tayo ito.” Ano po ang reaksyon dito ng Palasyo ng Malacañang?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: Unang-una po, we understand — The perspective of the President has been very clear from the very beginning. This is not a reckless exercise of blood letting. Meron pong — There’s a rhyme and a reason in the police operations.

You know, number one, it’s a lumang tugtugin but let me repeat.

The second leg of his three-leg campaign was really law and order, anti-crime, anti-corruption and then anti-illegal drugs.

Now, you’ve heard again and again, we have heard again and again that the President is very concerned in destroying actually the drug apparatus.

And the objective in going even after street-level drug pushers is to degrade the community-based retail distribution network that will always fuel the drug trade, whoever is on top.

In other words, it’s a question of addressing the demand and supply.

That objective has never changed and we reiterate that the President’s warning to syndicates and their cohorts in government is give up and shape up before it’s too late.

In other words, what the President’s concern is basically — You know, this is a very focused effort. These are very, very focused. This is not too — This is not to exonerate everything that happens. But you know, to put the context in what the government is doing.

Ina-address po talaga niya ‘yung nangyayari sa — on the ground mismo para mahinto po ‘yung isang bagay na talagang nakakasira ng bayan.

And I think we should learn… we should appreciate that, we should — And I believe that the masa in general, the common people in general, the average Filipino.

When I mean “average,” I mean ‘yung whether ano man ‘yung political color niya, eh naintindihan nila kung anong dapat mangyari sa bayan.

And again and again, we hear people say, it’s safer, they feel more comfortable. And in fact, they appreciate the fact that the Philippines is being made safe again.

Mr. Uri: Do you think it is still appropriate for a Vice President to have that kind of statement?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: Well, she is of course entitled to her own opinion and she may voice out. But, on the—

And I think that’s precisely the reason why. Maybe in the next round of ano, of political systems, we should have teams, you know, where people understand.

We should have teams, the president and the vice-president should have the same perspective.

Mr. Uri: So you’re not considering, now that — She’s not a teammate of the President?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: No, I’m not— I’m just simply saying that perhaps in the next round.

In other words, dapat magkaintindihan para hindi naman lumalabas na nagkakaroon tayo ng conflict.

Wala naman — Ang akin lang, ang sinasabi ko po rito, sana magkaisa tayo ng pananaw na ginagawa ng Presidente is ipasantabi itong mga bagay na nakakasama sa bayan. ‘Yun po ang perspective ng Presidente.

Mr. Uri: All right. Thank you sir.

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: Salamat po.

Leila Salaverria (Philippine Daily Inquirer): Good morning, sir. Sir, the massive anti-drug operations in Bulacan were followed by similar operations in Manila and the CAMANAVA area. Sir, do you these two operations in Metro Manila as a result of the President’s endorsement of the Bulacan operation?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: I believe — I don’t think they are simply acting based on the President’s endorsements.

They really are taking — it just so happens that they’re taking active steps in addressing the drug situation in the Philippines.

So nagkakaroon — Well, first and foremost, you need to understand that police authorities follow protocols during the conduct of operations.

Meron po silang sinusundan. And should there be any breach of protocol, they shall be addressed and the right — the appropriate charges will be made and those who are responsible will be made answerable to the law.

So ang ano po rito is, I don’t think — Balikan po natin. Hindi po ito —kasi nadidinig lang, nag-e-endorse, no. Ano po talaga, talagang kampanya ‘to ng PNP dahil alam nila ‘yung dapat na ma-address sa bayan.

Ms. Salaverria: Sir, the massive operations came one after the other. Is this going to be the norm now? Can we expect this?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: The norm is to address criminality. And this is simply a method, a particular way of doing things. But that’s not the endgame.

The endgame is to make sure that corruption is addressed, criminality goes down, and that the demand for drugs is also reduced if not completely eradicated.

Ms. Salaverria: But sir, last na. Do you see nothing questionable or alarming that these operations have led to numerous deaths?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA:  I think it’s also quite alarming the fact that what is also equally alarming is that when we did not face these things, that there was… there was violence all over the land. I mean, old women being raped, babies being raped.

I mean, it’s just about time that those who are in government and those who are in a position to do something about it should be able to address these matters and end these matters forcefully.

Mr. Tinaza: Sir, but Bulacan, 32; Manila, 25; then last night, 16 sa Metro Manila. Were you surprise or not at all?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: Hindi ko sasabihin — I don’t think that the question is whether I’m surprised or not. We’re simply saying that we understand that — And of course, this should be addressed by the PNP themselves ‘no.

But from our perspective, we are — the police are taking their own steps in addressing that issue of making sure that the demand for illegal drugs be reduced.

Ms. Tinaza: Sir, last point. Was the President serious when he mentioned that the drug list, the updated one, will become their certificates soon?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: I think this President really speaks rather forcefully and but his seriousness — Definitely, what is… what we can be assured of is his intention to make sure that the nation is safe.

Mr. Tinaza: Thank you, sir.

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: Salamat po.

Rosalie Coz (UNTV): Hi, sir. Reaction lang po ng Malacañang sa mga nagsasabi na ‘yung massive drug operations kung saan napakarami po ang napapaslang, diversionary tactic para po mailihis ang usapin sa kontrobersya po na kinakaharap ngayon ng BOC doon po sa 6.4 billion na shipment ng shabu?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: I think that’s being very cynical, you know. Magkaiba pong mga issue ‘yun, magkaibang mga issue ‘yun.

There are two separate issues and I believe that’s such a cynical way of looking at things.

Ms. Coz: Opo, sir. Pero kahapon sinabi ng Pangulo na ang BOC is corrupt to the core and three times po nag-submit ng parang resignation letter si BOC Commissioner Faeldon. Pero ano ang concrete action? Umpisa pa lang ng panunungkulan ni Faeldon, eh hindi na niya talaga po naharap. Inamin niya na hindi niya kaya solusyunan ‘yung mga katiwalian, ‘yung pagpapalusot ng droga ng BOC. So ano po ang concrete action ng pamahalaan regarding po dito, lalo na po — Sige po.

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: Well, so far, as we can see, he has retained Faeldon. So I suppose that’s part of his concrete action.

I think we need to understand that the President operates from his main perspective, his integrity, you know. Integrity, skill, and other abilities.

And while you can get people who are skilled, but if lacking integrity, then that will be dangerous.

What — You know, skill can always be learned. The ability to know how to do it. And I believe that’s where the President is coming from.

While Mr. Faeldon has been concerned, naturally, that he does not embarrass the President, the President is also quite aware, based on his words, based on his words that the man can be trusted. And for the President, that is paramount.

Mr. Morong: Sir, just staying on the drug operations topic. I’m sure you guys are aware of the 17-year-old that was supposedly killed by the police?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: Yes.

Mr. Morong: What do you think? What does the Palace, what does the President think first of that incident?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: I cannot assume on what the Palace… what the President thinks. But what we can say with sure — with confidence is that those who are guilty of breaking the law, misuse or abuse will have to answer for that.

Mr. Morong: So are we instructing the PNP to—

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: No, they don’t need to be instructed. They have internal mechanisms, the IAS.

Mr. Morong: But definitely, PNP should look into this?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: They automatically do that, they automatically do that.

Mr. Morong: Sir, ‘yung statement na the streets are safe. Given what had happened —

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: Safer.

Mr. Morong: Safer. Well, given what had happened to this 17-year-old student, minor, who has been killed allegedly ‘no by police operatives. Do you think that statement that our streets are safer still hold true?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: First and foremost, that statement was not manufactured by me. It is feedback of people who — is the general feedback of people. And that incident, [haply?] I think is isolated.

Mr. Morong: Isolated.

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: Yes.

Trisha Macas (GMA News Online): Sir, just a follow up.

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: Yes, ma’am?

Ms. Macas: Aside from the sev — evidence, witnesses, and CCTV footage said na parang… showed that hindi nanlaban ang 17 years old. But the spot police report said na nanlaban siya. How do we… Kasi sir, sabi ni President, na he will defend the police. Whatever they say, he will believe them. How do we reconcile that, sir, when —

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: He will defend the police in their carrying out of duties. However, he will also not tolerate any abuse and any breaches of the law. I think that’s quite clear. He has said that before.

Ms. Macas: Okay, sige sir. Thank you.

Mr. Bencito: Sir, good morning. Three points po sana. Sir una, ‘yung doon sa SEA Games, sir, saan natin —

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: Sa alin? Sa?

Mr. Bencito: Sa SEA Games po.

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: SEA Games.

Mr. Bencito: Sir, saan natin kukunin ‘yung budget? Since the Palace had earlier said na ‘yung 19 billion sanang allocated for that, hindi na natin gagamitin?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: Well, if I may quote — freely quote — DBM Secretary, “It will not be an unfunded project.”

You know, I don’t know how he’s gonna do it, but I believe that — if we approved it, I’m assuming… we’re assuming that there will be funds for that.

Mr. Bencito: So gobyerno sir ‘yung magfa-fund doon sa SEA Games or private sector?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: Like I said, hindi ko pa po alam.

Mr. Bencito: Okay, sir. Then sir, the President recently met with former SND Gibo Teodoro. May details po ba tayo, sir?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: Regarding that, it was a close-in meeting, everybody was sent out.

Mr. Bencito: Okay. Sir, last na lang po. Kay General Padilla. Sir, can we confirm reports on the presence of Chinese Navy Coast Guard from August 14 to 15 as claimed by Magdalo Representative Gary Alejano?

BRIG. GEN. PADILLA: Yes, we did receive word from the camp of Congressman Alejano regarding the presence of Chinese ships in the area.

There have been a lot of fisherman from our side who have been fishing in our waters over there.

And I think the bone of contention was regarding the presence of some of our fisherman in some of those areas kaya nandoon din ‘yung mga Chinese.

Now, this is a matter now being addressed. I cannot confirm how many ships were there because I have not seen the report yet.

But we will work to clarify all of these things and there is a mechanism that is built-in in our current relationship, which is called the Bilateral Consultative Mechanism that has already been initiated before.

So it would be best to ask the Department of Foreign Affairs kung ano na ang nangyari dito sa mechanism na ‘to kasi doon dapat natin idadaan lahat ‘yun.

Mr. Bencito: Pero sir, anong implication nito — immediate implication ng presence of the five Chinese ships that were spotted?

BRIG. GEN. PADILLA: ‘Yung ating sightings at tsaka ‘yung report na tinatanong niyo, kung confirmed ba ito. Tulad ng sabi ko, we have sent word to the Western Mindanao Comm — Western Command to check this out and to ensure that our fisherman — kung nandoon pa sila — are well and protected.

Now, we will file our ongoing and continuing protest for any of these movements, and the Foreign Affairs Department will see to that.

Mr. Bencito: Follow up lang, magfa-file tayo ng note verbale?

BRIG. GEN. PADILLA: No. We file diplomatic protest whenever we have sightings close to our areas. Especially this one.

Ms. Mendez: Sir, going back to the meeting between RAM leaders and President Duterte.

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: Yes, ma’am?

Ms. Mendez: Any commitment from the President to give amnesty to the RAM leaders?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: I believe he viewed it with — positively. I don’t know the exact action that he will take but the fact that he met with them shows that he is quite open to their requests.

Ms. Mendez: To General Padilla, what’s the stand of the AFP on this? Can you please refresh our memories kung ilan ‘yung na-pardon and how many are involved?

BRIG. GEN. PADILLA: Hindi ko na po kabisado lahat nung mga statistics kasi matagal na po ‘yung sa issue ng RAM.

Ang hinahabol lang ho yata dito nung mga ilan na hindi nabigyan ng amnesty at napardon ay ‘yung kanilang mga gratuities, ‘yung kanilang mga benefits.

So being of advanced age, of course, many of them will have requirements for health and support for their medicines. So the… besides offer of assistance to the government that they can still contribute, ‘yun din po ‘yung pakay yata. Para makuha po ‘yung mga benefits na ‘to.

But the exact numbers, I don’t have that, I’m sorry, right now. I will have to come back to you and find out.

—END—

 

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