Press Briefing

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

Event Mindanao Hour
Location Kalayaan Hall, Malacañan Palace

OPENING STATEMENTS:

BRIG. GEN. PADILLA: Again, I’d like to just pause for a while. We have the Presidential Spokesman joining us shortly and he will be providing the initial report.

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: Good morning. I would like to welcome you to Bangon Marawi and Mindanao Hour. We’d like to begin with General Padilla.

BRIG. GEN. PADILLA: Okay. Thank you sir. I think it’s really a Friday today, everybody wants to early go — But that’s a happy signal because everybody’s looking forward to a good weekend, I hope. And similarly, we are as well.

And over in Marawi, our forces are still committed to their mandate and their task and before I go to the Q & A, I’d just like to provide you the update for today.

Today is 11 August, it’s the 81st day of the rebellion in Marawi. And as of 7 pm last night, our forces on the ground, from Joint Task Force Marawi, reports that:

The number of enemy killed has increased by 4, which is 552;

Civilians killed because of terrorists’ atrocities remain at 45;

Firearms recovered also have remained unchanged and they still remain at 610 high-powered firearms recovered;

Civilians rescued as well remain the same at 1,728 in the absence of any new rescues;

Buildings cleared: as of yesterday we were able to clear 15 and the most recent, again, 15 other facilities;

For the number of our killed-in-action, it has remained unchanged at 128.

By the way, the additional three from the previous report a few days ago were because of our wounded perishing, as a result of their wounds.

The status of cash donations as of 3 pm yesterday:

The account for Marawi AFP casualties stand at P98,866,334.23.

Those for Marawi IDPs, the account stands at P 933,615.21

These are the latest that we have for the update regarding Marawi, the rebellion in Marawi.

I am now open for your questions but before I do answer some of your questions, I’d like to just clarify something that is not related to martial law in Mindanao or the Marawi incident but a request on the part of the Armed Forces and the Chief of Staff personally.

That the recent news about having an incentive for reports and information provided by civilians and other partners who will lead to the neutralization or the arrest of any member of the NPAs, particularly in the island of Negros, which was alluded to him, is not a policy of the Armed Forces nor of government but an initiative on the part of the local government, which was started and reported to by the 3rd Infantry Division General Jon Aying recently in his meetings with the local government.

We do welcome this initiative on the part of the local government, particularly in Negros. Because we know that they are already fed up with the abuses that are being committed and the violent activities that are being done by this armed group, which has degenerated into a bandit group, primarily concentrating on extortion and arson.

So we hope that this local government initiative would be duplicated by other local governments in other areas who face similar problems to provide the motivation and the support to all our hapless citizens in affected areas who may want to share.

And also the reason for Mindanao having its own AFP text hotline that we announced previously is also to get those information coming from the citizenry who may want to go direct and provide this information so that we can execute appropriate measures immediately to address the security problems.

That is all and I am now open for your questions. 

QUESTIONS & ANSWERS: 

Maricel Halili (TV 5): Sir, good morning. Sir, speaking of NPA. Congressman Zarate expressed concern, saying that the bounty might lead to moneymaking rackets for some bounty hunters. Is this a cause of concern for AFP?

BRIG. GEN. PADILLA: Well, first off, that’s why we made the announcement that it is not a policy or an order from our Headquarters because we don’t have funds for this, we don’t have any allocations to put up a bounty to motivate our citizens to do it.

Now, local governments, they do have sources and are free to do it because they are in fact, chairing the peace and order council in their respective areas.

So any kind of initiative that they may wish to do to strengthen their security posture against bandits, criminal elements and other armed groups to protect their citizens and their constituents is up to them and we will support it, that’s why we welcome the move.

On the aspect that was raised, whether it will create bounty hunters. No. Payments are not given unless the information provided was proven to have been accurate and it led to the arrest or neutralization of a known suspect.

So if these people have arrest orders that have been issued already to them and have been identified and seen somewhere and were reported and led to their arrest, then the bounty will be provided. 

Ms. Halili: Will this in any way affect ‘yung operation natin sa Mindanao? Kasi sir paano kapagka, for example, may pumasok doon sa battlefield? Or ano ‘yung assurance na hindi magkakamali doon sa identity? Kasi isa din sa mga cause of concern nila, baka mamaya palabasin lang na rebelde ‘yung NPA… ‘yung individual and yet hindi naman pala.

BRIG. GEN. PADILLA: Ang impormasyon naman po na nakakarating sa atin ay idinadaan sa proseso, hindi ho basta-basta ginagawa ang pag-aresto o pag-neutralize sa isang known criminal pag hindi pa po naberipika na ito ‘yung talagang tao na pinagtutuunan natin ng pansin sa lugar na ‘yun.

Ms. Halili (TV 5): Sir, last on my part. Meron pong nakuha… nakita kahapon na photos of Isnilon Hapilon and Maute leaders. May we get details about this photo? Meron na po ba tayong information kung gaano ka-recent lang ‘yung kuha? And can we consider this as proof of life that nandun pa rin sila inside Marawi? 

BRIG. GEN. PADILLA: With the recent advances in technology and potential ways of altering a picture, mahirap mag-komento sa mga lumalabas na mga photos hangga’t hindi kami nakapagsasagawa ng forensic examination at doon malalaman mo kung talagang authentic at recent ‘yung photo.

Ang problema dito sa mga naglalabasang ito, maaaring propaganda. So hindi po kami makapag-komento at hindi naman makumpirma ‘yan hanggang hindi natin naisasagawa itong pag-kumpirma na prosesong ito.

Ms. Halili: But based on the recent report na nakuha ng AFP, nasaan na po sina Isnilon Hapilon?

BRIG. GEN. PADILLA: We believe they’re still inside the battle area and the reason why fighting has been intense is potentially, we have gone close to where they are hiding.

Ms. Halili: Thank you sir.

Joseph Morong (GMA): Sir, sa North Korea, they have announced the supposed trajectory ‘no of the missile that they’re going to launch, just in case, against the US, particularly Guam. Are we studying that possibility? And do you think that it can miss its target and probably— Not naman go to the Philippines but have some effects on us because medyo malapit lang ‘yung Guam.

BRIG. GEN. PADILLA: The closest problem we have ever encountered regarding North Korea’s launch of missiles was during the testing stage when they launched a missile that they were testing towards this part of the Pacific.

And we don’t have anti-missile systems to put it down or to guard our country against such kinds of threat.

What we do, however, is monitor it and as you have mentioned, any kind of telltale effect from that kind of incident is something we have to prepare for.

Kaya on the civil defense side, pinaghahandaan natin kasi maaaring bumagsak ‘yung debris sa side ng Pacific. Kaya ang tatamaan ‘yung mga coastal areas ng ating bansa doon sa testing na ‘yun, sa testing stage.

Ngayon, dito sa panibagong banta na ‘to. It’s a source of concern that’s why the ASEAN leaders or Foreign Ministers discuss it thoroughly and came up with a statement.

But we don’t see this as potentially hitting us in any way because it is directed towards an outer island in the Pacific itself.

So whatever fallout it may have, maybe because of debris, if it disintegrates up there. So these are things that are still in our preparations kasi ang civil defense side naman natin, handa naman pong… May preparasyon naman po sila sa mga ganitong pagkakataon.

Mr. Morong: Sir, given North Korea’s technological history, the most that we can expect, the worst that we can expect is that some debris may—

BRIG. GEN. PADILLA: If ever it disintegrates in the atmosphere. Potentially, it would have shattered debris that may scatter around in the area or its trajectory.

So it could hit some northern coastal areas. We have to forewarn our citizens to be on the lookout. But that’s something that we see as remote.

Because the recent ASEAN meeting, we saw the presence of the Foreign Minister of North Korea.

If they are intently going to do what they have been announcing, then the Foreign Minister would not have gone there.

So I think there is still a lot of room for dialogue, a lot of room for talks. And we see this as a positive sign.

So, we may just be in the middle of a verbal tussle between some countries.

Mr. Morong: Alright sir. Thank you.

Tuesday Niu (DZBB): General Padilla, sir. Sir, as of this early sir, meron na ba tayong mga coastal areas na sinasabi niyo… na-identify na po ba kung ano ‘yung possible coastal areas sa atin na posibleng matamaan nitong mga—?

BRIG. GEN. PADILLA: Wala po. Wala pa po. Kaya nga sabi ko, kinakailangan pang suriin ito. Kasi sa tingin naman natin, hindi naman po talaga ganap na tatamaan ang Pilipinas kung saka-sakali at ‘yung mga debris niya, ibang direksyon po eh ang takbo niya.

Kaya lang, ang sinasabi natin, kung sakaling mag-disintegrate or sumabog ito ng kusa sa atmosphere, maaring may mga maliliit na parte na tumama.

Ms. Niu: Thank you.

JP Bencito (Manila Standard): Hi General Padilla, good morning po. Sir, there were reports yesterday by Reuters that the US has allegedly entered into 12 nautical miles of Mischief Reef in Palawan… South China Sea. Sir, how does the military view this… freedom of navigation operations and how do we intend to possibly tackle this move?

BRIG. GEN. PADILLA: Well, freedom of navigation is guaranteed and anyone can do it. So, we just need to monitor. And as long as it is within the bounds set forth by international law, then it is all right.

Tina Mendez (The Philippine Star): Sir, as a follow-up. So nag-coordinate po ba ang US government sa Philippine government regarding these operations? May reports… Would you verify reports kung galing sa Philippines ‘yung destroyer na ginamit?

BRIG. GEN. PADILLA: Sa pagkakaalam ko po, hindi po galing sa atin at hindi ko po batid kung nagkaroon ng coordination.

Ms. Mendez: Sir, ‘yung mga freedom of navigation operations, nakakatulong po ba ito sa stability ng region?

BRIG. GEN. PADILLA: Well, as I mentioned, freedom of navigation is guaranteed. Anyone can do it. So any navy, any merchant ship can ply these routes. They can pass and claim innocent passage.

So kung ano man po ang nangyayari diyan, eh maaring naili-link lang sa atin dahil nasa may malapit sa atin nangyayari. But we see this as guaranteed exercise of the right to navigation.

 

ASEC. PURISIMA: Good morning, ladies and gentlemen of the Malacañang Press Corps. I’ll provide an update on the efforts of Task Force Bangon Marawi for the rehabilitation and recovery of Marawi City.

[Next slide please]

The Singapore Ministry of Defense handed over relief items and equipment for the IDPs from Marawi City and other affected localities.

The Singapore Air Force facilitated the transport of relief items and equipment via C-130 on August 7 at Laguindingan Airport.

Tents, blankets, medical supplies, portable lights, and water filtration units were donated to the Philippines and were received by the Office of Civil Defense.

Relief items and equipment were — the relief items and equipment were immediately transported to Iligan City for eventual distribution.

On the status of ASEAN relief distribution, as of 6 August 2017, a total of 360 personal hygiene kits and one water filtration unit were distributed to the IDPs in evacuation centers located in Iligan City and Pantao Ragat while a total of 1,655 personal hygiene kits, 432 family kits, and 432 kitchen sets were provided for the home-based IDPs.

On CSO engagement, on 8 and 9 August 2017, the Task Force conducted a forum in Iligan City called, “Civil Society Stakeholders’ Shared Visioning and Strategic Planning for Marawi Crisis Response and Rebuilding.” It was attended by Marawi and Iligan LGUs, CSOs, academe, community and religious leaders from Marawi City and other affected areas.

Discussions during the forum delved on the recommendations, comments, and reactions on the process of rebuilding Marawi City. Task Force Bangon Marawi Executive Director, Undersecretary Cesar Yano, presented the updates on the actions taken and plans for the reconstruction, recovery, and rehabilitation of Marawi City and other affected areas.

Task Force Bangon Marawi recognizes the importance of engaging and consulting various sectors, particularly political and religious leaders who are well-versed with Maranao culture and practices.

Quoting from Undersecretary Yano, “We will give a positive meaning to the acronym “IDP.” And that is “Inclusivity Through Dialogue and Participation.” And that is what we have been doing since Task Force Bangon Marawi was established.

During the forum, Undersecretary Yano acknowledged the participation of CSOs in all the efforts of the Task Force. And the Task Force acknowledges the partnerships offered by representatives of IDPs, traditional leaders of Maranao — Marawi City, people’s organizations, sectoral organizations, and civil society organizations.

And the Task Force also considers and takes into consideration the inputs of communities and organizations in every endeavor of the Task Force as defined by its mandates and responsibilities.

Other activities initiated in relation to the reconstruction, rehabilitation, and recovery efforts for Marawi City are: The joint planning workshop for recovery, rehabilitation, and peace building for the city of Marawi and the province of Lanao del Sur spearheaded by UNDP, which was held in Cagayan de Oro on 8 and 9 August 2017 and participated in by various government agencies and members of the academe; and, as well as the regular Task Force executive meetings to discuss updates on each subcommittee, including the processes for accessing funds as well as communication strategies.

Thank you, that’s my update for today.

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: Q and A?

Pia Gutierrez (ABS-CBN): Good morning, sir. Sir, local officials in Marawi have declared a mental crisis after residents displayed signs of mental illness. Are we planning to intensify our response or have a more aggressive form of intervention to address this issue, sir?

ASEC. PURISIMA: We are continuously assessing the situation on the ground and we respond as needed. We understand that the provision of mental health in psychosocial services or MP — MHPSS for IDPs in Marawi City are ongoing, okay.

And, services include psychosocial first aid, stress debriefing, psychiatric treatments to varying age groups. And to date, approximately 30,000 persons have availed of these services.

Again, these are — some of these are basic services. Basic, like psychological first aid, and all that, consultations with experts.

So, in-a-address ‘to. Alam naman natin na dahil matagal na ang ating mga kababayan sa evacuation centers, syempre meron din silang mga nararamdaman. At in-a-address ‘to. Ang importante dito, in-a-address ‘to ng ating mga — ng ating mga ahensya ‘no. Kagaya ng DOH.

There are — I should note that there are a few recorded cases of mental issues. But these are addressed by DOH ‘no. And the provision of mental health and psychosocial services, including necessary medicines, are continuously being provided to our IDPs.

So, ina-address natin ‘to. The long and short of it, we’re addressing this. Of course, we cannot prevent this from happening. But, nandoon ang ating tao on the ground, ‘yung mga — ating mga ahensya on the ground. Ang ating social workers, ang ating health workers, nandoon sila, at ina-address nila ang pangangailangan ng ating mga IDPs.

Ms. Gutierrez: Next, sir, do we acknowledge the possibility na ‘yung problema would possibly be bigger than what we expected, considering antagal na nitong nangyari, and it could be very traumatic to them, sir?

ASEC. PURISIMA: That’s why — there’s always that possibility. But we are addressing and preventing it. Remember, our stance, whenever there are disasters, whether natural or manmade, proactive tayo.

We do not wait to respond. We prepare in order to prevent anything from — from escalating ‘no. And that’s our posture there. Every day, nandoon ang ating mga ahensya on the ground at ina-assess nila ang mga pangangailangan kung may dagdag na tulong na kailangang ibigay sa ating mga IDPs, ibibigay natin ‘yun.

Ms. Gutierrez: Sir, ‘yung mga cases na identified na mental health problems, anong mga na-manifest nila, sir?

ASEC. PURISIMA: I don’t have the full details on that, and that may be technical in nature. I wouldn’t want to get into that. But, we are addressing this at handa ang ating gobyerno para dito ‘no. Hindi naman ito ang first instance na nagre-respond tayo sa mga ganitong klaseng sitwasyon, at handa ang ating mga ahensya para dito.

Ms. Gutierrez: Sir, 30,000 availed of psychosocial counseling?

ASEC. PURISIMA: Well, again, this — this includes first aid. This includes first aid, ‘yung consultations kung meron silang nararamdaman, or siguro kung nalulungkot man sila, meron tayong mga social workers diyan, meron tayong mga health workers.

Kasama ‘yun doon. Hindi lang ‘yung mental illness na sinasabi ‘no. That may be at an elevated level. And again, that’s few and far in between. Pero ‘yung regular support na binibigay natin in terms of mental health and psychosocial support, psychosocial interventions, kasama ‘yan dun sa figure na binanggit ko.

So, this may be as — as basic as kwentuhan, dialogue, “Anong nararamdaman mo? Ano pang pwede naming ibigay? Ano ang mga gusto niyo pang — ano pa ang mga pangangailangan niyo?” Kasama naman ‘yan sa psychosocial support na binibigay natin.

The mere presence of our agencies and workers on the ground affirm our proactive stance to address the situation of our IDPs.

Ms. Gutierrez: Pero sir, I understand that those who manifest signs of mental illness is different from those who are undergoing stress because of the trauma that they… Meron po ba tayong — are we going beyond first aid or parang basic response?

ASEC. PURISIMA: We are prepared. We are prepared to do that, if it is needed. And, if there are documented cases, we will — we will respond accordingly.

I just have the — I just don’t have the figures of the documented cases of mental illness per se that needs an elevated level of intervention. But the figure that I mentioned — the 30,000 that I mentioned — kasama na ‘yun. Lahat ‘yun eh. Lahat ‘yun, from the most basic.

So, hindi ito alarming. This shouldn’t be alarming, because nor — normal ‘to in the sense that kung may pangangailangan sila, tinutugunan natin ‘yun at different levels, even at the lowest or at the most basic levels. Tinutugunan natin ito.

Mr. Morong: Sir, doon lang sa 30,000 ‘no. So, ano ‘yung mga nature ng inilalapit nila sa inyo? Mostly psychosocial? Not — may mga medical ba diyan na isinama niyo rin?

ASEC. PURISIMA: As I understand, this includes psychosocial first aid, stress debriefing, and psych — and psychiatric support. So, ito ‘yung mga basic.

As I understand it, ito ‘yung mga basic levels of intervention na pangangailangan. I’m not competent to discuss the higher levels of interventions needed, and as I understand it, these are few but these are being addressed.

Okay. I don’t have the exact figures of those elevated levels of treatments needed or provided. But as I understand, these are just few, although they are being addressed. We are of course taking them very seriously.

But for the most part, we are addressing the basic needs of our IDPs there.

Mr. Morong: So ‘yung 30,000 niyo, sir, psychosocial sir, we’re excluding ‘yung mga medical help, ‘yung mga —

ASEC. PURISIMA: Yes, yes. Yeah. So it’s just basic. Kung may kailangan sila, kung meron silang iniinda na kahit ano, we’re supporting that. We’re providing response to that at different levels.

Mr. Morong: Okay. Sir, you mentioned that there are some medyo elevated cases. Ano ‘yung… how would you characterize those cases? And what have we done as a matter of intervention?

ASEC. PURISIMA: I don’t have detailed information about that as of now. I will prepare for that in the next few briefings. But I guess we would have to address that to the more competent workers who could address that in greater detail.

Hannah Sancho (SMNI): Hi, sir. Sir, na-raise na po ba, or in-address niyo na po ba ‘yung na-raise ng Philippine Sports Commission na they find it alarming na ‘yung mga bata doon sa Marawi o nasa evacuation center na sa tingin nila hero ang ISIS? Ina-address po ba natin, like ‘yung needs nila sa pag-iisip, or ‘yung mga pananaw nila sa buhay? Lalo na lumalaki sila sa ganung klaseng environment. Ano pong ginagawa natin na intervention po?

ASEC. PURISIMA: Yeah. I would like to believe that that is part of our psychosocial intervention —

Ms. Sancho: So kasama sila sa 30,000?

ASEC. PURISIMA: …to understand, to understand what they’re feeling. Kasi going down to the basics, kailangan nating intindihin kung anong nararamdaman nila.

At kasama rin ‘yan sa ating PCNA. Kasama ‘yan dun sa sinabi ko previously na human side ng ating Post-Conflict Needs Assessment. Kasi we’re not just rebuilding a city. We’re rebuilding the lives of people and communities.

So kung sa tingin ng ating mga kababayan doon — ng ating mga IDPs —  eh hero nga ang ISIS, for example, alarming nga ‘yan. At alam ‘yan ng ating mga tao on the ground, ng ating mga workers. At in-a-address ‘yan dahil hindi tama ‘yun, obviously. At napaka-alarming nun, kaya kasama ‘yun sa ating interventions.

And moving forward, kasama ‘yan dun sa human aspect ng ating PCNA. Dahil ‘yung PCNA, lahat ng aspeto. Hindi lang physical rebuilding ng city o ng mga bahay ngunit kasama dun ‘yung building — rebuilding ng mga ating kababayan at ng ating mga komunidad.

Ms. Sancho: May mga coming from the private sector po ba sir na nag… nag-express ng tulong po para dun sa… dun lang po sa sitwasyon ng mga bata doon?

ASEC. PURISIMA: Yes, I believe so. Meron tayong… alam natin na merong mga medical missions na ginaganap by private… na ginagawa ng ating mga private sector organizations. At marami pang involved dito.

‘Yun nga ang napakaganda dahil napaka-inclusive nitong ating rehab and recovery efforts, kahit initial stages pa lang, napakarami ng nag-express ng tulong. Kasama dito ‘yung ating mga private sector organizations at civil… civil… civil society organizations. Dahil gusto nilang makatulong.

At tayo sa Task Force, very open tayo dito dahil wala namang monopoly of knowledge ang… and competence on government to do all this.

This requires a whole-of-nation and whole-of-society approach, at alam natin ‘yun. At tinatanggap natin ang tulong na kayang ibigay ng ating mga private sector organizations at CSOs, lalo na dun sa mga alarming observations. Tinatanggap natin ‘yun, at in-a-address natin ‘yun isa-isa.

Ms. Halili: Sir, just a quick follow-up. I know that you mentioned earlier that you don’t have the — enough details about the cases on mental issues.

But at least, have you received information if these few — or if some of them are already brought to mental hospitals or if there’s a need for them to be brought there?

ASEC. PURISIMA: I don’t have that information now, unfortunately. But all I can say is that we are addressing the situation on the ground. Whatever their needs are, makakaasa po ang ating mga kababayan na lahat ng pangangailangan nila, ibibigay natin.

Kung may kailangan na heightened or elevated level of response or intervention, ibibigay natin ‘yun. Kung kailangan ng most basic, ibibigay rin natin ‘yun.

So I don’t have information on that. I may have information about that in future briefings. But all I can assure our people is that we are providing everything we can for our IDPs on the ground.

Ms. Halili: And you mentioned that this is not an alarming situation? So meaning you don’t consider this as a mental crisis in Marawi?

ASEC. PURISIMA: I wouldn’t characterize it as a mental crisis, to be honest. And because a mental — a crisis is something that you cannot address or you are not addressing, or you do not recognize.

We are recognizing the situation on the ground. Your Task Force — even the government and the private sector — we are recognizing that there are needs of our people on the ground, of our IDPs. And we’re responding to those needs.

So in that sense, this is not a crisis because we know what their needs are and we are responding the best way we can to their needs.

Ms. Halili: Thank you, sir.

Henry Uri (DZRH): Hi, Asec. Purisima. Do you have any recorded amount or figures kung magkano na po ‘yung total damages na na-incur related po dito sa war between the Maute and the AFP?

ASEC. PURISIMA: Wala pa tayong total figures on the physical damage, ‘no, kasi hindi pa tayo nakakapasok fully sa Marawi City ‘no. Inaantay natin ‘yung go signal ng ating AFP, ng ating military organization, para rin safe ‘yung ating mga assessors on the ground.

Kasi napakahirap magbigay ng rough estimate. Maski rough estimate, mahirap eh, kahit sabihin mong ballpark figure. Mas maganda, ang tignan na natin ‘yung sitwasyon talaga pag pwede na tayong pumunta dun.

So what we’re focusing now on our PCNA ay ‘yung mga kaya nating i-address. Kagaya ng human… ‘yung human side ng PCNA, nung ating Post-Conflict Needs Assessment. ‘Yung mga pangangailangan ng communities, anong gusto nila moving forward.

Syempre, kinukuha rin natin ang inputs nila. So the human side, or the intangible side, so to say, ‘yun ang in-a-address natin ngayon.

Once we have the all clear from the AFP to proceed, kasi understandably, kailangan natin ng clearing operations diyan bago tayo pumasok sa city or sa ground zero, so to say.

So inaantay natin ‘yung go signal ng AFP para hindi rin naman ma-disgrasya ang ating mga assessors.

Mr. Uri: Sir, can we say that the rehabilitation will be finished before Christmas, or early next year?

ASEC. PURISIMA: Mahirap sabihin. Mahirap magbigay ng deadline. Gagawin natin ito ng mabilis ‘no, definitely, ngunit gagawin rin natin ito ng tama.

So we will assess the situation, we’re assessing it daily, weekly, monthly. So malalaman natin. Kung meron na kaming timeline na maibibigay, ibibigay natin ito. Ngunit by the nature of the rehabilitation efforts, mahirap nga magbigay ng timeline.

We can give targets, of course. But we should understand, our people should understand, that these are targets that may move depending on the situation. Pero makakaasa ho ang lahat na gagawin natin ito ng mabilis, ngunit gagawin rin natin ito nang tama.

Mr. Uri: Alright. Thanks. 

Mr. Morong: Sir, short lang. ‘Yung sa NoKor, how are we dealing… I mean, how are we thinking about that threat?

ASEC. PURISIMA: Well, your OCD is closely monitoring the situation. We will coordinate with the DND, AFP, and relevant government agencies, and make necessary assessments in order to prepare appropriate contingency plans, alerts, and warnings for the awareness and protection of our civilian populace.

And we assure our civilian populace, we assure our people that preparations are being made for any eventuality, and we will inform communities that may be affected.

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: We only have a few statements to make.

One, Quezon Avenue Flood Control Project opens today.

On August 7, the Department of Public Works and Highways led the opening of the 165-million Quezon Avenue Flood Control Project in a bid to improve the traffic situation.

This includes two additional lanes over the newly constructed flood control structure spanning a total of 1.1 kilometers.

The two additional lanes measuring 820.62 lineal meters has been completed due to the department’s implementation of a 24/7 construction scheme to speed up infrastructure development. This will serve as an alternative route to EDSA and to Timog Avenue.

Also, on the Senate Special Committee on Marawi:

The President has called on all sectors to contribute and support in the recovery, rebuilding, and rehabilitation efforts of the Islamic City of Marawi.

We therefore welcome Senate Resolution 457, which establishes the Senate Special Committee on Marawi which would complement the work of the Executive’s Task Force Bangon Marawi.

Indeed, the extent of the damage in Marawi and the suffering of the displaced people need everyone’s assistance and cooperation.

This is the time to unite as one nation in rebuilding Marawi which is now in ruins into a model Islamic City.

We are open to a few questions.

Ms. Halili: Sir, did the President ask Customs Commissioner Faeldon to go on leave?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: As far as I know, no. There’s no directive from him to go on leave.

Ms. Halili: How about the other officials of Bureau of Customs, sir?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: That’s not the President’s style to tell people what to do.

Ms. Halili: Did they file a resignation? I mean some of them?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: I believe— I don’t know if they filed or what but… They have, right? Okay. So… but it’s not under the directive of the President.

Ms. Halili: Did the Palace receive the resignation?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: As of… as of this mo— As of before press briefing, we have not been informed regarding those letters.

Ms. Halili: Will the President accept the resignation, sir?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: That is up to him.

Ms. Halili: Thank you sir.

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: Thank you.

Deo de Guzman (RMN-DZXL): Good morning, sir. May we have your reaction po— [At the back sir, big guy, sir] May we have your reaction po, sinabi po kasi… parang kinekwestiyon po ni Senator Antonio Trillanes ‘yung pananahimik ni President Duterte doon sa issue ng pagkakapuslit ng 6.4-billion worth of illegal drugs mula sa BoC. So he’s saying na bakit tahimik ang Presidente, hindi siya nagagalit kay Trillanes, pero droga ‘yung — Hindi siya nagagalit kay Faeldon pero droga naman ‘yung issue.

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: Well, as the President said, he has not, he does not intervene in matters like this. He will allow the process to unfold.

So it’s not… It’s you know — I think it’s not unusual that he’s quiet about that. It’s simply saying that he will not interfere because the process has began.

Mr. de Guzman: Thank you, sir.

Trisha Macas (GMA News Online): Sir, just a follow-up. I asked this yesterday. Senator Trillanes said na may backer daw ‘yung drug lord na involved in the Customs 6.4 shabu mess sa government. He didn’t say na it was President Duterte but he said it could be close to the President. Can we get the Palace reaction to this sir?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: We do not have any— He hasn’t made the direct statements if— We do not indulge in speculations.

Ms. Macas: Okay. Sige, sir. Thank you.

Ms. Gutierrez: Good morning, sir. Sir, during the President’s speech last Wednesday, he mentioned about appointing 24 commissioners to draft a new Constitution.

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: Yes, ma’am. 

Ms. Gutierrez: Is this a policy na sir or a suggestion on the part of the President? Is this the track that the government is going to take sir?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: Well, apparently that is his — Let me see.

The President and the leaders of Congress have expressed support for a Constitutional Commission to assist in drafting amendments. And several groups have already been conducting research and fora on federalism.

Presidential and parliamentary assistance where the [inaudible] of the topic charter change mandated may now accelerate. 

It’s something that they — the President and the Congress have already expressed support for. Okay.

Ms. Gutierrez: So parang advisory body lang siya, sir?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: Which one? The ano?

Ms. Gutierrez: ‘Yung 24-man commission sir, it will be… It will act as an advisory body sir to advise—

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: Let me see, okay.

The Con-Com, which is supposed to be named by early… which should be — well, technically should be named by as early as September giving it and the Constitutional Assembly six months to revise the Charter by—

In other words, they will be working— It acts as a… [What do you call it?] As advisory, yes.

Don’t take me on that, I can check on it, okay.

Ms. Gutierrez: Meron na po ba sir naiisip si President Duterte nai-a-aasign?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: Well, as far as we, as we have heard, I think he prefers ex-justices and a majority of ex-justices and a minority of civilians.

Pero, as of the actual names, wala pa kaming natatanggap.

Leila Salaverria (Philippine Daily Inquirer): Sir, are we talking about the EO he signed in December to create this consultative body? Is this what we’re talking about?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: I will… I will confirm that. But I suppose it is. At this stage, I am assuming that is.

Ms. Salaverria: Kasi sir, it was signed in December. What took it… What’s taking so long? Why hasn’t he appointed the members of the body?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: That… The reason why, I cannot answer.

Mr. Morong: Sir, ‘yun pong sa freedom of navigation action ng US. The Chinese side said that it violated the international and Chinese law and severely… [Sandali ha, hanapin ko lang ‘yung quote, sir] Seriously— They said that it violated international and Chinese law and seriously harmed Beijing’s sovereignty and security, what do you think of that, sir?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: We’re not the spokesman for the Chinese. So on the other hand… On the other hand, in the words of Secretary Lorenzana, the Philippines has no objection regarding the presumed innocent passage of sea craft. Okay.

And that there is of course the freedom of navigation. In other words, from our side — from our side we find no objection.

Mr. Morong: When you say no objection, we don’t—

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: We don’t find it objectionable.

Mr. Morong: Okay, we don’t. When we see… when we say “it’s not objectionable,” so parang, sir, we don’t share the Chinese perspective that it violates their whatever international law and Chinese laws that they claim?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: We state our position.

Mr. Morong: Okay. Thank you sir. Related to that sir, may mga reclamation activities further north of the Philippines?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: Regarding those alleged… okay — First, we… It would be best if this apparent evidence can be vetted for accuracy, if only to preserve the trust and confidence that all disputants over the territory in South China Sea, South China… West Philippine, North Natuna Seas need to have each… to have in each other going forward.

The continuing reclamation and militarization of disputed territory in these waters, if the report and photos from a Washington-based think-tank are accurate, these can be taken up in ASEAN, by the ASEAN in future discussions.

So we defer to ASEAN.

Ms. Halili: Sir, ano lang, quick follow-up lang doon sa statement ni Presidente. ‘Yung doon sa mga pulis na binigyan niya ng bounty. Meron na po bang shortlist na hawak ‘yung Malacañang? Identified na ba kung sino ‘yung mga possible na police involved doon sa mga Parojinog?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: Wala po tayong information regarding that matter.

Ms. Halili: Kahit po ‘yung numbers lang, estimate?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: Wala po.

Ms. Halili: Thank you sir.

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: Thank you.

Kris Jose (Remate): Sir, regarding lang po doon sa BoC scandal.  Do you think it’s about time na magsagawa na po ng lifestyle check sa mga officials para po malaman kung paano po umangat ‘yung mga buhay nila?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: Kasama po siguro ‘yan. Kasama po talaga ‘yan, ‘yung lifestyle checks. It’s not a question of my opinion or what, but I believe that’s part of the process, checking a lifestyle.

Ms. Jose: Thank you po.

Ms. Mendez: Hi, Sir.

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: Yes ma’am.

Ms. Mendez: Follow-up lang sa statement niyo doon sa reclamation. I think if I got it right, nung press con ni Secretary Cayetano the other day doon sa conclusion ng ASEAN, sinabi niya na the ASEAN need not tackle the issue of reclamation because there is no reclamation happening right now. That’s the statement of the Secretary. How would you reconcile your statement now?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: Correct me if I’m wrong. But apparently, he made that statement in context of Philippine claims, okay, not within Philippine— Walang nire-reclaim ang China regarding matters pertaining to us, okay, patungo sa atin.

Pero kung mga… ‘yung katulad nung mga bagong mga developments, that will have to be have taken up on the future ASEAN discussions.

Ms. Macas: Sir, just to follow-up on my question earlier. Senator Trillanes also said that Duterte — President Duterte can’t let go of Customs Commissioner Faeldon. Is this true, sir? Can the President let go of or can the President let go of Commissioner Faeldon?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: It will be his prerogative to do so.

Ms. Macas: But is it true sir that the President can’t let go of Commissioner Faeldon?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: I don’t know about the “can’t.” But, you know, whatever it is, it will have to be the President’s decision.

Ms. Macas: Okay.

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: It will mere speculation to say he can’t or cannot. Thank you.

Ms. Macas: Thank you sir.

—END—

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