Press Briefing

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

Event Mindanao Hour
Location Malacañang Press Briefing Room, New Executive Building

OPENING STATEMENTS:

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: Good morning. Happy birthday, Joseph.

To give us a few updates this morning on Marawi, we have Asec. Kristoffer Purisima and Major General Restituto Padilla.

We’d like to begin first with…

MAJ. GEN. PADILLA: Members of the Malacañang Press Corps, good morning. For our update for today. First off, I’d like to provide you…[mic test]

So I’d like to provide you a brief statement from the Armed Forces of the Philippines:

On behalf of our Chief of Staff General Año and the men and women of the Armed Forces, we’d like to convey our profound thanks for all those who have expressed their congratulations to our troops.

As you might have heard, our operations in Marawi continue to progress positively and the successful operations conducted yesterday early dawn was one of the most positive developments that we have ever had in the last number of months.

But this does not signal the end of the hostilities nor the end of the fighting in Marawi because there still remains to this date a space occupied by armed elements and the existence of hostages.

The number of hostages that has been announced yesterday remained to be at about 20, which includes women and children.

There also is still in existence about 20 to 30 armed elements, strugglers if you may call them of the groups. And among these are about six to eight foreigners, foreign terrorists to include the notorious foreign national, Malaysian, by the name of Dr. Mahmud who was the financier of the Marawi siege.

Dr. Mahmud remains to be one of our high-value targets in the operations still being conducted.

As we speak, our troops have remained in the battle area continuing to pursue the armed elements and seeking to rescue the remaining hostages in about two hectares of space that remains to be the battle area.

Other than this, there are still about 60 to 80 buildings that will have to be — that have to be cleared during this conduct of operations.

And before we can finally announce the end of the Marawi siege, there is a need to clear all these buildings of all unexploded ordnance as well as IEDs that may have been left by these retreating terrorists.

It is also paramount that as we come to the closure of this significant event in our history, that we be allowed still time to clear the rest of Marawi of all potential IEDs, unexploded ordnance and booby traps that may have been missed by the troops in its earlier clearing operations.

Why is this required? It is because we want to ensure the safety of all our citizens, particularly the residents of Marawi who will want to visit the areas of their residence and recover whatever it is that remains from the damage that has been caused by this terrorist group.

And for that to be allowed, it must be clear and it must be — we must be a 100 percent sure that no bomb, no IED, no booby trap is left in these areas.

After all, having survived several months in evacuations centers, it would be ironical if upon the return of a resident in Marawi, they would suffer because of an IED that was left, either experiencing a maimed individual or the demise of a few which is untenable and unacceptable to us.

So please be patient. We ask for our citizens to understand the predicaments that we still face. But rest assured that our soldiers, our airmen, our sailors, our marines, and our policeman and coastguards men who continue to be in this fight are determined and focused to finish it as soon as possible.

And an appeal to the citizens of every corner of our archipelago is for us to please push for the practice of cooperative responsibility or shared responsibility in security.

A concept that we have been pushing all along in order to strengthen the security of our nation, and what is this? It is the participation of every citizen to always be on the alert, to always be vigilant, to always be on the guard, for any kind of threat that may be around their places of abode or their places of work or during their transition from any work during travel.

If you see any suspicious-looking personnel or persons who are not supposed to be in your communities doing very suspicious activities, you must take note and report these to the authorities as soon as possible so that we can guarantee the safety of these areas particularly our major cities from the continuing threat of terrorism.

Remember, God has been very good to us for not allowing us to experience similar incidents that have occurred in the developed areas of Europe, Great Britain, and some other parts of the world, also the US.

These are first world countries that have not escaped the threats of terror. But similarly, we know that we can immunize ourselves, we can strengthen our security if each and every Filipino will be a participant and a committed one in the security of our country.

And so this appeal continues and we may sound like a broken record if we keep on reminding our citizens but it is very important and we believe it is critical for guaranteeing the security and safety of our major cities and our other areas throughout the Philippines.

That is all from our end. Thank you very much and God bless our country.

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: Asec. Toby…

ASEC. PURISIMA: Thank you, sir. Good morning to the Malacañang Press Corps. And here are the updates from your Task Force Bangon Marawi.

With yesterday’s development, we shall now focus on the rehabilitation of the conflict-stricken areas and plan for the return of our IDPs to Marawi City.

Yesterday, five OCD-led teams composed of 145 members from 15 agencies namely DOST, DTI, DepEd, DSWD, DPWH, HUDCC, DICT, NEDA, DENR-MGB, TESDA, NEA, NHA, HLURB, SFHC, and LWUA as well as the Marawi City local government unit were deployed to conduct the post-conflict needs assessment in Marawi City.

The PCNA teams left the national emergency operations center in Iligan City yesterday morning to assess the damages and losses incurred due to the still ongoing conflict.

Each team was assigned to assess a number of barangays declared clear by the AFP and which are referred to as zones 0 to 12.

Before the field deployment, security briefings and reorientations on the PCNA process were conducted at the National Emergency Operations Center on 14 and 15 October 2017. That is last Saturday and Sunday.

The target date of completion for the field deployment, including data analysis, consolidation, and report development is on 27 October.

The damage and losses assessment or DALA in the uncleared areas identified as zones 13 to 17 shall commence immediately once the AFP’s clearing operations are completed.

On housing and reconstruction, the DPWH has completed the site development for areas 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6 in Barangay Sagonsongan totaling 9.9 hectares while road concreting is still ongoing and is set to be completed by the end of November.

Lot acquisition for area 1 is still being negotiated by the Marawi LGU and the implementation of drainages will follow thereafter. 26 houses out of the 50 transitional shelters in Bahay Pag-asa located in Marawi City have already been turned over to selected IDPs.

Both the Lanao del Sur provincial government and the Marawi City government have deployed and presented — have developed and presented their local rehabilitation plans to the Task Force.

Their plans are still being reviewed, validated and refined with the assistance of the Task Force considering available resources and the results of the PCNA.

The Marawi City local government unit is also working with the AFP in identifying barangays that are already declared safe and a number of families will be assisted by troops in their return at the soonest possible time.

They will be allowing residents to come back by barangay clusters. Part of their rehabilitation plan is a solutions framework for the Marawi IDPs future living arrangements.

We want them to return to safe and resilient areas. That’s all that I have. Thank you.

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: Thank you.

On the statement from Malacañang on the deaths of terrorists — of the terrorists leaders:

With terrorist leaders gone, we call on all fighters to cease further resistance and violence and return to the road of peace.

This is also the call of our Muslim leaders, our imams, ARMM, MNLF, MILF chiefs, and the leaders of Muslim nations and this is the plea of your families, friends, and communities.

Let us restore peace and rebuild our land.

We commend our forces for their battlefield advances now nearing total victory. Hundreds of hostages were saved with no violations of rights and religion.

This has laid a strong foundation for peace and recovery. We will intensify offensive across Mindanao to counter further attacks and to wipe out ISIS cells seeking to exploit people’s grievances for evil.

On another note, on the BOC’s highest cash collection for the month:

We commend the Bureau of Customs (BOC) for achieving its highest cash collection for a month amounting to P39.545 billion for the whole month of September.

This shows the remarkable progress we made in increasing government revenues through the increase in valuation along with capability upgrade and accountability mechanisms in the country’s second largest revenue generating agency.

We assure the public that the increase in BOC collections will go a long way in supporting the government’s program to enhance spending on crucial infrastructure development and social services to sustain the growth of our economy in order to provide a comfortable life for all Filipinos.

We’re open to a few questions.

 

QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS:

 

Maricel Halili (TV-5): Hi, sir. Good morning. General Padilla, sir, pa-share… [laughter]

MAJ. GEN. PADILLA: Yes, ma’am. 

Ms. Halili: Sir, baka ishe-share niyo sa amin ‘yung info?

MAJ. GEN. PADILLA: Unfortunately, I can’t.

Ms. Halili: [laughter] Sir, you mentioned earlier… You mentioned earlier na kasama pa po sa high-value target si Mahmud. Aside from him sino pa po ‘yung mga considered as high-value target in Marawi?

MAJ. GEN. PADILLA: Right now, to my understanding he is the one that is prominently on the list and no one else.

Ms. Halili: And you mentioned na meron pa pong mga foreigners na naroon —

MAJ. GEN. PADILLA: Yes.

Ms. Halili: — aside from Malaysians, ano pa po ‘yung ibang mga nationalities?

MAJ. GEN. PADILLA: Majority of the foreigners have been Indonesians and Malaysians.

Ms. Halili: And, sir, ‘yun pong bounty na offer — na inoffer ng US at saka po ng Philippine government, kanino po siya mapupunta?

MAJ. GEN. PADILLA: Dalawa po kasi ‘yung sources na ‘yan. Tulad ng sinabi niyo, may nakalaang pondo ang Estados Unidos para sa pagkahuli o pagkamatay ni Isnilon Hapilon at ito’y nasa halaga ng $5 million.

At ang ibang reward ay inilaan ng ating pamahalaan para naman sa dalawang ito na napatay.

Kay Hapilon, I think 10 million ‘yan. At kay Omar Maute, na nasa halagang 5 milyon kung hindi ako nagkakamali. At dinagdagan pa ito ng tig-5 milyon ng ating mahal na Pangulo.

Kung aking maalala ‘yung kanyang anunsyo noong mga unang buwan ng laban. ‘Yung mga reward na ito na nakalagay na diyan sa ating wanted list ay nasa pangangalaga at desisyon ng tinatawag na Joint AFP-PNP Rewards and Valuation Committee.

At itong committee na ‘to ang siyang mag-che-check ng basis ng pagbigay na ‘yan at kadalasan, ito po ay nakalaan para sa mga impormante at mga ibang tumutulong na mahuli po ang mga high-value targets.

So ito po ay kontra doon sa paniniwala ng ilan na ito po ay para sa sundalo o sino mang nakapatay sa mga high-value targets na ito. ‘Yan po ang sa parte po ng ating pamahalaan.

Pero ‘yung ibibigay po na reward or motivation na ibinigay na halaga ng ating mahal na Pangulo, ‘yun po, pwede po ibigay sa tropa ‘yun. Mukhang binanggit niya rin po ‘yun noon. Pero ‘yan po ay nasa ilalim na ng OP para pagdesisyunan.

Pero ‘yung sa nakalagay po sa mga wanted posters na may halaga, ‘yan po ay idinaan sa isang proseso na tulad ng aking nabanggit ay kinakailangan suriin ng Rewards Validation Committee, na kinabibilangan ng ating PNP Director for Intelligence at saka ng J2 ng Armed Forces of the Philippines.

May committee po ‘yan at may mga lawyers po diyan upang i-weigh ‘yung mga kinakailangang tingnan para ma-check kung totoo po ba na itong mga nasa wanted list na ito ang mga taong namatay sa bakbakan at kung sino po talaga ang nakapagbigay ng pinaka-importanteng at particular na impormasyon na nag-resulta sa pagka-neutralize nung high- value targets na ito.

‘Yung sa Estados Unidos naman, hindi po tayo ang may control niyan at sila po ang madedesisyon kung kanino ito ibibigay.

So hindi ko po masasagot ang bagay na ‘yan at mas maganda pong tanungin sa ating embahada dito ng Estados Unidos nang sa ganun makuha niyo ‘yung tamang sagot.

‘Yung isa pa po nating nais idagdag dito ay simula’t sapul na nagkaroon ng kaguluhan sa Marawi, kailangan pong maintindihan ng ating mga kababayan na hindi po pumasok sa isipan ng sundalo ang rewards o anumang gantimpala.

Ang kanila pong ipinunta sa Marawi ay upang labanan ang isang banta ng terorismo at mga armadong grupo na naghasik ng kaguluhan at ito po ang kanilang pakay na maibalik sa normal ang takbo ng buhay diyan sa loob ng Marawi.

At ‘yan po, hanggang sa ngayon ang sinisikap ng bawat sundalo natin na nanggagaling sa Philippine Army, na galing sa Philippine Air Force, galing sa Philippine Navy, at sa PNP at saka sa Coast Guard.

Ms. Halili: Sir, just a clarification. ‘Yun pong sinabi niyo na part nung promise ni Presidente na ibibigay doon sa mga sundalo, ano pong bahagi ‘yun at ano po ‘yung —

MAJ. GEN. PADILLA: Actually, ‘yun ay parang motivation din sa sinong makakatulong pero dahil ito ay hindi kasama doon sa initial reward na nakalaan na kinakailangang dumaan sa ilalim nung committee na binabanggit ko, ang desisyon ngayon na ito ay maaaring ibigay sa OP.

Ms. Halili: Thank you, sir.

Pia Gutierrez (ABS-CBN): Sir, could you expound more doon sa naging role ni —  itong Malaysian na si Dr. Mahmud at ano po ‘yung profile niya, sir?

MAJ. GEN. PADILLA: Dr. Mahmud is an academic and if I may refer you, there was an article that came out in Malaysian Daily at the very beginning of the Marawi siege. And they gave his profile in that article and his connections to the academe.

So he was the one responsible for the direct linkage of Hapilon to the larger group of the Daesh. And it was he who provided the funding that was necessary to bankroll the siege of Marawi.

So I cannot recall the exact amount but it seems like it’s about $300[,000] or $600,000 that he brought in.

So he may have allowed this to be brought in through the backdoor — through the backdoors of our country or through other channels. And this is the subject of things that we still have to ascertain.

Ms. Gutierrez: Can we confirm, sir, kung kasama siya doon sa mga foreigners na nabanggit ninyo sa Marawi?

MAJ. GEN. PADILLA: We are not a 100 percent sure but based on the information that we have at hand, we believe that he is still in the area, among the 6 to 8 foreigners.

Ms. Gutierrez: Sir, another question, did it ever cross the military’s planning to capture Omar Maute and Isnilon Hapilon alive?

MAJ. GEN. PADILLA: The opportunity for surrendering, laying down the arm — their arms and releasing the hostages safely has been part of our effort inside the battle area.

If you may recall, we allowed some of you to cover the manner by which we tried to communicate to those inside the main battle area.

Kung naalala niyo, may ilan po sa inyong mga networks o lahat kayo mismo na nagpalabas ng mga video at saka inallow (allow) po namin kayong kunan ‘yung aming ginagawang aksyon sa loob ng main battle area upang mapaabot sa loob ng mga lugar na saan nagkakaroon ng bakbakan ang mensahe natin na maaaring sumurrender basta ibaba lang ang armas ng mga kalabang hinaharap natin at mapayapa nilang i-release o pakawalan itong mga hawak nilang hostages, pero hindi po nangyari ‘yan.

Patuloy po silang nanindigan at patuloy na nakipaglaban. Kaya ‘yung nangyari po natin na operasyon kahapon ng madaling araw, bunga po ito ng pagkakuha natin ng napakaraming impormasyon sa mga hostages na na-rescue natin, ganun din sa mga ibang impormasyon na nanggaling sa iba’t-ibang sources.

At nung tayo’y tiyak na sila ay nasa isang lugar, ‘yan po ang naging paksa ng ating operasyon na sinugod po natin.

At doon sa ating pagsugod na ‘yan, lahat po ng naiwan sa loob ng building na ‘yan na kalaban ay nag-offer ng very stiff resistance.

So kung nagsimula ang bakbakan ng alas dos, mga ilang oras pa bago ganap na na-secure ‘yung buong gusali kung saan sila naroroon.

Nagkaroon pa ng pagtangkang pagtakas ang ilan sa kanila. At itong nangyaring ito ay kinailangang lagyan natin at gamitan natin ng dahas. Kaya lahat sila ay napatay sa engkwentro na ‘yun o sa pag-atake na ‘yun.

At ang atin pong sinigurado diyan ay makuha natin nang ganap na maayos lahat ng mga hostages na nandoon sa gusali.

And we were able to get about 20, if I’m not mistaken, plus a two-month old infant, which was relayed to the public yesterday by no less

than the Chief of Staff.

And he even mentioned that when he asked for the name of the two [month] old, he was told the name but he offered, “Why don’t you name the baby ‘Mawi,’ in short for Marawi?”

Ms. Gutierrez: Sir, sa pagkamatay po ni Isnilon Hapilon and Omar Maute, ano na po ang assessment natin sa threat ng Maute group?

MAJ. GEN. PADILLA: Malaking dagok sa kanila ang pagkawala ng leader na si Omar at ganun din ‘yung mga kapatid niya na naniniwala kaming napatay doon sa mga nakaraang buwan ng bakbakan.

Pero hindi ito nangangahulugan na sila ay totally wala na sa picture. Alam natin na may mga simpatetikong grupo pa, may mga naiiwan pa silang miyembro sa ilan-ilang bahagi ng Mindanao at kaya nga ‘yan po ang binabantayan natin.

Kaya nga kanina nung aking sinabi at ibinigay sa inyo ang aming pahayag sa Armed Forces, ang amin pong panawagan ay para sa lahat na maging alerto, maging mapagmasid lagi.

Kasi sa pamamagitan nito, dito natin mababantayan ang bawat sulok ng ating archipelago, ng ating kapuluan. At tulad ng nangyari sa Bohol, kung maaalala niyo, bago sumiklab po itong Marawi, nagkaroon po ng kaganapan sa Bohol at maayos po itong na-address ng ating local government at ng ating Armed Forces at pulis.

Ang pinaka — a key ingredient o pinaka-importanteng parte po nang maayos na operasyon na ‘yun ay ‘yung pakikipagtulungan ng bawat mamamayan na nandoon mismo sa Bohol.

Kaya ganun din po ang ating panawagan sa lahat. Kung nais po nating maging ganap na maayos ang ating seguridad sa bawat sulok ng ating kapuluan, kinakailangan po ang bawat Pilipino naiintindihan nila ‘yung malaking bahagi nila dito sa gagawing pag-cover ng security ng ating bansa.

Ms. Gutierrez: Sir, last na lang. Sir, ‘yung impact naman po nung nangyari kahapon doon sa plano ng ISIS to establish a caliphate here in the Philippines. And also, sir, pahabol na tanong, si Dr. Mahmud na daw po ba ‘yung next emir ng Daesh sa Southeast Asia kapalit ni Isnilon Hapilon?

MAJ. GEN. PADILLA: Sa unang tanong, ‘yun ‘yung i-address —

Ms. Gutierrez: ‘Yung impact, sir, ng ISIS…

MAJ. GEN. PADILLA: — ‘yung impact ‘no sa ISIS ‘no, sa grupo. Malaki, malaki ang impact nito kasi karamihan sa kanilang mga armadong element na may kakayahan na maghasik ng kaguluhan were there in Marawi and we were able to address the armed threat.

But as I mentioned earlier, there still remains a part of the network that continues to exist in other parts of Mindanao like Jolo, Tawi-Tawi, Basilan, and other parts of Lanao as well as Maguindanao and Cotabato, which needs to be addressed continuously for that threat to be managed.

So ’yan ay isang bagay na tuloy-tuloy nating imomonitor, tuloy-tuloy nating proactively gagawan ng paraan na i-address.

At sa pangalawa, itong sa issue ng liderato, hindi po tayo nakakasigurado sa kasalukuyan kung si Dr. Mahmud ang siyang itatalaga. At malalaman po natin ‘yan sa mga susunod na araw sa magiging developments dito.

Kaya’t ang atin pong pakay sa operasyong ginagawa sa natin sa naiiwang bahagi ng Marawi ay makuha po siya at ang iba pa niyang mga kasamahan.

Ms. Gutierrez: Thank you, sir.

Pia Ranada (Rappler): Hi, sir, good morning.

MAJ. GEN. PADILLA: Good morning.

Ms. Ranada: Sir, just a quick clarification first. You mentioned, sir, that the end — the declaration of the end of the crisis will not come until after the clearing operations? So, sir, tama ‘yun, it’s not when the terrorists are neutralized, it’s when the clearing operations are over that we can declare the end of the crisis?

MAJ. GEN. PADILLA: Yes. A declaration may be forthcoming in saying that we have adequately addressed the bulk of the threat. But it does not mean to say that we will open the way for the return of residents to the area. That is the gist of the message that we would like to convey.

Marami po kasi sa ating mga residente na nakatira po sa Marawi, lalo na po dito sa lugar na nagkaroon ng mga bakbakan, na meriting-meriti na po na bumalik upang makita kung anuman ang naiiwan sa kanilang mga pag-aari doon sa loob ng battle area.

Pero tulad ng nabanggit namin, magkaroon man po ng deklarasyon ay dadahan-dahanin pa po natin ‘yung pagbabalik ng mga residente dahil madami pa pong mapanganib na lugar.

Una, hindi pa po ganap na naki-clear ng mga unexploded ordnance, ng IED, at ng mga ibang patibong ang ibang bahagi ng Marawi, lalo na po ‘yung mga kaganapan kung saan nangyari ‘yung bakbakan.

At ito ang sinisigurado natin para maiwasan natin ‘yung masaktan ang isang residente na matagal nang nanalagi sa evacuation center pero mamamatay lang sa isang pagkakataon na tulad ng nabanggit ko.

Ms. Ranada: And, sir, based on any coordination recently between the military and the President, is he still determined to lift martial law after the clearing operations?

MAJ. GEN. PADILLA: I believe there will be a consultation that will be conducted before that is done.

And from the side of the military, although this is a political decision, we will make appropriate recommendations.

Be that as it may, we would like to assure the public that we all look forward to the return to normalcy of every part of Mindanao.

But there is a greater threat here that needs to be addressed and the need for the maintenance of martial law in some parts is really important because of the network, the existence of the network of all these terrorist groups.

And as we have been saying all along from the very beginning, our citizens need not fear the imposition of martial law if they are law abiding.

It is something that we need to do in order to address quickly and adequately those threats that are looming in the horizon or in the environment that may result to the harm of innocents like what happened in Marawi.

Ms. Ranada: So are you saying that the President may lift martial law only in Marawi and keep it in certain parts of Mindanao because of this threat you mentioned of network?

MAJ. GEN. PADILLA: I would not dare to say or comment on that because it is a political decision, as I was saying. But what we mean — what we want to convey to the public and for them to understand is that there will be a consultation.

There will be a… The President will allow the Armed Forces and other security agencies to air their side and to make recommendations, appropriate recommendations.

Ms. Ranada: Sir, do you know when this consultation will take place and if other sectors will also be involved in the consultation?

MAJ. GEN. PADILLA: I am sorry, I don’t have any date on that and, yes, even the local governments I think will be part of the consultation from our end.

Ms. Ranada: Okay. Thank you, sir.

Joseph Morong (GMA-7): General Padilla, ‘yun pong kay Dr. Mahmud, are we certain that he is still alive, or is that 100 percent or hindi lang natin makita — we are not sure kasi hindi lang natin makita ‘yung — he could be dead but hindi lang natin makita ‘yung bangkay?

MAJ. GEN. PADILLA: We believe nandun pa siya among the 6 to 8. So that is as far as I can go. If this is a 100 percent, no, it is not a 100 percent.

Mr. Morong: Segue lang, may 17 soldiers daw po and dalawang NPAs sa Tiwi, Albay na KIA?

MAJ. GEN. PADILLA: This is a new development. I will have to get back to you and I’ll check with our operation center.

Mr. Morong: Regarding martial law, sir.

How was it able to help during this period and how is it going to help in the future, sir? You mentioned you still need it?

MAJ. GEN. PADILLA: Yeah. Martial Law has been a big help in terms of addressing threats that have been there all along that have not — that have been kept at bay.

So having martial law allowed our law enforcement agencies and military to address these threats with a longer period of a — of detention.

So if there are people who have been suspected to have been part of the rebellion, an arrest could be effected and they could be kept in custody for a longer period of time than the ordinary circumstance, which allowed our troops and our lawyers and other agencies of government to build up their cases and file their cases in the appropriate courts.

This is the only difference during normal times and this period of time is very important because I’d like to bring the public’s attention to the other laws within our region.

You may want to take a look at the laws of the Internal Security Acts of Singapore, of Malaysia, and other countries in the region who have a very robust structure for security against terrorism. These are things that we need to adopt. And that is why we have made a call on our legislators to review the Human Security Act and hopefully make it stronger so we can guard our nation from the threats of terrorism.

Shiela Frias (IBC): Hi, sir. Quick lang po

na follow up doon kay Dr. Mahmud, so since namatay na po sa Hapilon and Omar, siya na po ba ang tumatayong leader doon sa small group na natira pa sa Marawi and if not sino po?

MAJ. GEN. PADILLA: Tulad nang nabanggit ko kanina, hindi tayo tiyak kung siya talaga ang mamumuno kasi banyaga ito. At kung siya man po ang mag-a-assume, malalaman po natin ‘yan sa mga susunod na mga araw pero hinahabol po natin dito sa natitirang parte ng Marawi na kung saan meron pang mga kalaban ay mahuli siya o ma-neutralize siya at ang iba pa niyang mga kasamahan.

Evangeline Fernandez (Police Files): Yes, sir. Sir, I’m here. Sir, are you aware of the possible retaliatory strike of some terrorist groups Maute or ISIS due to the death of their two leaders?

MAJ. GEN. PADILLA: Yes, that is not a far-fetched circumstance from happening. It is anticipated but we are prepared for it.

Again, as I have mentioned earlier, the siege of Marawi was both an opportunity and a threat. An opportunity because they all lumped themselves together in one particular area which allowed us to address the big bulk of their armed elements.

To date, there are over 800 of their members who have been killed in the ongoing firefight and this has been the biggest and most significant numbers that we have done to impact on this  organization and this has not happened previously.

Also historically, the battle of Marawi is now the longest since World War — since the end of World War II in a single area and it is an urban — no, in the Philippines, in the Philippines. And… In the Philippines lang.

So, we will continue to address whatever threats there are by keeping a proactive plan and for us to address the remaining part of their network so that it will be harder for them to take root again.

Tulad po ng aking pakiusap kanina sa ating mga kababayan, napakalaki pong parte ng magiging partisipasyon ng bawat mamamayan dito. Kasi kung gusto nga nating pangalagaan talaga nang husto ang seguridad ng ating bansa, kailangan maintindihan ng bawat mamamayan na sila ay kasama doon sa pagbabantay na iyon.

Ms. Fernandez: Okay, sir. If the conflict in Marawi ends, what future precautionary steps will the government take to prevent  this bigger terrorist attacks?

MAJ. GEN. PADILLA: Again, a big bulk of the efforts that must be undertaken will enter into the area of countering and preventing violent extremism because most of the efforts that have been done by this group has been to entice people especially the young to go and adopt violent and radical ways. And this is something that we must guard against.

And if I may refer you to some of the comments from some of our local executives who mentioned that it is not really the people who have been the biggest victims of this ongoing problem. But became the biggest victim here is their own religion, Islam, kasi nalagay sa masama dahil sa mga ginagawa nang iilan lamang.

Kaya ito ay bagay na dapat i-address natin at ito ang bagay na ginagawan natin ngayon ng tamang programa upang una mailagay sa ayos ang tamang pag-iisip kung ano talaga ang Islam at ‘yan po ang ginagawa ng ating mga leaders diyan.

Nagkaroon po ng meeting ang ating mga ulama at mga madrasa at pinag-usapan po nila ito at ito ay isang bagay upang lahat po ng kapatid nating Muslim ay natuturuan nang tama, ‘yung moderation at saka hindi radikal na pamamaraan. At mailagay sila sa tamang pag-iisip na malaman nila kung sila na ay ine-
entice o hinihikayat na pumunta sa mas mapusok na mga pamamaraan kasi hindi po iyon ang tamang landas.

So iyan po ang mga bagay na malaki ang parte na ginagawa ng ating mga kapatid na Muslim na sila mismo ang magsasagawa nito at tutulungan po ng ating mga kasamahan sa Armed Forces at ng buong bansa ng ibang ahensiya upang maisulong po itong mga programang ito.

Philip Tubeza (Inquirer): Good morning, sir. Could you tell us kung ilan po ‘yung remaining fighters doon sa sympathetic groups ng Maute?

MAJ. GEN. PADILLA: I don’t have the exact numbers but there have been a number of groups, some of them as few as five, who have pledged allegiance to the Daesh.

And these are the groups that we are closely watching. One of the prominent groups that had the capability is the BIFF in certain parts of Maguindanao.

Mr. Tubeza: Talking about ‘yung capability. Meron po ba silang… How would you describe their capability to launch another —

MAJ. GEN. PADILLA: Most of the existing capabilities that can have an impact on our security are in similar incidences like what happened in Davao and in Cotabato continously, ‘yung pambobomba ng IED, panghaharass ng ating mga communities, ng ating mga tropa, ng ating kapulisan, hanggang doon na lang po muna.

At hindi na po nila kaya ang malawakang pag-atake tulad ng nangyari sa Marawi.

Mr. Tubeza: The President po kasi mentioned about possible attacks sa Isabela, Basilan, Zamboanga and another major urban area daw po ulit?

MAJ. GEN. PADILLA: Yes, this has happened already. In fact, there were attempts already and we lost our kababayans, our civilians — mga civilian na supporters natin sa mga lugar na ito lalo na sa Basilan nung nambomba po — one IED sa isang lugar. Alam n’yo po ‘yan.

So ganitong mga klaseng insidente po ang ating binabantayan at kung mapapalaki man ito ay dapat makuha natin kaagad at malaman natin sa pinakamadaling panahon. Kaya nga ang aming panawagan is for each citizen, ang bawat mamamayan na maging bahagi kasi kung sila at nag-aantabay at lahat tayo ay nagbabantay, mas mapapabilis nating malulutas ‘yung problema.

Rose Novenario (Hataw): Hi, good morning, sir. Sir, kasi ilang beses na pong sinasabi ni Presidente ‘yung ugat po nitong Marawi siege ay narco-terrorism. Noong pagdeklara po ninyo ng martial law, meron po kayong inilabas na mga arrest order para po sa ilang alleged narco politicians. Ilan na po ‘yung na-aresto natin at paano po tayo makakasiguro na hindi po ito mauulit, ‘yung narco-terrorism sa ibang lugar ng Mindanao lalo na po’t PDEA na lang po ‘yung sole agency na mag-aaddress po ng anti-drugs campaign ng gobyerno?

MAJ. GEN. PADILLA: May mga patibay at senyales at mga nakita tayong mga proof sa Marawi doon sa patuloy nating bakbakan na nag-iindicate ‘nung sinasabi mo.

At doon sa mga arrest order na nailabas, dalawa po ito sa mahigit 300, naaresto po natin ang humigit-kumulang mahigit 100 at nafilan ng kaso at ngayon ongoing ang kanilang mga kaso for six — more than 60 individuals na nasa korte ngayon.

Iyong mga kaso na ‘yan, may iba po diyan na kasangkot po sa droga, hindi lang sa rebellion. Multiple cases na po ‘yon.

And we hope to address that because if government communicates a firm resolve to address these problems, I think those who are in the business will want to lie low already and hopefully we can determine where they are and address them. In PDEAs effort to address this, the AFP remains to be a strong supporter because in the events that we are needed, we always provide and we are always there with them.

Ms. Novenario: Last na lang po. Tingin niyo po ‘yung inaasahang pagtatapos ng martial law sa December 31 ay magiging sapat po ‘yung panahon para ma-address po ‘yung problema sa narco-terrorism po sa Mindanao?

MAJ. GEN. PADILLA: Mahirap po magsalita nang patapos pero sisikapin po natin na mameet ‘yung deadline na ‘yan upang maaddress una ‘yung network ng terror lalo na nakaugnay dito sa grupong ito na nandiyan sa Marawi at pangalawa ‘yung sinasabi niyong problema sa narco-terrorism.

Mr. Morong: Sir, just so we have this straight, what was really the root cause of the Marawi conflict, was it drugs or was it terrorism?

MAJ. GEN. PADILLA: Well —

Mr. Morong: Kasi ‘yung initial, ‘di ba we wanted to effect a warrant of arrest against Isnilon because biglang nalaman niyo na nandoon so inoperate. And then that kind of change along the way

MAJ. GEN. PADILLA: I think the very root cause of that was the allegiance to the Daesh and that is terror-related.

So monetarily they may have been motivated by whatever support that may come from this larger group, that could be one. But I would not say that’s the only one.

So essentially, the root cause would be terror itself and the push for radicalism and extremism coming from the larger group of the Daesh or the ISIS.

So the consequences or the impact on narco-terrorism was something that was a revelation when we were inside Marawi itself because of the evidences that have been culled and seen in the area itself as proof of what the President was saying.

So this is something that needs to be followed through, this is something that needs to be investigated and we are doing similar efforts after hearing from PDEA in certain parts of Mindanao where we have been supporting them.

Mr. Morong: And how is that so, sir, funding?

MAJ. GEN. PADILLA: Funding from the larger terror groups. Remember the linkage of these groups to other terror groups previously, they were not Daesh yet. They were part of other like private armies and other previous terror groups that have in comparison with much more moderate  than what they are now.

Mr. Morong: Sir Toby. It’s your time to shine. [laughs] Sir, magkano ‘yung gagastusin natin for rehabilitation and sinabi na kanina we won’t be able to allow muna the residents to return. So first question is how much we are going to spend for the rehabilitation? And second, how soon can we see the residents returning to their homes in Marawi?

ASEC. PURISIMA: First as to how much ‘no, the government has allocated 5 billion this year and — for rehab — and 10 billion next year I mean prospec… Ten, 10 billion next year if the budget is approved as proposed.

But as to the total amount, wala pa tayong total figure kasi nagsisimula pa lang tayo ng ating assessment. At hindi pa rin natin alam ‘yung actual na panahon or timeframe ng pagbabalik talaga ng ating mga IDPs sa Marawi.

Kasi ‘pag sinabing pagbabalik doon eh permanente ‘yon. So mahirap magsabi niyan dahil kakatapos pa lamang. In fact, hindi pa talaga tapos. Certain areas pa lang ang cleared at may clearing pa sa iilang clusters ng barangays ‘no.

Pero ang alam natin, as soon as cleared na ‘yung additional clusters sa barangays or zones na tinatawag, pupunta na ang ating mga assessors doon para mag-assess ng damage and losses. At base doon, gagawa na tayo ng Comprehensive Rehab and Recovery Program para alam na natin ang total na resources na kailangan para dito.

Ngunit this year at next year, meron na tayong identified sources. I mean, sorry, identified amounts. Five plus 10. But of course this is not enough ‘no.

At patuloy pa natin — patuloy pa tayong maghahanap of course with the aid of our budgetary agencies kung paano pa natin ito madadagdagan.

Mr. Morong: For both you and General Padilla, how much have we spent so far for Marawi in terms of the operations?

MAJ. GEN. PADILLA: We have not quantified all that we have spent for this particular battle ‘no. But be that as it may, it is running already in billions of pesos, because what we have spent initially have been contingency funds from the services.

In fact, the ordnance that we have dropped inside Marawi have been more that those that we have used in Zamboanga and elsewhere.

And of course we have to replace this amount of ordnance from among our stocks. And that is the subject of our request for funds right now.

So hindi ko lang ho alam eksakto kung ilang bilyon na kasi hanggang sa ngayon at patuloy pa rin ang labanan at ginagawa pa rin itong pag-quantify ng lahat ng ginastos natin.

Mr. Morong: Kahit ballpark, sir?

ASEC. PURISIMA: Initially, nanghingi po tayo ng halos mahigit dalawang bilyon na initially.

Mr. Morong: Dalawang?

ASEC. PURISIMA: Dalawang bilyon. Dalawang bilyon. Noong nagkaroon po ng budget hearing, ‘yan po malamang ang mapagbibigyan pati sa karagdagang isang bilyon mahigit pa.

So yes. And I guess this is best check with your beats at Congress during the budget hearing because this was subject of the discussions then.

But hindi po ito ang kabuuan ng gastos tulad ng sabi ko dahil patuloy pa ‘yung nangyayari ngayon diyan, kina-quantify namin to on a daily basis.

Mr. Morong: Okay, sir. Thank you.

JP Bencito (Manila Standard): Hi, Spox Abella, sir. Sir, the LTFRB over the weekend, they made claims that the ongoing transport strike might have been linked to destabilization attempts against the present government. Sir, meron ba talagang basis ‘yung ganitong claims? And if not, appropriate ba si Atty. Lizada to make such pronouncements.

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: Well, we do not have formal proof — formal proof that has come — at least come to my desk.

Ms. Lizada is within her purview — is within her jurisdiction to be able to comment regarding those matters.

Mr. Bencito: Sir, diretso na ako doon sa claims ni Presidente. Sir, were there — are there enough basis to say na meron tala — or legitimate basis to say that there is destablization attempts against his administration?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: You know, the President has his own sources. He has his own sources, internal sources which may not be directly available to others.

And so, as he speaks, he stands on his own personally considered evidence.

Mr. Bencito: Sir, related also to destab, the President over the weekend also mentioned about declaring a revolutionary government. Sir, meron bang enough basis based on the present Constitution for the President to declare a revolutionary government if on the premise na ‘yung opposition will be escalating attempts against him?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: I think he made reference to — you know, he made reference to Madam Aquino and about her declaring a revolutionary government, then further back we have the original one, Mr. Aguinaldo.

On the other hand, he has said that he would declare a revolutionary government only if and when the destab attempts against the government would lead to anarchy.

So in other words, he is simply laying the prece — the premise that what could happen.

The President, you have to remember, is again and again has access to all kinds of information. And he may have his own reasons for doing so.

Mr. Bencito: Sir, while… Last na lang po. While threatening the President’s critics with a revolutionary government —

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: He’s not threatening the President’s critics about that. He’s simply saying that if this happens, if it leads to anarchy, this is what the alternative could happen.

Mr. Bencito: But, sir, doesn’t this run smack with the Constitution that the President has vowed to protect, to uphold, and defend, in your opinion, sir?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: Yeah, well, basically the administration is duty-bound to protect the state and especially in his case he wants to protect the integrity of the next generation.

So he’s perfectly within his rights and jurisdiction to be able to say “I am protecting the…” You know, the ground’s already won for the next generation.

AC Nicholls (CNN Philippines): Hi, sir. Good morning, sir. Sir, ‘yung sa transport strike lang. Are there plans for the President to sit down with the transport groups amid the plans nga to phase out old jeepneys? ‘Cause Piston’s George San Mateo is saying na he’s still hoping na magkaroon po ng sit down with the President.

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: Again, this is something that, you know, this request can be advanced to the President and the President is, you know, he’s open to this sort of thing. Although I cannot speak for him regarding this matter specifically.

Reymund Tinaza (Bombo Radyo): I’ll take two minutes. Sir, quick one. Sir, what was the basis of the suspension of classes and government workers today considering that, I understand, there was no official recommendation from LTFRB or any agency?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: Let me read, okay. It’s all in the first sentence, okay.

In view of the continuing transport strike coupled with the possible inclement weather, work in government, both national and local, and classes at all levels, including state universities, are hereby suspended.

As explained to me last night by ES, he says the President was rather concerned about — specifically students who may be caught in no transport and inclement weather.

Mr. Tinaza: Sir, a whispered question. Aren’t you giving so much importance or attention to Piston considering this is just a very small and one group of transport?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: I doubt it. He’s not concerned with that. He’s concerned with the students.

Mr. Tinaza: Okay. Sir what — I understand there are some schools who — in Cebu who did not follow the proclamation of suspension of classes and they still go with the classes. Would there be any liability or sanction to those who did not…

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: The memorandum does not say so.

Mr. Tinaza: Okay. Thank you.

Ms. Gutierrez: Sir, could you answer some criticisms lang ng mga parents doon sa suspension ni President doon sa classes over the last few days. And also, will there be plans na mag-extend or hold extra classes to make up for the suspension, sir?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: Regarding the extension, DepEd will be the one to decide on that. But regarding the criticisms, I’m not aware of that, of which criticisms.

However, having said that, he’s also acting like a parent, actually. He’s actually looking for the greater protection, greater safety of the students.

Ms. Gutierrez: And another, sir, ‘yung criticisms naman over ‘yung productivity naman po ng ating mga government workers. For two days, they’ve been unproductive kasi nga suspended daw po ‘yung klase. And also for contractual employees, they have no pay daw for two days tapos no services pa for some government agencies.

MAJ. GEN. PADILLA: You know, we have to see all of these things in terms of nation building. Everybody pitches in. You know, when there’s a need to belt tighten and then we all — everybody belt tighten. I think we should be able to appreciate that.

Ms. Gutierrez: Thank you, sir.

Leila Salaverria (Philippine Daily Inquirer): Good morning. For the two spokespersons. Sa destab plot. Sir, for General Padilla, ano ba talagang assessment ng military? Because just last week, Secretary Lorenzana said there’s no serious destab plot. And if — as Spokesperson Abella says, the President has his own sources. Does the Commander-in-Chief not share this with the military since he was talking about the CIA and NPA?

MAJ. GEN. PADILLA:  Well, the truth is we only provide some part of what we monitor from our intelligence side. There are other agencies that monitor other parts of our archipelago, as well as other external stations.

The information that goes to the President is all encompassing, as mentioned by Sec. Abella. And we don’t have a hand in the information that the President may initially receive.

Eventually, later on, ‘pag nagkakaroon ng mga national security meeting at nagkakaroon ng fusion ng ating intelligence agencies, these things are pieced together.

And right now, I don’t have a hand. I’m not privy to those information so I cannot speak from where I stand.

Ms. Salaverria: So, on the part of the military, where does our stability stand? May serious destab efforts?

MAJ. GEN. PADILLA: Right now, the military is really focused on addressing the threats coming from terrorism because this is partly external in nature and some internal.

So this is where our efforts and focus are being addressed and as to other parts of our archipelago like other threat groups, we have minimal monitoring at the moment.

But we do keep on monitoring and this is in partnership with the local police of every area.

Like in the area of the NCR, our intelligence agencies are close partners of the police in terms of monitoring.

So so far, based on the last assessment na nakita natin at ‘yung binanggit din ni Secretary Lorenzana the other week, wala kaming nakita doon na major threat pa.

So I don’t know how much evolved the other threats have in the last few days or the last weeks. Then other agencies may have to answer that.

Ms. Salaverria: Sir, ‘yung nababanggit po ni Presidente na CIA and NPA, wala pa siyang nafo-forward sa inyo?

MAJ. GEN. PADILLA: Wala pa po. As far as I’m concerned, wala pa po.

Ms. Salaverria: For Spox Abella. Sir, why is that, sir? Bakit hindi pa po shine-share ni Presidente sa military?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: It’s his nature of — It’s his style of governance. You know, as he said — You know, like he said, he keeps his cards very close to his chest and he listens. This is not to say that it’s… It’s both one way except that he’s quicker to listen than to share.

Ms. Salaverria: But, sir, he mentioned it publicly already, so…

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: That?

Ms. Salaverria: The CIA and NPA threats. He talked about it publicly. So why doesn’t he order the security forces to address this?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: Well, regarding whether… After that statement, whether he shared it or not, I’m not privy to it.

MAJ. GEN. PADILLA: You have a question about NPA?

Ms. Salaverria: NPA, sir. May…

MAJ. GEN. PADILLA: The NPA is something that we continuously monitor. And many of the threats that they pose is really still in existence. Totoo po ‘yun.

Kasi ang NPA po laganap ang kanilang network, hindi lang po sa Mindanao. And most of the threats that we have been monitoring on their part has something to do with efforts to sabotage the economy, like derailing infrastructure projects through the burning of heavy equipment. The derailing of agricultural operations because of their attacks and their attempts to extort.

So this is part of economic sabotage and this is something that impinge on national security. ‘Pag pinababagsak nila ang ating ekonomiya, sinong maapektuhan?  ‘Di ‘yung mga ordinaryong mamamayan na umaasa sa kanilang kinikita sa araw-araw, lalo na sa mga farmers natin and this is something serious.

Kaya nga nabanggit din ng ating Chief of Staff recently na, tapusin lang natin ‘tong Marawi dahil ito ‘yung pinaka-serious na banta.

Pero pagkatapos niyan, all other threats we will focus on, we will address and the NPA is part of it.

Rosalie Coz (UNTV): Hi, sir. Kay Usec. Abella po regarding sa transport strike. Sabi po ng Piston, hindi po ito ‘yung huli nilang nationwide transport strike. Magiging normal or costumbre na po ba ng Malacañang na suspendihin ang klase tuwing po tayong merong nationwide transport strike?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: There’s no assumption regarding that.

Ms. Coz: Sir, as early as March po ay nabanggit niyo po na gusto pong makipag-usap ni Pangulong Duterte sa mga transport strikers pero —

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: I don’t know if the word is “gusto” but I’m sure, like I said, if I remember my statement right, that he may be open to that aspect.

Ms. Coz: Ano po ang naging mga balakid kung bakit po hindi natuloy ‘yung pakikipag-usap ng Pangulo sa transport strikers?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: Ay hindi ko po alam kung meron bang intention to be invited, you know. I don’t know the exact process that happened. But like I said, he may be open to that.

One… I’d like to make an announcement.

As of 17 October, day 148. As of Monday, 16 October:

Enemies neutralized – 847

Civilians killed – 47

Civilians rescued – 1,770

Recovered firearms – 846

Recovered unexploded ordnance – 29

Recovered IED – [21]

Government casualties, killed-in-action – 163

Buildings cleared – 9; October 16 – 7

Cash donations for the AFP Marawi casualty – P102,647,084.03

And for the IDPs – P1,136,595.

Thank you.

 

—END—

 

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