24 April 2017

From Presidential Spokesperson Ernie Abella – On the SWS First Quarter 2017 Survey regarding property crime

The First Quarter 2017 Social Weather Stations (SWS) survey saying 6.3% of families lost property to street robbery, burglars (break-ins), or carnappers within the past six months validates earlier reports showing an increase in crime after the Philippine National Police (PNP) suspended Oplan Tokhang and Project Double Barrel last January.

The temporary suspension of police anti-drug operations proved to be a window of opportunity for illegal drug violators to engage in burglary and car theft.

The 6.3% figure, however, is still 1.3% below the 2016 annual average of 7.6%.

The same survey showed a steady number, at 52%, of drug addicts in the neighborhood as perceived by respondents; meaning, there was no decrease in the number of drug addicts from last December’s figure, which can likewise be attributed to the temporary halt of police anti-drug operations.

From Presidential Spokesperson Ernie Abella – On the beheading of a soldier by the Abu Sayyaf Group

We strongly condemn the beheading of Staff Sergeant Anni Siraji of the 32nd Infantry Battalion (32IB).

The fallen soldier was abducted by the members of the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) in Igasan, Patikul, Sulu, on April 20 while he was on his way for a peace and development mission. The cadaver of Staff Sergeant Siraji was found in the vicinity of Sitio Kan Suil, Barangay Tagbili, Patikul, Sulu at 2pm yesterday, April 23.

While Staff Sergeant Siraji was a soldier, he was a MNLF member who decided to trade his rifle as a fighter to become a peacemaker and agent of development to his fellow Tausugs.

This barbaric act committed by ASG to a fellow Tausug has no place in a civilized society. We call on all citizens to remain vigilant, alert and watchful and to cooperate with our security forces as our troops continues to pursue this bandit group and hold them accountable for their brutal and senseless crimes.

This is our assurance to the family of Staff Sergeant Siraji: That we would not stop until justice is served. Let us work against common criminals to have safer and more secure communities.

From Presidential Spokesperson Ernie Abella – On Atty Jude Josue Sabio, lawyer of Mr. Edgardo Matobato, asking the International Criminal Court in The Hague to hold PRRD accountable for mass murder in the Philippines

The timing of the filing of the case is suspect – apparently meant to create negative news in the midst of the Philippines ASEAN debut; as it cannot prosper. International Criminal Court rules provide that the ICC, as a court of last resort, will only exercise jurisdiction over a case once legal remedies in the Philippines have been exhausted.

Atty. Sabio or his client, Mr. Edgardo Matobato, did not avail/exhaust all domestic remedies allowed under the Philippine Constitution.

Furthermore, an independent Senate investigated the charges hurled against the President with self-confessed hitman Mr. Matobato as star witness. As such, there is no unwillingness or inability on the part of the State to investigate and prosecute the President.

The so-called “Extrajudicial killings”, are not state-sanctioned or state-sponsored. Police authorities are conducting legitimate operations that require observance of operational protocols and those who breach procedures are made to answer before the law.

The Philippine National Police (PNP) has an Internal Affairs Service (IAS) tasked to probe police accused of violating procedures. This body can suspend or dismiss PNP personnel based on violations incurred and can recommend the filing of criminal charges.

The intent of this filing in ICC is clearly to embarrass and shame the President, and undermine the duly constituted government of the Philippines. It is a cynical effort against the reform-oriented agenda of the Duterte Administration and of the betterment of the lives of the Filipino people.