Press Briefing by Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella and DILG Secretary Ismael “Mike’ Sueno
Press Briefing Room, New Executive Building, Malacañang
05 January 2017
PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: Good morning. Today we’re blessed to have the DILG Secretary Ismael Sueno. He is no stranger to the Malacañang Press Corps. This is his second time to join us.

Prior to his appointment to the DILG, Sec. Sueno has been active in various local and community organizations in South Cotabato.

He founded the South Cotabato Foundation Incorporated and Tinguha Foundation which are helping the poor in the province.

Ladies and gentlemen of the Malacañang Press Corps, let us all welcome Secretary Sueno.

SEC. SUENO: Hello. Good evening. Good morning sa inyong lahat ‘no. Magandang umaga. Siguro maawa naman kayo sa akin ano.


Rocky Ignacio (PTV 4): Would you like to take questions now, sir?

SEC. SUENO: Yeah, sure, sure. I’m ready. Ready and willing.

Cedric Castillo (GMA 7): Good morning, Sec., Cedric Castillo po of GMA 7. Sir, can you please expound on the supposed terror threat, sir, on the Traslación? And will the government recommended having it cancelled as it did 2012?

SEC. SUENO: No, I do not think that the government will advise for the cancellation of this traditional practice, which has long been done since how many years ago.

So, we will just try our best to really keep our people safe. This is why we have the PNP, the military, and the other armed groups in our government to really help contain the — or maintain peace and order and keep our people safe because we heard there will be out 18 million, from 15 million to 18 million who will participate. This is a very big event ‘no.

Mr. Castillo:  Sir, pwede po kaming makahingi ng details doon sa supposed threat po, sir? ‘Yung pwede lang na i-share po?

SEC. SUENO: Well, ang threat alam niyo naman, ‘yung Maute group at tsaka ‘yung maybe ang Abu Sayyaf ‘no, but mainly the Maute group. They are connected with the ISIS.

But, I am glad to inform you today, I don’t know if you learned about this already that the leader of the Khalifa group in Palimbang, “Commander Tokboy” was killed in an encounter, somewhere in Kitagas, Kiamba, Sarangani.

So this happened only this morning. So ang Khalifa, Khilafah, or Khalifa group, Khilafah, Khalifa, yeah, Khalifa, Khalifa is somehow rumored to be connected with the ISIS group.

So ‘yun lang baka mag-retaliate, iyon ang problema natin ‘yung retaliation. That’s why you have to double, triple our preparations sa security.

Benjie Liwanag (DZBB): Sir, on that note, ‘yung doon po sa intelligence natin, are we also coordinating with some of the international borders na pwedeng maaaring pumasok din dito sa bansa to para tumulong po dito sa mga sinasabi natin na Maute and also the Abu Sayyaf?

SEC. SUENO: Of course, yes. Anybody who can help us local or international. We are accepting them, we are welcoming them.

But, of course, I’d like to tell you that with the MILF, we have a very good partnership with the MILF. I’d like to also inform you that only last December 21st, we had a meeting with the MILF, the PDEA, the Armed Forces ‘no, Army, and PNP, the NICA, in Davao last December —and the council of the MILF ‘no, nandoon ‘yung chief of staff nila ng military.

Kasi they are really sincere in helping us in this drive against drugs. So medyo may problema, they were the ones who asked for the meeting kasi may mga problema tayo doon ‘no, especially in the apprehension, ‘yung may na-turnover sila na a group of mga Muslim na involved sa drugs. Na-turnover pero nagkaproblerma ang PDEA at saka PNP sa legality ‘no.

So we tried to thresh that out kung ano ang gagawin. So we are very glad that they were the ones who initiated a move to call for this meeting.

Mr. Liwanag: Sir, how would we reconcile, yesterday isa sa mga interview ng BJMP, noong sinasabi nila, doon po sa Kidapawan, sa North Cotabato, ilan sa mga lumusob ay mula sa tropa ng MILF. Meron po silang nabanggit na Moro Islamic Liberation Front. Ito ho ba’y nakarating na sa inyo itong report na ito or nakausap niyo na po ang Bureau of Jail Management and Penology about this matter, sir?

SEC. SUENO: That was the initial report in the morning, when I received — early morning when I received the, ano ‘yun, ‘yung text message, I immediately called ang tao natin doon sa Kidapawan, sa Amas ‘no.

Pero, although already called itong RD natin sa police PNP, he was on his way to Amas na pala. ‘Yung chief natin sa jail, he was on his way sa airport siya papunta ng ano—

Pero anyway, tinawagan ko ‘yung provincial warden natin, sabi niya, initial report niya, sabi ko, “Sino ang nag-atake?”

So sabi niya, initial report is kasama ang BIFF, kasama ang MILF, lalo na may commander ‘no, there is this commander, ‘yung—Esmael Nasser ‘no, kapangalan ko pa, Esmael Nasser ‘no, [Debri?] alias Commander [Debri?] who led the attack ‘no sa ano, kasama daw ang MILF.

So I was worried. Sabi ko, I was worried. Bakit MILF? So vinerify (verify) ko, I called up si Commander Sammy Almanzor, ito ang chief of staff ng MILF military ‘no, military command nila, BIAF, BIAF, Bangsamoro Islamic Army ano.

So I called him up and sabi ko, “Totoo ba na, general?” Sabi ko — kasi kaibigan din kami. Sabi ko, “General, totoo ba na kasama doon ang MILF sa pag-atake sa ano, sa jail natin, sa Amas?” Sabi niya, “No, no, wala.”

“But do you know a certain Commander [Debri?], Esmael Nasser alias Commander [Debri?]?” Sabi niya, “Wala kaming alam na member namin, na commander namin, so hindi namin alam ‘yan.”

So I have to tell you frankly, we are not involved. Sabi ko, “I was told that you have a military camp near the provincial jail in Amas?” Sabi niya, “No, wala. Wala kaming military camp doon.”

So I also called up the vice chairman, si Ghazali Jaafar. He’s also a friend ‘no. So sabi niya, “Wala, we are not involved.” So doon ako, ako I believe them, I believe them.

Sabi nga nila sa akin, sabi niya, “We will cooperate if there is anybody, ‘yung any escapee who will go into our area will apprehend them.” At saka, “Kanino namin i-turnover?” Sabi ko, “Doon na kay Major General Galvez of the Army.” Kasi Cotabato, malapit doon si General Galvez, ‘yung Regional Commander kasi namin ng pulis doon si General Santos.

Mr. Liwanag: Thank you very much, sir.

Rose Novenario (Hataw): Good morning, sir. Sir, may report po kahapon na noon daw pong December 31 and 1, meron na raw pong advance info ‘yung isang preso or isang jail leader doon sa —

SEC. SUENO: Si Capalla?

Ms. Novenario: Opo, sa BJMP provincial warden na meron daw pong planong pag-rescue ng mga armed group. Pero December 31 and 1 lang daw po nagkaroon ng additional troops ang BJMP tapos after that daw po normal na uli ‘yung operation kaya raw po parang natiyempuhan na parang lax ‘yung security ng BJMP?

SEC. SUENO: Oo, kaya tinanong ko rin ‘yan si Warden Bungat ‘no. Sabi ko, “May tip pala kayo na —“ Sabi niya, “Opo.”  Ano, sinabi din niya na nakatanggap din siya. That’s why he alerted the Provincial Public Safety Battalion, provincial — PPSC ano, Provincial Public Safety Battalion and also the Army, that’s why noong nag-lusob ‘yung ano, ‘yung mga ano, nandiyan na, sandali lang, nandoon ‘yung reinforcement.

Ms. Novenario: So bakit po kailangan makarating pa sa jail ‘yung–? Kung meron pong advance intel report, bakit po kailangan nakarating pa sa jail ‘yung armed group, hindi po na-prevent ‘yon bago pa makarating doon sa jail?

SEC. SUENO: Kasi ‘yung forested area ‘yung ano, ‘yung sa likod ng jail, forested, so hindi talaga nila makita. At saka hindi man nakalapit ‘yung mga attackers, nandoon lang sila, binaril lang nila ‘yung ano, nandoon.

Pero nakaganti, naka-respond kaagad ‘yung mga jail at saka PNP natin doon kaya hindi nakalapit ‘yung ano, ‘yung mga attackers ‘no.

Ms. Novenario: Pero still po, nangyari pa rin ‘yung attack?

SEC. SUENO: Yeah, nangyari talaga. So hindi talaga natin malaman kung kalian eh ‘di ba? Although prepared din sila, prepared din.

Reymund Tinaza (Bombo Radyo): Hi, sir. Maayong aga. Sir, balikan ko lang ‘yung sa security threat sa Traslación. Sir paki-clarify lang kasi may, baka ‘yung level of threat kasi nandiyan naman lagi ‘yung threat ng ASG ng Maute group. Pero based on your information, gaano ‘yung level ng — ‘yung threat level na inyong natanggap na they are actually in Metro Manila now or is still — it’s just a plan?

SEC. SUENO: May mga reports that’s why we are not leaving — we are moving everything ‘no, lahat ng preparations ginagawa na natin. We are not leaving anything to chance at all ‘no.

So basta… As long as we know that there is a threat ‘no, we consider it big already ‘no. That’s why our preparations are also big.

Mr. Tinaza: Sir, I don’t know if you can answer or ‘yung—kasi ‘yung security concern. Will you advise or recommend ‘yung shutting down of the signals of cellphone in the perimeter, in the area?

SEC. SUENO: Well, that has to be studied. We have to thoroughly study that ‘no. Confirmed na? So maybe it was ano, naka-decide na sila on ano… Confirmed na ba talaga? Ah, yeah okay, yeah okay.

Ina Andolong (CNN Philippines): Just a quick one, sir, earlier si Cedric tinanong if you will recommend cancellation, how about discouraging people from attending because that’s what actually the former President Aquino did when there was a threat in 2012, I believe.

SEC. SUENO: Yeah, discouraging people ‘no. Maski na i-discourage natin, but it’s their faith eh. Parang ano nila, if they go there they firmly believe, strongly believe that God will protect them.

So paano mo ma-discourage ‘yung faith ng isang tao ‘no na they will be safe going there ‘no? So, parang maski ang simbahan natin or ‘yung mga — as far as I can remember, nababasa natin. Maski ‘yung mga Obispo natin, some of them are even discouraging to be that really parang devoted, parang ano lang—

Kung minsan sobra-sobra na ba ang ano nila. Even our bishops do that ‘no. Pero hindi mo matatanggal sa tao ‘yan eh. Kasi that’s their native faith ‘no. Parang ‘yun nga, so hindi natin maalis sa mga tao ‘yan.

Marlon Ramos (The Philippine Daily Inquirer): Good morning, Secretary. Can you discuss how grave, how specific are the threats regarding the Traslación?

SEC. SUENO: Well, dati na ‘yan eh, ‘yung mga Maute, maski sa Mindanao marami ding threats ‘no. That’s why we are discouraging people there to go to ‘yung places na maraming tao ‘no.

So sa Mindanao, it’s… Halos lahat ng mga malls doon, mga ano, sa mga cities at saka big municipalities in Mindanao, may mga threats na rin eh. So dito, ‘yung threat dito, lalong malaki itong grupo sa Manila.

May mga nare-receive din tayo intelligence reports na dito rin, that’s why we are not leaving everything to chance ‘no. We are doing everything preparing lahat na maitulong natin, we are really preparing. 

Mr. Ramos: But this intel info Secretary, did it mean na merong mga BIFF members or Abu Sayyaf members who are actually here in Metro Manila planning to carry out the attacks?

SEC. SUENO: That’s possible at saka ‘yung mga ISIS group, Maute. Kaya nga ‘yung kinakabahan ko ‘yung…Hindi rin kinakabahan ‘no pero ‘yung pagkapatay kay Commander Tokboy ‘no only today this morning. So baka…

Mr. Ramos: Retaliatory?

Iyon din ang isa sa mga…Oo, iyong mga may moves sila sa retaliatory kagaya ng nangyari din sa Cotabato. 

Ewan ko kung alam niyo ito na eh di nangyari ‘yung putukan, ‘yung exchange of fire. About five o’clock parang na-encounter ng mga pulis natin ‘yung isang commander – Sakar Commander — Sakar ba ‘yon? Former commander ng MNLF. Napatay siya sa encounter dahil isa siya sa nagtulong sa mga escapees ‘no, so na-encounter napatay na siya. 

In the afternoon of that day kasi nangyari ‘yan, 5 o’clock in the morning of yesterday pagka-kahapon, parang 50 to 60 people, armed people ‘no, na gustong mag-retaliate din sa pagkapatay ni Commander Sakar ng MNLF, former MNLF commander. So mabuti na ano, na naka-prepare ‘yung mga PNP natin.

Mr. Ramos: Sir, has the President been briefed regarding the —

SEC. SUENO: We already gave reports to Malacañang. May written reports kami.

Mr. Ramos: Nakausap niyo na po si Presidente regarding —

SEC. SUENO:  Hindi pa. Hindi pa kami nag-uusap.

Mr. Ramos: Sir, pardon me for pointing this out ha. If the government failed to act on the tip regarding the attack on the Kidapawan jail, how can the government assure the people that everything is being done to secure the Translación 2017?

SEC. SUENO:  So there was a tip ‘no and the warden has informed the PNP and the military that’s why it took only a few ano, minutes or maybe — for the help to arrive coming from the PNP and the military.

Actually, nabombahan na ‘yung lugar na nag-eskapo doon ang mga attackers eh.

Mr. Ramos: No, sir, but if the security forces failed to act or failed to prevent the attack on the Kidapawan jail —

SEC. SUENO:  Kasi hindi natin alam kung kailan ‘yun eh, itong ‘yung sa Translación, alam natin na it will be on the 9th. Hindi ba?

Doon sa pag-attack doon. Sabi nila, hindi naman sinabi na January 4 a-attack sila eh, ‘di ba? So after ano. So hindi alam ng mga warden natin na ano, January 4 pala sila a-attack.

Mr. Ramos: Did the jail warden tell you how they prepared for the — ?

SEC. SUENO: Oh yeah, sinabi niya. That’s why beforehand, he already informed the Provincial Public Safety Command about the tip and also the military.

Mr. Ramos: And despite the threat, the warden still chose to leave the jail facility because you said he was actually going to Manila, he’s on the way to Manila?

SEC. SUENO:  Wala… I don’t… Hindi sinabi sa akin that he was going to Manila. The BJMP chief Barretto was going from Manila to Mindanao.

Mr. Ramos: Ah okay. Sir, ‘yung ano, ‘yung binanggit po ng MILF. Is the government taking the denial of the MILF hook, line, and sinker without doing any thorough investigation if indeed MILF members were involved in the attack?

SEC. SUENO: Well, we are doing our own investigation but me, I personally believe the words of General Sammy Almanzor and Vice Chairman Ghadzali Jaafar.

Mr. Ramos: Will you engage or — the participation of the joint monitoring team or the CCH regarding this, if indeed it —

SEC. SUENO:  Yes, yes, yes. The CCH and the ADJAG.

Mr. Castillo: Sir, just a follow-up on the Translación threat, sir. Sir, kapag ganitong may mga credible intel, sir, does the government have powers to advise or compel the Church to reconsider holding the feast, sir?

SEC. SUENO: Well, the government can advise and talk to perhaps our Church leaders ‘no, kung talagang very strong ang threat ‘no. So depende man din sa ano — sa Presidente at saka sa mga security advisers natin.

Mr. Castillo: Pero ngayon, sir, hindi gagawin ng government ‘yan to advise or —

SEC. SUENO:  Maybe tomorrow we will have the joint AFP-PNP Command Conference, we will discuss that.

Mr. Castillo: Thank you, sir.

Dexter Ganibe (DZMM): Hi, Sec. Good afternoon.

SEC. SUENO:  Yes, yes, maawa naman kayo sa akin. [laughs]

Mr. Ganibe: Clarification lang, Sec. Konti na lang. Sec, clarification lang, ‘yung threat sa Translación specific threat ba ito or general threat lang?

SEC. SUENO:  Sa tingin namin general threat that’s why we are really preparing. General or specific, we prepare lalo na maraming tao itong Translación ‘no.

Maski general o specific, maski ano, basta threat at saka maraming tao, napakaraming tao, akala mo 18, maski 15 to 18 million na tao.

Iyon ba tama ba ‘yon? 18 million ang expected na ano, dadalo? Ah three million lang. Maski 3 million or 1 million, kadaming tao ‘yan so we are not leaving anything to chance at all.

Mr. Ganibe: Sir, ‘yung binabanggit niyo kanina, you received reports saying what — na nandito na sa Manila ‘yung Maute group?

SEC. SUENO: Yeah, may mga intelligence reports ‘no na meron…Kasi hindi natin maano ‘yan kasi mga terrorist groups ito eh. Parang ito funded din from outside. So talaga there is this strong possibility na nandito na rin sila.

Mr. Liwanag: Sir, we’re talking only of Quiapo pero ang Translación, hindi lang po sa Quiapo gagawin, meron din pong Cagayan de Oro…Do we have the same threat also as here in Manila? Kasi baka meron pong retaliatory, mas malapit ‘yung Cagayan de Oro from Mindanao — it’s part of Mindanao, I mean.

SEC. SUENO: Yeah, sa amin sa Mindanao, lahat ng matataong lugar we advise them to be very careful sa Cagayan de Oro. Well, ‘yung may mga policemen at saka mga military din tayo doon, they are on red alert — full alert talaga.

Mr. Liwanag: Thank you, sir.

Tina Mendez (Philippine Star): Sir, good afternoon. Pa-clarify lang, sir, doon sa assessment niyo ng threat, anong alert level na sina-suggest niyo? Is it in the level of the district level, buong Metro Manila, nationwide? Paano niyo ina-assess?

SEC. SUENO:  Sa ngayon nationwide talaga, nationwide ang level, ang alert.

Ms. Mendez: Ano, sir? Red alert, sir? Blue alert? Ano, sir?

SEC. SUENO: Parang, I think red, talagang full alert.

Ms. Mendez: Full alert, all levels meaning all police and military personnel are directed to be on duty? Bawal ba sila mag-leave?

SEC. SUENO:  Oo, that’s right. Nationwide ito eh.

Ms. Mendez: Sir, when did you declare that?

SEC. SUENO:  Ano po?

Ms. Mendez: Kelan po na-declare ‘yung red alert niyo?

SEC. SUENO: Ang ano dito is ‘yung mga PNP natin sila rin talaga ang nagde-declare ng red alert, full alert, sila. Not coming from me but from the PNP kasi alam nila talaga ang sitwasyon.

Ms. Mendez: Sir, ‘yung red alert as a result ng intelligence report na may Maute group dito o sumabay na rin ‘yung ano, jailbreak?

SEC. SUENO:  Tingin ko hindi related ‘yun eh kasi itong si Commander [Debri?], nakatakas ito last year sa presuhan ‘no.

Parang may tinarget sila kasi, kasi parang nabayaran na rin ito sila. Kasi binayaran para palayain ‘yung ano, itakas ‘yung – ang report sa akin apat na drug related case din ‘no, na apat nasa loob, itakas ‘yan nila ‘no.

Pero unfortunately for them, ‘yung apat na ‘yun nasa selda, nasa locked cell. Kasi doon sa jail, 1,500 ang inmates. So hindi lahat maipasok sa selda, sa locked cell so ‘yung iba na hindi mapasok, doon na sa labas pero within the compound pa rin ‘no. Doon sila sa labas, sa mga shaded areas sa labas, doon natutulog. So ‘yung naka-eskapo ‘yung nasa labas, hindi ‘yung — walang nakalabas doon sa selda, sa locked cell.

So ‘yung apat na ‘yun nandoon, hindi din nila nakuha. So karamihan ng naka-eskapo puro mga — karamihan mga Kristiyano so kaunti lang talaga ang mga Muslim doon na naka-eskapo.

Ms. Mendez: One follow-up, sir. Sorry, sorry. So, sir, na-mention niyo naman ‘yung mga groups like Maute, may financing from abroad, can you be particular about that?

SEC. SUENO: Iyon ang naririnig natin kasi ISIS ‘di ba? ISIS sa abroad ‘yan, hindi naman ‘yan local.

So kung ISIS, related to ISIS, we are sure ang funding nila is coming from the outside.

Ms. Mendez: Sir, do you have specifics regarding money trail going from abroad to Maute or like the Khalifa group —

SEC. SUENO:  Hindi pa natin maano ‘yan. Basta those are intelligence reports so wala tayong specific trail, wala akong masabi na talagang specific trail ng money.

Ms. Mendez: Sir, just one more thing, sir. Your intelligence report, A1information or raw reports?

SEC. SUENO:  No, these are coming from our national intelligence.

Ms. Mendez: Counterparts abroad, sir? Counterparts abroad?


Ms. Mendez: Thank you, sir.

Mr. Ramos: Sir, before we ask you about your opinion on the appointment of Mocha Uson to the MTRCB, let me ask you first regarding the… Sir, are there target hardening operations to get the Maute and Abu Sayyaf members before they could even carry out the bombing?

SEC. SUENO:  Kasi ito largely operation ito ng AFP, ano. So, we have contacts with the AFP, the military so pero…Eh kasi operation ito nila ano, ng ano Maute so maybe we can ask the AFP spokesman regarding this.

Mr. Ramos: Did you ask for assistance from the AFP regarding the deployment of personnel along the routes of — routes of the Translación?

SEC. SUENO: Well, bukas maa-ano natin ‘yan sa AFP-PNP Command Conference.

So I think all of them are mobilized, lahat talaga. We do not even have to ask them, talagang coordinated ‘yan sila sa malaking activity like Translación ‘no. So ready itong AFP at saka PNP natin.

Mr. Ramos: Eh ‘yung specific soldiers to be deployed in the route? Will there be a —

SEC. SUENO:  I think so, may coordination na ’yan sila lahat.

Mr. Ramos: Sir, just last one on the Kidapawan jailbreak. Sir, ‘nung nabanggit niyo, kasi ‘di ba the BJMP warden received a tip, a report regarding the plan but during the jailbreak, I think there were only 20 jail guards. Is that enough, sir? That —

SEC. SUENO: Hindi nga eh. Kaya kulang talaga ‘yung tao natin. BJMP talagang kulang na kulang.

Mr. Ramos: So after receiving that info, walang additional personnel deployed to secure that jail facility?

SEC. SUENO:  Iyon na nga, na-coordinate niya sa PNP at saka sa military. ‘Yun ang maganda sa ano natin, sa jail warden, na-coordinate niya. That’s why it did not take long for the PNP and the military to assist. Binombahan na ‘yan ng ano eh ng military ‘yung attackers.

Mr. Ramos: But, bakit wala pong additional deployment if that’s the case?

SEC. SUENO:  Doon?

Mr. Ramos: Yes sir, specifically —

SEC. SUENO: We have to investigate that kung totoo na ano, na walang additional, hindi sila talaga full alert, I will investigate that.

Vanz Fernandez (DZRJ): Yes, good morning, sir.


Ms. Fernandez: As you have said that the jailbreak, the BJMP responded but it seems that they are not alert. Don’t you think so? During the jailbreak, yes.

SEC. SUENO:  They are not alerted? I mean, they are not in full alert? Sa tingin ko —

Ms. Fernandez: They responded but they are not alert. Don’t you think so?

SEC. SUENO:  They were not alerted. I think they were alerted pero kung…Ang info ko is mga 30 ang mga jail guards natin, more than 20 ang nandoon, that is more than half already ano. So much more than half so meaning, para alerted din sila, may preparations din sila.

Ms. Fernandez: Follow-up question, sir. Aside from the AFP and PNP that you deployed for the additional personnel to different jailbreaks in Mindanao and also in Metro Manila, what measures will you try to apply similar to these incidents in Cotabato to avoid this in our country especially in Metro Manila?

SEC. SUENO: Well, as I said there already preparations para Translación. In fact, again siguro i-finalize pa ito bukas sa AFP-PNP Command Conference.

Ang Translación is one of the subjects that we will tackle ‘no — activities that we will tackle and prepare for.

Henry Uri (DRZH): Hi sir, good morning, marami ng…

SEC. SUENO: Gumaan na ang loob ko dahil si Henry na, kaibigan ko itong si Henry eh.

Mr. Uri:  Sec., maraming paraan ng pagpapakita ng pananampalataya ano ho. Kayo ba bilang, I think, Katoliko rin, mairerekomenda niyo ba sa publiko na ipagpaliban muna ‘yung pag-attend dito sa Translación dahil sa tindi ng banta ng seguridad kagaya ng binanggit ninyo na meron ng mga ilan miyembro ng Maute group?

SEC. SUENO: Alam—hindi lang Katoliko, I am…Kamuntik na ako mag-pari.

Mr. Uri: Oho.

SEC. SUENO: Nine years ako sa seminary. Kasi ng…Ito ‘no napag-aralan namin ‘yung faith ng mga—lalo ng mga tao sa mga barangays, talagang very deep ‘yung kanilang faith, ‘yung belief nila ay sa—they think that they are safe with God, especially ito sa practice na ito.

They believe that God will keep them safe. You cannot help ‘no. You cannot prevent them, from exercising their faith. So talagang wala tayong magawa.

Mr. Uri: Bahala ng si Lord, Secretary.

SEC. SUENO: Yeah, bahala na Lord. I think the Lord listens. God, we have a God who listen, we have a God who cares ‘no. We have a God who attends to everyone.

I think He will attend to this…I think God loves the Philippines, hindi ba? He loves the Philippines so much, I think so, and I believe so. I think I believe that nothing will happen in the Translación.

Mr. Uri: Thank you, Secretary.

Ted Tuvera (Daily Tribune): Good afternoon, Secretary.

SEC. SUENO: Yes, yes, sir.

Mr. Tuvera: Sir, ‘yung mga operations ng mga nagaganap ngayon, halimbawa, ‘yung sinabi ninyo po na ‘yung Maute ay nasa Maynila na, tapos recently may mga naganap where in—halimbawa, ‘yung nangyari sa Agusan, sa Lanao ba ‘yun, ‘yung may mga na-ambush daw na PSG. Sir, we are under the state of lawlessness. Sir, are you saying na ‘yung state of lawlessness na ito ay palpak dahil nagaganap ‘yung mga ganitong operations?

SEC. SUENO: Hindi ang state of lawlessness kasi, we are — primary purpose there is to ask the help of the military.

So lalo na dito sa drive against drugs ‘no, campaign against drugs. Hindi ko naman sinasabi na failure itong lawlessness kasi na-activate natin lahat ang—lalo na sa airports we are maintaining peace and order.

So sa tingin ko maganda itong state of lawlessness eh. So nakakatulong sa pag-maintain ng peace and order.

Mr. Tuvera:  Sir, ‘yung security treat, sir, sa Translación extended rin ba ‘yun sa mga events gaya ‘nung sa Miss Universe pageant, sir?

SEC. SUENO: Yes, yes definitely. So kasi ‘yung PNP and DILG is also in-charge of the security sa…Kaya parang mamayang hapon may meeting din kami eh regarding security ng Miss Universe. So we are prepared  ‘no. Ang PNP is always prepared.

Rose Novenario (Hataw): Sir, good afternoon po ulit. Sir.


Ms. Novenario: Sir, bilang DILG Secretary po, ano po ‘yung inyong direktiba sa mga local government officials regarding po sa counter terrorism efforts at campaign against drugs po ng DILG and Duterte administration as a whole?

SEC. SUENO: Well, sa local government units, we have the RP—first of all we have the regional peace and order council, we have the provincial peace and order council, we have the municipal peace order council, we have the barangay peace and order council.

All of them are concerned with maintaining peace and order in their locality up to the barangay level, may pondo ‘yan sila eh. So magagamit ‘yan nila ang pondo nila.

That why, dito programa natin sa Masa Masid ‘no where we are encouraging people to volunteer informations especially informations that will keep their barangay safe. Iyon bang—kung may mga suspicious looking people i–report nila. 

Lalo na dito, I have been appealing to our civilians doon sa North Cotabato. Kung may nakita kayong suspicious-looking people na sa tingin niyo mga escapees ito, so i-report ninyo sa nearest police or military.

Mr. Tuvera: Thank you, sir.

SEC. SUENO: Okay, thank you.

Mr. Castillo: Sir, sundutan ko lang po, sir, may info kasi na—paki-bigyan po kami details. Mayroon daw mga bagong magbibigay ng — donate ng billion of pesos para doon sa mga bagong rehab center, sir?

SEC. SUENO: Yes, yes. Well, you know, ang SMC mayroon — ah nagbigay na. Ang SMC parang one and dagdagan ng another billion parang two billion ‘yun ‘no. SMC, Mr. Ramon Ang. That was done already in Davao. I think it that was in October or November ‘no.

Mr. Castillo: Parang private personalities daw meron po?

SEC. SUENO: Oh kaya nga si Ramon Ang is a private person. So itong MegaWorld, MegaWorld, may memo of agreement din kami.

I think ang total nila is about 1.4 billion. Ang isa pa DMCI, DMCI has already given. Ang Ayala has already informed me that they are prepared, hindi pa natin alam kung magkano. Pero we are negotiating with them na ‘yung mega rehabilitation center natin in Nueva Ecija is too big ‘no. Baka mahirapan tayong mag-maintain ng very big facility like the Nueva Ecija.

So we are negotiating with these donors na kung puwede hati-hatiin lang natin na 500 to 1,000 lang ang capacity. So kung pwede tig-500, 500 para ma-divide natin ito into several provinces kasi maraming provinces din na willing mag-donate ng rehab.

Maraming provinces, mga cities, marami rin ‘no. At saka we are very glad to inform you that many of our Church people from Catholic Church, the Protestant church and the Ulama’s who have volunteered.

Actually several of them have already initiated this move to rehabilitate our drug surrenderers. So marami na. So, we are glad that everybody is helping not only the government but also the civic and the religious sectors of the country.

SEC. SUENO: Iyong paa ko parang na anon a namaga. So salamat din sa inyo at least I survive all your questions. Okay, thank you.

Presidential Spokesperson Abella: I just like to have a few statements. Japan Times, the most widely-read English language newspaper in Japan carried the CNN story stating Asia’s Best Year goes to President Rodrigo Duterte.

CNN had named President Duterte as the big winner in Asia in 2016 and we quote: “For now, the Philippine leader’s unconventional moves seem a harbinger of things to come. This is no pivot to China, but a disruption of the old normal. Rodrigo Duterte ended 2016 seeking to rebalance his nation’s ties, improve the life of the average Filipino and make the Philippines — a one-time economic and trade powerhouse — great again.”

And for that Asia’s Best Year goes to Duterte. It’s heartening to know that a certain media agencies are able to notice the good things the President is doing.

Regarding the update on rehab. I like to add to add to that. The Mega Drug Abuse Treatment and Rehabilitation Center in Fort Magsaysay is expecting to admit 200 patients by the end of January.

Also regarding the statement made by the Secretary, the Department of Health signed the Memorandum of Agreement yesterday January 4, 2017 with ARCHIGLOBAL to build the next Mega Drug Abuse Treatment and Rehabilitation Center inside the military camp in Carmen, Bohol.

Also, regarding the Feast of the Black Nazarene just to emphasize a few more details. Although sources in the intelligence community have warned of possible disturbances during the Feast of the Black Nazarene on Monday, on January 9, several government agencies will be working together to secure the celebration of the Feast of the Black Nazarene on January 9. They include: The Philippine National Police, the Armed Forces of the Philippines, the Philippine Coast Guard, Department of Public Works and Highways, Department of Health, and Manila City Department of Public Services which have all laid out their plans in conjunction and cooperation to keep the devotees of the Black Nazarene safe.

Regarding the joint exercises with Russia, supposedly. The President has said before that he is open to joint military exercises with Russia. The goodwill visit by the Russian Navy will contribute to the strengthening of friendship with the Philippine Navy. It is also an indication that our maritime cooperation can further be enhanced to enable diplomacy and camaraderie.

Also in conversation with Secretary of National Defense, he said that all of these things will be dependent on the signing of an MOU, which was initiated in 2014 and this will provide the framework regarding the terms of engagement from military to military, visiting students, cultural exchanges, and joint military exercises. Any questions?

Leila Salaverria (The Philippine Daily Inquirer): Good morning, sir. Sir, clarification lang on the joint military exercises. The President has said he doesn’t want any foreign troops in the country whether American or Russian, Chinese? So how will this affect the conduct of possible military —

Presidential Spokesperson Abella: As far as we understand it, he was referencing permanent stay — you know, but joint exercises maybe something that they consider.

Ms. Salaverria: Sir, on another topic. When can we expect the President can decide on the SSS pension increase so that the pensioners will know whether they have something to wait for?

Presidential Spokesperson Abella: There will be a Cabinet meeting soon. So, let’s keep that as part of our timeline.

Mr. Ramos: Sir, where is the President and where did he spend the last few days kasi unlike the previous weeks, months, he is very visible in public, the last few days walang public engagement si Presidente?

Presidential Spokesperson Abella: He’s been spending quiet time.

Mr. Ramos: Bakit?

Presidential Spokesperson Abella: Personal time, quiet time.

Mr. Ramos: In Davao or?

Presidential Spokesperson Abella: He will be flying…I think he is in Davao. He will be flying to — coming soon. I think he is visiting the Russian ship tomorrow. 

Mr. Ramos: Pero kamusta po si Presidente?

Presidential Spokesperson Abella: Maayos. No but as far as I know he is well.

Ms. Ranada: Good afternoon. Usec, ‘yung the new drug rehab center you mentioned earlier donated by ARCHIGLOBAL. Could we just get more details on ARCHIGLOBAL? Is this another Chinese businessman? And how was the deal brokered between the Philippine government and this?

Presidential Spokesperson Abella: All I have are the…Details? This is just a big picture but we can find out about it — ARCHIGLOBAL.

Ms. Novenario: Sir, good afternoon. Sir, confirmed po na na-appoint si Ms. Mocha Uson sa MTRCB? Ano po ang reaksyon natin dito?

Presidential Spokesperson Abella: I don’t have any reactions but I will read it.

“28 December 2016, Madame, addressed to Ms. Margaux Justiniano Uson, Movie and Television Review and Classification Board, Timog Avenue, Quezon City. Pursuant to the provisions of existing laws, you are hereby appointed member, Movie and Television Review and Classification Board for a term expiring on 30 September 2017 or in by virtue thereof you may qualify…” 30 September, yeah. Do the math, okay.

“By virtue thereof, you may qualify and enter upon the performance of the duties of the Office, furnishing this Office and the Civil Service Commission the copies of your oath of office. Signed, PRRD.”

Ms. Novenario: Okay, sir. May ano po kasi, parang meron po siyang naging imahe na meron po siyang mga parang sensitive or anong tawag dito? Adult videos. So as MTRCB board member, mae-expect po ba ng publiko na kasama po ito sa mase-sensor ng MTRCB? O kasama po ba ‘yung social media doon sa trabaho nila? Kasi MTRC — Movie, Television and Review Classification Board ho.

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: So your question specifically is?

Ms. Novenario: Kung maaapektuhan po ba ‘yung trabaho niya ‘yung pagiging dating sex instruction video something, may ganun po kasi siya dati eh?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: As far as I know, when you enter into public office, you’re supposed to delineate yourself between your past jobs and your present position. So it may cover that, I’m not sure.

Ms. Novenario: Okay, thank you.


Mr. Ramos: I’m good always.


Mr. Ramos: Thank you, sir. Sir, why will the President appoint a self — she previously described herself as a “sex guru.” Why will the President appoint such person to a very sensitive government agency tasked to classify what the public is viewing, especially the children?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: I’m not privy to the reasoning behind it but I can find out.

Mr. Ramos: Thank you, sir. Sir, and follow-up, sir. Apparently, it’s not only Mocha Uson who was appointed to the MTRCB and there are other officials there who are on a holdover capacity. May we know also kung meron pang ibang i-a-appoint to that agency?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: Other appointees, you are asking other appointees?

Mr. Ramos: Yeah, other appoint — and kasi, sir, ‘yung iba doon were appointed by the previous administration.

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: We can find out if there are other appointees.

Mr. Ramos: Thank you, sir.


Mr. Ramos: Eh hanggang ngayon po, as we speak, the President has yet been briefed regarding the jailbreak in Kidapawan?


Mr. Ramos: Opo.

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: I’m sure he is but I’m sure the fuller briefing I suppose… I’m assuming that the fuller briefing will happen during the Command Conference.