Mindanao Hour Briefing by Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella with Armed Forces of the Philippines Spokesperson Brig. Gen. Restituto Padilla Jr. 
Press Briefing Room, New Executive Building, Malacañang
05 June 2017

 PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: Good morning. We’d like to give you the updates as of 6 p.m. June 4, 2017.

As of last night, we have a report that there have been 20 civilians killed by local terrorist groups, that is a cumulative number; and the civilians rescued are numbered 1,467; and enemy killed, no change until we are awaiting consolidated reports, about 120; recovered firearms 98; government casualties, no change, 38 — 38 have been killed in action.

The focus of operations remain to be as follows: clearing of Marawi of militants still in the area; the continued rescue of trapped residents; continued recovery of civilian casualties and victims; and assisting the LGUs, CSOs, NGOs on relief operations.

Significant developments also as of 6 p.m. last night: the four-hour humanitarian pause from 8 a.m. to 12 noon led to successful rescue of 179 civilians yesterday; 95 civilians were rescued at around 6 a.m. at the Dansalan Area.

Troops continue to make headway into inner areas of the city and compounding development remains to be the use of civilians as human shields and madrasahs and mosques as staging areas.

To date, as of June 4, a total of 45,316,760 pesos worth of augmentation assistance has been provided to affected families in ARMM, all of which has been provided by the Department, through the DSW[D] Field Office Region 10 and Field Office Region 12.

As of [June 4], there have been 37,640 families or 185,878 persons displaced in Regions 10 and ARMM.

Of which, 3,768 families or 18,065 persons are still staying in 29 evacuation centers, and 33,872 families or 167,813 persons are staying outside the evacuation centers with their relatives and friends.

DSWD Field Office Region 10 immediately placed Disaster Operation Centers in Iligan on May 23 to augment the operations of the DSWD ARMM.

Also, just to make a few comments regarding the President’s comment about Marawi.

The President has promised to end the Marawi conflict within the shortest possible time but consistent, of course, with due regard for the protection of innocent lives and the avoidance of abuses.

The drug lords who finance these attacks will be brought to justice and their networks closed down in Lanao and anywhere else in Mindanao or the rest of the country.

As we go about the long-term cleansing and rebuilding effort, we welcome the continuing support of the MNLF, the MILF, and other civil society groups now finding common cause with the government in fighting a terror threat to all Filipinos.

Regarding the comment by the Indonesians about 1,200 operatives in the Philippines, we cannot comment on specific numbers. But it is clear that the violence in Marawi is being waged by both Philippine and international criminals, and the southern part of Mindanao has long been used as a refuge by fugitives from justice, from Indonesia, Malaysia, and other locations.

That is one reason why, as the Indonesian Defense Minister pointed out over the weekend, that regional and global anti-crime efforts must be stepped up.

Criminals and rebels do not respect national boundaries. They are a challenge for our region and for the international community and our government is committed to continuing to do our part to bring this people to justice, as part of the global war on terrorism and extremist efforts and our own effort to promote peace and order in the Philippines.

End of statement. I’d like to defer now to…

BRIG. GEN. PADILLA: As what’s pointed out earlier by Secretary Abella, we are very happy with the results of the four-hour humanitarian pause that was initiated yesterday from 8 o’clock to 12 noon.

However, it is saddening to note that despite the efforts of third party facilitators, there were violations committed by these criminals in the area.

They caused the wounding of two of our men who were escorting the humanitarians into the area and earlier, the day prior, or earlier on, there were — there was a civilian who was hit by a sniper fire.

So these are proof and testament to the disregard for civilian lives by these criminal elements.

On another aspect, we continue to work closely with other groups for the facilitation of the entry of humanitarian help and assistance to areas where we have displaced persons and evacuees.
The operations on the ground will continue relentlessly as what’s pointed out repeatedly in previous days.

We are determined to end this problem as soon as possible and cause the return of Marawi back to its citizens within this period, especially Ramadan.

May I also comment on the recent pronouncements about figures. We have not paid particular attention to the exact figures of the enemy on the ground, except that we have general estimates and our commanders on the ground have shared this repeatedly.

The reason for this is because of the continuing fog of war that we call in the area of battle.

Earlier on, the assessment that there were only about 50 or so enemies guarding Isnilon Hapilon — which became the subject of a law enforcement operation at the very beginning of the previous week — came out to be more.

So again, the entry of other sympathetic individuals and groups may have swelled that number, as well as the release of prisoners from the city jail.

So this was something that we have been mentioning all along as potential sources of warm bodies. That is why the numbers may have swelled.

In view of the previous comments also of the Secretary of National Defense and the other members of the Armed Forces, who may have been asked, we don’t have specific proof yet of the presence of foreign fighters.

Although, there is information available and although there are numbers indicated in those information, until such time that we have the specifics and the documents to prove it, that is the only time that we will certainly allude to them as specific numbers.

So please bear with us as we report on estimates alone and we would not like to give you numbers, unless we have clear proof of this.

The revelation of the Indonesian Defense Minister is something that came as a surprise to us because as was mentioned by senior defense officials, in truth, we don’t have those numbers.

So I’ll leave it at that for the moment and we’ll be open to any more questions which you may have.


Joseph Morong (GMA): Sir, two points lang. Sa AFP po. Ano nang mangyayari doon sa eight na sinasabi ni Secretary Lorenzana, if you’re kind of like backpedaling on that statement?

BRIG. GEN. PADILLA: Actually, the eight may have already had proof of their existence because bodies have been recovered in the area.

So I’m basing that statement that I said previously on the overall numbers that were cited, not specifically on the eight that had been commented on.

Mr. Morong: All right. So the eight stays?

BRIG. GEN. PADILLA: The eight still stick and we will come out with proof of those as soon as we get through the numerous and voluminous documents that have been captured in the field.

Mr. Morong: Just to elaborate on the point, ang information ni Secretary Lorenzana was kind of second-hand because it came from the Secretary of Mindanao Development Authority. But aside from that any other information, any other proof of these eight individuals?

BRIG. GEN. PADILLA: The Secretary has access to all information from the Armed Forces. I may not even have access to them.

Mr. Morong: Sir, one last for the meantime. You said that the numbers of the Maute have swelled?

BRIG. GEN. PADILLA: Well, that was the number that we have been alluding to at the start of the law enforcement operation.

Remember, previous statements indicated that there were about 50 only, as information that we had on the ground. But because they released so many prisoners from the city jail, who many of whom have been jailed because of their links to terrorist activities, have since then joined their ranks.

Other than that, we believe there are various sympathetic individuals, as well as the presence of other armed groups who may have made their way inside who have come to their assistance.

Mr. Morong: I think this is a question of, time reference ‘no, you’re talking about the early days of the campaign, correct?

BRIG. GENERAL PADILLA: Yes. That is true.

Mr. Morong: But can we… If we pin the timeframe from the time that we said there’s only 10 percent of the Marawi that’s not being controlled by the military, from that point on, can we say that numbers have swelled?

BRIG. GEN. PADILLA: No more. With… Their numbers continue to dwindle by the day. What we have been alluding to is the reference for numbers because we have a penchant for following figures and we keep on saying that we don’t have firm references for it yet.

That is why you continue to get our advisory that the numbers are still being authenticated or validated, and we need to check on these.

So until such time that we have sufficient proof to say otherwise, that is the only time we will categorically allude to exact figures.  

Mr. Morong: At this point, where they are, they’re not growing?

BRIG. GEN. PADILLA: Come again?

Mr. Morong: At this point, sir, where they are right now, they’re not growing anymore?

BRIG. GEN. PADILLA: No more. As we have mentioned repeatedly, the area is contained, our forces on the ground control anyone who comes in and out, and we have localized these pockets of resistance to specific areas.

I’m not at liberty to discuss. But we are determined to take care of these areas of resistance at the soonest time possible, based on the instructions of the Commander-in-Chief, as well as the assessment of our commanders on the ground.

Mr. Morong: All right, sir. Thank you.

Alexis Romero (Philippine Star): General Padilla, the President said that the Marawi conflict or the Marawi crisis will end in about three days, he said that last Saturday, now, it’s Monday. So is that target doable or we are seeing another adjustment in the target?

BRIG. GEN. PADILLA: Alex, as I have repeatedly explained, the basis for determination of any military action on the ground, will be the call of the commander.

They are the ones who are fully aware of the situation, the gravity of the threats they face, as well as the solutions they have to address those.

So at the moment, as we have mentioned previously, previous week, that about 10 percent of the city remains areas where the enemies holed up in.

I believe this number has gone down to specific areas and — but I’m not specifically sure what exact percentage that is.

Be that as it may, our ground commanders are the real authorities who can say when the fight will end and when every nook and cranny of the city has been freed of any armed element.

As to when this will be, I personally cannot say and I will defer to the judgment call of the commander on the ground.

Mr. Romero: But based on what’s happening on the ground, is the Tuesday or Wednesday deadline, if you can call it deadline, doable?

BRIG. GEN. PADILLA: Our commanders have tried to meet the deadline. There’s no denying that. We have gone all out. We have done all our best and we have been operating 24/7.

This operation will continue at that phase, we will not change that. But again, complications have been coming out, and complications, what we mean by this is the continued use of the civilians, potential hostages that may still be in their hands, the use of places of worship, for one, which prevents us from going all out, and other factors that complicates the battle because of its urban terrain.

Mr. Romero: OkayLast, follow up. Medyo nasagot niyo na ‘yung susunod ko sanang tanong. Why is it proving it so difficult to regain the city considering that you’ve already said that you are seeing the end, parang malapit na ‘yung end. Ano ‘yung factors na nagpapahirap to regain the control? Is it the civilians or is it the persistence of the Maute group?

BRIG. GEN. PADILLA: Both of those are factors, but most critical is the presence of civilians, exact locations of which we are not in the know.

So as was gleaned and seen in the scenarios of rescues that were conducted the previous week, may mga bahay na hindi natin akalain na may mga nakatira pa. Napakatahimik po ‘nong lugar, pero pag ka daan natin may lumalabas na puting bandera, hindi natin akalian na may nakatira.

So doon po nagsisimula ‘yung pag-rescue. May mga lugar din po na pinapasok natin dahil gingamit nating daanan papunta doon sa mga lugar ng kalaban.

Pagdating natin doon, may natatagpuan tayong matatanda na hindi makagalaw sa sarili nilang pamamaran, na nanghihina na dahil wala ng naging pagkain noong mga nakaraang araw. So itong mga pagkakataong ito, ang sinasabi nating nagiging complications.

Kaya’t tulad ng ibinigay na abiso, ng guidance ng ating Chief of Staff, si General Año, mariin niyang ipinagutos sa lahat ng ating mga tropa na ang bigyan ng importansya dito ay ang buhay ng sibilyan, na wala dapat magiging biktima ng ano mang karahasan, ng ano mang pagkakataon na maiwasan natin ang collateral damage, dapat gawin matin.

So, that is the primordial concern, and that are… Those are the factors that makes our troops less capable of expeditiously addressing many of these threats.

Henry Uri (DZRH): Hi, General. Sir, if you may, may we know what kind of or what firearms, high-caliber firearms are they using for like two weeks since na mag-start ho itong bakbakan pong ito? ‘Yung Maute, not the military, of course, ‘yung Maute side.

BRIG. GEN. PADILLA: I cannot go specific on certain capabilities even of the enemy. But, based on the captured high-powered firearms and certain firearms that they have been able to get from government forces, the calibers that they have — the strength of the firearms they have been using have been ranging from as heavy as a 50-caliber machine gun to a small as a small arm firearm, a handgun.

But most of their most effective employment of these firearms are from vantage points where they can see avenues of approach clearly.

And these are the areas that we have been taking pains to take care of and address and have been the subject of so many airstrikes.

Mr. Uri: Sir, were you able to establish saan galing ho itong mga armas na ito, who financed them, paano nakarating sa kanila?

BRIG. GEN. PADILLA: ‘Yung mga nakuha nating mga firearms, marami dito defaced na ‘yung serial number, kaya medyo mahihirapan tayong i-trace kung saan ‘to nanggaling.

Meron din naman, may mga serial numbers pa pero ‘yung reliability nito kung ito ba ay fake o tunay ay susuriin pa ng ating mga investigators.

So with the available information, and the evidence of the ground, possibly we will be able to deduce the sources of these firearms.

But we believe, many of them have been coursed through the black market. Many of these firearms have been in their ownerships since the start of their initiated warfare and the like.

Mr. Uri: Another question, sir. You have mentioned may violation sa Maute group dito sa peace corridor na nilikha ng ating pamahalaan. Itutuloy pa ba, irerekomenda pa ba ninyo na ituloy ‘yung peace corridor, ‘yung paglilikas, ‘yung ceasefire sa atin pong mga kababayang biktima?

BRIG. GEN. PADILLA: I-delineate ko lang po ano, ‘yung kahapon is a humanitarian pause that allowed for the entry of humanitarians dito sa specific areas.

Ang military, suportado nito ang ano mang ganitong klaseng hakbang basta makakatulong na masagip ‘yung mga buhay na nasa loob at nananatiling nandiyan na nata-trap.

So hindi kami po umiiwas, hindi kami tumatanggi sa ganyan. Ang nagiging kasunduan lang dito ay ‘yung maaaring pag sang-ayon ng kabilang panig.

So sa nangyaring usapan, na-orchestrate po at na-facilitate ng ating chief peace negotiator si Ginang Irene Santiago at ng kanyang mga kaibigan sa hanay ng MILF at saka MNLF ang pagkakaroon ng third party connection doon sa mga armadong grupo sa loob na nagbigay-daan sa ganitong klaseng tinatawag na humanitarian pause.

Pero tulad nga ng nangyari kahapon, at ang aking nabanggit kanina, hindi ‘yung garantiya na 100 percent ‘yung kanilang pag-suporta, dahil nandoon ka na nga sa loob, tumutulong ka na nga, napuputukan ka pa.

So the risk is really high, that is why we tip our hats and we salute all these men and women who were involved in the humanitarian pause yesterday because they placed their lives at risk in the interest of saving more lives.

Mr. Uri: All right, last, sir. May deadline po kayong ipinalabas and may indication po ba na sa deadline o bago mag-deadline mahuhuli na natin si Isnilon Hapilon?

BRIG. GEN. PADILLA: Tungkol sa paghuli parang duda po kami diyan. Kasi nanawagan na po kami na sumuko sila, ibaba ang kanilang armas, walang positibong nagiging response o sagot.

At sa patuloy nilang pakikipag-away at pananatili sa mga lugar na kanilang pinanghahawakan ngayon, na dinedepensahan nila, naniniwala kami na gusto nila yatang tapusin ito nang hindi magandang pamamaraan.

Mr. Uri: So you mean, duda kayo na mahuhuli ng buhay? Pero determinado ho ba kayo na mahuli ito, patay man o buhay?

BRIG. GEN. PADILLA: Tama, ‘yun ang ating ibig sabihin doon. Determinado tayong tapusin ito sa mas madaling panahon pero duda kami na sila’y lalabas na buhay.

Mr. Uri:  Pero kung susuko, welcome po, sir?

BRIG. GEN. PADILLA: Bukas po ang loob… Bukas po ang ating Hukbong Sandatahan na kunin po ang mga nagsisi-suko.

Tulad ng aking nabanggit, may siyam na po na kasamahan nila na sumuko. At ‘yang iilan pa na nagnanais sumuko, kung sila man ay, kung makaka-abot man itong panawagan namin ay bukas ating Hukbong Sandatahan na i-proseso sila nang maayos.

Mr. Uri: All right, salamat po.

Tuesday Niu (DZBB): Hi, sir, to General Padilla, sir.

BRIG. GEN. PADILLA: Yes, Tuesday?

Ms. Niu: Sir, ang sinasabi po natin is nasa mga mosque nagtatago po ngayon ‘yung Maute diyan sa Marawi at meron po akong nabasa na news item, quoting AFP Public Affairs Office Chief Colonel Arevalo saying na kapag hindi pa rin sumuko ‘yung mga Maute from the mosque na nagtatago ngayon, mapipilitan po ang tropa natin na bombahin na ‘yung mga mosque na ‘yan. Wala po bang magiging paglabag tayo sa international law ‘pag ginawa po ‘yan ng ating tropa?

BRIG. GEN. PADILLA: ‘Yan po ay isang bagay na iniiwasan natin. Kaya nga patuloy tayong nanawagan na sila’y sumuko at iwasan nila itong mga places of worship.

At may kautusan din ang ating Chief of Staff sa ating mga ground commander na gawin lahat ng maaaring gawin para maiwasan ito.

So sisikapin natin na hindi mahantong sa ganyang klaseng pagkakataon at gagawin natin ang lahat ng ating makakaya para hindi gagawin ‘yun.

Ms. Niu: Parang ang ginagamit daw po kasing pananggalang nung mga kalaban ay ‘yung mosque na ‘yan, para pag ka inatake raw po ng pwersa ng gobyerno, palalabasin nila na religious war itong — ‘yung senaryo?

BRIG. GEN. PADILLA: Kaya nga po pasensyoso nating ipinapaabot ang ating panawagan maski mag-mukha na po tayong sirang plaka na sila ay magbaba ng armas at sumuko dahil sa ‘yung pagkakataong sinasabi mo ay ayaw nating mangyari.

Ms. Niu: Thank you, sir.

Rose Coz (UNTV): Hi, General. Good morning po. Sir, ‘yun pong 1,200 na information from Defense Ministry ng Indonesia, may effort po ba sa government, on our side kung saan nila nakuha ‘yung ganung information, sir?

BRIG. GEN. PADILLA:  As I mentioned a while ago, this needs to be subjected to inquiry on the other side, kung saan nakuha ng Indonesia.

So we may address this because we have networks with the nations who are fighting against terrorism. We have diplomatic relations with Indonesia. We have military relations with their armed forces.

So we will reach out, we will inquire, the possible sources of this information and how they may have come across it. Because for all we know, this may prove helpful in our campaign against all these terrorists or these criminals.

Be that as it may, ‘yung ating pong figures ngayon tulad ng nabanggit ko kanina ‘no, ‘nong sa unang katanungan, nananatili pa rin ang estimate natin sa mga 40 or less at kasama na diyan ‘yung walong sinasabing namatay ‘nong mga bakbakan noong nakaraang araw.

Ms. Coz: Sir, na-mention po ni Secretary Lorenzana na somehow nagkaroon po tayo ng weakness sa ating pong mga asset dahil may mga na-neutralize na asset. As we intensify our military operations, how do we intensify our intelligence gathering po?

BRIG. GEN. PADILLA: Hindi ko nakuha ‘yung katanungan mo, Rose. Anong… Anong konteksto ‘nong, anong asset, equipment ba o ‘yung mga taong nagbibigay?

Ms. Coz: Mga tao po na nagbibigay ng information against sa mga terrorists po, sir?

BRIG. GEN. PADILLA: Hindi ko batid kung gaano ka-extensive ‘yung naging experience namin diyan o naging resulta ng mga delikadong naging operasyon.

Pero ang atin pong binibigyan ng importansya sa lahat ng operasyon is ‘yung kapakanan ng ating sundalo ganon din ang lahat ng mga impormante.

So I cannot speak on behalf of our people who are continuously operating on the ground and I would defer to them to answer to that for the moment.

Elijah Rosales (Business Mirror): This question is for Spokesman Abella. Spokesman, the ARMM is already — is set to craft a three-phase recovery plan for Marawi City and they said na they are awaiting how much help they can get from the national government. Ano po ba… This three-phase recovery and rehabilitation plan from Marawi City is called the “Unified Plan for Marawi City”. Anu-ano po ba ang tulong na iaabot ng national government sa pagre-rehabilitate?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: First and foremost, we appreciate the fact that already — rehabilitation plans are already — are being set in place.

However, they will just have to… We’ll just have to coordinate with the proper agencies, there’s of course DSWD, DOH and the ND — that would even include the Department of Education. So what… We just need to defer to the proper agencies regarding the matter. Thank you.

Mr. Rosales: Okay. sir. Second. sir, may nakikita po bang… Kasi considering that Lanao del Sur is, based on 2015 poverty statistics, pinakamahirap na probinsya sa buong Pilipinas, anu-ano po ba ‘yung hakbang na gagawin ng government, specific measures po?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: Marami ng ano… There had been a lot of efforts regarding that matter and… But regarding specific plans, we can draw it up, we can.

Mr. Rosales:  Thank you, sir.

Isa Avendaño (Radyo Inquirer): Yes. Good afternoon po. I’m Isa Avendaño from Radyo Inquirer. Question po kay Secretary Abella. Congressmen who are members of the House independent minority has filed a petition po sa Korte Suprema questioning the declaration of President Duterte ng martial law, any thoughts po? And second question, can you give us some report po tungkol sa implementation ng martial law? Thank you.

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: Regarding the implementation, that’s exactly we’re have Mindanao Hour to be able to update you about what’s happening.

Regarding the efforts of the independent parties, that’s a prerogative to do so. However, the report has been submitted to Congress already regarding the matter and so let’s see how it unfolds.

Okay. Thank you.

Mr. Morong: Sir, may announcement si Presidente that he’s accepting the offer of the MNLF to fight alongside our soldiers. Can he… Doon muna ‘no MN, papaano ‘yung mechanism niyan, sir?

BRIG. GEN. PADILLA: Joseph, ‘yung mechanisms for any kind of this arrangement needs to be discussed thoroughly prior to its implementation.

So right now, we don’t have the appropriate protocols. We don’t have the appropriate coordinative elements on the ground to make this happen.

So this may come later after the resolution of the Marawi incident but not during this time kasi hindi pa tayo nakakaupo para pag-usapan ito at paano ito i-implement.

Kung saka-sakaling ipu-push through ito, madaming maaaring kailangan pag-usapan para nang sa ganun maayos po na at hindi magkakaroon ng ano mang komplikasyon.

Mr. Morong: So at this point, that’s not very doable?

BRIG. GEN. PADILLA: For the moment, that is the way we see it and if this prolongs a little bit more, then perhaps we can do it, but hopefully not.

Mr. Morong: So parang balewala po ‘yung offer ni Chair Nur?

BRIG. GENERAL PADILLA: No, no. The offer is not useless.

Mr. Morong: During this period ha?

BRIG. GENERAL PADILLA: During this period, yes, it could be because it is already ongoing and it’s almost nearing solution.

Mr. Morong: Okay. Sir, ganon din sa NPA, I think they’re willing to offer ‘yung mga fighters nila in some of the areas I think na may presence ng Marawi?

BRIG. GEN. PADILLA: Yes. It will require a process of sorts of consultation and discussions in order to resolve certain issues to lay down parameters and protocols for interoperability and the like.

Mr. Morong: Sir, established na na meron tayong ISIS forces in the Philippines, yes?

BRIG. GEN. PADILLA: They are wanting to establish it.

Mr. Morong: Wanting? No, presence, are they here?

BRIG. GEN. PADILLA: Their presence, yes, but as to specific areas that they clearly hold, and if they are really here, they are working feverishly to do that.

Dexter Ganibe (DZMM): Sir, pwede bang other issue? Sir, it is clearly defined in Republic Act 10168 and Republic Act 9372 ‘yung Human Security Act and the definition of the financing terrorism that a terrorist is any natural person and a terrorist act is any acts that intended to sow fear or to kill persons. Hindi naman binanggit kung ito ay… Ang isang terorista ay dapat kaanib ng isang terrorist group para matawag na terrorist act ‘yung kanyang ginawa. ‘Yung nangyari sa Resorts World Manila, killing 37 persons, can we consider that under the definition of these laws we have as a terrorist act?

BRIG. GEN. PADILLA: I would defer to the police to answer those questions unless the Secretary — the Secretary has an answer to that.

But on our part, the facts that we have seen, because we had elements who helped NCRPO at the very beginning of the incident. Nagpadala po tayo ng augmentation galing sa Joint Task Force NCR at the very start, just to make sure that we would have appropriate forces to support if need be. 

And we pulled them out since then because the police were able to take care of it adequately.

Now, on the matter of definitions, I would leave that to the police to ascertain because this has to be corroborated by facts, by proof.

And we’re not the ones working on these. But from where we sit and what we have right now based on data, we see this as not a terroristic act. It does not have a telltale signs of any terrorism.

The death of so many was actually the unintended consequence of the action. And hindi niya siguro po ito pinag-planuhan na maging ganon ang maging resulta.

At maliwanag naman sa ating nakita sa video, ‘yun ang aming conclusion, na hindi niya… Hindi niya pinatay ‘yung mga naka, na-meet niya along the way, wala siyang binaril nang diretsuhan. Wala siyang tine-threathen nga, ‘yung tinutukan. Wala siyang ganon eh.

Maliban doon sa mga security forces na nakaharap niya na nakipagpalitan siya ng putukan. But for other innocent civilians along the way, who are were along in the area of the gaming area, it was clear, hindi niya pinunterya, hindi niya pinatay, hindi niya binaril, at nanakot lang siya.

So ‘yung pagkamatay, katulad ng sabi ko kanina, this may have been the unintended outcome.

Mr. Ganibe: Kay Secretary Abella. Sir, ‘yung sa tingin ng Palasyo, ito ba’y the same—?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: I think it has been… As far as the Palace is concerned, it’s a settled matter.

So there’s no need to go back and parse whether it was a terroristic act. Of course, the effect was, it terrorized people.

However, as the good general said, facts do point out that it was not an intentional thing. That was not the intention. And it does not fall into the pattern of political terrorists. Thank you.

Lily (CCTV): Good morning, I’m Lily from CCTV. My question goes to General Padilla. We all know that last week, the air fire has killed 10 soldiers which makes — which is very sad one. So I want to know the operation now, only from the ground level or still we use the air fire? Thank you.

BRIG. GEN. PADILLA: Yes, thank you for the question. As we have mentioned earlier, the call for air support will come from the ground commander and we have not pulled out this option from the cards that he has at hand.

So he may still call for an airstrike or for air support on specific targets that he sees as a threat to his forces.

So it was not stopped. The ground commanders have not been denied this capability.

What we did, however, after that accident is to pull out the aircraft that was involved, the type of aircraft that was involved.

So we’re no longer using that aircraft for airstrikes at the moment, until after the investigation is done.

So it will still continue. The airstrikes will still be an option for the ground commander. And if need be, he can employ it as much as he wants.

Ms. Lily: Thank you.

BRIG. GEN. PADILLA: You’re welcome.

Reymund Tinaza (Bombo Radyo): Sir, last lang. Sir, bagamat hindi pa tapos ‘yung imbestigasyon sa Resorts World attack. Pero may pinapalutang na itong si NCRPO Chief Director Albayalde na possible cases like civil and criminal case laban sa management ng Resorts World dahil nga sa seemingly lapses in security. Itong may-ari po ng Resorts World ay si ‘yung multi-billionaire na si Andrew Tan. Can we be assured, the public, lalo ‘yung mga biktima na ‘yung kanyang wealth and even connection would come into play kapag ka nagkakaso na? Assurance lang from the Palace. 

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: The President has said that he will extract justice. So I suppose we can trust him on that. Thank you. 

Mr. Tinaza: Thank you, sir.

Mr. Morong: Sir, sa statement niyo kanina. Drug lords, in relation to Marawi ha, drug lords will be forced to justice. So clearly, the President has made the connection now between the terroristic act and funding from drug lords, yes? Can we have more specifics on this when you say drug lords, who are involved and how did it exactly finance the terror act?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: Well, as far as the President is concerned, those who are engaged in — this is what he calls — labels “narco-politics”. Okay.

So in which case, political actions are funded by illegal drugs. So basically that we do not have any specifics as the personalities at this stage. I think we need to keep it that way.

Mr. Morong: Okay, sir. The reason why I asked is because he had a speech in Jolo, May 28. He said, ang first declaration ko was lawless elements kasali ang droga, ‘yun nga ang number one. Isali ko na ngayon kasi ang rason na ibinigay ko sa declaration ng martial law rebellion. Meaning, the intention is to include drugs as the basis for martial law. How serious is he with that?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: What he was basically saying is that the reason for declaring martial law was… He had a comprehensive, a very comprehensive definition — very comprehensive understanding about the reason for declaring martial law which is basically in this case, rebellion. Okay.

So, how serious is he? He is very serious in making sure that all the roots of — all the roots and possible implications of martial law — of the reason for rebellion will be addressed.

Mr. Morong: Can drugs be used as a basis, sir, for martial law?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: Not drugs per se, but it’s basically funding.

Mr. Morong: In connection?


Mr. Morong: Can… Ibig sabihin he can amend the declaration?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: I do not know about the amending, but definitely he is making a connection.

Mr. Morong: Okay, sir. Thank you.