17 June 2017

PCOO hosts ASEAN 2017 Dialogues
The first of a three-part dialogue series that aims to educate on the three pillars of Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) — ASEAN 2017 Dialogues: “One ASEAN, Safer Together” was hosted Friday, June 16, by the Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) in partnership with Asia Society Philippines, at the Asian Institute of Management (AIM) in Makati City.

The dialogue was presented by ASEAN 2017’s Committee on Media Affairs and Strategic Communications (CMASC), who was represented in the event by PCOO Undersecretary and CMASC Chair Noel Puyat.

The dialogue was attended by academicians, officials, students, and members of the diplomatic corps. Discussions revolved around critical issues related to the political-security pillar of ASEAN.

These include regional security, cyber-security, non-traditional security in the context of ASEAN, as well as other benefits and challenges of being part of the regional organization.

The panelists include Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) Asean Affairs Assistant Secretary Hellen De La Vega; Department of National Defense (DND) Assistant Secretary for Assesssments and International Affairs Raymund Jose G. Quilop; Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) Assistant Bureau Director Drusila Bayate and National Privacy Commission Chairman Raymund Liboro.

Key questions addressed on the topics involved constraints and opportunities for security cooperation for ASEAN Member States, the plan of action for the Philippines and ASEAN to address overlapping exclusive zones, the South China Sea dispute, among other issues.

As the lead agency for the ASEAN Political-Security Pillar, DFA Assistant Secretary Hellen De La Vega opened the dialogue with a brief background on regional security cooperation. She also explained the impact of the South China Sea issue on peace and stability in the region. Defense Assistant Secretary Raymund Jose Quilop spoke on national defense capabilities against transnational security issues.

National Privacy Commission Chairman Raymund Liboro, on the other hand, discussed data privacy and protection in the Philippines and in ASEAN, including the steps being undertaken by the government to improve local IT infrastructure and the readiness of the Philippines against cyber attacks and cyber crimes.

The ASEAN 2017 Dialogues will hold subsequent ones on topics relating to the economic and socio-cultural pillars of ASEAN.###PND

Palace: Gov’t priority in Mindanao is public safety
Malacañang assured that the government’s priority is the safety of the public amid the conflict in Marawi.

In his regular Mindanao Hour briefing over Radyo ng Bayan on Saturday, June 17, Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella stressed that the Palace will look into the situation involving the general public’s safety in determining when to lift martial law.

He also said the Executive branch hopes that the conflict will end very soon.

“The Executive branch wishes for all of this to end as soon as possible. However po, ang bottomline pa rin po ng martial law is public safety. Public safety as mandated by the Constitution,” Abella said.

“The provision of the Palace will be benchmarked po upon the agreement on whether or not public safety is already sufficiently guaranteed,” he said.

Abella noted that the terror group continues to use civilians as human shields while mosques are used as staging areas and safe havens.

“Therefore, the schedule po for the lifting of martial law is whether or not it is already totally, completely guaranteed or sufficiently guaranteed for the safety of the general public or not,” Abella said.

“So hindi po natin binibigyan ng timeline ‘yan. Ang atin pong indicator ay whether safe na po talaga ang publiko,” he added.

According to Abella, there were seven more individuals rescued in Marawi.

“This is a significant development. And then patuloy po ang recovery and control of more strategic vantage points by advancing troops,” he said.

Meanwhile, Abella said the Philippine Embassy in Tokyo is closely monitoring the situation following the collision of US Navy destroyer USS Fitzgerald and Philippine-flagged container ship ACX Crystal off the coast of Japan.

“The Philippine Embassy in Tokyo is closely monitoring the situation in coordination with Japanese and US authorities after a US Navy destroyer USS Fitzgerald collided with the Philippine-flagged container ship ACX Crystal off the coast of Japan,” Abella said.

He also gave assurance that the Philippine Embassy is ready to extend all necessary assistance to Filipino seamen onboard the ship.###PND

President Duterte denies failure of intelligence in Marawi Crisis
BUTUAN CITY – President Rodrigo Duterte on Saturday, June 17, denied that the crisis in Marawi City was a result of the failure of intelligence, as clashes between government forces and the Maute terror group continue on its fourth week.

In his visit to the 401st Infantry Brigade in Butuan City, President Duterte underscored that the crisis in Marawi City was “not a question of failure” on the part of the government.

“It was not a failure of intelligence. Kasi kung makita pa silang may armas, tapos sabihin nila, MI, MN, ang standing order naman is… baka sakali mapakiusapan pa natin ang mga kapatid natin. Walang gulo,” President Duterte added.

However, the Chief Executive explained that the government had a “very soft policy towards rebels” as the officials did not realize that the militants were already collecting firearms and ammunition in Marawi.

“All the while, itong Maute, with the connivance of the politicians there, ‘yung mga warlords, were stockpiling. Kaya ni hindi maubos ‘yung M-203 na bala at napakarami,” he said.

On the other hand, Duterte reassured the soldiers that the government would pour in the things they need such as putting up cooperatives for the troops’ spouses and an educational program for their children.

“Hindi ko kayo pababayaan. Sabi ko nga noon sa inyo, I will try to see that mga anak ninyo… there will be money to support all your children to school,” he said.

The Commander-in-Chief also reiterated his commitment to buy brand new air assets and “war-grade” weapons for the military to ensure that government forces would not be at a disadvantage against the terrorists, apparently backed by foreign fighters.

“Just be a clever soldier. Gamitin mo na lahat ng instincts mo to survive so that you will have a time to see maybe your grandchildren,” he said.

The President also called on the military to resume the use of air assets, saying foreign terrorists are fighting alongside the Maute Group.

“We are up against fighters. Mga galing ‘yan diyan sa Middle East and they have learned the art of brutal killing,” Duterte warned.

President Duterte also mentioned that he is planning to absorb qualified Lumads into the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) as long as they stop fighting.

“For as long as they talk and shoot, talk and shoot, they will remain neglected. Who is gonna go to the mountains to take care of the New People’s Army composing of the Lumads? And 75 percent of the rebels now, Lumads. Sila ang pinupusta ng NPA. Hindi ‘yung mga Bisaya, hindi ‘yung mga Ilonggo, hindi ‘yung mga Ilocano. Sila ang ginagawang sundalo,” President Duterte pointed out.

“Now I’m offering you. Neglected o bigyan ko kayo ng trabaho, sundalo. I will take them in,” the Chief Executive added.

Meanwhile, President Duterte said that there is no need to worry about his health, as he assured the public that he is in good condition.

“My state of health is what you see is what you get,” he said.

“I am good while I am alive but do not worry about a one day, two days absence,” he added. ###PND