21 June 2017

Duterte vows no civil war under his watch
President Rodrigo Roa Duterte on Tuesday, June 20, said his administration will not allow a civil war to break out amongst Filipinos suffering the brunt of war.

“Ang malakas na driving force nila mapalitan na itong nationalism o ‘yung paghinakit nila nawalaan sila ng lupa at malipat doon sa ISIS na philosophy, gulo na ‘yan,” the Chief Executive told soldiers during his visit at Camp BGen. Edilberto Evangelista Station Hospital, 4th Infantry Division in Cagayan de Oro City.

“Gulo na ‘yan kasi ang mga Kristiyanos sa Mindanao, mag-a-armas rin. Iyan ang ating hindi na pwedeng payagan kasi ‘pag ang mag-armas na ang civilian rin, it will be a civil war,” the President noted.

The Chief Executive visited wounded-in-action soldiers and awarded them wounded Personnel Medals. They also received cash aid, among other assistance.

“So ang trabaho natin dalawa na: How to hold itong mga Kristiyanos na may armas at ito namang IS sa Maute. Kaya ang pag-asa natin diyan mapabilisin natin ang peace talks tapos sabihin ko sa kay Murad pati sa MI, “Kayo na ang bahala diyan. Tutal kung ‘yan ang gusto ninyong lugar, Central Mindanao — Lanao, Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, ‘yan inyo. Huwag na lang tayong mag-away,” he said.

In an interview with reporters following his visit, the Chief Executive said the Moro Islamic Liberation Front is about to submit its version of the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law.

“The BBL tapos na. And the MI will give it to me, I will sign it doon sa Eid’l Fitr,” he told reporters.

“And if I find things in order, I will sign it. And wait for the document, the formal one and I’ll send it to Congress,” he said, noting that it’s the only way to achieve peace in Mindanao is “we go federalism.”

Meanwhile, the Commander-in-Chief expressed gratitude to the government troops and expressed condolence to the grieving families, adding that he would have wanted to personally extend his condolences.

“So pasasalamat ako sa serbisyo ninyo at ganoon lang man ang mga… Iyong namatay natin mga kapatid, kasama na ‘yung sundalo, gusto kong puntahan isa’t isa ‘yung mga pamilya pero hindi ko lang talaga kaya kasi busy ako,” he said.

“But I want to just express to them my sincerest condolence. At ako man ang unang… nasasaktan diyan. Ako ‘yung Commander-in-Chief ninyo,” he said. ###PND

Situation in Marawi continues to improve, says AFP
As fighting in Marawi has entered its fifth week, the situation in the strife-torn city continues to improve, a military spokesman said Wednesday, June 21.
Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Spokesperson Brigadier General Restituto Padilla Jr. reported that government security forces continue to gain foothold in areas previously under the control of the Maute terror group.
“There are areas that we have not covered before that we have already overcome at this moment and the process of clearing is what we are concentrating on in the succeeding days,” Padilla said during the regular Mindanao Hour press briefing in Malacañang.
On Tuesday, the military official reported that there were about 16 buildings that have been cleared of the presence of the militants, who laid siege in Marawi City last May 23.
“We are prioritizing the areas that are built up or heavily built up which means to say those that are constructed well and can withstand attacks and bombardments and potentially may have basement areas or hidden areas underneath that can protect them from any kind of assault from the air,” Padilla said.
He also said government troops are also carefully assessing the situation in the outlying areas in preparation for the rehabilitation of Marawi but he has yet to give concrete estimate of the damage in the once peaceful and orderly city.
Padilla said Joint Task Force Ranao led by its commander Brigadier General Ramiro Rey is continuously conducting consultations with other members of the community to iron out their participation in the rehabilitation and reconstruction of Marawi once the hostilities have ended.
Asked by reporters about possible threats in different parts of the country, Padilla said threats will remain even after the Marawi crisis is resolved calling on the public to remain vigilant and alert at all times.
“But as we have been saying previously, threats remain. Lagi pong may banta na nanatili. Hindi po nawawala ‘yung mga banta. Maski saan po tayo may banta na nariyan,” he said. 
He stressed anew the importance of shared responsibility and security to prevent any untoward incident.
“At nais ko lang pong ulitin ‘no, pagkatapos po na maresolba itong Marawi crisis, hindi po mawawala ang banta na haharapin natin,” he said.
During the same briefing, Padilla said the military fended off attack by Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) in Pigcawayan, North Cotabato on Wednesday morning forcing the rebels to withdraw.
“Now, ito pong ginawa ng BIFF ay isang opportunistic activity. Nakita nila na may pagkakataon so ipinamalas nila ‘yung kanilang kakayahan na kaya nilang gawin ito pero sa mabuting palad, hindi nila matagumpay na nagawa ito,” Padilla said.
The BIFF harassed a barangay augmentation team in North Cotabato. The attack was not successful, Padilla said, citing the readiness of military forces.
“So sinubukan nilang pasukin ito at hindi sila nagtagumpay dahil simula’t sapul na nagsimula po itong Marawi crisis eh handa na po lahat ng pwersa sa buong Mindanano na harapin kung anuman ‘yung mga bantang nangyayari,” he said.
Reports said the rebels used civilians to cover their withdrawal. The military, however,  is assessing whether the BIFF has freed the civilians, according to Padilla.
AFP warns public against scammers
Meanwhile, Padilla issued a warning to the public regarding the increase in number of scammers trying to deceive people by raising money for the soldiers killed or injured in the Marawi fighting.
He encouraged the public to report these scammers to telecommunications companies who might then block the cellphone numbers they were using.
Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella reminded the public that the two accounts the government setup in Land Bank of the Philippines are the only official depository account for families of soldiers killed-in-action and for internally displaced persons.
The account names are: AFP Marawi Casualty for slain soldiers (account no: 00000552107128) and Marawi IDP (account no: 00000552107136) for evacuees. 
Abella reported that the donation for the families of the fallen soldiers has increased to P508,500 from P224,000 as of June 20, while donation for the evacuees went up to P187,500 from P21,000.
The Palace official also gave an update on the situation in Marawi noting that as of 12 noon Tuesday, June 20, there are 1,645 civilians rescued or an increase of 8 from 1,637 while government casualties grew by one to 66.
The recovered firearms by government troops from terrorists increased to 271 from 255, while the number of terrorists killed rose by 10 to 268. ###PND

Duterte signs firecracker EO
Malacanang on Wednesday released Executive Order No. 28, providing for a controlled and supervised use of firecrackers and pyrotechnics, which President Rodrigo Roa Duterte signed on June 20.
Under the EO, the display of firecrackers shall be regulated and limited for the use of trained professionals and in controlled areas only. 
“To minimize the risk of injuries and casualties, the use of firecrackers shall henceforth be confined to community firework displays,” the EO stated.
Accordingly, a display of fireworks qualifies as a community fireworks display if it is conducted as part of an event or celebration, under a trained person licensed by the Philippine National Police (PNP), and permitted by the city or municipal government.
The EO, however, provides that pyrotechnic devices may be used outside community fireworks display, but subject to existing laws and regulations.  
The PNP, in coordination with other concerned agencies and the local government units, is the primary responsible for the enforcement of the EO.
The EO further directs “the PNP, the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG), and the Department of Health (DOH) to submit a consolidated report to the Office of the President regarding the implementation of EO 28 within thirty (30) days from the effectivity of the EO and every six (6) months thereafter, including statistics on the victims of firecrackers and other pyrotechnic devices per municipality or city.”
An information campaign on the danger of using firecrackers will be conducted by the DOH, the Department of Education (DepEd), the Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP), the PNP, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and the local government units.###PCO-Content

President Duterte’s fruitful ‘tour of duty’ in his first year
President Rodrigo Roa Duterte made 21 foreign trips to 18 countries during his first year in office. The President’s foreign trips form part of his obligation as Head of State to maintain and strengthen the country’s diplomatic and economic ties with other nations.

It is customary for the President to cover ASEAN countries, especially with the assumption of the Philippines as Chair of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in 2017.

Strengthening ASEAN integration

President Duterte’s first foreign trip was in Vientiane, Laos, where he formally accepted the Philippines’ chairmanship of ASEAN in 2017.

In his working visit to Jakarta, Indonesia, a trilateral agreement on maritime security was concluded to jointly patrol the Sulu Sea. During his two-day official visit to Hanoi, Vietnam, a six-year action plan focused on combating transnational crime and illegal drug trade was agreed with President Tran Dai Quang.

In Brunei, PRRD and Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah discussed the strengthening of the Brunei Darussalam-Indonesia-Malaysia-Philippines East ASEAN Growth Area (BIMP-EAGA) through trade and investment and Halal product certification.

President Duterte went to Thailand twice. He first paid his last respects to the late King Bhumibol Adulyadej. He returned to Bangkok to witness the signing of three important agreements in the field of science and technology, agriculture, and tourism, and brought home US$2-billion dollars worth of investments from Charoen Pokphand (CP) Group.

In Malaysia, PRRD met with Prime Minister Najib Razak to tackle a  possible joint military and police operations to quell piracy in the Sulu Sea and Abu Sayyaf kidnapping activities. President Duterte and King Norodom Sihamoni witnessed the signing of agreement on cooperation in trade, sports, tourism, and in combating transnational crime during PRRD’s state visit to Phnom Penh, Cambodia.

In Singapore, President Duterte held separate meetings with Singaporean President Tony Tan Keng Yam and Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong to discuss counter-terrorism and combating illegal drug trade and transnational crime. The President and Myanmar President U Htin Kyaw signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) on food security and agricultural cooperation and discussed the need for law enforcement collaboration to address terrorism, extremism, piracy, and drug trafficking.

Economic windfall

The President’s foreign visits are essential strategic moves to significantly broaden the country’s independent foreign policy as the Philippines pushes for stronger integration with its neighbors in the ASEAN region, China, and Japan.  The best gauge of these trips is the financial windfall gained by the country. 

President Duterte’s state visit to China resulted in investments and aid pledges worth billions of dollars. He brought home 13 government agreements and a pledge of US$24-billion in business deals and public financing.

President Duterte went to Tokyo, Japan for a three-day official visit to discuss economic and defense concerns.  Japan’s US$9-billion investment and aid package for the Philippines, spread over five years, is the largest amount the Japanese government has committed for a single country. 

The US$33-billion raised in these two trips alone is equivalent to spending something like 17 centavos per every 1,000 pesos raised in investments and development assistance.

Some of the projects under the Duterte Administration’s Build-Build-Build Infrastructure Plan will be funded as a result of the President’s foreign visits. Loans from Japan, for example, will be used for the construction of a subway from North Avenue to FTI Taguig and a high-speed railway from Manila to Clark in Pampanga.

Similarly, the President’s Gulf state visits to Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, and Qatar resulted in the signing of more than US$925-million worth of investment deals. Over and above these, the President’s state visit to Qatar resulted in the implementation of the US$1-billion investments committed from the Qatar Sovereign Fund.

Strengthening relations with non-traditional partners 

The Philippine-Russia bilateral engagement is still at a nascent stage, and President Duterte’s recent visit sent a strong message that the Philippines is out to seek new partnerships and strengthen relations with non-traditional partners such as Russia, as the nation charts an independent foreign policy.

Although cut short due to urgent developments at home, the President’s visit produced significant results, such as the signing of agreements on defense cooperation, intelligence sharing, agriculture, trade, tourism, culture, foreign affairs, transportation, and the peaceful use of nuclear energy.  Some US$875-million worth of business-to-business deals were also signed during the Russian visit.

President Duterte likewise met with the leaders of Turkey and Mongolia who asked the President to sponsor their membership in the ASEAN at the sidelines of the Belt and Road Forum in China. 

All of these show the productive results of his trips abroad in so far as strengthening and building alliances with other nations are concerned. 

Broadening trade cooperation

The importance of trade as an engine of economic development has been highlighted in the President’s participation in the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Economic Leaders’ Meeting held in Lima, Peru; World Economic Forum (WEF) in Phnom Penh, Cambodia; and the first Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation in Beijing, China.  PRRD has shown that he is not only a crime- and corruption-buster but also an effective economic ambassador. 

Promoting welfare of overseas Filipinos 

In every foreign visit, the President has always kept in mind the welfare of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs)—the prime movers of growth in the country. On top of his agenda are meetings with the Filipino communities, as well maintaining cordial relations with the host governments of the millions of OFWs. The phenomenal support received by the President and his delegation from OFWs is something that has not been seen in previous administrations.

Since President Duterte took office, thousands of stranded and undocumented OFWs, mostly in the Middle East, have been sent back to the Philippines under the Relief Assistance Program (RAP) of the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA).

The latest to be repatriated were 138 overseas Filipino workers who were granted amnesty by the Saudi government and whom the President brought with him when he returned to the Philippines from the KSA. 

Deepening confidence

With global realities leaning towards protected economies, exportable rebellion and terrorism, and violent extremism, the Duterte Administration has begun to play it smart by charting an independent foreign policy, while at the same time strengthening bilateral ties and regional and multilateral cooperation among nations.

The benefits, indeed, outweigh the costs as the investments and development assistance underscores the international community’s deepening confidence in the Duterte administrations.  These benefits have further strengthened the country’s sound macroeconomic fundamentals, as shown by the stock market reaching an all-time high, stable foreign exchange rates, and soaring business optimism and consumer confidence.

At age 72, the President has subjected himself to grueling schedule of foreign travels in his desire to advance the national interests in the global community of nations.

The President has covered more areas in his first year in office than any previous Presidents. In all of these foreign visits, the President has been ably assisted by Cabinet Secretaries and other officials.

Further information on the President’s foreign travel is available at the Office of the Executive Secretary. The benefits gained from the President’s foreign travels have also been explained by Palace officials many times over through media releases and during press briefings. Financial disclosures of President Duterte’s foreign trips show a genuine sense of accountability and transparency on the part of the Administration.###PCO-Content