28 June 2017

AFP eyes to end Marawi clash soon
The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) on Wednesday, June 28, said it is striving to end the clashes in Marawi City as soon as possible.“Sinisikap natin na matapos ito sa pinakamadaling panahon. Kasi ‘yun nga, hindi maganda na nagtatagal ‘yung mga ganitong labanan,” AFP Spokesperson Brigadier General Restituto Padilla Jr. said during the regular Mindanao Hour press briefing at Malacañan Palace.

The AFP official made this statement when asked by newsmen if the fighting in the Islamic City will be finished before President Rodrigo Duterte delivers his second State of the Nation Address on July 24.

Padilla noted that evacuees are hoping they can already return to their normal lives.

“Unang una, naiinip na po ang ating mga kapatid na Maranao na nariyan po sa mga evacuation centers. Ninanais din nila na magbalik sa normal ang kanilang buhay,” he said.

He added that the military is working on expediting clearing operations but noted the sensitive environment in Marawi.

“Kaya’t ang ating pagtuon ng pansin ay bilisan talaga itong pag-clear. Pero maselan kasi ang combat environment natin. Mahirap. At ang kahirapan diyan ay, una, dahil sa presensya ng mga naiipit pa nating mga sibilyang kapatid na nasa loob na maaaring maipit sa bakbakan. So dapat pangalagaan natin ‘yan,” he said.

Padilla also cited that the terror group continues to hold hostages and there are still explosives and traps in the area.

“Kinakailangan po talagang dahan-dahan kini-clear ang mga buildings,” he said.

During the same briefing, Presidential Communications Office Assistant Secretary Marie Banaag gave an update on the situation in Marawi noting that as of 6 p.m. Tuesday, June 27, there are 1,711 civilians rescued, while 71 government troops were killed-in-action and 27 civilians were killed by terrorists.

Banaag said terrorists killed stood at 299 and firearms recovered were 358. ###PND

President Duterte graces PSG anniversary, reaffirms all-out support for troops
President Rodrigo Roa Duterte on Wednesday, June 28, led the 120th founding anniversary of the Presidential Security Group (PSG) reassuring the troops of his commitment to modernize the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).

In his speech, President Duterte vowed to provide soldiers with proper services through the modernization of their medical and defense equipment.

“I assure you of my loyalty to you and the best of the service that I can give you,” he said before the officials and members of his security group.

Prior to delivering his speech, President Duterte led the groundbreaking ceremony for new PSG Station Hospital Compound at the Malacañang Park.

He directed Health Secretary Paulyn Jean Rosell-Ubial, who accompanied him during the event, to fast track the construction of the hospital and other pending acquisition of medical equipment for the military.

He likewise promised the soldiers that they will get the needed equipment for their hospital including magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), CT scan and hyperbaric or decompression chamber.

“I want it 60 days, pati ‘yung ospital ninyo by December. You will get all these equipment, lahat,” he said.

Also in his speech, the President reiterated his commitment to defend Filipinos against all forms of threat, be it drug menace or terrorism.

“My order is, ‘If you destroy my country, I will destroy you. Be it drugs or terrorism,’” he said.

Amid the ongoing conflict between government troops and Maute rebels in Marawi City, the Chief Executive expressed assurance that he would continue to fulfill his Constitutional mandate of preserving the welfare of every Filipino.

“On terrorism. Well, they are not members of the Geneva Convention. They are just plain bandits, gangsters, and what they really want is just to kill. And if you want to destroy us, we will also destroy you,” he said.

The President stood by his order for the military to keep conducting counter attacks against Maute militants, who continue to wreak havoc in the Islamic city.

He, meanwhile, took the opportunity to apologize for the atrocities in Marawi saying that he has to declare martial law to quell terrorism in Mindanao.

“Let’s share your grief this afternoon. I’m very sorry that this has to happen. I do not like it, but I had to because that is my Constitutional duty. I would be violating the law if I allow this country to go to the dogs,” he said. ###PND

President Duterte thanks China for donating firearms, ammunition
ANGELES CITY, Pampanga — President Rodrigo Roa Duterte on Wednesday, June 28, led the handover of the military aid package from the People’s Republic of China intended for the counterterrorism efforts in Marawi City.

The Chief Executive inspected the weapons from China, with Chinese Ambassador to the Philippines Zhao Jianhua giving him a walking briefing about the firearms.

Among the weapons given by China include TY-85 7.62 mm sniper rifle, CS/LR4A high precision rifle, and CQ-A5 5.56 automatic rifle. China also donated ammunitions.

In his speech, President Duterte recalled that in his first visit to China in October last year, Beijing expressed its willingness to “unconditionally help the Philippines.”

According to the President, when the ISIS-inspired terrorist Maute group launched a rebellion in Marawi City, China reiterated its offer to help.

“As a result, our governments formally entered into two agreements where China committed to turnover 590 million pesos worth of military equipment to help in our campaign against ISIS-inspired terrorist holding up in Marawi, he said.

“To Ambassador Zhao, please relate our sincerest thanks to President Xi Jinping and the government of the People’s Republic of China for its military aid package I will receive today in behalf of the Philippine government,” he said.

Duterte said the military assistance is not only meant to build up the commitment to support each other, but also highlights the dawn of a new era in Philippine-Chinese relations.

At the same time, the President said he also welcomes the help of international partners in rebuilding the Islamic City, as government troops conclude its operation against the remaining terrorists in Marawi.

The Chief Executive expressed optimism that the government can end the “dark episode” and move on to restoring peace and order throughout Mindanao, through the unrelenting efforts of the brave men and women of the Armed Forces and the Philippine National Police.

In a media interview following the event, the President said the firearms will have to pass the Department of National Defense inventory and will be equally divided as needed by the security forces.

Meanwhile, the President said he will be spending more time in Mindanao because there is still fighting.

“Every now and then, I go to the brigades to check on their morale, readiness and everything,” Duterte said. ###PND