24 May 2017

From Presidential Spokesperson Ernie Abella – On Martial Law in the entire island of Mindanao
In order to suppress lawless violence and rebellion and for public safety, it is necessary to declare Martial Law in the entire island of Mindanao, including Sulu, Jolo and Tawi-Tawi for a period of 60 days.

The government is in full control of the situation and is fully aware that the Maute/Isis and similar groups have the capability, though limited, to disturb the peace; these have shown no hesitation in causing havoc, taking innocent lives and destroying property.

Duterte declares Martial Law in Mindanao, cuts short Russia trip 

MOSCOW, Russia
President Rodrigo Roa Duterte has declared Martial Law in Mindanao following the violence happening in Marawi City.

The declaration was announced by Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella in a press briefing here on Tuesday, May 23.

“The President has called me and asked me to announce that as of 10 p.m. Manila time, he has already declared Martial Law for the entire island of Mindanao,” Abella told the media delegation who accompanied the President in his official visit to Russia.

“SDES Guevarra has clarified that this was possible on the grounds of existence of rebellion because of what is happening in Mindanao based on Article 7, Section 18 of the Constitution. This is good for 60 days,” he added.

Due to the situation in Marawi City, the President also has decided to cut short his official trip in Russia. 

The President is supposed to stay in Moscow until the 26th of May.

“The President feels that he is needed in Manila as soon as possible,” Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano said.

He said the security of the Filipino people especially in Marawi and the whole Mindanao is a priority, hence, the decision of the President to be physically present in the Philippines. 

Cayetano said he will be staying in Moscow to facilitate the signing of agreements between the Philippines and Russia.

“The agreements will be signed and we will have a bilateral meeting with the Honorable Minister of Foreign Affairs (Sergey) Lavrov,” he said.

Detailing what happened in Marawi City, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said at 2 p.m. (Manila time), the joint elements of the Army and the Police were trying to serve a warrant of arrest on Abu Sayyaf leader Isnilon Hapilon in Barangay Basak Malutlut in Marawi City when they were met with firefight by the group of Hapilon. Hapilon has pledged allegiance to the terrorist group ISIS.

Lorenzana said the authorities had a lack of “appreciation of intelligence” not knowing that Hapilon was backed by more or less 100 armed fighters from the Maute group, which the President earlier revealed as being connected to ISIS.

He noted that the group was able to occupy some establishments in Marawi City.

“They occupied the Amai Pakpak Hospital, this is a hospital under the DOH, the City Hall, City Jail and part of the MSU compound,” the Defense chief said.

He added that the group burned several facilities such as the St. Mary’s Church, the City Jail, the Ninoy Aquino School, and the Dansalan College.

According to Lorenzana, the Maute fighters also have occupied the main street of Marawi City called the Quezon Street and two bridges leading to the city. 

“As of tonight, there were three killed government troops, one PNP and two Army and 12 wounded,” he said.

“The whole of Marawi City is blackout, there is no light and there are snipers, Maute snipers all around. So the troops are still on holding and several troops elements have already joined them from other neighboring units. And tomorrow morning we are bringing in more troops from Zamboanga and Manila,” he added.

He then advised civilians to stay in their homes and wait for instructions to evacuate them, if necessary, as government will provide transportation in case house-to-house fighting erupts.  

Lorenzana assured that the situation in Marawi City is under control and the Philippines will be able to solve it without the help of other countries.

As a final note, Abella appealed to the people of Marawi to take all precaution, cooperate with authorities, and stay calm.###PND

President Duterte meets Russian President Putin, seeks closer PH-Russia ties
MOSCOW, RUSSIA — President Rodrigo Roa Duterte on Tuesday evening, May 23, held a bilateral meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin here, saying that the Philippines is seeking the friendship of Russia.

The bilateral meeting occurred before Duterte headed back to the Philippines to attend to the incident in Marawi.

In his remarks, President Duterte apologized to President Putin for cutting short his Russian trip, which is his first official visit to the said country, as he explained that there is something urgent that needs to be attended to back home.

“Please consider us as a good friend. I came to visit your place and it’s to establish stronger bilateral relations,” Duterte said.

“I [came] to seek your friendship and to establish trade and commerce with your country,” he said.

President Duterte cut short his first official trip to Russia following the terror incident in Marawi, which led him to declare martial law in Mindanao.

For his part, President Putin expressed his condolences to the casualties of the Marawi incident.

He, however, said he is happy to see President Duterte visiting Moscow.

“I’m so happy to see you in Moscow,” Putin said.

“I have to express our condolences as a matter of fact, loss of lives of your people happened because of a horrible terrorist attack. And my colleagues and myself definitely understand quite well that you do have to come back to return to your motherland,” he said.

“And let me express hope that the conflict that you have just mentioned will be resolved as soon as possible and with minimal losses and casualties,” he added.

The Russian leader noted that bilateral trade between the Philippines and Russia still have room for improvement, noting that starting this year, trade exchanges started to increase by around 25 percent.

“We have very many promising and interesting areas of cooperation, including on energy machine building, transport and infrastructure,” he said.

Putin said that even as President Duterte had to cut short his trip, there will be bilateral documents that will be signed between the Philippines and Russia.

“You and I know that our teams have worked hard and prepared a full package of bilateral documents, instruments. And your ministers as far as I know, are staying and tomorrow the package aiming at the development of bilateral ties will be signed and inked,” Putin said.

Accompanying President Duterte in his bilateral meeting were Department of Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano, Department of National Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, and Special Assistant to the President Christopher Lawrence Go. ###PND