31 May 2017

From Presidential Spokesperson Ernie Abella – On the President’s rescheduled visit to Japan
The Palace wishes to announce that President Rodrigo Roa Duterte will not proceed with his scheduled visit to Japan next month to address the 23rd Nikkei International Conference on the Future of Asia.

The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) informed its Japanese counterpart and conference organizers that the President arrived at this decision due to recent developments in Marawi and Mindanao, requiring the Chief Executive’s undivided time and attention.

We thank the Japanese government and organizers for their consideration, and both sides mutually agreed that a visit to Japan could be rescheduled in the future. The lines of communication between the DFA and its Japanese counterpart remain open and active in this regard.

The Philippines highly values its close friendship and deep bilateral relations with Japan. President Duture hopes to meet Prime Minister Shinzo Abe for whom he has fond admiration and respect especially when the Japanese leader visited him in his hometown in Davao.

DND: martial law declaration in Mindanao is imperative
The Department of National Defense said that President Duterte’s imposition of martial law in Mindanao is imperative stressing it is necessary to solve the security concerns in the region once and for all.

During the Mindanao Hour press briefing in Malacanang on Wednesday, May 31, AFP spokesperson Brig. Gen. Restituto Padilla Jr. said that while the government security forces can address the situation in Marawi City without martial rule, martial law is imperative to once and for all address security concerns in the entire Mindanao immediately and decisively.

“The situation currently being dealt with by the state security forces goes beyond Marawi City. President Duterte’s imposition of martial law aims to put an end to the long-running rebellion in various provinces in the south,” Padilla said quoting the clarificatory statement of Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana.

This is evidenced by the incidents that happened in Zamboanga, Davao, Bohol, Lanao, Basilan, Sulu, Tawi-Tawi and Maguindanao, Padilla said citing the statement.

“As the President has repeatedly said, ‘Kung magde-declare ako ng martial law, tatapusin ko nang lahat ito,’ referring to the threats posed by ISIS-linked local and foreign terrorist groups whose network covers the entire Mindanao,’” he said.

Also during the same press briefing, Presidential spokesperson Ernesto Abella announced that President Rodrigo Duterte approved the creation of a “peace corridor,” in coordination with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) to hasten the rescue and the provision of humanitarian assistance to civilians trapped in Marawi City.

“President Duterte approved the creating of a peace corridor to ensure the safety of the civilians and the delivery of the needed humanitarian aid for the displaced persons in the ongoing armed conflict in Marawi, according to Irene Morada Santiago, chairperson of the Government’s Implementing Panel,” Abella said.

The establishment of a peace corridor was agreed following the meeting with President Duterte, the members of the joint implementing panels, and top officials of the MILF on Monday, Abella said quoting Santiago.

Evacuees continue receiving government aid

Abella also reported that to date, a total of P36,377,610 worth of augmentation assistance has been provided to affected families in ARMM by the Department of Social Welfare and Development through DSWD-Field Office 10 and Field Office 12.

“As of today, there have been 18,609 families or 92,628 persons displaced in Regions X and ARMM. Of which, 2,722 families or 13,194 persons are still staying in 22 evacuation centers and 15,887 families or 79,434 persons are staying outside the centers,” he said.

Both the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) and Department of Energy imposed a price freeze on basic necessities and prime commodities as well as kerosene and LPG in Mindanao.

Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre sent Undersecretary Renante Orceo to Iligan City on May 30 to oversee the creation of Panel of Prosecutors for Maute cases, Abella reported.

Meanwhile, Education Secretary Leonor Briones postponed opening of classes on June 5, 2017 in Marawi and move it to a later date to ensure the safety of children for the school opening.

Recovery of high-powered weapons

Padilla also said there is a very positive development in Marawi especially with the recent recovery of numerous high-powered firearms used by the terrorists.

“The recovery of these high-powered firearms continues to reduce the capability of these armed groups to do the violent activities that they have been doing for quite some time,” Padilla said.

The AFP has so far rescued 960 individuals from the conflict zone, he said, advising those residents who are still trapped to raise a white flag or cloth in order for soldiers to bring them to safety.

The Armed forces will continue to work with all the NGOs and CSOs in the area to facilitate the entry of much needed humanitarian help in areas where evacuees are staying and in areas where IDPs are located, Padilla said.

The AFP official also made an assurance that the Armed forces will continue to abide by all the established rules and protocols in the ongoing conflict in Marawi City. ###PND

President Duterte to troops: we will die fighting
DAVAO CITY – President Rodrigo Duterte graced the 119th Philippine Navy anniversary celebration on Wednesday, May 31, assuring his countrymen that the government will continue to fight those who sow terror in Mindanao.

“They gave me sufficient information and I asked them, ‘Are we already in the critical level?’ And there was an almost unison and redundant even statements that delikado tayo sa Mindanao given the practice of the ISIS in the Middle East, just exploding everything in their hands,” Duterte said.

“Today, Iraq had two, in a market place and in an ice cream parlor. They lose people by the hundreds everyday. We cannot allow it to happen here. We will have to die fighting them,” he stressed.

The President also assured that his administration is prioritizing the acquisition of equipment for the Armed Forces and the Philippine National Police.

“I will have my time. I have five years. I will acquire more jets, air assets and boats. And I will make the Philippine Armed Forces a little bit stronger by the time, InShaAllah, I go out as President,” he said.

In the same speech, President Duterte underscored the contributions of the Philippine Navy for their “remarkable contributions in strengthening the foundation of our nation.”

“Your efforts to fulfill your mandate to uphold peace and sovereignty in our territorial waters have been remarkable in the past years and today, you have once again reaffirmed your important role as you support the counterterrorism efforts against the Maute group in Marawi City,” Duterte said.

“Your presence in Mindanao, along with the other members of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, have made our kababayans feel more secure at this most delicate and challenging time,” he added.

He said he remains confident that the Philippine Navy will be committed to their oath in safeguarding Philippine shores and shoals against all acts of terror and violence.

Meanwhile, President Duterte said that he salutes and respects the men and women of the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Philippine National Police, especially those who have died fighting the terror group in Marawi.

“So I give my salute, my respects to the men and women of the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the National Police, my salute and my deepest respect. And I grieve with the families, those who have lost their lives,” the Chief Executive said.

He added that the military in Mindanao runs supreme because the police and the law enforcement agencies of the country is called upon to help restore order in the nation.

After his speech, President Duterte toured the Philippine Navy’s new Landing Dock vessel, the Barko ng Pilipinas (BRP) Davao del Sur (LD602), one of the largest ships in the inventory of the PN with overall length of 123 meters, width of 21 meters, and payload capacity of more than 4,000.###PND