Mindanao Hour Briefing by Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella with Ms. Marie Peña – Ruiz
Radyo ng Bayan
03 June 2017

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: Good morning, good morning Radyo ng Bayan. Good morning everybody. 

Ms. Ruiz: Sir, meron po tayong opening statement? 

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: Opo. Magsisimula po ako with ano, with the updates regarding the Marawi situation. 

So good morning, welcome to Mindanao Hour. 

As of 11 pm po kagabi, that’s June 2, 2017, meron po tayong updated reports: Civilians po killed by local terrorist groups are 19 and then meron po tayong magandang balita, which is civilians rescued, 1,055. 

And then enemy killed, 120. Wala pong pagpapalit sa the other day kasi po inaantay natin ang consolidated reports. 

Recovered firearms is 98; government casualties killed-in-action, 38. ‘Yun pong wounded-in-action, we are waiting for consolidated reports. 

Ngayong umaga po, earlier this morning, the AFP rescued 181 trapped civilians, including 38 teachers from Barangays Moncado and Mapandi in Marawi City.

Also, as of 11pm last night, the current focus of operations remains to be: 

1) Cleaning of Marawi of militants who are still in the area;

2) We continue to rescue the trapped residents;

3) We continue the recovery of civilian casualties and victims; and

4) We continue to assist LGU, CSOs, NGOs on relief operations. 

Meron din po tayong pahayag from the Department of Trade and Industry saying that an enforced price freeze on basic necessities and prime commodities in Mindanao after martial law was declared by the President. 

The price freeze is implemented for a period of 60 days and indicated in the declaration. The DTI monitors flow of goods and prices and this is, we’d like to underline this: there is no truth on reports showing price increase on rice which may affect distribution of relief goods. 

Uulitin ko po: There is no truth on reports showing price increase on rice. This is from the DTI. 

Also, I would like to report on the government intervention. As of June 2, 2017, the Department of Justice, in cooperation with the Department of National Defense, earlier sent from their main office to their prosecutors in Marawi, equipment and supplies such as photocopiers, printers and desktop computers. 

So itong mga materials pong ito will help the DOJ prosecutors for working temporarily at the Hall of Justice [inaudible] to ensure their commitment in serving the people. 

We’d just like to say, we’d like to congratulate the people of Marawi for their patience, their cooperation and sa kanila pong ano, sa kanila pong pagsusunod sa authorities who are in charge of the situation right now. 

And again, we’d just like to remind the, remind [one and all?] especially those Marawi and all over Mindanao that the government is doing everything and is in full support in maintaining peace and order in Mindanao, especially in Marawi. 

Also, we’d like to, we’d like to shed and we’d like to address some of the questions regarding what has happened in Manila, especially the Resorts World situation. 

We [unclear] some of the concerns are that, marami pong speculations kung ano ba talaga ang nangyari pero we’d like to first and foremost clarify that we are joined by the chief of experts, with Senator and former National Police Chief Ping Lacson in urging the police, the media and the public to please avoid speculations. 

It may grab the headlines, in Facebook likes, to spin the Resort World tragedy as terrorism but that does not [unclear] with the evidence that we now have and it only feeds the [unclear] of itong international ano po, groups like ISIS is behind… it claims credits po. 

They may claim credit but according to our evidence, it is not so. 

While tightening anti-terror measures, we share the Senate President’s concern of a possible negligence by Resorts World not only in casino security but also in building design and safety protocols. As gaming regulator, PAGCOR will do a full audit of all casinos. 

Again, we express our sympathies to the victims’ families while assuring the public that despite this tragedy, the Philippines welcomes and protects all friends visiting for business and pleasure. 

In relation to this, we have a statement from the US State Department Heather Nauert, Department Spokesperson, as of June 2 coming from Washington DC and she said, 

“We offer our deepest condolences to the loved ones and friends of those who were killed at Resorts World Manila early June 1. We hope for a speedy recovery to those who were injured. 

In the face of this tragedy, the United States proudly stands with the people of the Philippines and will continue to support efforts to achieve peace, security, and prosperity for their country.” 

Regarding naman po sa ‘yung mga questions that the military missed the June 2 date to end the Marawi siege. We’d just like to say, first and foremost, we thank Moody’s Investors, the Moody’s credit rating for its vote of confidence in our economic resiliency, which should be vindicated. 

We will let terror win if we allow it to destroy our confidence. 

Regarding the [unclear], the enemy is turning out to be more [unclear], which shows that putting Mindanao under martial law was a wise decision. 

Our military offensive will go on as long as [unclear] of threats. As we contain and destroy the enemy, we assure our people of every measure to make the country safe for them and to everyone abroad who wants to visit the land. 

Also, this is from our Police Director Oscar Albayalde but let me just reiterate. 

‘Yun pong mga tanong-tanong ng ano, na some international terrorist groups are claiming responsibility for the Resorts World incident and the statement did say, 

“They can always claim what they want to claim in their website, which [unclear]… they have this reputation of claiming all atrocities all over the world to further [unclear] themselves to gain global popularity and to show that their influence is all over. 

However, there is no truth that the incident was a terror act. According to our evidence, the incident is a local peace and order concern. 

Another question: Has the military received information that the terrorists in Marawi continue to receive assistance from somewhere? 

The answer: There is no fresh information which has been obtained. At the moment, the remaining terrorists’ pockets of resistance were contained and any help from the outside [unclear] into the areas of resistance. Our forces are determined to finish off the enemy should they continue to refuse to surrender. 

Second question: There are those wondering why the terror group members seem to be not running out of ammunition. What do you say about this? 

The answer: The enemy deliberately chose to retreat to the commercial area of the city so they can sustain themselves and their ammunition, so they could forage from there. As to ammunition, as we have mentioned before, this rebellious activity turns out to have been well-planned, and adequate preparations had been made. They had also stocked up on ammunition they got from the city jail and armories that they ransacked. They have also recovered government items they foraged from other areas of the city, where they now [unclear] supply. It is definite, however, that they will not be able to sustain it for long. 

Lastly. on the security lapses of Resorts World Manila, let us allow authorities to finish the investigation, and will begin to look into the security breach of Resorts World Manila. Once the investigation is completed, they will submit their findings and recommendations. 

Next, on the Communists’ offer to fight terrorists: The Communists’ gesture may be a sign of goodwill. However, the President is not keen on the offer. They first have to reciprocate government’s sincerity and cease fighting [unclear] peace talks. 

The members of the Communist Party of the Philippines must halt their attacks on government forces. They must end their atrocities and they must stop extortion activities that contribute to our people’s misery. 

The government hopes to see them sign a unilateral ceasefire agreement for us to go back to the negotiating table. Beyond words and gestures and offers, let’s talk concrete action that must be sincere and authentic. Only then can peace have a chance. 

Lastly, on the US decision to pull out of the Paris Agreement: The decision of US President Donald Trump to withdraw from the Paris Agreement is a domestic matter on their part. 

We understand that this decision is part of the campaign promise of President Trump to the American people. So it is an issue that has to be resolved by them and its effect on the community of nations. 

We believe that if there will be an effect on the US pullout would be tested best in a later date. 

End of statements. We’re open to a few questions.

Ms. Ruiz: Okay, sir, there is a question po from French News. Na-answer niyo na kasi sir ‘yung mga questions po ni Leila so dito tayo sa French News. Tinatanong po, why is the government sure that the Resorts World incident was not a terrorist attack and what was the gunman’s motive? And will it be a reason to impose martial law in Manila?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: First, we’ll just say that according to seasoned experts, there was actually no [inaudible]. All the evidence at this stage, up to this stage, part… it does not spare the evidence. It’s not a terrorist [unclear]… at this point points to the action of an emotionally disturbed person who apparently was engaged in a criminal action. 

So wala po tayong — ibinabalik po natin na evidence at this stage still points not to a terrorist attack but to a criminal action. ‘Yun po. Until the investigations are completed, we cannot answer it anymore. 

Ms. Ruiz: Sir, we have no more questions po, unless meron pa kayong mga gustong idagdag? 

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: Again, we’d like to encourage the people. Huwag po nating anuhin. Gusto po nating… we’d like to again encourage the Filipinos. First and foremost, like the President, unahin po natin ang interes ng bayan. 

It’s time po – we believe that it’s time for us to come together, to be in full support. At while we have been receiving a lot of support from outside, it is important for us now to embrace our identity as Filipinos, to be supportive of one another, to be less abrasive towards one another. 

We can have our differences in opinion but at the end of the day, it is our responsibility to stand up for our people, our nation, our country. Wala pong ibang tatayo para sa atin kung hindi sarili natin. And it is more important that we find areas of agreement, set aside non-essential areas of disagreement and let us continue to enjoy— 

Alam mo ang mga Pilipino, napaka-relational. And let us remember — Huwag po tayong gaanong magpaniwala sa mga balita, binibili natin. Let us be more discerning, let us be wiser and again, let us be supportive of one another. And let us continue to trust that we are on our way to a nation that is going to be worthy of Filipinos and we are on our way to a nation of Filipinos that is worthy of our nation. ‘Yun po. 

Ms. Ruiz: We only have one nation kaya dapatpo  lahat ng Pilipino, magsama-sama, magtulung-tulong instead na bringing each other down po. 

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: Opo, tama po ‘yun. Tama po kayop diyan. And so I’d just like to say have a happy weekend. 

Ms. Ruiz: Happy weekend also, sir!


Ms. Ruiz: Mabuhay po kayo. Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella giving an update on the Mindanao situation and also may mga pahayag din po tungkol sa Resorts World incident.