Mindanao Hour Press Briefing by Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella with Brigadier General Gilbert Gapay Deputy Commander, Eastern Mindanao Command Chief and Martial Law Spokesperson for Mindanao and Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency Director Isidro Lapeña
C-Tree Hotel, Davao City
30 June 2017



Today we’re joined in Mindanao Hour here in Davao City by Brigadier General Gilbert Gapay. He’s the chief and martial law spokesperson, Deputy Commander for Eastern Mindanao Command.

And also joined by Director Isidro Lapeña, General Lapeña of the PDEA.

Director Lapeña will also be sharing some things this morning with regard to the activities here in — pertinent activities here in Davao.

But in the meantime, we’d like to make a report regarding the Joint Task Force Marawi updates on the rebellion in Marawi as of 6 pm, 29th June, 2017.

First we’d like to reiterate the government’s stand that… we wish to reiterate that government’s policy not to negotiate with terrorists remains.

Hence, any demands made inside Marawi hold no basis. Let us continue to remind the public that the gravity of the offense of all these terrorists and their supporters is immense and they must all be held accountable for their actions.

Second, we also wish to forewarn the public of reported planned attacks of the NPA on people-oriented programs and infrastructure projects and we request the citizenry of Mindanao and everyone else in the country to be on the alert and on the lookout.

We also appeal to everyone to share information with authorities on suspicious persons and activities in their communities.

If we work together, we can prevent this extortion-related activities. 

Numbers update: Civilians killed by terrorists remain at 44. This is those that’s verified; Civilians rescued by government troops, LGU, CSO, 1,713.

Terrorists killed, 303. Recovered firearms from terrorists now at 382.

Government casualties, killed-in-action,  82.

Further significant developments:

  1. Military offensive operations continue. Portions of the four remaining barangays remain problematic;
  1. Clearing operations by sector is also ongoing;
  1. Interagency meetings and consultations preparatory to the rehabilitation, reconstruction and rebuilding of Marawi when hostilities end have begun and are ongoing.

Other topics will be referred to Brigadier General Gapay.

The focus of Marawi military operations remains to be:

  1. The continued clearing of Marawi of remaining armed terrorists that continue to pose pockets of resistance to the advancing troops;
  1. Continue rescue of trapped residents to include those held hostage;
  1. Continue recovery of civilian casualties or cadavers and victims;
  1. Assist the LGU, CSOs, NGOs on relief operations; and
  1. Prepare to assist government/LGUs for the rehabilitation, reconstruction, rebuilding phase as soon as the rebellion is quelled. Joint Task Group Ranao was formed to focus on this.

We will touch on other topics after Brigadier General Gapay.

BRIG. GEN. GAPAY: Thank you sir. Secretary Abella sir, Director Lapeña, ladies and gentlemen.

Let me provide you a brief update on the implementation of martial law in Eastern Mindanao.

So after 38 days of martial law, Eastern Mindanao Command, under the leadership of Lieutenant General Guerrero, who is also the martial law implementor in Eastern Mindanao, has continuously prevented the spillover or spread of the Marawi crisis in our area of responsibility.

We have effectively shielded Eastern Mindanao from terrorist attacks and deterred any diversionary, retaliatory or sympathetic attacks by the local terrorist groups here in Eastern Mindanao.

We have also denied terrorists from making our area a safe haven, as their safe havens, sanctuaries, and even as transit points.

So, so far Eastern Mindanao remains generally peaceful, safe, and secure.

This is largely attributed to the tightened security measures being implemented by the Command.

As of today, a total of 17,494 checkpoint operations were already conducted, both fixed and mobile checkpoints.

We have apprehended 31 violators in these checkpoints. We have also confiscated 15 firearms and even confiscated 11 illegal drugs during these checkpoint operations.

So somehow, it also, they also help in law enforcement.

Curfews are also being implemented in 129 cities and municipalities all over Eastern Mindanao.

9,742 security and visibility patrols were also conducted, focusing on vital installations, critical infrastructures, and places of convergence such as malls and churches.

We have also intensified intelligence coverage of the various threat groups and enhanced intelligence fusion among all government agencies.

We activated martial law special action groups to run after and apprehend, track, apprehend those terrorists and supporters included in the arrest order issued by the martial law administrator.

And to complement this, we have established more than 5,900 barangay intelligence nets or community information collection networks to help us track these terrorists in our area of responsibility.

On the humanitarian aspects, some 17,224 IDPs or internally displaced persons and evacuees were accommodated in various cities and key areas here in Eastern Mindanao.

Likewise, we have also facilitated the transport and delivery of some relief assistance to Iligan and other — and evacuation centers in Lanao del Sur.

And to sustain the prevailing security situation, our efforts are now geared in enhancing the existing security measures through the following innovations:

First, we are strengthening maritime security and enhancing our border-crossing stations. There are six border-crossing stations covering our backdoor and two of those are in Eastern Mindanao area.

This is done in coordination with other government agencies, such as the Bureau of Immigration, the Philippine Coast Guard, Bureau of Customs, of course the PNP and the LGUs, and other concerned government agencies.

Likewise, we have organized counterterrorist forces, task forces in key cities, similar to the one we have here in Davao, the Task Force Davao and Gen San, we have JTF Gen San. Recently, we have activated Task Force Oro, that’s in Cagayan de Oro.

So similar task forces will also be activated in key cities here in Eastern Mindanao.

And lastly, and lastly, we have initiated a number of fora to curb violent extremism in Eastern Mindanao. This is done in coordination with the civil society organizations such as the Al-Kalam, and likewise with the academe.

So in closing, we would like to thank the general public for your continued support and cooperation for the successful implementation of martial law here in our area.

Your continued vigilance and alertness are instrumental to this success. So let us continue working together to maintain the peace and preserve law and order here in Eastern Mindanao. Thank you.  

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: We’d now like to — we’ll defer the questions after Director Lapeña has also made his presentation.

DIR. GEN. LAPEÑA: Thank you sir, Secretary Abella. Thank you for inviting me to this forum, the Mindanao Hour. I will make… I will be making my first year report here in Davao, where I come from and I’m glad to be doing it here in Davao.

After one year of service, addressing the drug problem, as you all know, our President during his inaugural speech, he said that the drug problem must be stopped by all means allowed by law. It will be relentless and sustained.

And then during his SONA, he said that to double, triple your effort in the campaign against drugs.

And so the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency, being the lead agency in the campaign against drugs, launched an intensified operation against illegal drugs as well as the other law enforcement agencies that supports the implementation of the strategies, the campaign against illegal drugs.

And the result for that year, for the year that had passed — may I just read my data on… The result for the year that have passed, comparing the year — the first year of the Duterte administration to the past year of the previous administration, the total number of operations conducted for this year, we have 64,397 and that is 77 percent more than what has been conducted by the previous administration, which is 36,466.

And then the drug personalities arrested during — for this first year period, we have 86,984 compared to the previous administration accomplishment on the same drug personalities is 18,766, that is a 364 percent increase.

And then on the number of government workers arrested, we have 302 personalities arrested compared to the previous year, this is 97, that is 211 percent.

And then on clandestine laboratories dismantled, for this year, for the first year of the Duterte administration, is nine clandestine laboratories, including two mega shabu laboratories compared to three previous during the previous administration.

And then on drug dens dismantled, we have 152 compared to 82 and that is an increase in 85 percent.

On the drug laboratories, I will just mention that it is an increase of 200 percent.

On shabu seized in kilograms, we have 2.4 — 2,446 kilograms compared to the 820 kilograms of the previous administration, which is 198 percent increase.

And then the value of shabu seized in billion pesos, we have a total of 12.62 billion for the Duterte administration compared to the 0.94 billion of the previous admin, previous year.

And then for the total value of drugs seized in billion pesos, we have a total of 82.52 billion pesos compared to the 4.8 billion pesos of the previous year. This is a 283 percent increase.

So those are — well, in addition to this, there were a total of 1.3 million or to be exact, it’s 1,308,078 drug surrenderers during this period. This is up to June 28, 2007 — yes, 2017. June 28, 2017.

And we have a total of law enforcers killed-in-action, 57; and wounded-in-action, 150.

And in addition to that, we had a drug affectation of 48 percent when we took over. Out of the 42,036 barangays, there were 20,126 drug- affected barangays nationwide. Of course ang NCR has the highest affectation, it reached 97 percent.

And for now, up to this date, we have about… we have 3,677 cleared barangays for the period, for the first year of the Duterte administration.

But of course, these are the figures. But what we wanted to be able to  to accomplish is this figure will be translated into something that our people will feel, especially on the grassroots.

In the grassroots, we have shifted our strategy to the barangay drug- clearing program because this is where the drug problem thrives. Dito ‘yung kalakaran ng droga. Ito ‘yung nakakaapekto sa mga mamamayan natin sa grassroots. This is the one that matters actually and so we shifted ‘yung aming effort on the drug — barangay drug clearing program and we have that number of barangays already cleared up to this date, 3,677.

And this was done while we have concentrated or intensified ‘yung law enforcement function on illegal drugs, we have shifted also to the demand reduction.

As you know, as published before, we have more than 4 million users in the country. And this 4 million users translate to a 120 billion drug industry. And if that is not reduced, then ‘yung 120 billion drug industry na ’yan will always be something that business drug syndicates — drug syndicates would treat this as a business — will always get into it.

Meron man ma-neutralize sa kanila — may mamatay, may ma-aresto, they will just replace it, just to be — just to continue with their business, which is very lucrative and masyadong malaking business.

DIR. GEN. LAPEÑA: So that’s the reason why when we have the — when the President issued the Executive Order No. 15, creating the Interagency Committee on Anti-Illegal Drugs.

So the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency, being the lead agency and was designated as the — as the chairperson of the ICAD, we have shifted ‘yung strategy natin na it’s not just on — ang concentration is not just on the enforcement only but also on the other aspects of anti-illegal drug campaign.

Ito po ‘yung… ito po ‘yung creation ng four clusters ng Interagency Committee on Anti-Illegal Drugs. And these are:

One is the enforcement cluster. ‘Yan ‘yung emphasis namin, ‘yung ginagawa namin before.

And of course, the justice cluster. This is — ‘yan ang kasama ng enforcement cluster.

But now, we have unified, integrated, and synchronized other efforts on the anti-illegal drug campaign. At ito ‘yung other two clusters. The other two clusters are the — the advocacy cluster, which is now headed by the Department of Interior and Local Government. Ito ‘yung — ang ginagawa po nito is to… to have drug awareness in the grassroots level.

Kasi maraming mga kabataan ang hindi nila alam ‘yung… ‘yung ill effects ng drugs. And so we have a cluster on this. Kasama diyan — while the DILG is the chairperson dito, kasama diyan ‘yung PIA, kasama diyan ‘yung Department of Education and Culture, and other educational institutions.

And so, we have started on the preventive education and then ‘yung awareness. And we are using the — the structure of government down to the barangay. And that’s where we are now shifting, ‘yung battle against illegal drugs, at the doorsteps of the barangays.

And ito rin ‘yung mekanismo na marating natin ‘yung family so that the families will get involved. At ‘yung mga parents will be — will be educated at alam din nila kung ano ‘yung kanilang sasabihin sa mga anak nila.

Because we believe that if the parents are involved, ‘yung kung anong sasabihin ng mga parents will be instilled in the minds of our, ‘yung mga anak nila. At ganon din sa eskwelahan. But more effectively, if our families will be involved.

And then we have the fourth cluster, which is the cluster on rehabilitation and reintegration. Ito naman ‘yung, once you get hooked to it, then ito ‘yung cluster that will address it. Ito ‘yung Department of Health at tsaka ‘yung DSWD.

So, dito ‘yung community-based rehabilitation as well as ‘yung facility-based rehabilitation.

And once they are treated, then they are trained. They are trained sa mga skills, sa trabaho, so that they can be provided jobs and then get integrated or become productive citizens of the society, and then join the mainstream society so hindi na sila babalik sa pagiging adik.

So, ‘yan po ‘yung overall strategy ng gobyerno natin. And I would just like to mention na ‘yung pag-create ng Inter-agency Committee on Anti-Illegal Drugs is part ng SONA ng ating Presidente.

So, noon pa lang, sa umpisa pa lang, nakasama na ito sa kanyang plano. And he announced that, if you will look — if you will review ‘yung kanyang SONA, it is there, “I will create an Inter-agency Committee on Anti-Illegal Drugs.”

And the purpose of that inter-agency is to unify all the efforts of all agencies concerned and then integrate and synchronize lahat ng mga actions, lahat ng mga strategies on anti-illegal drugs.

And I would say that we are successful. ‘Yung… ‘yung… Going to the assessment ng all these surveys that have just been done, well first, ‘yung… ‘yung survey ng SWS in October. And then the… the campaign against illegal drugs was rated excellent.

And then doon sa… doon sa December na kinonduct (conduct) na… na survey na — sa Pulse Asia naman, ang… ‘yung rating, ang lumabas doon na those who feel — ‘yung mga mamamayan natin who feel safer, it was at — it was also excellent.

And then ‘yung latest, ‘yung sa SWS, ‘yung trust rating at tsaka ‘yung satisfactory rating. Trust rating of the President, satisfactory rating of the administration, parehas. Isa is excellent, ‘yung trust rating. And then ‘yung… ‘yung satisfactory rating is very good.

So… and the drug campaign is part of that rating. So I would like to say, and I am happy to report that while we have done so much, well so much more has to be done.

We have… we have made targets doon sa ICAD. Ang ginawa naming target is to reduce ‘yung barangay affectation by 30 percent per year. And, it’s… it’s moving smoothly, although medyo it takes time, gradual. But halos every week, may mga naki-clear na barangays.

In fact, on Friday, I’ll be going to Urdaneta because of the declaration of some — Urdaneta, Pangasinan — because of declaration of some barangay — barangays doon as drug-cleared.

And then dito naman sa Davao Del Sur, there is now a municipality that is cleared. Municipality na ‘yan. Ang ibig sabihin, lahat ng mga… mga barangays niyan ay cleared na.

And then recently, just three… three weeks ago, we went to Batanes to witness ‘yung declaration ng probinsya as a… as a drug-cleared province. [Spokesperson Abella speaks to Dir. Gen. Lapeña]

Yes, well I’m going — I’m going to that after this. This afternoon, at two o’clock at [inaudible], there will be a signing of Protocol of Cooperation with the MILF. And that is a very good manifestation on the part of our brother, MNLF members, to help in our anti-illegal drug campaign.

And, well… the… Well, as a… There was an offer by the MILF to help in the campaign against illegal drugs in those areas that are affected by the conflict with the MILF. And you know, the law enforcer cannot just enter into those areas that are… where they have their presence.

So, we have to involve them para makasama sa kampanya against illegal drugs in those areas that are considered conflicted areas.


PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: Thank you. So, question and answer portion for General Gapay and Director Lapeña. We will begin with questions for General Gapay, please.

Q: For General Gapay, sir, the Karapatan and Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas questioned the holding of the four militant leaders for several hours in Lasang checkpoint inpite daw of showing their IDs. In fact, they considered the action as a form of human rights violation. General, would you like to comment?

BRIG. GEN. GAPAY: Yes, what happened last… it was seven o’clock in the evening on 28 of June, just last Wednesday. It was in a regular checkpoint operations in Lasang. It’s one of the gateways to Davao City. Alam niyo naman po, ever since, medyo mahigpit ‘yung checkpoints natin ano. Lalo na ‘yung three major checkpoints sa… serving as gateway to Davao City.

And, ‘yun nga, upon seeing… sensing some… they were reluctant to be subjected to the usual thorough… thorough procedures and inspection so our troops manning that, the checkpoint in Lasang at that night sought the assistance of the PNP. 

So it was a joint checkpoint. So when the PNP continued the inspection… So, they noticed that one of the passengers has… is a subject of… has a warrant of arrest in the person of Mr. Carmelito Lao, Sr. 

So upon recognizing one of the passengers, so the PNP invited them for further verification because there is a standing warrant of arrest issued by Judge Dayanghirang of Branch 32 Regional Trial Court in Lupon, Davao Oriental.

So they were invited and with consent, for further verification. The three companions were already asked they may go already but they opted to accompany Mr. Lao to the PNP station.

Then verification process transpired then after more than an hour, they were released at about 10 pm the same night after having been cleared.

Apparently after verification, the warrant of arrest was already cancelled because it was apparently settled amicably. So the four were released at around 10 pm. So wala pong arrest na nangyari. Wala pong — they were not detained, there was no illegal detention. It was an invitation which they consented and everything was done in accordance with legal procedures.

Q: Ok, thank you General. Can we ask ma’am DG Lapeña? Sir, the PDEA 11 recommended to the President the inclusion of illegal drugs sa campaign in the martial law implementation. What’s the latest on this?

DIR. GEN. LAPEÑA: Well that’s right. Actually, as you have learned, drug money came into play in supporting this ‘yung Maute incident.

So necessarily ang Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency, of course Region 11 is part of it, is getting into it.

Though sa umpisa pa lang ‘yung intelligence information that we got is drug, terrorism and narco-politics bundled into one came into play in that incident in Marawi. And we are into it sa enforcement operation.

Q: Isn’t it included right now sir in the martial law implementation, itong anti illegal drugs campaign?

DIR. GEN. LAPEÑA: Yes, it is included. Of course we cannot discuss details here.

Q: Thank you, sir.

Peng Aliño (DZRB): Related to that illegal drugs meron pong tanong dito from Alvin Baltazar of Radyo Pilipinas, Malacañang Press Corps: ‘Yung massacre incident sa Bulacan dapat bang maging eye opener sa mga critics ni President at ma-realize kung gaano talaga kalala ang problema sa illegal drugs na pilit na nililinis ng administrasyon? This is for Secretary Abella and Director General Lapeña.


DIR. GEN. LAPEÑA: Please paki-repeat.

  1. ALIÑO: The incident, the massacre incident in Bulacan, opo, related to drugs. So paano daw po, gaano kalala ang problema sa illegal drugs na actually the President is really cleaning that campaign on drugs?

DIR. GEN. LAPEÑA: Indeed, ‘yung ating problema sa drugs is very serious. In fact when we — when the Duterte administration assumed office, we did not expect that it is this serious.

Narinig naman ninyo ang Presidente natin. When during the campaign period he is saying three to six months ganon and then when we assumed office then nag-develop na madami ‘yung mga nag-su-surrender then he asked for another six months.

But when it reached one million ‘yung surrenderers natin, ganon pala katalamak ‘yan, ‘yung problema natin sa droga. And this is throughout the country. And then ‘yung lumabas na ating situation, there are 48 percent of the barangays that are affected by drugs. And I would say that it could be even more.

Pero based on, ‘yung mga nag-su-surrender, then we have 48 percent. That is 20,000 barangays in the whole country.

And kaya nga ‘yung strategy namin ngayon is to go to the barangays and clearing them one by one. It could take a little while but that’s the way to go.

Kasi lahat naman ng mga droga na pini-peddle or is imported or is manufactured, it goes to the barangays. At sa barangay, hindi makakawala ang information na ‘yan sa mga baranggay opisyales natin. They know what is happening in their barangays.

That’s why we are enlisting ‘yung tulong ng mga barangay officials natin at the grassroots level, sa mga barangay. And we have been telling them that there is no middle ground dito. They have to help, it’s either they are with us or they are against us.

Hindi kasi pwede na — if you are a barangay official, you took oath na you will perform ‘yung duties that goes with the office of being a barangay captain or a barangay official.

Kaya pag hindi mo ginawa ‘yun then you can be liable for neglect or dereliction of duty. In fact we have filed a case in Cebu against the barangay officials there.

That’s why there is no middle ground. Pagka ikaw pag barangay official ka you are supposed to know what is happening in your barangay. Hindi makakawala ‘yan. Pagka sinabing hindi niya alam eh di mag resign na lang siya na barangay official kung hindi niya alam kung may nangyayari sa kanyang barangay. And there is no middle ground.

Q: Good morning. To Secretary Abella sir, there was an earlier demand from the Mautes to swap the priest they are still holding and the parents. This is part of, now of the policy that any demands from the Maute or terrorist group is non-negotiable.

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: We have not entered – Again, let me just say. Again let me just reiterate, government’s policy is not to negotiate and whatever demands made within in Marawi with whatever negotiating groups, this holds no basis okay. Let me just read that again.

The gravity of the offense of all these terrorists and their supporters is immense and they will need to be held accountable, okay. So again let me reiterate: government’s policy is no negotiation.

Q: Sir is there a call from the religious sector to help, to save the priest being hostaged by the Maute?


Q: Is there a call or a request from the church to save the priest being hostaged–?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: As far as my desk is concerned, we have not received any. 

Q: Thank you sir.

Ms. Aliño: Okay, there’s a question for you sir before this, before Vina Araneta. For Secretary Abella from Tina Mendez of Philippine Star. If the conflict has been qualified as a humanitarian crisis that now warrants international help after PRRD sought allies to assist in rebuilding Marawi. Can you expound on PRRD’s statement: also as troops wrap up our operations in Marawi, I also welcome our international partners into looking forward into rebuilding this city, this invitation extend to our allies who share with us the principles of good will and non-interference in our domestic affairs. Also how long do we expect the rehab and rebuilding to last, sir?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: Alright, The President’s invitation for international partners to aid in rebuilding Marawi is not synonymous to humanitarian crisis.

We have said in numerous occasions that we welcome foreign assistance in the Marawi situation, especially in the rehab and reconstruction and recovery phase, especially now that the troops are about to liberate the city from lawless elements.

However, it is normal for friends and allies to support each other which need a helping hand.  And after all, we have our shared commitment with other countries to combat terrorism and attain sustainable peace.

As to when the recovery and rehabilitation would last, the Bangon Marawi Plan has a short-term and a long-term timeline depending on the activities involved.

So we are not giving any specific dates but there is a timeline, we have a short and a medium-term — a short, medium and long-term timeline. 

Ms. Aliño: Okay, thank you. There’s another question here: The Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative said new missile shelters and radar and communication facilities were being built on Fiery Cross, Mischief and Subic Reefs in the Spratlys. The think tank said the construction of military facilities is mostly complete and Beijing could now deploy military assets in the Spratlys anytime. What will the Philippines do about it? Is the country concerned that this will raise tension in the region? Is the government’s response to China’s activities in the area going to be tempered by the loans and donations the country has been getting from Beijing? From Leila of Inquirer.

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: Right. Again these matters, we defer to SND, Secretary of National Defense and DFA. However, we need to reiterate the fact that the President has had a — His approach to the situation, to regional socio geopolitics has always been to come into a mutual understanding and mutual, and dialogue in order to resolve cases like these.

So regarding those matters, we defer — we defer to SND and to DFA. However, we need to find — we need to just go back to the fact that the President, at this stage, has been non-combative and non-adversarial. But has approached regional geopolitics from the point of view of dialogue and mutual understanding and mutual support. Thank you.

Q: To General Gapay and Secretary Abella. Sir, the AFP has surpassed ‘yung 605 wounded, bukod pa po ito doon sa 82 na killed-in-action. So parang isang battalion na po ‘yung napapabagsak ng Maute. So sabi rin po ni General Año na walang — ‘yung gyerang ito ay makukumpara mo sa gyera sa Mosul sa Northern Iraq. Your reaction lang po to this. Thank you.

BRIG. GEN. GAPAY: First is, the operational environment in Marawi is very different. It’s urban. It’s urban setting and really —- may advantage talaga ‘yung on the defensive side ano because they were able to prepare their positions. They were able to emplace machine guns, they were able to emplace snipers and maneuver mobility for the — Attacking Forces is really restricted.

So it is because of these reasons that we — our forces, we have incurred many casualties in the process. Plus not to mention ‘yung the challenge being imposed by — there are civilian hostages in the area. There are civilians struck in the remaining four barangays of Marawi.

But slowly but surely, with the capabilities at hand, I guess soon we will be able to clear Marawi of these terrorists.

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: Let me just make several statements and then we can proceed. I’ll just make…

On the Philippine Trafficking In Persons 2017 ranking:

The US Department of State, in its annual report entitled, Trafficking in Persons (TIP) 2017, cited the Philippines for maintaining its Tier 1 ranking. Meaning, the Philippine government has fully met the minimum of the Trafficking Victims Protection Act’s (TVPA) standards for the elimination of trafficking.

The Philippines was the first and only Southeast Asian nation to have achieved the status.

According to the report, “the government demonstrated serious and sustained efforts by convincing and punishing more traffickers, identifying more victims through proactive screening procedures, and expanding its efforts to prevent trafficking of Filipino migrant workers.”

From July 2016 to June 2017, a total of 1,567 victims were served and 44 convictions were secured, putting 44 traffickers behind bars.

As the Duterte administration enters its second year today, rest assured that the well-being of the Filipinos would be of paramount importance. And we will safeguard and protect them from any threat of violence and exploitation through strict implementation of the “Expanded Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act of 2012.”

On the analysts saying that the administration’s fixation on the war on drugs overshadowed the war on terrorism:

Let me remind you that as early as August last year, or one and half months after PRRD assumed the presidency, the President already told the Philippine military to be ready with ISIS and warned that the country would be plagued with the ISIS disease.

Let me quote from his speech to his talk to the 1st Infantry (Tabak) Division of the Philippine in Zamboanga del Sur in the 10th of August 2016. And it’s mixed and he says,

“Busy na unta ta pag-atubang ni aning problemaha na-a pa gyud droga and I see a looming problem. Tan-aw nako within three to seven years from now magka-problema ta sa ISIS. In some parts of Mindanao may tao nga puti and I’d supposed mga Arabo na. They’re here as missionaries, wala sila’y armas but they are into indoctrinization. Mo na’y kahadlukan kay sama sa mga komunista pag human a na og ma clear na nila [ang] lugar, nakit-an nila maayo mosuod na ining ilang political officers. Kanang may delikado kay ang gina luto a-na ang utok. And a na tay problema diri sa Muslim insurgency and we must arrest them before dili sila, ang atong mga kaigsuonang Moro, dili ma-contaminate sa ISIS disease.

In other words, he made a fine distinction between ISIS and the Muslim communities.

And also, he also was pointing it out as of last year that there was indeed that looming danger except that at that particular stage, it was the stage of indoctrination. However, already it was perceived even during that time.

So, that’s about it, end of statement. Thank you.

Q: To Secretary Abella, sir good morning. Sir, this coming SONA of our President, is it possible sir na sa Marawi po gawin ito? Kung possible po, what will be the security measures na gagawin po?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA:  That will be very dramatic. However, I doubt that it will be held there. It’s just that conditions are not at all viable for something as serious as the State of the Nation Address, thank you.

Q:  Follow up to that Secretary, Henry Uri of DZRH is asking: In an interview with Gen. Padilla this morning on DZRH, sinabi niya na nirekomenda ng AFP sa Pangulo to defer muna Marawi visit. So nakarating na po sa Pangulo ang rekomendasyon at ano ang response niya, sir?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA:  He’s quite aware of the inconvenience of the situation. And he is taking the necessary precautions. However, the President is really audacious. But at this stage, we do not have any report. Thank you.  

Q: Kay Secretary Abella. Sir, good morning. May panawagan po ang Maute kay President Duterte na payagan na pumagitna ang MILF para matapos na ‘yung kaguluhan sa Marawi City.

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: Pwede po nilang idaan ‘yan sa OPAPP. On the other hand, ang ano po, ang guiding light natin ay no negotiations.

Q: Regarding naman po, Secretary Abella, regarding naman po doon sa rehabilitation po ng Marawi City. May gagawin po ba tayong resurvey doon sa mga residente para naman maiwasan na makabalik ‘yung mga Maute?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: Ma’am, ‘yung ano po, ‘yung mga nangunguna po nito ay alam po nila ang kailangang maharap patungkol doon sa reconstruction ng Marawi at let us trust that they will be able to do all the necessary processes. Salamat po.

Q: Kay ano po, Secretary Lapeña, sir regarding po doon kay — sa PDEA po. Regarding po doon sa lalagdaan po ng, between GRP tsaka MILF doon sa drug campaign. Ganon na lang po ba kalaki ‘yung kumpyansa natin sa MILF para makatulong doon sa kampanya natin?

DIR. GEN. LAPENA: It’s about a common interest to address ‘yung ating illegal drug problem. So we welcome any assistance when it comes to that. But we will invite you, our friends from the media para sa affair mamaya and then maybe you can ask more questions in the day. Kasi magsa-sign-an tayo mamaya eh. Two o’clock. Then after that, we can have a press briefing.

Yes sir, there will be safe guards, by the way. Actually, kaya we have that protocol of cooperation.

So ‘yung mga on the road can be dished out after the signing. 

Q: For Secretary Abella. Sir, you mentioned earlier that there are planned NPA attacks. Can you be specific on what kind of settings or people-oriented projects they are planning to attack, based on intel reports? And if there are additional security measures that will be put in place because of these reports?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: Unang-una po, we don’t have details regarding the planned attacks, except that the, the warning is well, the announcement is that we should be vigilant and we should be careful about our surroundings.

At patungkol po sa mga ano, makinig po tayo sa mga, lalo sa mga bara-barangay, makinig po tayo sa mga further directives ng ating mga local authorities, ‘yun po.

Q: Sir, ‘yung planned attacks if ever ba sa rural areas, like usual? Or meron bang threat to urban areas, urban —?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: Hindi po natin, hindi po natin masasabi kung ano po ‘yung mga plano nila, basta’t mag-ingat po tayo.

Q: Thank you sir.

Ms. Aliño: Okay. There’s another one here for you Secretary Abella. Analysts said the admin’s fixation on the war on drugs overshadowed the war on terrorism. What does the Palace think of the assessment? How does the government try to balance the two campaigns and make sure that both are adequately addressed?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: As I just read. You know, as I just made the statement earlier.

As early as August last year, nakita na na, nakita na ng Presidente, ‘yung mga inherent, ‘yung mga looming dangers, dahilan sa mga presensya ng mga ilang mga tao na mukhang ang kanila naman dala-dala ay hindi bala kung hindi bala para sa utak.

And these are indoctrinating people and trying to bring people in, into their, into this particular ideology which is not Muslim but it is a radical form of extremism. It is a… kanila pong paniwala ito, na ito ‘yung kanila pong ano—

So ang ano po natin ay balik po tayo sa… Unang-una, kailangan po i-address natin ang ano, ang sitwasyon and this is the planning of the President, na ano, na ang whole systems approach po ang presentation ng Presidente.

Unang-una naka-base itong, kung baga may galit o sama ng loob ang mga Muslim, especially in Mindanao, base po ito sa social injustice.

‘Yun po ang kanilang— The President recognizes that this, that a major portion of the angst, of the anxiety of the Muslim community, especially Mindanao is the sense of having been socially discriminated against, and having been victims of social injustice.

So ‘yun po, ang sinasabi nga ni Presidente, ang solusyon talaga rito, a major solution is federalism.

So bigyan pansin po natin ‘yan na hindi lang po relief ang ating hinaharap, kung ‘di po mabigyan, masagot po ang initial basic concerns ng ating mga kapatirang Muslim na Pilipino.

So ang ano po, ang… at the end of the day, it’s really a whole systems approach of government that will, that will look after economics, social injustice, law and order, peace, and also a sense that we all belong to one nation.

And again, we would like to address the Filipino nation. And say it’s time for us to embrace our being Filipino.

Being Filipino is really unique. It is multi-cultural, multi-religious, and multi-everything. But at the end of the day, we all belong to one nation.

And if we could embrace that, and see where the President’s coming from, where he’s coming is wanting to address social injustice and it will be a big and profound help if we all embrace our national identity of being Filipino. And decided to, made a choice to love the Philippines and all Filipinos alike.

Ms. Aliño: Okay. Sir, another follow up here or question. May update na daw po ba regarding the pagtakas ni Isnilon Hapilon? Last time daw po kasi under verification pa, from Glenn of Brigada News FM National, MPC. General Gapay?

BRIG. GEN. GAPAY: Yes, based on the reports coming from the Western Mindanao Command, they’re still verifying that report that Isnilon Hapilon has fled, if he has fled Marawi already. So bine-verify pa po ito as of this moment.

Ms. Aliño: Okay, another question here for General Lapeña. Director General Lapeña, paki-tanong please ilan drug suspects killed since the start of the anti-illegal campaign? From Johnna Giolagon. Same question din ‘yan from Chona Yu, same question.

DIR. GEN. LAPEÑA: Let me just check my data.

Q: Sir, I just want to follow up on federalism because many sec —  federalism. Many sectors believe that shifting federal form of government is the right move for the government to have the solution of all the problems in the country today, sir. Are there any specific directives of the President as to when the Congress going to tackle or discuss the federalism thing?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: Pinapausad na po siya. I cannot give you the exact time.

However, they, it’s, it will be acting on— Ang mahalaga lang din po kasi, ‘yung maintindihan ng tao kung ano talaga ‘yung federalism na makikita nila na ito nga is going to be, to our great advantage to the Philippines and especially to the south, southern part of Mindanao.

But hindi lang po southern part of Mindanao ‘yan, kung hindi po ito’y isang kasagutan ng mga ongoing concerns, especially structural concerns ng Pilipino.

Q: Thank you sir.

DIR. GEN. LAPEÑA: The number of drug personalities who died during anti-drug operations. Is that the question?

We have a total of 3,171. Ito ‘yung mga namatay during legitimate drug operations, ‘yun mga lumaban, especially those who have, who are armed and then lumaban sa ating mga law enforcers.

Q: Sir, kay General Lapeña sir. Have you tracked connections of the Maute, kung kanino sila nakipag-deal sa drug operation anywhere in the country?

DIR. GEN. LAPEÑA: You are referring to the indigenous—?

Q: ‘Yung mga Maute sir, they were into drug operation. Have you tracked or checked on the people they were dealing before the Marawi crisis?

DIR. GEN. LAPEÑA: We are into investigations right now. And then, let’s just wait for the result of that investigation.

Q: Saan… saan-saan ang mga areas tayo nag-check sir sa kanilang mga connections, anong mga areas?

DIR. GEN. LAPEÑA: Yeah, again, we have an investigation going on and then that’s… those will be part ng investigation natin.

Q: Thank you sir.

Ms. Aliño: Sir, follow up po. Homicides under investigation, may homicide under investigation ba daw po? And how many suspected of being linked to drugs? Sir Lapeña?

DIR. GEN. LAPEÑA: Come again Peng?

Ms. Aliño: ‘Yun daw pong homicides under investigation, how many suspected of being linked to drugs?

DIR. GEN. LAPEÑA: I cannot give you the number of those homicide under investigation. That’s the Philippine National Police. Kasi hindi drug, those are not drug-related. We just consolidate mga data on drug-related cases.

Q: For General Lapeña sir. Sino na po ‘yung mga big fish na nahuli natin doon sa campaign against drugs? Big-time drug traffickers?

DIR. GEN. LAPEÑA: Big fish? Well, they have had several operations on mga high, mga… ‘yung mga high placed, high-value targets.

And then, if you have monitored, we have conducted raids dito sa mga… itong mga night spots in Global City sa Metro Manila, mga… They call it ‘yung being visited by high, mga high-end… mga high, well-placed na mga personalities.

And in fact, ‘yun last na na-raid natin diyan, ang isa sa mga nahuli diyan is a former candidate ng Binibining Pilipinas. And ‘yung mga nahuli doon, marami — class-class of illegal drugs, including ecstasy at tsaka ‘yung mga party drugs, aside from shabu.

So we are also hitting ‘yung mga matataas na mga targets like those.

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: Again, we’re looking forward to — we’re looking forward and hopefully quick cessation of activities in Marawi, of violent activities in Marawi. We’re looking forward to the rehabilitation of the area.

We’re looking forward to that we can move on, so that we can proceed with normal flow of events, and among other things is the move towards federalism, to be able to engage in, to be able to address socio-concerns in the area.

We also look forward to more cooperative citizens and we’re looking forward also to the President’s report on SONA.

Good morning. God bless.

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