Press Briefing by Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella with Department of National Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana and Bureau of Customs Customs Intelligence and Investigation Service Director Neil Anthony Estrella
Press Briefing Room, New Executive Building, Malacañang
01 June 2017


PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: Good morning. This morning we are going to have two resources speakers, one is from the Bureau of Customs, the other the Secretary of National Defense.

To update us on some accomplishments that have been happening through the Bureau of Customs, we’d like to call on Colonel Estrella.

DIRECTOR ESTRELLA: Thank you, sir. Members of the media, good morning. My name is Retired Colonel Neil Anthony Estrella. I’m the currently the Director of the Customs Intelligence and Investigation Service of the Bureau of Customs.

Just recently the Bureau of Customs was able to recover and seize an estimated amount of 605 kilos of high-grade methamphetamine hydrochloride, otherwise known as shabu at Valenzuela City.

At least two individuals were arrested, five are being investigated and more persons of interest will be invited for questioning as both PDEA and the National Bureau of Investigation are helping us in the investigation and filing of appropriate charges.

There has been questions of the media of why this said shipment was able to leave of Customs zones without being detected.

Joining me this morning, of course, is the collector of Manila International Container Port Atty. Jet Maronilla and our chief of staff Mandy Anderson and Atty. Hilario of our Risk Management Office.

The selectivity system of the Bureau of Customs E2M system is fully automated. This shipment was tagged green, meaning no physical inspection and no further document inspection was conducted. Meaning independently without human intervention, considering as I’ve said our system is fully automated.

The release is further triggered by the online release system after bank payment has been confirmed.

Currently, we are still pursuing our own investigation and closely coordinating with other law enforcement agencies, both local and abroad and also reviewing our selectivity system.

Before we answer your questions, may I request everyone to please focus your attention on the screen. We have a one slide screen here that gives us a summary of the Bureau of Customs’ accomplishment in as far as the President’s directive on our anti-illegal drug campaign is concerned.

This gives us a total value of 7.635 billion pesos seized and recovered by the Bureau of Customs since July of 2016.

We’re now ready to answer your questions.


Tuesday Niu (DZBB): Hi, sir. Question lang, sir. Whatever happened to the system in the Customs? Bakit nakarating pa siya sa warehouse sa Valenzuela na kung hindi napigilan nai-distribute na?

DIRECTOR ESTRELLA: Katulad po ‘nong binanggit ko kanina, ang Bureau of Custom po ay gumagamit po ng system, automated system at ‘yung selectivity system po na ginagamit natin ay fully automated and without human intervention.

Ibig sabihin po nito ay ‘pag ipinasok po natin ‘yung mga data at information base po doon sa bill of lading at declaration po ng manifest ng isang importer, ‘yun pong computer ang magsasabi kung anong lane po siya papasok.

At dito nga sa specific na shipment na ‘to, na-tag po siya na green. Kapag ka green po ang naging tagging niya, ibig sabihin no physical inspection will be conducted and no further document inspection will also be conducted.

Only after payment of its duties and taxes or the value added tax, magkakaroon na po kaagad siya ng gate pass kaya po ito ay nakapunta kaagad ng warehouse ng kanyang importer.

Pero dahil nga po meron nga po tayong  sistema na in place na tinatawag nating intelligence network, nakakuha po tayo ng magandang impormasyon at nasundan po natin ‘tong shipment na ‘to hanggang na-seize po natin itong 605 kilos po na shabu.

Ms. Niu: Yes, sir. I understand, sir, ‘yung tip ay galing mismo sa China daw po. Wala po ba tayong sariling information na nakuha based on your intelligence?

DIRECTOR ESTRELLA: Yes, the information that came from our counterpart from the Bureau of Customs ng China is only an initial information.
We conducted validation and further intelligence operation that resulted dito po sa isang successful mission natin ‘no.

Hindi lang po ‘yung China ang nagbigay ng eksaktong impormasyon, bagamat meron po silang participation dito, ang ating pong intelligence doon sa Customs ang nag-develop nito hanggang sa natunton po natin ‘yung lugar kung saan nakatago po ‘tong shabu na ‘to.

Rocky Ignacio (PTV): Sir, President Duterte said na may connection ‘yung illegal drugs and terrorism now in Mindanao. May measures ba ang Bureau of Customs dito, sir? Or meron na talaga kayong nakita about it?

DIRECTOR ESTRELLA: Well, it has been a consistent directive of the Commissioner of Bureau of Customs Commissioner Nicanor Faeldon to always intensify our operation and monitoring, focus also on anti-illegal drugs.

So our ports in Mindanao are alerted in as far as shipments of these illegal drugs are concerned.

Henry Uri (DZRH): Colonel, good morning. Paano makakasiguro ho tayo ngayon na hindi na mauulit ‘yung nangyari doon sa six billion worth ng shabu na nakalusot sa Custom?

DIRECTOR ESTRELLA: Katulad nga po ‘nong binanggit ko kanina, we are currently reviewing our selectivity system. Dahil nga po ito ay automated, gusto po natin balikan at i-review ‘yung mga parameters po na nakapasok dito sa selectivity system.

At hindi po tayo… Iyong success na nagawa po natin ngayon ay hindi po magiging katapusan kung ‘di magiging umpisa lang ‘no, na ngayon nakita na natin ‘yung ating possible weak points. We are now strengthening it. Immediately we have corrected kung ano ‘yung nakita nating pagkukulang doon.

But… And also currently, ‘yung buong sistema, that’s why we invited also our collector here ng Manila International Container Port.

Nire-review po nila lahat po ng bawat dinadaanan po ng ating shipment sa kasalukayan.

Mr. Uri: Kaya na po ba ninyong masiguro na hindi na po mauulit ito?

DIRECTOR ESTRELLA: Well, that is a work in progress. Ang masasabi namin ngayon, nangyari ito, nakalusot siya at nahabol po natin.
That means our current system now is very active.

Mr. Uri: So meaning, wala pa hong kasiguruhan na ito’y hindi na mauulit?

DIRECTOR ESTRELLA: Katulad po ng sinabi ko sa inyo kanina, nakita po natin ‘yung sistema na in place kaya po natin ‘to nahuli.

So hindi pa rin tayo hihinto doon. I-improve pa natin ‘yung sistema para talaga maging foolproof. Kasi kahit makalusot siya, nahuhuli na po natin siya ngayon eh.

Ito ‘yung nagpapatunay na meron po tayong sistema. Iyong ating automation, ‘pagka siya ay nakalabas, kung wala po tayong matibay na intelligence network, hindi po natin ‘yan mahahabol.

At dahil nga po matibay ngayon ‘yung ating ginagawang network, nahahabol po natin sila kahit makalabas po sila.

Ms. Ignacio: Pero, sir, ‘yung sa comprehensive tax reform, ano ba ‘yung magiging, mabibigay nito sa… Ano ang target ng Bureau of Customs sa — ‘pag natuloy na itong comprehensive tax reform?

DIRECTOR ESTRELLA: Well, as of now, I don’t have the data and other information as regards to that. Siguro in our next opportunity, we’ll get back to you.

Joseph Morong (GMA): Sir, just to pick up on Ate Rocky’s point kanina, kasi si Presidente yesterday said that drug money is funding ISIS. Would you be able to see a pattern ng distribution ng drugs based on your arrest or interception of drug parcels?

DIRECTOR ESTRELLA: In coordination with other law enforcement agencies, we’re doing that. We are a member of committees of the anti-illegal drug campaign and we’re discussing that issue.

Mr. Morong: But right now there’s no pattern yet that’s emerging?

DIRECTOR ESTRELLA: We’re looking — we’re looking at that as a matter of investigation.

Mr. Morong: Looking into what specific? 

DIRECTOR ESTRELLA: As you mentioned, if there’s a pattern we’re looking at that. 

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: This morning we also have the Secretary of National Defense Delfin Lorenzana, who’ll be here in about — just about a minute.

Retired Major General Delfin Lorenzana is the 36th Secretary of the Department of National Defense and the Administrator of Martial Law in Mindanao.

Secretary Lorenzana is a member of the Philippine Military Academy Class ’73 (Maagap). And he earned his Master of Business Administration major in Operations Research from the Ateneo Graduate School of Business.

He should be here in… Please prepare if you have any… No later. [laughter] I will have – no fear. 

SEC. LORENZANA: Good morning. I’m happy to be here again for the second time. So let’s start. 

Ms. Niu: Good morning, sir. Tuesday here sir. Sir, you were quoted this morning saying na there was an unfortunate incident in Marawi. Mayroon daw tayong mga soldiers na namatay at nasugatan sa mismong air strike po ng ating AFP. Can you tell us the circumstances, sir? 

SEC. LORENZANA: Totoo ‘yan. I got this the report late yesterday that during the air strike conducted by the Air Force, ito ‘yung — ito ‘yung mga trainer jets natin, ‘yung Marchetti S-260. There were two planes flying and the first plane dropped the — their ordnance accurately pero ‘yung pangalawa sumablay, tumama doon sa tropa natin.

We are still investigating, conducting an investigation headed by the Chief of Staff what really happened kung nagkaroon ba ng miscommunication or there was an error of somebody there on the ground or on the air sa parte ng piloto.

Now, there were 10 killed in that unfortunate incident and seven wounded, they have been evacuated to Cagayan de Oro for proper disposition.

Hindi ko alam kung nasabihan na ‘yung mga families nila but that will come in a couple of — today or tomorrow siguro. Pagka dadalhin na ‘yung mga remains nung mga sundalo sa kanilang mga bahay.

Ms. Niu: Follow up lang, sir. Ano po ang assurance ngayon na hindi na po mauulit ‘yung ganitong incidents considering na may nadagdag na namang panibagong battalion of soldiers natin po doon sa Marawi? 

SEC. LORENZANA: I give those… I give those decision to the ground commander, si General Bautista at saka si General Galvez, to determine kung kailangan pa nila ng air strikes doon, especially now that there are more troops operating on the ground and the chances of hitting our own troops is very big like what happened yesterday.

And siguro we have to limit the air strikes to the aircrafts that can deliver accurately their ordnance.

Ms. Niu: Last na po. Is this the reason kaya, sir, na today medyo humupa daw po ‘yung air strikes doon sa lugar sa Marawi? 

SEC. LORENZANA: That’s true. That’s one of the reason[s] why, para… The commanders are reviewing their SOPs, nirereview nila ’yung mga procedures para maiwasan natin ‘yan because it’s very, very — masakit eh. It’s very sad to be hitting our own troops. 

AC Nichols (CNN Philippines): Good morning, sir. Sir, I know you said that investigations are still ongoing but can you give us a better idea on how these things can occur, sir? Paano ba nangyayari ‘yung ganitong ano? Kasi, sir, in an earlier presscon dito sabi po ng AFP spox na precise naman daw po usually ‘yung sa mga air strikes. 

SEC. LORENZANA: Yeah, there are… We still have some precision-guided munitions na pagka pinakawalan ‘yan talagang kung saan naka — naka-indicate na area, pupunta doon.

But medyo naubusan na tayo niyan and ‘yung ibang mga aircraft like the S-260, ‘yung Marchetti, ‘yung [layang-layang?] natin. They are now using conventional bombs na ‘pag hinulog nila — kung magkamali ka kasi ng hulog diyan, na ‘pag dive mo ng ganon at you go up and you either mapauna or mapa-delay ‘yung release mo, then you will not hit the target.

But the first aircraft hit the target squarely. Iyong pangalawa kasi ‘yung kanyang — dala-dalawa palagi ‘yan eh, they are operating in tandem ‘no, in buddies so we don’t know… We do not know yet kung ano ang nangyari. We are still investigating.

Ms. Nichols: Just a follow up, sir. Earlier, you also said, sir, na by Friday tapos na. Ganoon pa rin ba, sir, ‘yung ano natin? 

SEC. LORENZANA: On the way here I talked to General Bautista. It’s turning out that ‘yung isang strongpoint na hinahawakan ng ano — ng Maute is very hard to crack, ‘yung across the bridge from the city hall and they are pouring more battalions there today and the target is still there.

Tomorrow afternoon, let’s see. Very fluid naman itong sitwasyon na ‘to and we can adjust siguro maybe towards this weekend or Sunday but malapit na. Isa na lang ‘yung — konti na lang ‘yung pockets of resistance ng Maute. 

Mr. Morong: Sir, just a clarification doon sa air strikes. Sir, ano ‘yun, suspend muna tayo ng air strikes? Kasi parang, meron pa ba ng pakonti-konti? What’s going to be our policy after this accident? 

SEC. LORENZANA: Sabi ko nga, it will be the call of the ground commander if they needed the strikes ano, pero medyo limitahan muna natin ‘yung strike to the aircraft that can deliver accurately.

Mr. Uri: Secretary, how would you explain this matter to the public? I’m sure pinagdududahan na ngayon ang kakayahan ng militar plus ano ho ang sabi pala ng ating Pangulo sa bagay na ito? 

SEC. LORENZANA: I have not talked to him. Alam na rin niya ito, sinabi na rin sa kanya kahapon. We have not talked yesterday.

Nagkita kami kahapon in one of the event in Sasa Wharf during the anniversary of the Navy but we didn’t have time to talk about this.

Also last night, we meet again at the Air Force when he met with the US Senator. Hindi rin namin napag-usapan because our meeting was very short. But I know that he feels very badly and he feels sad about this incident.

Ngayon, this happens kasi even on the ground ‘yung mga kanyon natin, the 105 artillery, even before we have this problems when there are more troops on the ground operating. Nagkakaroon paminsan ng ano diyan eh ng accidents.

Mr. Uri: So paano po ninyo ipapaliwanag ngayon sa publiko ito? 

SEC. LORENZANA: We’ll just have to explain to them that there was an incident — an accident.

Mr. Uri: First time pong nangyari ito sa – 

SEC. LORENZANA: First time for the Air Force to do this, yes, yes. 

Pia Ranada (Rappler): Sir, just to clarify on the air strikes. So, sir, how many — is it right, when we do air strikes hindi po lahat ng ginagamit na aircraft is precision-guided? 


Ms. Ranada: So how many do we have that are precision-guided? 

SEC. LORENZANA: Hindi ko na lang sasabihin. Confidential.

Ms. Ranada: Okay, sorry, sir. But how will that impact on our deadline if we no longer can use as many aircrafts for air strikes, then how will that impact on our Friday deadline? 

SEC. LORENZANA: We will leave it to the commanders to decide the operational strategies and tactics on how to accomplish the mission without — 

Ms. Ranada: But, sir, ‘yun nga, if we do limit, what is the possible impact on the deadline that we set? 

SEC. LORENZANA: Well, sa tingin ko naman because there’s only a small pocket there, one strong pocket of resistance, and if we can converge our troops there, the more we do not need the air strikes if there are troops surrounding the area already, then the more we do not need the strikes.

Maybe we will need the armored vehicles. We have just delivered 21 armored vehicles to Marawi. They were there… They arrived there yesterday and they will be there, all of them today and they will be used — all of them will be used against the Mautes and the ISIS.

Ms. Ranada: But, sir, no plan to move the deadline right now? Wala pong ganong — we’re sticking to that? 

SEC. LORENZANA: Wala pa… Anong araw ngayon? It’s just Thursday. We still have more than one day so I’m sure the troops will do the best they can to accomplish the deadline. 

Chona Yu (Radyo Inquirer): Sir, may civilian po bang nadamay doon sa air strike?

SEC. LORENZANA: Wala. Sa awa ng Diyos, wala namang nadamay na civilian. Mga tropa lang, mga tropa lang.

Pia Gutierrez (ABS-CBN): Sir, I just want to clarify ‘yung figures ng mga napatay because there have been reports coming from Marawi na 11 daw po ‘yung mga sundalo na natamaan, napatay sa air strike? 

SEC. LORENZANA: No. The report that I got officially from our commander is 10 lang. Kahapon nga natanggap natin 10 daw ‘yung patay, walo ‘yung sugatan. But now it’s — the correct figure is 10, 7.

Ms. Gutierrez: Sir, ano ba yung SOP natin, sir, ito ‘yung mga air strikes natin it’s being communicated to the soldiers on the ground?

SEC. LORENZANA: Yeah. Maraming SOP diyan eh. There should be constant communication between the ground commanders and the sa taas, ‘yung pilot ano. And then specifically nakalagay kung anong target talaga, anong coordinate meron naman silang mga mapa diyan eh, may coordinates that’s understandable both for the ground people and ang nasa taas.

Ang SOP na alam ko noon if the — ‘yung, ang bomb run kasi dapat wala siyang tropa na nadadaanan dito, ito ang target, wala rin siyang tropa rito kasi kung ma-short tatamaan ‘yung tropa dito. Kung sumobra naman tatamaan din ‘yung tropa doon. So we see to it na wala doon.

Siguro kahapon sa dami nga ng kinukubkob natin ‘di ba we’re trying to surround the area and malayo daw ‘yon eh, its about more than 100 meters eh ‘yung tropa natin from the target.

And that’s why we are trying to ascertain how it happened that the first pass hit the target and the second pass ang layo, more than 100, malayo na ‘yung naabutan ng bomba.

So there must be some mistake there either those people directing the bomb run on the ground or the pilot on the air.

Ms. Gutierrez: Iyong investigation natin, sir, ano po ‘yung sasakupin po noon at may target po ba tayo?

SEC. LORENZANA: Ang sasakupin niyan kung anong nangyari? What happened really? Was there failure to communicate? Failure to actually…

Dalawa kasing eroplano ‘yan eh. Baka ‘yung isa nakuha niya nang tama, ‘yung isa iba ‘yung nakuha niyang ano.

We will find out. The Air Force and the people there on the ground know what to ask.

Ms. Gutierrez: Who will lead the investigation?

SEC. LORENZANA: The Chief of Staff. I told him to lead the investigation.

Maricel Halili (TV-5): Sir, do we have a timeline for the result of the investigation?

SEC. LORENZANA: As soon as possible. Siguro three to — three days to five days siguro at most.

Three days at most alam na natin kasi all we have to do is ask. Nandoon naman sila eh and you can always ask the pilot.

The pilots are actually based in Mactan. So you can go there and ask them what happened.

Ms. Halili: Pero, sir, kapag ganon po para lang maklaro ko ‘yung pinaka-process, follow up lang po doon kay AC. Paano ba ‘yun, sir, sino ba ‘yung nagbibigay ng instructions? Sino ‘yung sumusunod? Paano siya ino-operate?

SEC. LORENZANA: Well, the request actually will come from commander to the Air Force and with the grid coordinate nga sinasabi ko kung saan talaga.

And after that the Air Force will study their maps to find out the — alam nila ‘yon. Actually nakalagay din doon kung nasaan ‘yung mga friendly forces, kung nasaan ‘yung mga enemy forces.

And sabi ko nga kanina sometimes mistake happens. And we hope to — those mistakes do not happen and nagyayri nga. And all we can do is to see to it that it will not happen again.

Ms. Halili: Sir, you mentioned earlier na meron pang strong point na hinahawakan ngayon ‘yung Maute group. May we know ano po ‘yung mga difficulties o ‘yung mga challenges?

SEC. LORENZANA: They are actually holed up in reinforced buildings eh. And pati ‘yung mga kanyon natin parang hindi tumatalab eh. So ‘yon ang hirap doon.

Then they have so many snipers around shooting at our soldiers. So dahan-dahan ‘yan and it is a built-up area and kung minsan yung line of fire ng ating mga kanyon hindi rin makita dahil na-o-obstruct ng ibang building ‘yon eh.

So the difficulty here is it’s in urban area, built-up, maraming bahay and where they are holed up it’s reinforced, buhos ‘yung mga konkreto na ‘yan, pati bubong. Hindi nga… Kung minsan nga ‘pag tinatamaan ng kanyon daw natin sa taas halos hindi magalaw eh. So they are really there, I don’t know…

That’s the reason why actually why they are still there kasi they know they are protected by this stronghold.

So we are pouring more troops there that’s why I said a while ago baka we might suspend for a while the air strikes and let the ground troops do their thing.

Ms. Halili: Sir, last na lang. Gaano pa po kalaki ‘yung forces ng Maute if we have an estimate doon sa ground?

SEC. LORENZANA: Maybe at ang nakikita ko roon, I’m just guessing ano because a small force cannot hold that long. Siguro mga 100 pa ‘yan eh.

And going back ano people before were saying that there were only 100 of them. According to reports that we received recently, there were about 500 fighters in all na kalaban natin doon eh.

260, the Mautes group are 260, si Isnilon Hapilon brought about 100 of his people from Basilan plus ‘yung mga local armed groups na tumutulong it’s about 500.

So we were able to kill already close to 100, 94 na kanina ang napapatay natin. We don’t know yet kung ilan pa ‘yung hindi natin ma-account.

We also heard that some of them, the Mautes have been leaving the area in small group, by one, by twos, ganun, umaalis na sila.

We have reports that they have been going to some of the towns around Marawi City that we are trying to check also. So siguro safe na ‘yung sabihin ko na there are still about 50 to 100 of them holed up in that stronghold.

Rose Novenario (Hataw): Good morning, sir. Hello, sir. Sir, sa right. Hello, sir. May inilabas pong statement ‘yung University of the Philippines na hindi raw po totoo na graduate ng UP si Isnilon Hapilon. Base po kasi sa website ng FBI, graduate daw po siya ng engineering sa ano UP.

SEC. LORENZANA: Baka UPang, University of Pangasinan. I’m just joking ano. No, we don’t know that ano. We did not also claim that he is from UP.

Ms. Novenario: So saan po kaya… Kung malakas po ‘yung intelligence information sharing po ng Philippines saka ng US bakit po ‘yung ganitong kasensitibong impormasyon eh nagkakamali po ‘yung FBI at hindi po ito naituwid agad ng pamahalaan ng Pilipinas?

SEC. LORENZANA: Ibig sabihin hindi rin kumpleto ‘yung kanilang mga gumagalaw sa mga lupa na kukunin ‘yung mangangalap ng mga intelligence. If you remember we lost one major — a couple of months back. Ito ‘yung pinakamaganda ‘yung kanyang network diyan sa Marawi eh. He has many assets inside.

But for some reason, he was also fingered by one of his assets and he was killed by the Maute. So ‘nung matapos ‘yon, nawalan tayo ng — medyo nabulag tayo nang kaunti and — it’s very difficult to develop assets inside to report to you the movement of these people ‘no. Mahirap talaga.

Even in the United States cannot claim to be perfect in their… Kahit na buong… Any country in the world. Look, nalusutan din ‘yung England, France nalusutan din, everybody, because these people operate very quietly in the background. They have some contacts inside Marawi. So bakit daw bigla na lang dumami ang armado diyan? Noong dumating sila wala naman silang armas pero mamaya paglabas nila nakauniporme meron ng armas.

So, their arms were infiltrated slowly through the months mula noong January na ino-operate na natin si Isnilon sa Butig and until recently when they were there in Piagapo, we are trying to corner them there but nakalusot sila.

The area is very porous, it’s very big. Maybe we failed to put more troops there because we were also operating in some areas like in Eastern Mindanao and Basilan and Sulu and other areas that are also flaring up.

Also, nagkaroon din tayo ng incidents in Nabanga sa Bohol and we put more troops there. So ano lang tayo we transfer troops from one to another so that we can address the problems.

So that’s what happened. They were able to infiltrate their arms, their equipment in Marawi and then when time comes they would actually… There was actually a plan to take over Marawi. Nakita natin ‘yung ano.

We were able to capture a video when the Maute brothers were actually and Hapilon Isnilon were trying… There was a map there in front of them, their diagrams, what to do, kung ano ang gagawin nila. It’s a big plan to take over Marawi City.

Ms. Novenario: Follow up, sir. Sir, ano pong info ‘yung na-gather ng DND tungkol po doon sa mga front NGOs ng ISIS or Maute group or Abu Sayyaf na nagdagsa po ng pondo para po sa pag-atake sa Marawi City?

SEC. LORENZANA: Well, for one there is this agency that was run by a foreigner, a couple, I think a Moroccan and a Syrian. They were running a recruitment agency here but the proceeds there are also channeling to the Mautes and the ISIS saka ‘yung Abu Sayyaf.

Now, we have evidence to prove that the lady, the Syrian woman, is actually in contact with Superintendent Nobleza. Meron silang mga remittances ng pera between the certain lady to Nobleza.

And that’s the reason why Nobleza tried and one Abu Sayyaf went to Bohol to try to extricate the Abu Sayyaf that were being hunted by the military.

Dharel Placido (ABS-CBN Online): Hi, sir, good morning. Sir, can we still give the public an assurance that the military will be able to capture Isnilon Hapilon after this crisis ends?

SEC. LORENZANA: It’s very hard to give an assurance because he’s only one person and although we know his face, he can always blend there and he has a lot of supporters also and they can keep him there.

In fact when he was in Basilan, Basilan is a very small area but we could not capture him there and he went to Lanao Sur, bigger area and more people to keep him secure.

So we cannot be assured that we can… But we will try our best to capture him or neutralize him.
Mr. Placido: But as of the latest info, sir, nasa Marawi pa po ba siya? 

SEC. LORENZANA: Yes, nandoon pa rin siya. He’s still there hiding in Marawi.

Rosalie Coz (UNTV): Good morning, sir. Sir, tanong lang po namin ‘yung doon po sa insidente na tinamaan ‘yung atin pong mga tropa. Missile po ba or — guided missile po ba or ordinary ‘yun pong ginamit?

SEC. LORENZANA: I think it’s ordinary conventional bomb.

Ms. Coz: So hindi po natin pwedeng sabihin na surgical air stikes ‘yun pong operation — ?

SEC. LORENZANA: It is still surgical because malayo naman ‘yung tropa natin — malayo naman ‘yung tropa and very specific naman ‘yung target na ibinibigay sa kanila that the first plane hit the target and the second one missed it is… Kaya nga nagtataka din kami eh what happened there and that’s why we are trying to investigate what happened really.

Ms. Coz: So, sir, kung ordinary po ‘yung ginamit natin, malaki ‘yung possibility na may mali po doon sa — or may kakulangan sa skill ‘yung pilot po na —

SEC. LORENZANA: That is one, that is one. Another one is he may have been gotten the wrong information about the target so ganon ‘yun. Maraming factors ‘yun eh that’s why we are going to investigate and come up with a report.

Ms. Coz: Sir, ‘tong incident po na ‘to, how will this affect the morale po ng mga sundalo, ng mga kamag-anak ng mga sundalo —

SEC. LORENZANA: Of course, of course, it will be very sad, very painful to the — to the soldiers, ‘yung mga kasamahan din nila na, ‘bakit binobomba tayo ng kasamahan natin?’

But we will just have to explain to them that accidents happen and also to the family, we will try to assuage the sorrows of the families of those who were killed.

Ms. Coz: Sir, sa bilang po ng mga narecover po nating mga firearms, may good lead po ba tayo, matutukoy kung sino ang manufacturer, supplier? Dahil napaka — ‘yung capability po ng mga terrorista na ‘to ay masasabi natin hindi ganoon kaliit. 

SEC. LORENZANA: Yeah, we can trace, mate-trace naman natin ‘yung mga serial number makikita natin kung saan galing ‘yan. Iyong manufacturer, madali lang ‘yan eh, mga either Remington or whatever mga companies. 

But ‘yung serial number na ‘yan, kahit na itinanggal pa ‘yan, pwede pa rin ‘yan eh. There are techniques to find really kasi ‘uung pag-emboss naman ‘yan, pag-stamp ng number na ‘yan, nandun pa rin ‘yan eh so there’s techniques to find out.

If we know the serial number, we will find out if it came from us, narecover nila sa atin sa mga engkwentro, or pilferage or sold to them by some bad elements of the command or to the PNP, malalaman natin ‘yan.

Ms. Coz: Pero, sir, ngayon po wala pa tayong initial info kung local manufacturer or galing sa Western countries? 

SEC. LORENZANA: Iniipon pa lang naming at saka na natin pagtuunan ‘yan while the encounters are still going on.  

Ms. Coz: Sir, the President mentioned drug money nagsu-supply po dito sa mga terrorista. Meron na po ba tayong particular narco-politician na pwedeng sabihin na involved dito po sa mga pagpa-fund po na ito sa mga— 

SEC. LORENZANA: Yeah, in fact, some of the Maute members of the family, mga… Mayor din ‘di ba? One of them are mayor, ‘yan, mayor. They were actually in that list that was given by the President many months back, nandoon sila eh.

So we believe that the narco-politics there is working. The proceeds of the narcotics are being used for this terroristic activities there. 

And we also got report that all those shabus that are being dumped anywhere in Mindanao, Cagayan de Oro, Davao, Zamboanga, Cotabato, are coming from Lanao Sur. 

Ms. Nichols:  Hi, sir. Sir, from what I understand, may inissue ‘yung DND na arrest order, sir, ‘yung Arrest Order No. 1.

SEC. LORENZANA: Yes, yes I did.

Ms. Nichols: Sir, I just want to clarify, what if mayroong mga included doon na makalabas po ng Mindanao? May… May… Pwede pa rin ba ‘yung warrantless arrest sa kanila since sa Mindanao lang naman ‘yung martial law? 

SEC. LORENZANA: I believe that they can still be arrested kasi hot pursuit ‘yan at saka continuing naman ‘yung crime of rebellion eh. So wherever they go, they go to Visayas or Luzon, we will arrest them wherever we find them. 

Mr. Morong:  Sir, two things ‘no, ‘yun munang sa target, you said that there’s only one target now then it’s very hard to crack. Ito rin ba ‘yung, sir, na target ng aksidente? 

SEC. LORENZANA: I think it’s different. Iba kahapon, iba kahapon ‘yun, oo. 

Mr. Morong: Okay so how… What is your assessment? Why is it so hard to crack this particular — ? 

SEC. LORENZANA: Iyon nga kanina sabi ko they were holed up in this heavily fortified buildings.

Mr. Morong: Is Isnilon there, sir? 


Mr. Morong: Could Isnilon be there? 

SEC. LORENZANA: We believe he’s there. Nagtatago siya doon, oo. 

Mr. Morong: Tapos, sir, before mga last year, ang assessment niyo at least the ones that you say in public, ‘yung Maute parang family members lang ‘yan, maliit na grupo, but well, mukhang hindi. 

SEC. LORENZANA: Yeah, yeah.

Mr. Morong: How did they become so big, sir? 

SEC. LORENZANA: Well, one reason is that they have a lot of money to distribute around. In fact, we now know that there are also Maute supporters that are coming from Maguindanao.

If you remember the Davao bombing, kagagawan ng mga taga-Maguindanao ‘yan but they were also have connection with the Mautes. 

So that’s the connection really they have a lot of money to spread around and they are buying loyalties.

Mr. Morong: Are they receiving foreign help, sir?  

SEC. LORENZANA: Yes, Isnilon particularly, we heard from our intelligence that he has received several million dollars worth of funds from the Middle East. That’s why one of the things that were discussed yesterday in the Congress that one of the Maguindanao Congresswoman Bai Sema, she said how could a Yakan, Isnilon bring his troops, Yakan to Lanao, to a Maranao area and… Culturally or whatever, these tribes do not mix. And there is only one reason there is that he has lot of money to distribute and buy loyalties.  

Mr. Morong: Sir, right now, I know you’ll be honest now in answering this question, are there foreign fighters fighting with the Maute? 

SEC. LORENZANA: There are. There were eight foreign fighters that were killed. Nationalities — one — two Saudis, several Malaysians and Indonesians, one Yemeni, one from Chechnya. 

Mr. Morong: Chechnya, sir, you mean, Russia? 

SEC. LORENZANA: From Russia.

Mr. Morong: Sir, how were they able to get into the Philippines and since when? 

SEC. LORENZANA: We do not know because we don’t have any record of them coming through the proper channel, through the airports. 

There’s only one way, through the backdoor, maybe coming from Indonesia or from Malaysia, from Sabah.

Mr. Morong: Sir, pasensya na, paulit lang — two Saudis, several Malaysians, isang Indonesia — 

SEC. LORENZANA: Saan ba ’yung ano ko? —

Mr. Morong: — one Yemeni, isang Chechnyan. Tama ba, sir?

SEC. LORENZANA: Sandali lang ah.

Mr. Morong: Sige, sir. Para medyo— 

SEC. LORENZANA: I have the… Nandito kanina ‘yun eh. 

Mr. Morong: So sir, kung killed ito, there are many more alive fighting with Maute?  

SEC. LORENZANA: Actually ang na-identify lang is 25 locals plus 8. So 35 lang ‘yung ano. 25 plus 8 equals 33. Twenty-five locals ‘yung mga namatay, but the… 

Ano nga ‘yung sabi ko kanina? I think two Malaysians, and two Indonesians, and two Saudi nationals. 

Mr. Morong: Sir, isang Yemeni at isang Chechnyan? 

SEC. LORENZANA: Isang Yemeni. Isang Chechnyan. Chechen.  

Mr. Morong: Sir, are they ISIS members? 

SEC. LORENZANA: I believe so. They are ISIS members, yeah. Because the report that we got from the civilians and from Marawi is that they saw a lot of foreign-looking fighters. 

You know when the Marawi — people from Marawi see foreign fighters… Because if you are… If a Malaysian and Indonesian who look exactly like us who will go there, huwag lang silang magsalita akala mo Pilipino ‘yan eh. 

Q: But they are ISIS? 

SEC. LORENZANA: I believe so, yeah. 

Mr. Morong: Sir, there could be more ‘no, kung walo lang ‘yung napatay?   

SEC. LORENZANA: There could be more. There could be more that we killed that we have not identified because we have already — as of our body count – we already killed about 95 of them. So 33 lang ‘yung may identities eh, the others cannot be identified. 

Leila Salaverria (Philippine Daily Inquirer):  Sir, going back to the air strike. You said, sir, the first pass was successful. May napatay po bang enemies during the first pass?

SEC. LORENZANA: I believe so. Hindi naman nag-report ‘yung ano namin kung ilan ang napatay nila doon but it’s slowly increasing their body kill.

Ms. Salaverria: Sir, are we getting any assistance from the US in our operation against the terrorist in Marawi?

SEC. LORENZANA: We are still getting assistance through the operation of their drones, the shadows. They have three birds. Sinabi nga, birds kasi ang tawag doon sa isang system eh. Three birds operating there and they’re giving us intelligence information but not here in… I don’t think they have some there in Marawi because it’s too far away from Zamboanga where they operate the shadows. Malayo kasi masyado eh.

But they still have some, ‘yung kanilang long range aircraft na nandito ngayon, they are giving us but I think very little for Marawi. But a lot from other areas like South China Sea, Sulu Sea, Sulu, Basilan, marami silang ibinibigay sa atin. But here, just very minimal.

Ms. Salaverria: Sir, are we going to ask for assistance for Marawi, sir?

SEC. LORENZANA: I don’t think we need to ask kasi we already have a lot of equipment naman to contain this Marawi incident.

Ms. Salaverria: Sir, last na lang from me. You said some Maute members are leaving Marawi in small groups. Are there operations to go after them?

SEC. LORENZANA: Yes, we have. The information that we get is from text of the civilians na eh. They’re already informing us. ‘Sir, we see some Maute here in this town. So we send people to verify the information.’

Alexis Romero (Philippine Star): Okay. Secretary, you mentioned may 500 Maute members—?

SEC. LORENZANA: ‘Nong umpisa.

Mr. Romero: ‘Nong umpisa. Then sabi niyo may 100, almost 100 killed. What happened to the rest? 

SEC. LORENZANA: What happened to the rest? Meron pa ring… There are still people there who are fighting us, obviously because there is still a firefight going on there.

Some of them have already started to rejoin their barangays nila or whatever, going to their former places. Because the cross-section or the personalities of those who were there is mixed.

There are already dead that 25 local dead from Tawi-tawi, there’s from Sulu, Basilan, Zamboanga, Iligan, from everywhere.

So we also think that among those who survived are also from those areas. So ang gagawin nila they will go back to their — surreptitiously they are going to escape and join their towns or where they come from.

Mr. Romero: So, i-account ko lang po, 500 ‘nung umpisa, almost 100 killed now, 50 to 100 holed up in the area, the rest are now mingling with civilians?

SEC. LORENZANA: They have… Maybe they are — they are still there, doing nothing maybe or they have already left Marawi, going to some of the towns around…

Mr. Romero: So ito ‘yung sinasabi niyong hinahabol niyo with the help of civilian information?

SEC. LORENZANA: Yes, yes. So we are going to account for them one by one. 

We are going to intensify our intelligence operations and get them wherever they are, those who were involved in Marawi incident.     

Mr. Romero: Thank you, Secretary.

Hannah Sancho (Sonshine Radio): Good morning, Secretary. Sir, update lang po doon sa video ni Father Chito and doon sa mga hawak pa nilang mga civilians po na sa kanila po panig ng Maute group po. Kumusta na po sila?

SEC. LORENZANA: Yeah, wala kasi kaming contact kay, ‘yung kay sa pari eh personally. We just saw  ‘yung appeal niya through the video and to the media.

According to him, there are 200 people with him, but we do not, we cannot even… Sabi nga ‘nung ground commanders, we don’t know where they are, whether they are in one area or nahati-hati sila, separated.

So they are… This is part of the effort of the military to find out where they are and to recover them.

Ms. Sancho: Sir, totoo po ba daw, sir, na ‘yung mga Maute fighters na nagsusuot po ng uniform similar po sa army?

SEC. LORENZANA: Well, possible because the uniform is — military uniform is available anywhere. Kung merong mananahi diyan eh. They can, they can buy that.

Maybe that… We are going to stop this practice of selling it not to… Dapat kasi ‘yang mga military uniporme na ‘yan, bago magbenta itong mga ‘to, tingnan muna kung sundalo ‘yung binebentahan eh. So we are going to look into that and stop that practice.

Ms. Sancho: Sir, paano po natin na-identify ‘yung mga foreign na namatay po na kasama ng Maute?

SEC. LORENZANA: I don’t know because I got this report from Secretary Alonto eh. Sabi niya, ito ‘yung mga, ‘Brod, ito ‘yung mga namatay doon.’ Out of the so many killed, 35 lang, 33 lang ‘yung na-identify and they have the names.

Ms. Sancho: So paano niyo na-identify, sir? How did you identify that?

SEC. LORENZANA: I don’t know because he gave us the names eh. Maybe the… Baka may mga ID ‘to.

Ms. Sancho: May mga ID, sir, passport na hawak?

SEC. LORENZANA: Mga ID siguro. 

Q: While fighting they have an ID?

SEC. LORENZANA: Posible, possible, yeah.

Ms. Sancho: Sir, may na-mention po kayong master plan ng Maute to take over Marawi, bakit hindi po ito napigilan? Nagkaroon po ba ng failure of intel po?

SEC. LORENZANA: Well, you could say that maybe we know, we know that there was a plan. In fact, sinasabi nga nila that they are going to burn Marawi. 

But you know sometimes we in the military also rely on the local police and the local government bureaucracy to be vigilant kasi area nila ito eh, lugar nila ito eh.

What happened there was we are around Marawi, sa labas kami ng Marawi City, and the city of Marawi is under the control of the police and the local officials.

So you could say… We know that they are there, that they are doing something, they will do, maybe they will try to do something that…

You know, if you do not have information coming from the people themselves, who see these people na pumupunta roon, eh wala tayong magagawa diyan. 

So itong raid sa kay Isnilon noong 23, that was, A1 information ‘yan na nandoon siya kaya pinuntahan nila doon eh.

But what the military and the police did not know was that there were already a lot of Maute and ISIS inside the city and they were about to take over.

So medyo na-preempt sila, so they were forced to do their thing, ‘yung plano nila hastily. Pero at the same time, nandoon na rin na ‘yung mga sundalo na nakikita sila.

So failure of intelligence. I don’t think there is failure. We know kasi…

But sometimes, you may see… Sabihin natin kung hindi natin nakikita ‘yan, failure of intelligence. But we know that they are there. Siguro hindi lang natin na-appreciate. The ground troops did not really have a good grasp of what will happen kung nandoon ‘yung karamihan ng mga Maute sa loob. 

Ms. Sancho: Sir, pa-clarify lang po. Saang unit po na-belong ‘yung mga nasawing soldiers? Saang? 

SEC. LORENZANA: I think 55th ID.

Ms. Sancho: Any message din po sa mga widows po, sir?

SEC. LORENZANA: We will — ‘pag ka nagpunta. Kasi meron namang pupunta doon eh na kakausapin sila.

Ms. Sancho: Sir, last na lang, sir. Is it true, sir, na may intel report po kayo na tumulong po si Nur Misuari para doon sa Maute group na mag-occupy sa Marawi po?

SEC. LORENZANA: We do not have that information.

Kris Jose (Remate): Sir, sinabi niyo na unfortunate incident ‘yung nangyaring airstrike, may mananagot po ba o dapat may dapat managot sa nangyari?

SEC. LORENZANA: Well, during this kind of incident, all we can do is… Anong gagawin natin diyan? Are we going to court martial the pilots or the people on the ground? 

Sometimes in the fog of war kasi, a lot of things could happen, it could happen, actually it could happen like this. 

So let’s see. Depending on the result of the investigation, if some people should answer for that then we will do it. If not, we can just charge it to a bad experience.   

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: On the political impact of martial law to the financial markets: 

We are pleased [with the announcement of] Dutch multinational banking and [financial] services corporation ING Bank that the financial markets can weather the political impact of martial law in Mindanao.

As we have said, the macroeconomic fundamentals of the country remain solid. Our finance officials have repeatedly assured us the fiscal position of the Philippines is strong and well-managed and we have ample buffers to withstand the current rebellion in Mindanao.

Also Moody’s has made a commentary on martial law in Mindanao and which has issued [inaudible] today in case…

All right, on the impact on the economy: 

Impact on economic activity from the crisis in Marawi is expected to be minimal and short lived.

Moody’s retains 6.5 percent GDP forecast for 2017.

Unlikely that recent developments in Mindanao will lead to changes in economic and fiscal policies which continually anchored by the well-articulated 10-point socioeconomic agenda.

All right, on the rule of law: Moody’s does not expect martial law to go beyond the resolution or the cessation of the immediate threat posed by the Marawi crisis.

Officials from the Executive branch have clarified that Constitutional safeguards will be honored.

Also, ADB, Asian Development Bank has approved $300-million loan to help Philippines boost youth employment: 

International developmental financial institution, ADB has approved the policy-based loan amounting to [$]300 million to give assistance to the first phase of the Department of Labor and Employment’s Facilitating Youth School-to-Work Transition Program.

This is to give the Filipino youth preparation and assistance in finding quality employment.

DPWH opens additional two lanes along Commonwealth Avenue: 

The additional two lanes covering 391 lineal meters on the southbound direction of the Commonwealth Avenue is now accessible to the public.

We’re open to a few questions.

Ms. Ranada: Hi, sir. Sir, can we just get an update on what the President talked about — discussed with US Senator Cory Gardner last night?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: We don’t have the details regarding that. I’ve been trying to ask. But we can make it public as soon as we get. Okay, thank you.

Ms. Ranada:  And then, sir, second question. Senators said that they are not inclined to pass Macalañang’s version of the tax reform bill. What is the Palace’s reaction to this?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: Let’s wait for the result as when… Let’s wait for the result whatever they pass. Okay? Thank you.

Mr. Romero: Related to that. Can I just get your reaction on the passage of the tax reform measure in the House of Representatives?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: We recognize that the members of the House of the Representatives have approved on third and final reading House Bill No. 5636.

He has certified this as urgent and the passage of the comprehensive tax reform bill is estimated to raise 162 billion in net revenues every year, an important component of the Build, Build, Build infrastructure.

This, we expect to be steering the Philippines towards the golden age of infrastructure and will propel economic growth within the next five years. 

In other words, we appreciate it.

Ms. Gutierrez: Sir, on the animated defend your public video that the Presidential Communications uploaded yesterday. It has received negative reactions, sir, from netizens. I just want to ask, sir, what really was the message that the video was trying to convey? And why was it removed after a few hours after it was posted on social media, sir?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: I think the question should best be given to Sec. Martin.

Q: [off mic]

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: No really, we did not prepare the video at all. Not…

Q: So you don’t agree with the message?


Mr. Morong: Sir, follow up. So as far as the message of the video is concerned, the Palace does not approve of that?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: Actually, I did not see the entirety of the video, just the reactions of the netizens.

Ms. Gutierrez: ‘Pag sa mga ganyan, sir, paano ‘yung… Sino ‘yung naga-approve ng message? Sino ‘yung parang tumitingin?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: There should be… There should really be a flow but in this particular case, they should be better referred to Sec. Martin. 

Ms. Gutierrez:  Iyong message kasi ‘yung isa sa, ‘yung sa sinabi, sir, doon sa script is that, martial law should be law of the land.

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: It’s really the Constitution, right? It’s really the Constitution.

Ms. Ranada: What does that mean, sir?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: Basically, that… Ang ating pong ano… The north star of all our policies is the Constitution.

Ms. Ranada: Sir, but as the spokesman of the President, we’ve heard also the President say that martial law is something he will be forced to declare, it’s not something he wants to declare. And so, do you think that the video is a misinterpretation, in fact, of the President, that you know, saying “martial law now”, when in fact the President himself says that, you know, it’s something that he will be forced into, not something he–?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA:  Those are two different statements, okay? Those are two different statements where the President said, is that he may be forced into doing that, okay?

So, regarding the video I do not have… I cannot answer for that at this stage.

Ms. Gutierrez: You have not — never watched it?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: I saw the reactions of the netizens and then it was removed. Okay? Thank you.

Mr. Morong: Just one last, sir, ‘yung messaging ng video na ‘yun, “martial law now”, because you know, ang sinasabi–

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: It’s not something we prepared.

Mr. Morong: Yes, but do you agree?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: It’s not something we prepared. Thank you.

Ms. Coz: Sir, ano pong magiging hakbang ng pamahalaan sa plano ng Akbayan party list na mag-sumite ng petisyon sa Supreme Court regarding po sa declaration ng martial law?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: They should just go ahead and do what they think they need to do.

Okay one last question, Mr. Morong.

Mr. Morong: Sorry, sir, na-late ako. Sorry, baka na-miss ko ha. Sir, ‘yung sa command con, why did the President call for it? And anong outcome na… Anong gagawin natin? Agenda?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: Command conference? It’s a regular… That’s a regular meet-up.

Mr. Morong: Not because of the martial law?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: It will discuss a few items regarding martial law. Okay.

By the way, before we end. To our right… To my right, to your left, okay. 

This is the peace corridor that was discussed yesterday. It runs from Malabang, which is in Cotabato and runs all the way through the Lanao Del — on to Marawi City, on to Marawi City.

That particular area is supposed to be the safe corridor for which people can run to and that will be the corridor where the GRP and the MI will be protecting those who enter that. It’ll be a form of a safe zone.

Q: Active na ‘yan, sir? They can go there now?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: Apparently, yes. Apparently, yes.

Q: [off mic]

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: ‘Yun nga, ‘yung MI at saka ‘yung GRP, okay?

Ms. Nichols: Sir, so may MILF troops na nandoon, sir, ngayon?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: I can give you details regarding that but it is an agreement between GPH and MILF. 

So those are the principles, okay? Other parties want to be part of that but right now it’s GPH-MI.

Mr. Morong: But would we have — would we have pre-positioned humanitarians assistance along that corridor, sir, now?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: We can give you the details.

Mr. Uri: Are those areas are controlled areas by the MILF?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: That particular yellow line is going to be policed by them — is going to be supervised by them, not policed. Okay.

Mr. Uri: Not controlled?