MANILA, Philippines (2nd UPDATE) – President Rodrigo Duterte told lawmakers on Tuesday, August 1, about new terror plots in Mindanao, according to Senate Majority Leader Vicente Sotto III.
In an “urgent” meeting held in Malacañang, Duterte also gave them updates on the status in Mindanao after Congress extended the declaration of martial law in the area until December 31.
“Meron (They have) discovered new plans of terrorists in other areas in Mindanao. He wants us posted on developments. Ang intindi ko around 3 areas are under threat (The way I understood it, there are 3 areas under threat,” Sotto said in a text message after the meeting.
Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon said Duterte’s warning “appeared to be serious.”
“He briefed us on intelligence information of new threats posed by the ISIS in the south and he is looking for a closer regional cooperation in the neighboring countries, particularly Indonesia,” Drilon told reporters on Wednesday, August 2.
Drilon said the President, citing Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, requested additional deployment of 20,000 soldiers in Mindanao.
“He informed us of that renewed threat because the secretary of national defense has requested for additional manpower, and, therefore, that would require budgetary allocation,” Drilon said.
Aside from Sotto and Drilon, other senators present in the 3-hour meeting were Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III, Senators Richard Gordon, Juan Edgardo Angara, Gregorio Honasan, Francis Escudero, and Panfilo Lacson.
Aside from Sotto and Pimentel, other senators present in the 3-hour meeting were Minority Leader Franklin Drilon, Senators Richard Gordon, Juan Edgardo Angara, and Panfilo Lacson.
House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez and Majority Leader Rodolfo Fariñas were also there.
BOC, tax reform, barangay elections
Aside from Mindanao, Sotto said they also discussed the controversy hounding the Bureau of Customs (BOC), the tax reform bill, and the proposal to postpone the October 2017 barangay elections.
Duterte supposedly told lawmakers that he would first wait for the findings of the House and Senate investigations into the smuggling of P6.4 billion worth of shabu from China before deciding what to do next.
“He said that he will await the report of the Senate and that will contain the opinion of every senator,” Drilon said.
Legislators have criticized Customs Commissioner Nicanor Faeldon following the controversy, but Duterte on Tuesday expressed his “full confidence” in Faeldon. (READ: Senators see customs, Chinese ‘connivance’ in P6.4-B smuggled shabu)
On the tax reform and local polls postponement bills, Sotto said the President only told them that they have “elbow room” on the matter, and urged lawmakers to coordinate with executive officials.
This is in contrast with Duterte’s statement in his second State of the Nation Address, where he told senators that he wants them to pass his version of the tax reform bill in its entirety.
Duterte also zeroed in on Senate ways and means committee chairman Juan Edgardo Angara, telling him to “watch out” in the 2019 elections, after noticing that Angara did not clap upon hearing his request for the passage of the tax reform bill. (READ: Senate won’t pass Malacañang’s version of tax reform bill)