Press Briefing by Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella
Press Briefing Room, New Executive Bldg,  Malacañang
11 August 2016
ROCKY IGNACIO/PTV4: … Ernesto Abella.

SEC. ABELLA: Alright, good morning. I’d like to begin by stating a few points. We’d like to make reference to people’s concerns about martial law, there is no need to worry about martial law. As President Rodrigo Roa Duterte has said, “I want to make specific changes without having to do martial law.”
Pangalawa po, it’s about the coming FM burial, there is no definite date as of now, and the only ceremonies that are certain is that he will be accorded ceremonies fitting a president. 
Regarding also emergency powers, the emergency powers being requested are not absolute, and limited only to traffic. And we can trust that the President will not go beyond, as he himself has encouraged the FOI. 
Also lastly, regarding the Goldberg statements – this is to assure each and everyone that the Philippine-US alliance remains strong.
That’s about it.

DEXTER GANIBE/DZMM: Hi Sec., good morning.

SEC. ABELLA: Good morning.

DEXTER/DZMM: How are you, sir, after the incident last night?

SEC. ABELLA: (Laughs) I’m great. I’m actually surprised that it got into the news. But it was an interesting ride, it can happen anytime so… but on the whole, I’m good. Everybody’s good.

DEXTER/DZMM: Sir, may mga bagong appointments daw – PCSO, National Youth Commission? Any confirmation?

SEC. ABELLA: There are no confirmations yet.

LEILA SAAVEDRA/INQUIRER: Good morning, sir. Will the government apologize for the President’s remarks on Ambassador Goldberg, because the U.S. wants an explanation from our chargé d’affaires for his comments?

SEC. ABELLA: The explanations have been made. The explanations have been properly made.

LEILA/INQUIRER: So, that’s it sir? Exactly, sir, what was the explanation for calling the Ambassador ‘gay’?

SEC. ABELLA: First and foremost, this is—it was not meant to be a public statement; it was addressed to a certain audience, and the comments are confined specifically to that audience – and chargé d’affaires has already made proper explanations to the State Department.

LEILA/INQUIRER: Sir, just to clarify. So, no apology. Are you saying no apology is necessary?

SEC. ABELLA: I’m saying that he went and explained.

GIOVANNI NILLES/PHIL. STAR: Yes sir, good morning sir. Just this morning sir, Baste Duterte has posted on his Facebook something about the first 50 days and breaking the first 100 days tradition. What exactly do we expect from the first 50 days of the President, sir?

SEC. ABELLA: Ah, already, I think, it has unfolded ‘no; it has rolled out. All these things that have been happening are part of the first 50 days.

GIOVANNI/PHIL. STAR: Will there be a—again, a State of the Na… sort of a State of the Nation Address?

SEC. ABELLA: Alright. It’s a—I’m not sure if we can talk about it, but it’s basically a short presentation. A short presentation that documents the accomplishments of the President during the first 50 days.

GIOVANNI/PHIL. STAR: And then on the 100th day, we wouldn’t be expecting anything na…?

SEC. ABELLA: Let’s see what happens.

DEXTER/DZMM: Sir, follow up lang doon sa question. Ano po iyong mga highlights na maipagmamalaki ng Duterte administration sa first 50 days?

SEC. ABELLA: Well there’s the FOI for one, and the addressing of the drug situation, and addressing the traffic situation, you know. Let’s watch it, it’s gonna be pretty exciting.

BENJIE LIWANAG/DZBB: Sir, good morning po. Sir, doon sa tatlong sinabi ninyo which is FOI, drugs and traffic for the first 50 days, doon ba sa short message na ipapakita, will the President also talk, or there will be someone that would annotate what the President—

SEC. ABELLA: Someone will be annotating.

BENJIE/DZBB: Okay, and it will be aired on PTV, or it will be aired—or we can get…

SEC. ABELLA: Everybody will be able to have access to it. You will have access to it.

BENJIE/DZBB: Okay, at night or morning?

SEC. ABELLA: Let’s wait for the time (laughs).

BENJIE/DZBB: Okay, yeah. It was directed also by?

SEC. ABELLA: (Laughs) I’m not familiar with the—no, somebody from PTV.


SEC. ABELLA: RTVM. They’re quite related okay.

UNTV: Good morning, sir. Sir tanong lang po namin regarding po doon sa listahan noong mga LGU officials with untainted reputation with regard to illegal drugs, sir. Puwede pong malaman kung saan po ito nakabase, and mayroon po bang gagawin na special—o privilege na ibibigay para sa kanila,or any incentives dahil nakabilang sila doon? At nasa ilan po ito?

SEC. ABELLA: First and foremost, I doubt if there will be any incentives given for doing what was their job, anyway ,you know—or for not doing what they ought not to have been doing. So but basically, the list is going to be based on, again, on intelligence reports, and which have been duly validated.

UNTV: Mas mauuna po ba itong i-release kaysa doon sa second list po ng narco-list?

SEC. ABELLA: Ah, hindi ko po sigurado iyan.

BENJIE/DZBB: Sir, on drugs again, but this time, for the Philippine National Police and the Armed Forces of the Philippines. Palagi pong sinasabi ng Pangulo na tataas na iyong suweldo noong… matatanggap na nila which is 40% or something by the PNP… ah for the PNP and for the military. But ang sabi po ni Secretary Diokno, wala pang pondo for that. May alam po ba kayo, can you explain to us…?

SEC. ABELLA: I think it was already explained some time ago – that it will be incremental, the raises will be incremental.

BENJIE/DZBB: Until the end of the year, that will be—

SEC. ABELLA: Ah, I don’t know if—it will be incremental until such time as the campaign promises are fulfilled.

MARLON RAMOS/INQUIRER.NET: Iyong previous speeches of the President, he is obviously impatient doon sa judicial—our tediously judicial process. He was saying na after you file a case against a drug suspect, then magkakaroon ng PI. If that personality would be convicted, it would take probably more than two years, then aakyat pa hanggang Supreme Court. Is the President now suggesting a circumvention, or he wants a shortcut doon sa ating judicial process, considering that he’s a lawyer?

SEC. ABELLA: It’s not a circumvention so much as a shortening of the process, because—considering the fact that already there are 600,000 surrenderees approximately. So, he is simply facilitating the whole process by encouraging those who have already been considered as persons of interest, to be able to come up and explain themselves.

MARLON/INQUIRER.NET: Isn’t that dangerous sir, when you have a President, when you have the highest elective official in the country, the most powerful man in the country telling the people na ano, “Masyadong mahaba ‘tong proseso. Magkaroon tayo ng shortcut?”

SEC. ABELLA: Simply because from experience, he has known that the process really takes quite some time. And we really live in extraordinary times. It’s extraordinary, 600,000 people surrendering – isn’t that amazing? So, this is where he’s coming from. Nobody really knew the depth and width and breadth of the drug situation, and now he’s trying to facilitate the whole thing. So, I think exactly the opposite. I think we should appreciate the fact that he is calling our attention to it, and it’s not by doing the accusation, simply to say that like I said, it’s an ample warning seeing that your name is on the list, and for you to clear.

MARLON/INQUIRER.NET: Isn’t that dangerous sir, na nagsho-shortcut tayo doon sa lawful process?

SEC. ABELLA: It’s not a shortcut. There’s no lawful process being shortcut here. He is simply saying that there are persons of interest, and that these persons of interest, considering the depth, the breadth, the width of the problem, should now come and make for the proper representation of their situation from their own personal cases. Considering the fact that the persons of interest being referred to here are coming from all sections of government, all sections, so these are really extraordinary times, and, again, like I say, it demands an extraordinary action. 

MARLON: Sir, regarding the 600,000 individuals who have yielded to authorities, ano pong ginagawa ng gobyerno sa kanila?

SEC. ABELLA: Ah, mayroon po. It will be unrolled in a little while in a few days. There’ll be indications of what’s being done, but it is all being addressed.

MARLON: I’m asking that, sir, because several of those personalities, according to their families were killed after they submitted themselves for investigation sa local police.

SEC. ABELLA: So I’m sure – again, if you remember right, during the last ano – during the last briefing, the Napolcom has already asked the PNP to address these questions. That will be…investigations.

ALEXIS ROMERO/PHIL. STAR: Ah, Secretary, Quezon City Mayor Herbert Bautista just released a statement saying he will join the government panel who will talk to the NDF. Could you confirm this?

SEC. ABELLA: Do we have any confirmation? No, we don’t have any confirmation regarding that.

ALEXIS ROMERO: Ah, no confirmation?

SEC. ABELLA: No confirmation.

ALEXIS ROMERO: And in the same statement, he said, he is interested to join the panel that will talk to China regarding the South China Sea. What do you—

SEC. ABELLA: Probably these are his intentions, but as of now, there are no clear officials… official affirmations.

ALEXIS ROMERO: So, no confirmation yet whether the President will allow him to join the China team?


ALEXIS ROMERO: None yet. Thank you.

ANJO/CNN PHILS: Hi sir, sir, I’d just like to go back to your first statement earlier that there’s no need to worry about Martial Law, sir. So, is that an assurance that the President will never declare martial law in his-six year term?

SEC. ABELLA: Based on his results, based on his past statements, this is what he has said, okay, that there is no need presently to do so. Thank you.

BENJIE LIWANAG: Sir, I’d just like to get some clarification of the Philippine Ambassador to US, pinatawag siya because of the gay statement or the illegal drugs?

SEC. ABELLA: It was the chargé d’affaires ‘no. That was a—

BENJIE LIWANAG: Ah, it was the – yes, sir—the chargé d’affaires. So is it—

SEC. ABELLA: To clarify certain statements that the President has said, yes.

BENJIE LIWANAG: Okay, so it’s Goldberg, and not with the illegal drugs?

SEC. ABELLA: No, these are… ah, yeah, the statements, yes.

ALEXIS: Follow up lang doon sa illegal drugs because the President said it is impossible to issue warrants to 600, 000 people. That was in response to Chief Justice Sereno’s statement, but hindi ba wrong premise iyong statement ni Presidente, considering that the Chief Justice was just referring to the 7 judges tagged in the illegal drugs trade, and not the 600, 000? Pero iyong sinagot ni President Duterte, he was referring to 600, 000 people… drug personalities. Hindi ba wrong premise iyong sagot niya kay CJ?

SEC. ABELLA: He was giving the context, right? The seven is in the context of the 600, 000.

ACE ROMERO/PHIL. STAR: Pero, Sec kasi iba naman iyong mag-i-isyu ka ng warrants against seven people versus 600,000. So talagang mas mahirap iyong 600,000 compared sa seven?

SEC. ABELLA: Like I said. Mr. Romero,that the seven is in context of the 600,000. So in other words, he is looking at it inclusively, tama?

ACE-PHIL. STAR: Pero mas possible mag-isyu ng warrant against seven versus…

SEC. ABELLA: I suppose so, but it’s his call.

LEILA SAAVEDRA/INQ: Sir, on the Marcos burial. We have a law recognizing the abuses against Martial Law victims and providing reparations for them. Isn’t the Palace concerned that the burial of the late dictator at the Libingan ng mga Bayani will dilute the essence of this law?

SEC. ABELLA: Of the law?


SEC. ABELLA: Okay. Well, as far as the burial is concern, from PRRD’s perspective – and his basis is the fact that FM was a past president, and that is what is being given consideration for – So, it does not have any reference to other… he is not making any reference to the dilution of any law.

LEILA/INQ: But how will the Palace assess the implication of the burial, like the possible distortion or whitewashing of history?

SEC. ABELLA: Okay. First and foremost, those are two different levels. We are talking about historical perspectives and talking about something that is being done based on a presidential decision, based on law. So, they are not necessarily contradictory, not necessarily contradictory as far as PRRD is concerned.

LEILA/INQ: How is the Palace now taking suggestions to change the name of the cemetery to more accurately reflect what will happen?

SEC. ABELLA: At iba pa. No, let’s put it this way. These are—we are all going through certain times, interesting times as they would say, so we just have to take it step by step.

REYMUND TINAZA-BOMBO RADYO: Sir follow up sa tanong ni Benjie. Sir, with the gay remarks of the President now being so played up with the US media, do you think this will not, in any way, affect the friendship and the alliance between the Philippines and the US?

SEC. ABELLA: The President just made a statement that the alliance remains strong; the Philippine-US alliance remains strong.

REYMUND/BOMBO RADYO: Will he apologize or retract his words, or will he stand with what he has said?

SEC. ABELLA: As I said earlier, the chargé d’affaires went and made representation for the president, and they have already explained their situation.

REYMUND/BOMBO RADYO: So all is okay now?

SEC. ABELLA: I assume.

GIOVANI NILLES/PHIL. STAR: Any follow up, or,maybe, anu na pong nangyayari doon sa move natin to repatriate our OFWs from Saudi Arabia?

SEC. ABELLA: As far as I know, the process is ongoing. I don’t have the details right now, but it has already been addressed. I think Secretary Bello is on top of the situation.

GIOVANNI/PHIL.STAR: Nasa Saudi Arabia na po sila, sir, o papunta pa lang po?

SEC. ABELLA: Hindi ko po alam kung exactly where they at this stage, but si Secretary Bello po ang in-charge nung kaganapang iyon.

MARLON RAMOS/INQ. NET: Sir, you said previously that the president is, according to your words, deeply and profoundly concerned about the drug killings, lalo na iyong vigilante killings. Will we even hear the president himself condemn these killings?

SEC. ABELLA: Again and again yes. Let me say first and foremost the president has never ordered extra judicial killings; no, never ordered that, but he is deeply concerned about the deaths, about the —deeply concerned about what’s happening.

MARLON/INQ. NET: Kaya magsasalita ba siya, siya mismo?

SEC. ABELLA: He has made statements again and again, hindi ba?

MARLON/INQ.NET: Condemning the killings?

SEC. ABELLA: And he said, he has never ordered those things. And he said pinapaimbestiga and stuff like that… and, not stuff, but pinapaimbestiga na.