Press Briefing by Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella
Press Briefing Room, New Executive Bldg,  Malacañang
03 August 2016

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: Good afternoon. Alright, this has been a great week and we look forward to another great week next week. Alright, and [laughs] [I am saying that same thing all over again]

But anyway, we just like to mention a few things. We don’t have too many heavy, heavy things on our agenda today except that we’d like to just mention that one of the interesting things that was taken up is the possible revival of the ROTC. And it’s interesting what was mentioned especially the President’s comment regarding ROTC. How it’s going to help in the building up of discipline and values especially in this generation and how we expect ROTC to be able to help build a sense of patriotism among the next generation.

That’s about it. So we just like to proceed with the questions if you have any.


Joseph Morong (GMA-7): Sir, just on the ROTC. Sir, kailan ito for implementation?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: Um, pinag-uusapan ‘yung actual ano but it should be within the —

Mr. Morong: Next cycle?


Weng dela Fuente (NET25): Sir, the Makabayan…The Kabataan Party-list is parang they don’t agree with the President’s statement na gawing mandatory nga po ‘yung ROTC kasi we can instill discipline naman daw without reimposing ‘yung the mandatory training for — military training ng mga youth?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: They are saying…A platform is being designed so the President is open to conversation.

Ted Tuvera (The Daily Tribune): Sir, regarding po sa ROTC kasi ‘yung concern nga po ng Kabataan Party-list at ng mga ibang nago-oppose dito ay ‘yung iwasan ‘yung mga abuses —


Mr. Tuvera: Halimbawa po ‘nung 2001 nga po may estudyante daw na pinatay sa UST because of that and then recently may viral video of students, I guess, in Mindanao na pinapahirapan. May mga provisions po ba tayo, sir, to prevent ‘yung mga…

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: Kasama na ‘yan sa ano — kasama sa prosesong pinag-uusapan. Kumbaga, narinig na rin kung bakit may mga — may opposition tungkol sa pag-i-impose muli ng ROTC so kasama sa pag-uusap iyan. But definitely ang emphasis ng Presidente is how ROTC is a — basically is a platform for helping build a sense of patriotism into the people — into the next generation specifically.

Mr. Tuvera: Sir, sino po ang nag-initiate nito, sir, na muling ibalik ‘yung ROTC?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: A lot of it is largely his own.

Rose Novenario (Hataw): Good afternoon, Secretary. Meron po bang balak ang Palasyo mag-declare ng state of emergency sa Albuera, Leyte dahil parang nagkakaroon na po ng lawless violence doon or magte-take over po ba ang DILG dahil po ‘yung mayor ‘di ba alam naman nating positive naman siyang sangkot doon sa drugs?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: I don’t know if it’s necessary to go into a state of emergency. It’s not immediately clear but the conditions that should lead to state of emergency. Kasama po ito lahat sa — ipo-prose so po lahat ito. Thank you.

Mia Reyes (TV-5): Sir, on the bidding process, sir, it was mentioned by the President yesterday that he will be the one to choose or may process pa rin ‘yon, sir?


Ms. Reyes: Yes, sir, ano po —

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: I think binanggit lang talaga. I think the one that he really means specific… He made a specific reference to was the fact that it is not necessary that if you had the lowest bid that that is the best bid.

So, kumbaga the whole bidding process is — is not entirely changing the whole bidding process but simply addressing the fact that just because you submit the lowest bid is not necessarily — it doesn’t necessarily mean that you have the best bid. In other words, you are stressing quality. You are stressing the quality of the bids. It’s elevating the whole process of service contracts.

Mr. Morong: Sir, ‘yung shoot-to-kill order and shoot on sight order, some are saying maybe it’s illegal. Ano ‘yung legal basis for that? It looks effective pero paano, sir, ‘yung sa —

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: Are you talking about the Espinosa thing?

Mr. Morong: Yes, sir, and then may mga ‘di ba kay Peter Lim meron din siyang statement na ganun?
PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: Okay, if you will take note of the statement that I made, it is if it endangers life or if they resist the arresting officer, okay. So meron pong pinagbabasihan ‘yan, meron pong pinanggagalingan iyan.

Mr. Morong: Pero it’s not illegal?


Mr. Morong: Iyon pong ganun na mga orders, ‘yung shoot-to-kill, shoot on sight?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: Like I said there is a condition. It is based on set conditions.


Ms. dela Fuente: Sir, without going personal against Senator Leila de Lima, how does the President reacted to her privilege speech yesterday? And calling for the Senate probe on the extrajudicial killing, will the government participate — the executive participate in this investigation?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: You know, President Duterte has not made any comments regarding Senator De Lima and basically that is the job of the legislative to be able to exercise their independent authority. So, they are welcome to make the necessary investigation as they see fit.

Dexter Ganibe (DZMM): Magandang hapon, Secretary. Napag-usapan doon sa fourth Cabinet meeting ‘yung pangalan ng mga local chief executives na involved sa droga. Ano po ang proseso na gagawin ng administrasyon? Sila ba ay i-inform na susuko or papangalanan sila publicly?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: Hindi pa natin alam. I am not entirely sure how the President will go about it. But definitely — the fact that it’s been named simply means to say that the process has begun. In order words, they will be contacted, they will be addressed and they should respond accordingly. They are being asked to respond accordingly.

Mr. Ganibe: Kapag hindi po sila tumugon doon sa pakiusap, ano pong — at saka kung ano po ‘yung pakiusap po?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: Basically na…Basically katulad ‘nung ano ‘nung nangyayari nga na ina-address sila kasi kumbaga parang ipinapaalam sa ilang tao na alam na ‘yung kanilang kalagayan. So they are being asked to respond accordingly. So let just wait for them to respond. Okay, thank you.

Tina Mendez (The Philippine Star): Good afternoon, sir. Considering na itong mga taong — at least 27 local executives — hindi ba sakop din ng DILG ito at least call for their suspension?
PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: That is part of the ano…That is part of the process, okay. That’s part of the process if it will be addressed through the DILG or what.

Ms. Mendez: What is clear right now, they were already tagged in the order of battle of the intelligence — the Armed Forces and the PNP?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: No names have actually been mentioned right? No names have actually been publicly mentioned. We are simply saying that — we are calling the attention of certain people who are thought to be in ano — thought to be in government positions who are engaged in this that they should respond accordingly. But nobody has been named publicly. No one has been named publicly.

Mr. Morong: Sir, if and when the announcement is made, does that mean that those who are named are positively involved in illegal drug trade?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: It simply means to say that they have been identified as being linked with the drug trafficking.

Mr. Morong: And then can they go to the President to surrender because mukhang ganun, sir, ‘yung —


Mr. Morong: Well —

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: It is their call to respond as they see fit, okay. Just as long as there is appropriate response from them.

Ms. Reyes: Sir, follow-up on that question. May we know if the President will be the one to name these local executives, sir? These — the 27 names?


Ms. Reyes: But at least can you give us a glimpse like from what provinces they are, mayors, governors?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: It is not my call. It’s the President’s call. It’s his prerogative to name them.

Ms. Reyes: Like from what provinces are they, sir?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: As I said, it’s his prerogative to name them. Thank you.

Ina Andolong (CNN Philippines): Sir, when the President previously named the generals also linked to the illegal drug trade, he right then and there ordered the immediate relief of those, at least, the active generals. Dito sa local officials at least if sitting officials will be named, can we expect the DILG to implement a similar sanction immediately?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: If and when…If and when, DILG will respond in kind. In other words, an appropriate response from DILG will be demanded.

Mr. Ganibe: Follow-up lang, Secretary.


Mr. Ganibe: ‘Yung binabanggit niyo na meron ng communication doon sa mga local chief executive na napag-usapan doon sa fourth Cabinet meeting, nagbigay din ba ang Pangulo ng ultimatum o palugit para sila ay sumuko sa awtoridad o magbigay ng kanilang —?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: You are asking for a timeline?

Mr. Ganibe: Yes, sir.

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: Wala namang timeline na nasabi except that siyempre ‘pag may — ‘pag na-address ka na, it is expected that you respond promptly. Promptly, yes.

Ms. Dela Fuente: Sir, kung information pa lang and no official charges against these local officials, hindi ba government is subjecting them to trial by publicity?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: Hindi po naman siguro, ano… It’s not trial by publicity except that they are simply being called. Their attention is being called. Okay. Alright.

Ms. Dela Fuente: Hindi ba parang ‘pag nabanggit ho ‘yung pangalan nila, it’s — gano’n na lang if they are not charged formally? Parang walang ano—?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: They are actually being given the chance to clear their names.

Ms. Dela Fuente: Sir, another on the issue of extrajudicial killings. May international group, human rights organizations calling other international human rights organizations to urge the government to stop violence and extrajudicial killing. May we get your reaction on that?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: I don’t have a personal comment on that. But they are very free, in other words, it’s also their prerogative to make their own call.

Ms. Dela Fuente: Hindi ho ba somehow worried ang government na magkaroon ng pangit na image ang Pilipinas sa international community because of these extrajudicial killings?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: The government knows exactly where it stands, okay. It knows exactly where it stands, it knows its position and it knows exactly what it — it knows exactly the next moves that it needs to make. The government stands on principle.

Ms. Dela Fuente: Thank you.

Mr. Morong: Sec, kailan talaga papangalanan ni Presidente ‘yung —?


Ms. Andolong: Sir, what exactly is the President doing to make sure that extrajudicial killings are not happening, to make sure that law enforcers are not abusing their authority as they carry out their operations against drug pushers?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: He is actually in touch with the hierarchy. He’s in touch with hierarchy of authority and he communicates exactly where he stands. So, in other words, he is ensuring that the process is duly carried out by being personally in touch with those who are in charge.

Ms. Andolong: Is he not concerned that all of a sudden police officials or law enforcers are suddenly citing — when people are killed during an operation — citing these reasons specifically na nanlaban? Lahat parang, almost, every situation or case, ganun po ang nangyayari. Is it not worth looking into as far as Malacañang is concerned?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: I’m sure he is looking into these matters. He has been made aware and he’s looking into these matters.

Mr. Morong: Sir, there were reports that some of those who were killed and labeled as drug addicts were not really drug addicts, some are scholars and all that. Is the President aware of such incidents? And papaano ‘yung safeguard natin, sir, na hindi mangyayari ‘yun?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: Like I said he is aware of these things and he is in touch with those who are in charge of the process.

Ms. Mendez: Sir, recently ‘di ba merong parang reservist na pumatay sa biker tapos merong incident na naka-handcuff na may traffic altercation with HPG. These are not —

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: You’re talking about two separate — ?

Ms. Mendez: Two separate incidents. These resulted to deaths of the victims. How is the President addressing these?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: I think he is addressing it at the level where it happened, okay. Already I think the Quiapo incident has already been… I think charges have been filed already, right? If I’m right?

So in other words, it’s being addressed at the level, you know. It doesn’t have to be elevated immediately, it is addressed on the level where it happened.

Catherine Valente (Manila Times): Hi. Good afternoon, sir. Sir, regarding po sa China’s new policy to penalize po illegal fishers sa South China Sea. Talaga daw pong hindi pinapapasok ang mga Filipino fishermen there. So what’s the Palace take on this? Will you advise po our Filipino fishermen to avoid Panatag shoal for their safety? Thank you.

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: Again, the shoal itself, the shoal, you are talking [about] Scarborough? Scarborough. Basically, let me just go back. Scarborough is really just for artisanal fishing. Basically, artisanal fishing and it should be left alone by those who are engaged in commercial fishing.

Okay, so basically from our side, we have already our safeguards in place. Okay. Safeguards in place. There’s a 12-mile limit to — I think there’s a 12-mile limit to Scarborough ‘no. So kung, it’s… fishing. Artisanal fishing is allowed in that area, but aside from that, it should be left alone. So from our side, we have specific guidelines. Thank you.

Leila Salaverria (Philippine Daily Inquirer): Good afternoon, sir. The President has spoken out strongly against contractualization and Senator Recto pointed out that the government also hires a lot of temporary workers. So what will the government do about this? Can we expect an order from whoever, stopping the practice?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: It will be looked into appropriately. It will be looked into. Okay.

Ms. Salaverria: By whom? The DOLE? May directive…Has there been a directive from the President?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: No directive. It has to be studied first. It has to be looked into first.

Ms. Salaverria: By?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: By the appropriate… Executive office. By the appropriate office. Okay.

John Paul Bencito (Manila Standard): Good afternoon, sir. Sir, what are the specific safeguards na ginawa na ng gobyerno? Ano po ‘yung parang guidelines that we are implementing with regards to contact with China, sir. or with regards to the waters na contested po?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: What do you mean specifically?

Mr. Bencito: Sir, you’ve mentioned earlier that there are — there have been some safeguards, there are guidelines that the government is pressing on or implementing with regards to the West Philippine Sea issue. Sir, meron na po ba tayong specific sir? Ano po ba ‘yun?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: Okay. What I said about… There are already… Some guidelines are already in place. You know, for example, katulad ‘nong no commercial fishing within Scarborough, so that’s already in place. It’s not a new one. It’s just being implemented. But regarding the other conversations with the other parties we just take the diplomatic route.

Celerina Monte (Manila Shimbun): So, sir, clarification lang regarding doon sa South China Sea, sa Scarborough. So ‘yung hindi commercial fishing vessels like for instance ‘yung mga small fishers—?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: Wala pong small fishers doon. That is too far out. The only ones going that direction are really commercial fishers.

Ms. Monte: How about these people fishermen that we saw on television na they were being barred from going there? So commercial po ‘tong mga ‘to?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: Mostly, because there are really no artisanal fishers. It’s really very far out.

Ms. Monte: So in effect, you’re not allowing our fishermen to go there?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: It’s not that we’re not allowing our fishermen to go there. We’re simply saying that there are certain kinds of fishermen who are allowed and who should be there and can’t fish inside, those are the artisanal fishers. But at that distance, basically they’re, hardly if any at all, artisanal fishers.

Ms. Monte: So meaning, sir, ‘yun ngang mga previous fishermen natin na who used to fish there, they could no longer go there?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: Ang sinasabi ko po lang, okay, I’m just saying that technically, technically, the ones who can fish near the area, inside the area are artisanal fishers. Off the area, commercial fishers.

Mr. Morong: Sir, does that mean that ‘yung pronouncement again ni Presidente regarding, you know, ending the practice of contractualization also covers government?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: We should look into that. We are looking into that.

Mr. Morong: So non-committal whether the government—?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: From where I’m coming from. [laughs]

Mr. Morong: Okay.

Pia Ranada (Rappler): Good afternoon, sir. Sir just to clarify the 888 hotline, because ‘nong Monday—


Ms. Ranada: The 911 was launched but it’s not clear if the 8888 was also launched. Can you just clear that up, is it ready, have the charge issues been resolved?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: I don’t know if everything has been resolved but it was officially launched last Monday also, along with 911.

Ms. Mendez: Sir, on another matter, merong parang series of power interruptions in Luzon — in Luzon, power interruptions from July 26 to July 31 sa Luzon grid. Has it been discussed in the Cabinet meeting?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: It was not discussed in the Cabinet meetings.

Ms. Mendez: And if ever, sir, will you address this in the next presscon na lang? Kasi there’s also —

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: As it arises, yes. As it arises it will be discussed. Okay.

Reymund Tinaza (Bombo Radyo): Sir, how can we get a sense of parang confidence from the CPP/NPA/NDF and the President himself that these peace talks would actually push through, considering I think some fires or shots, especially from the President, calling the — especially coming from Joma Sison — calling the President “butangero” and other personal name-callings and vice versa, also the President calling Joma Sison na hindi dapat pagkatiwalaan dahil hindi nga sila nakapagpapanalo. So how can we tame this exchange of words?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: Well, basically we need to… As you notice probably, the intention of the President is final and lasting peace. So he’s wiling to go beyond, beyond the word exchange. So we can trust that. We can trust the process. At least we can trust where the President is coming from and already there is a process that has been… And we didn’t start it. We are simply continuing and one thing to finish it within his term.

Mr. Tinaza: And categorically, can we actually trust Mr. Joma Sison?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: Let’s put it this way, we need to just trust the human process. Thank you.

Ms. Novenario: Sir, last na lang sa peace process. Sabi po ni Secretary Dureza magsu-submit siya ng recommendation ‘nong Monday. Ano po ‘yung isinumbit ni Secretary Dureza para doon sa pag-sulong ‘nong usapang pangkapayapaan?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: We’re not privy to the details but that conversation continues with the CNN.

Ms. Reyes: Sir, text-in question, sir. What’s the stand of the President regarding divorce bill? He kept on mentioning that during the campaign, sir.

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: [laughs] I think they are.. It will be submitted, right?

[Mr. Morong: ‘May nag-file po.’]

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: May nag-file, okay. So let’s await it.

Hannah Sancho (Sonshine Radio): Sir, ‘di ba sa August 20 na po ‘yung Oslo meeting with Joma Sison? Ang wino-workout po kaya minove (move) po ng August 20 is para may makasama na doon sa mga political detainees na ire-release?


Ms. Sancho: May mare-release po ba, sir, na makakasama sa August 20?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: Ang pagkakaalam ko po, as far as I know, that there will be people who will be given safe passage.

Ms. Sancho: Mga ilan kaya sila, sir?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: I’m not sure about the final number. But a number will be sent — will be given safe passage.

Ms. Sancho: So mga — meron po talaga?


Ms. Sancho: Kasama po ‘yung Tiamzon couple, sir?


Ms. Sancho: So sure na sila na kasama sa 20 sa Oslo?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: As far as I’m concerned, as far as I know, as of this moment, as far as I know kasama po sila. I think they’ll be given, they’ll be given safe passage, as far as I know.

Ms. Sancho: Thank you, sir.

Mr. Bencito: Sir last. Sir, magkakaroon ba tayo ng interim ceasefire with the Reds should the August 20 peace talks proceed?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: I think as far as I know, also that the CNN declared that they would have their own ceasefire, right?

Mr. Bencito: CPP, sir?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: Yeah, CNN kasi refers to Communist Party, NDF and NPA. It’s not CNN ‘yung na [laughs] — that’s how they refer it. No offense intended. [laughs]

Mr. Bencito: Pero, sir, may interim ceasefire?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: Let’s see how… Again, let me see… My classic line is: Let’s see how it unfolds. Okay.

Mr. Tuvera: Sir, binanggit niyo po sa or ni Secretary Andanar sa statement na willing sila makipag-engage sa public even —


Mr. Tuvera: Secretary Andanar on federalism, sir. Ano po ‘yung balak ni Presidente o ng Malacañang para mas ‘yun… Iyong info drive nila on federalism, sir. Kasi nga ‘di ba may survey na nagsasabing karamihan sa mga…


Mr. Tuvera: Paano po ano… Paano ikakampanya ng Malacañang ‘yung federalism, sir?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: Meron pong, may paraan… May paraan kasama na po itong pagsulong, you know, but the next steps will also be sunod-sunod siya. Okay susunod siya. It will follow its own — its own cycle. Sige, last question please?

Nel Maribojoc (UNTV): Short lang po. May schedule na po ba for LEDAC? Napapag-usapan na po ba ito?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: Iyong LEDAC. Hindi pa po name-mention ‘yung ano — hindi pa po name-mention ‘yung actual dates. Okay.

So that’s it. Thank you very much. You’ve been a great audience.