February 28, 2017 – Press Briefing by Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella with Department of Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez II
|Press Briefing by Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella with Department of Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez II|
|Press Briefing Room, New Executive Building, Malacañang|
|28 February 2017|
PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: Good morning. This morning we are privileged to have, for the second time, Secretary Carlos “Sonny” Dominguez.
Secretary Dominguez has over 40 years of experience managing various organizations in the public and private sectors. Notable positions held by Mr. Dominguez were Cabinet Secretary of the Environment and Natural Resources and Agriculture during the presidency of President Aquino — President Cory Aquino; past president of leading Philippine corporation such as the Philippine Airlines, and the Philippine [Associated] Smelting and Refining Corporation, and former Bank of the Philippine Islands Agriculture Bank.
Ladies and gentlemen of the Malacañang Press Corps, let us all give a warm welcome to our distinguished guest Secretary Sonny Dominguez.
SEC. DOMINGUEZ: Good morning. The Department of Finance has been very busy in this last couple of months on various activities.
First, we have been very closely negotiating with our Chinese counterparts regarding the grants of — that were committed by President Xi Jinping during President Rody’s visit of nine billion US dollars in Official Development Assistance, as well as commercial loans.
We have also been meeting with various project proponents from China to discuss railways, sports development, roads development all over the country.
We are certain that the private sector, which has also signed around 15 billion dollars worth of investment and joint ventures with Chinese companies are already starting their various projects.
We are also… We have also begun discussions with the Japanese government in response to the announcement of Prime Minister Abe when he came to the Philippines and visited President Duterte. And he came with a commitment of another nine billion dollars more or less in ODA and commercial loans.
In total, the President has raised a total of 33 billion dollars in all these trips. We understand that his total expenses have only been around 5.5 million US dollars or around 270 million pesos but he raised 33 billion dollars.
That is equivalent to spending something like 17 centavos per every 1,000 pesos that he has raised in investments and loans.
For me that is a very significant figure. You know, sometimes when we talk of millions and billions, we forget the relationship, right? This is the relationship of the expenses of the President with regards to the benefits that he has been able to bring home or as the journalists like to say, ‘the bacon that he brought home.’
This, of course, does not include the other benefits that he brought back which are better job opportunities, better transportation, better social services in the future.
The Department of Finance also has been working as co-chair of the [Mining] Industry Coordinating Committee with Secretary-designate Gina Lopez.
She and I have signed the resolution of the MICC agreeing that we are to set up a technical working group to review all her issuances to make sure that these are in line with due process.
The second meeting of the technical working group will be held this Friday and we are going to start the work to make sure that all the issuances regarding mining were done through due process.
The Department of Finance has also been very busy in making sure that the Customs and BIR are collecting their share — their share of taxes.
We have a small slide here which shows that year-on-year growth for the whole of 2016, we were higher than 2015 by 9.3 percent, for the BIR; and for the Bureau of Customs, 8.2 percent.
For the first year-to-date figures we have, which is January to February 1st, 2,000 and — not ’19, I think it’s 2017. The BIR has collected 12 percent more than they did last year for the same period. And the BOC has collected 13.3 percent more. Sorry, that’s January 1 to February 19, 2017.
So they are — the BIR and the BOC are working quite hard and we are pretty sure that they will hit their targets for this year.
Another reform program that has gotten our office very busy is the tax reform for acceleration and inclusion package 1 or House Bill 4774.
It’s moving very well. In fact, we will have a synthesis hearing next week to finally — to discuss the House Bill finally and hopefully the House of Representatives will report it out by — before they go on break on March 17.
I’m open for any questions.
QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS:
AC Nichols (CNN Philippines): Hi, good morning, sir. Sir, on the technical working group with the minerals committee. Just a clarification, sir, you said that it’s for reviewing the issuances whether the issuances followed due process. So there’s a possibility that there will be — if there’s a finding na meron pong hindi nasunod na due process in some of the issuances, pwede pong bawiin including ‘yung pag-stop po sa ilang mining operations?
SEC. DOMINGUEZ: No, I’m sure Secretary-designate Gina Lopez welcomes the opportunity for the MICC which she co-chairs to review the actions that were recommended by her staff and we just want to make sure that they are — they have followed due process.
And, of course, if there are some lapses in the due process, they can always correct it. They can always correct the lapses in the due process and proceed with what they want, as long as the due process, as specified by law has been followed.
Ms. Nichols: Because, sir, that’s precisely what some mining companies are saying, after the suspension of mining operations that the DENR failed to follow due process that’s why some of them are also considering going to the courts.
SEC. DOMINGUEZ: Yes, correct.
Ms. Nichols: Yeah, so, particularly they’re saying that they should have been consulted first. So do we see this going there na baka possibly na it will — the technical working group will move for consultations first between DENR and mining companies.
SEC. DOMINGUEZ: You know, the technical working group is going to be composed, basically of professors, of engineers in the private sector who are not connected with the mining and also lawyers of the government who know what the due process are, okay.
They will review all of these and satisfy themselves that indeed the process has been followed religiously. Now, whether or not the mines affected would want to file lawsuits in court, well that’s really up to them. We cannot determine what they will do but we certainly want to make sure that the defenses of Secretary-designate Lopez are very strong.
Maricel Halili (TV 5): Hi, sir, good morning.
SEC. DOMINGUEZ: Good morning.
Ms. Halili: Sir, I just would like to ask, how’s your working relationship with Secretary Gina Lopez?
SEC. DOMINGUEZ: Well, as I explained to her directly, I mentioned to her that I want to make sure that whatever findings she makes, sticks, okay.
That if she cancels a mine, that if in her judgment, the mine has violated the law and she followed due process, I want to make sure that when she closes the mining, stays closed.
Because if due process is not followed, two possible consequences will happen: the mine will go to court and the court will give them relief and they will open again. And, they will probably file for damages against the government for closing them illegally.
So I want to avoid those and I want to make sure that Secretary Lopez — Secretary-designate Lopez is in firm grounds when she does this.
You know, that’s my responsibility as co-chair and as a member of the team. We all belong to the same team of President Duterte.
Ms. Halili: Because, sir, during her press conference here in Malacañang weeks ago I guess, she mentioned about the Tampakan Mining. So just for clarification, sir, may we know what’s your affiliation with this mining company?
SEC. DOMINGUEZ: None at all, okay. As I explained also, you know, I was involved in mining twice in my life, okay. The first one was not even mining. I was the CEO of PASAR, which is a copper smelter located in Leyte.
I got familiar with mining because we used to buy their products. We used to buy concentrate from local mines and mines all over the world and convert them into copper. So that was my job.
The second time I was involved in mining was when the mine called Rapu-Rapu, which was managed by foreigners, had a spill. The foreign stockholders asked me to put a team together to remediate, to fix up the mine so that they could operate again. So I took on the job, I put a team together, we worked very hard. And in two years, from 2006 to 2008, we fixed up what was wrong with the mine and they operated again so that…
After that, I have not been involved in mining, either in the management or as a shareholder or in any other capacity. So I am not involved in any mine at the moment.
Ms. Halili: Sir, at least do you support the position now of the mining companies with regards to this issue on suspension?
SEC. DOMINGUEZ: The position I support is the position of President Duterte, which is that we must follow due process when we are dealing with all kinds of activities.
We must honor our contracts and we must behave as a government that is responsible. That is the only position I support.
Ms. Halili: Thank you, sir.
Pia Ranada (Rappler): Sir, despite the resolution signed between Sec. Lopez and yourself, there have still been DENR officials who continue to say that they did follow due process. So is the understanding of Sec. Lopez similar to your understanding of the technical working group? Is it really going to have power over DENR issuances or is this really just — will she respect the decisions of the TWG given po her statements that they did follow due process?
SEC. DOMINGUEZ: This is not a question of power over or dictating. It’s a question of clarification, of making sure that President Duterte’s stand of honoring contracts and following due process are followed. That’s all it is.
And I don’t know whether people will — [how would you say?] — follow it as you say. I’m not sure but we will certainly present our findings to the co-chair of the MICC.
Ms. Ranada: And, sir, is it, is the option to appeal to the President still open to miners?
SEC. DOMINGUEZ: Always open.
Ms. Ranada: And have there been any appeals made?
SEC. DOMINGUEZ: You have to ask Secretary Medialdea about that. I’m not certain.
Ms. Ranada: Sir, last from me. Sir, given the presence of a TWG and this usapan nga po with miners and the DENR, there is still some mining companies who want to block her appointment into her position. Does this mean they’re not satisfied with the presence of a TWG given this is an opportunity for them naman to air out their grievances? Why still move for her to block her appointment?
SEC. DOMINGUEZ: I’m sorry. I cannot guess why certain people do certain things. But that is part of the democratic process.
That is part of the process of getting confirmed, that the Senate — that the Senate and the House members of the committee ask people for their comments. And people are free to give their comments either for or against the Secretary-designate in question or yeah, whoever is in subject to confirmation.
Ms. Ranada: So, sir, you never spoke to the mining companies about this movement — move of theirs?
SEC. DOMINGUEZ: No, no, I have not spoken to them.
Ms. Ranada: to discourage them, to —
SEC. DOMINGUEZ: I have not spoken to them at all.
Henry Uri (DZRH): Secretary, good morning. Do you think Secretary Gina violated any laws or regulation when she decides to suspend or close mining firm in the country?
SEC. DOMINGUEZ: No, I cannot make that conclusion because we have not gone through the review at the moment. We will know if there were lapses in the due process as soon as we finish going through the issuances. You know, each contract is different, right. And we — and the technical working group has to go through each different contract.
This is not like one big contract with a group. The contracts between individual concessionaires and the government are very specific. So the technical working group will have to go through each one of them in detail.
Mr. Uri: And since you became a DENR Secretary, did you have any recommendation, parang win-win solution sa government and in the mining sector?
SEC. DOMINGUEZ: I beg your pardon? I didn’t get your question.
Mr. Uri: You became a DENR Secretary, right, sir?
SEC. DOMINGUEZ: Yeah, no, no. But the ‘E’ was Energy, not Environment, when I was Secretary. Just long, long time ago.
Mr. Uri: Oh, I’m sorry.
SEC. DOMINGUEZ: Yes. Did I have a win-win solution when I was there? Well, let me put it this way, at that…
When I was Secretary, the mining industry was really in the doldrums. Very few companies were operating because the price of copper was very low and there was a tax that the government imposed on copper exports. So there was hardly any activity.
I was more concerned at that time with illegal logging. And that time, I remember very clearly, I closed two illeg— two loggers that were — one was logging in the last watershed in the Angat Dam; and the other one was given a concession to log in the last forest in Mindoro.
So I shut those two down very quickly, as soon as I assumed office. So mining was not a big issue at that time because there was not much activity.
Mr. Uri: Pero lastly, sir, based doon ho sa mga ipinalabas ni Secretary Gina, doon sa mga, possibly nabasa ninyo na rin at napapanood, ‘yung mga nangayayri ho sa mga probinsya na may mining activity, sa tingin ho ba ninyo, talagang agrabyado ho ang environment at saka, well of course, ang bayan at ang mamamayan?
SEC. DOMINGUEZ: I cannot tell. As I said ‘no, I haven’t been going around to see the mines.
So I cannot really tell whether their operations are in line with the agreement with the government, okay. So at this point, I cannot say one way or the other for any mines.
There might be some mines that have violated the environmental laws, there might be some mines that are — that are following environmental laws, so I can’t really generalize at the moment.
But you brought up the probinsiyas and the munisipyos. There are some provinces and municipalities that derive a lot of their income, more than 50 percent of their local income, municipalities, from mining.
Those… If mining is closed in those areas, we have to have a plan not only for the people who lose their jobs in mine but also for the — for the municipalities that are affected.
Because, you know, some municipalities, as I said, earn more than 50 percent of their income from mining.
And, you know, they use this for social services in their communities, to help the seniors in their communities, to build barangay roads.
So we have to have an overall plan as to how to help these municipalities as well as the people who will lose their jobs.
Mr. Uri: So, is that your recommendation to have an overall plan?
SEC. DOMINGUEZ: Yes. I’m sure … I’m sure Secretary- designate Lopez has — has those plans.
We just want to make sure that they are implementable and well funded so that we can proceed with them.
Mr. Uri: Sir, baka lang ho may magtanong bakit po Secretary-designate?
SECRETARY DOMINGUEZ: She has not been confirmed I understand. And if you are not confirmed your title is secretary-designate.
Mr. Uri: All right. Thank you, sir.
JP Bencito (Manila Standard): Hi, sir, good morning.
SEC. DOMINGUEZ: Yes, good morning.
Mr. Bencito: Sir, can we know the timeline just in case of the technical working — working group that the Finance department created? Also, sir —
SEC. DOMINGUEZ: No, no, we did not create it ha — the MICC
Mr. Bencito: The MICC rather —
SEC. DOMINGUEZ: Together with other members of the MICC. It’s a very big committee ha. It is the Committee on Environment and the Committee on Climate Change put together. It’s very big.
Among the members there are NEDA, DOLE, Office of the President. So it’s really a big committee.
Mr. Bencito: Sir, if I’m not mistaken there will be a meeting this Friday. Sir, may we know the agenda just in case?
SEC. DOMINGUEZ: Ah, yes. It’s their organizational — well, not their organization[al]…
They will present the plan on what they will do and also the budget. Because, you know, they will have to get professors from state colleges and universities and private universities, experts from different fields, and they will have to travel.
So there is some money to be spent, so we have to make sure that there’s a budget for that.
Mr. Bencito: Sir, last na lang po on my part, ‘yung timeline po niya gaano po katagal ‘yung pinaka-extent ‘nung review?
SEC. DOMINGUEZ: According to the technical working group, they will probably take up to 3 months to do this. You know, there are, I think, at least 75 contracts that have to be reviewed; and, you know, some of these contracts are very thick, and then they will have to visit.
So, you know, we will take a deliberate approach to this thing. We’re not rushing. It has to be very deliberate so that we’re sure that it’s the correct — the correct process.
Mr. Bencito: Thank you, sir.
Joseph Morong (GMA-7): Sir, good morning po. Sir, between the TWG assuming they finish ‘no, and the…
SEC. DOMINGUEZ: They will finish. Don’t worry about that.
Mr. Morong: Two to three months ang sabi ninyo, sir ‘no?
SEC. DOMINGUEZ: They said about three months, yes.
Mr. Morong: Okay, between their findings and Secretary Lopez’s insistence that she followed due process, which will prevail?
SEC. DOMINGUEZ: Which will prevail?
Mr. Morong: Yeah.
SEC. DOMINGUEZ: Well, the evidence will be clear and whoever has the evidence for their stand will prevail.
I’m sure … I’m sure Secretary Lopez — Secretary-designate Lopez has made sure that her staff did the due process. But since it is very controversial, I think it’s important for the public, particularly the mines and the municipalities who are affected, to know that this indeed are true.
Mr. Morong: Sir, don’t you have an order to or advice to the LGU to study the effect of — in terms of their revenue if the minings are closed? Would you have the initial findings of how much it will ano — the LGUs will lose if — ?
SEC. DOMINGUEZ: Yes, we do. Actually that was prepared by the Bureau of Local Government Finance, which is under the Department of Finance. And we estimated around 821 million pesos.
That’s just an estimate ha. You know, this was done very quickly but it’s around 821 million pesos per year. So this is — so this is every year.
Mr. Morong: So, sir, ito ‘yung mga areas from the 26 or 27 na papasaran ‘no?
SEC. DOMINGUEZ: No, all. I think all — all affected right? Yeah.
Mr. Morong: Including the 70 plus?
SEC. DOMINGUEZ: Yes, yes.
Mr. Morong: Okay, sir, pa-clarify…
SEC. DOMINGUEZ: But the… But the majority are in about five municipalities alone, if I’m not mistaken ha — the majority of the money.
And we can provide you with those figures. We have them right here. Yeah, 17 LGUs, yes.
Mr. Morong: Sir, pa-clarify lang, kasi sa SALN po ninyo meron pa kayong Philex Mining Corporation na share since 1967?
SEC. DOMINGUEZ: Yeah, that was a gift to my grandson from my mother. I think it was 5,000 shares ah to my son. And we haven’t transferred it to his name yet.
Mr. Morong: Gift to your son, sir?
SEC. DOMINGUEZ: From my mother.
Mr. Morong: So ‘yung 67, sir, sa mommy ninyo ‘yon?
SEC. DOMINGUEZ: That is the date when my son was born. My mother had some shares… By the way, she’s 93 years old already. I don’t think she remembers some shares she has. I’m not sure she has anymore. But she gave my son a gift when he was born.
Mr. Morong: Okay, so pero hindi ninyo — nakapangalan initially for you?
SEC. DOMINGUEZ: Yeah, yeah, because he was a minor so… And I don’t know we forgot to transfer it to his name. He is over 40 already so…[laughs]
Mr. Morong: So sa anak ninyo po ‘yon?
SEC. DOMINGUEZ: Yes, yes.
Reymund Tinaza (Bombo Radyo): Hi, sir, good noon. Sir, just to clarify what prompted the review? Was it because it’s an automatic action or because of the complaints of the mining companies?
SEC. DOMINGUEZ: You know, the MICC — the EO creating the MICC says that we should do this review every two years.
So we’re doing it. I mean this is… We took office less than a year ago so we decided to do it. But, of course, the — the controversy also prompted us to do it right away. Anyway it’s already — it’s also part of the law.
Mr. Tinaza: Sir, I understand the President already mentioned that he is inclined to favor and believe the recommendation of Secretary Gina Lopez after he was — he made that aerial inspection in the Surigao area. So do you think the result whatever it is of the MICC will ever change the already word of the President that he is to believe the recommendation of the Secretary?
SEC. DOMINGUEZ: I have no idea. Thank you very much.
Mr. Morong: Sir, kung kayo okay lang —
SEC. DOMINGUEZ: What publication or — ?
Mr. Morong: I’m from GMA-7, sir.
SEC. DOMINGUEZ: Ah GMA-7.
Mr. Morong: Sir, kung kayo lang do you think that Secretary-designate, as you call her, will be good for government and she should be confirmed by the CA? Given her stance on the mining itself?
SEC. DOMINGUEZ: That’s not up to me. We are a member of a team that was put together by President Duterte and we exert all effort to work as team members.
You know, being secretary is not like being a crusader. Being secretary is balancing the needs of the different sectors in society, okay.
Some sectors… In government kasi actually there’s very few win-win situations. Some groups win and some groups lose.
You’ll just make sure that the majority — your decisions cover the majority and are good for the majority. So you have to have a very — an approach that is very balanced, that is very deliberate, that is very rational, that is science- based, and…
So it’s important that, you know… Sometimes it’s difficult to do it, okay.
Sometimes you don’t have enough information, sometimes you are driven by circumstances. But I think every — every member of the government whether secretary or director or — in any — or mayor, has to balance. It’s a balancing — it’s a balancing act.
Mr. Morong: We can read between the lines, sir.
SEC. DOMINGUEZ: I beg your pardon?
Mr. Morong: We can read between the lines. [laughs]
SEC. DOMINGUEZ: Ah ganun, no lines. Please do not read
between lines. I am just… Just read the text. [laughs]
Thank you very much.
PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: Thank you, Sec. Sonny. Some updates.
The Philippines is among top favorite of European investors in ASEAN.
The Philippines is among the top of the 10 ASEAN countries preferred by European companies as investment destination, according to the European Union-ASEAN Business Council Executive Director Chris Humphrey.
It said the Philippines is foreseen to further enhance the European interest due to the country’s young population, increasingly liberal trade and investment policies and largely untapped market.
To deliver its promise to create 1.2M jobs annually, the Duterte administration will attract more foreign investments, increase infrastructure spending, ease the cost of doing business in the Philippines, and continuously develop its human resource.
Jobs to be created include those in construction, information and technology/business-process management, tourism, manufacturing, transport and logistics, agri-processing industry, and retail trade.
Also the IMF commends Philippine monetary policy.
We welcome the commendation from the International Monetary Fund mission team regarding the Philippine monetary policies, which are supportive of domestic expansion.
It took note of the comprehensive tax reform program (CTRP) as among those that contributed to the strengthening of the country’s monetary transmission and reduction of concentration risks in the banking sector, among others.
Also, continuing and maintaining the current macroeconomic policies is part of the 10-point socioeconomic agenda.
More updates, PhilHealth Launches Interactive Voice Response System (IVRS).
Good news to the public. Public health information will now be easier to access.
The Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) has launched the Interactive Voice Response System. IVRS is a public hotline system that will accommodate inquiries such as health insurance benefits, E-registration, Health Care Institution Portal, Electronic Premium Remittance System and Member Inquiry.
The public can access the IVRS 24 hours a day, 7 days a week by dialing (02) 441-7442.
Lastly, Palawan farmers, fishers — fisherfolks get P69.5-M worth of farm inputs, implements and fisheries livelihood support.
To reduce rural poverty, the Department of Agriculture has distributed to local fisher folks 96 units of 38-footer fiberglass reinforced plastic boats, which costs approximately 180,000 each.
We’re open to a few questions.
Ms. Ranada: Good afternoon, sir. Sir, the Liberal Party senators are crying “persecution”. They are saying that Malacañang and the administration in general is “obsessed with monopolizing power” quoting the Vice President and also “marginalizing those who have opposing views”. What is the Palace reaction to this?
PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: You’re talking about — you are referring to the removal of committee chairmanship, is that it?
Ms. Ranada: Also with the arrest of Senator Leila de Lima and everything.
PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: All right. And so forth and so on, yeah.
Well, the stripping off of the committee chairmanships happens every Congress. What happened yesterday is majority rules and, as we all know, Senate decisions have always been a consensus.
So, Malacañang respect the independence of the Senate and does not interfere in its internal affairs.
The Senate is composed of 24 senators. So each senator has a mind of his own.
So that’s equivalent of, as somebody said, 24 republics which no President can control.
So basically there is independence in those decisions.
Mr. Morong: Sir, what benefit will it give the President kung meron siyang control ng Senate and the House of Representatives?
PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: What benefit?
Mr. Morong: Yeah, sa administration, if he has control of both the Senate and the House?
PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: I think the operative word should not be control but influence? Or —?
Mr. Morong: Yeah. Well, what benefit, sir? I mean ‘di ba may mga priority bills that the President wants to push like the death penalty?
PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: There you go, okay.
Mr. Morong: I mean, I’m not… Pero, sir, kayo? What do you think? I mean what’s the — iyong nga, ano ‘yung magiging edge ni Presidente if he has the — ?
PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: Better working relationships. Thank you.
Mr. Bencito: Hi, sir. Good morning. Sir, can we get comment from the Palace on the beheading of the German national? Sir, what… Are we talking with the German government with regards to this incident?
PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: Of course, you know, our, you know, the…
But let me just quote first, let’s say from the AFP statement, okay. And we empathize with this:
“It’s a mournful day for all peace loving and God-fearing citizens of the Philippines.
We have finally received information from reliable sources confirming that Mr. Juergen Gustav Kantner was mercilessly and inhumanly murdered by the KFR Abu Sayyaf Group.
Our operations in the past several days and nights using all our resources were unrelenting. And we also lost some of our best men in the process, because we value the life of Mr. Kantner and that of the others who have fallen prey to this terrorist group.
The deaths of hapless civilians like Mr. Kantner in the hands of these terrorists feed the resolve of our soldiers to hunt down all the perpetrators and bring them to the bar of justice.
We express our heartfelt sympathies and condole sincerely with his family for their loss.
The AFP condemns in the strongest terms this abominable act of ruthlessness, loathe, and greed of this evil terrorist group.
We commit to relentlessly pursue the ongoing all-out offensives to neutralize the perpetrators of this dastardly crime.
There will be no let up in our operations until we have rescued all the remaining kidnap victims.
AFP units will continue to search for the remains of the Mr. Kantner to be handed to his bereaved family and to afford him decent burial that he deserves.”
That’s from the AFP.
Mr. Bencito: Sir, from the Palace? Parang–
PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: From the Palace, that would be… Basically let me just quote also from Mr. Dureza of the OPAPP.
Mr. Bencito: Sir, on another topic na lang po.
PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: All right.
Mr. Bencito: Sir, ‘yung kay… Si SolGen yesterday, he was saying na Trillanes must have been liable for — or is a person of interest for coddling criminals like Lascañas. Do we share the same sentiments in how are we treating this pronouncement of the SolGen?
PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: Of the opinion of the SolGen? Let’s leave it at that at the meantime. Thank you.
Mr. Uri: Sir, magandang tanghali po. Yesterday, we asked the President tungkol doon sa kung ano ang magiging desisyon niya sa Tokhang kasi marami hong nagsa-suggest, one is Senator Alan Peter Cayetano na ibalik na ho ‘yung Oplan Tokhang. And sabi niya, he is going to consult PNP and AFP doon sa kanilang command conference. May update po bang kung anong napag-usapan at ano na ho ang final decision kung ibabalik po ‘yung Oplan Tokhang?
PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: Regarding that, you must be referring to the command conference ‘no?
Mr. Uri: Yes, sir.
PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: Basically, the only statement that came out of that is regarding the beheading of Mr. Kantner. All others, we don’t have any word.
Mr. Uri: So hindi ho napagusapan ‘yung sa Oplan Tokhang?
PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: We don’t have any decisions. We don’t have any statements regarding the matter.
Mr. Uri: All right. Thank you, sir.
Ms. Nichols: Sir, also on Tokhang, yesterday during the interview with the President he mentioned something about parang tumaas na naman daw po by 20 percent ‘yung drug crimes. I just like to ask ano po ‘yung basis ‘non? Meron po bang naging review recently or yeah — ?
PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: Well, if there were any reviews and it probably, yeah… We don’t have any statements regarding the matter, okay.
Ms. Nichols: But the figure, sir, was that discussed in the command conference? Because he was very specific he said 20 percent.
PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: All right. But if you’re referring to the command conference, we do not have any statements emanating from that. Thank you.
Ms. Nichols: Sir, sorry going back. Iyon nga, sir, he mentioned that before the command conference so —
PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: That’s right. But after that, none. Thank you.
No, I mean, you know, she wants me to make a statement on that and I don’t have any…
Ms. Nichols: I am just clarifying where he got the — because it’s very specific, sir, it’s 20 percent.
PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: All right. Okay. You’re asking me for his sources? Is that…Then, these come from presidential sources. I don’t have any statements regarding that.
Hannah Sancho (Sonshine Radio): Sir, na-mention din ng Pangulo doon sa interview kahapon na tinatanong siya kung pwedeng ibalik ‘yung Tokhang at ‘yung war on drugs kasi ‘di ba medyo nag-lie low ang PNP. Ang sinabi ng Pangulo medyo kulang pa daw ‘yung mga pulis na mapagkakatiwalaan. So napag-usapan po ba sa command conference ‘yung talagang thorough cleansing sa PNP?
PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: All right. Okay, let me just repeat what I said.
There are no official statements coming from that conference, okay. The one that we can give you is — which I just did — was regarding Mr. Kantner. So all of these things…
Ms. Sancho: Any fresh directives on…Iyon na lang, sir, kay Kantner po. May fresh directives po ba ang Pangulo sa AFP and PNP about sa Abu Sayyaf?
PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: About the Abu Sayyaf?
Ms. Sancho: Yes, since tungkol naman doon.
PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: That also comes ano…That also comes from the command conference.
So we don’t have any official statements at this stage, okay. Thank you.
Ms. Sancho: On another topic. Sir, last week nag-meet po ang Pangulo, nag-dinner with the left leaning Cabinet secretaries. Ano po ang update doon, sir?
PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: Basically, it was just a…I think… I believe a reiteration of support — mutual support.
Ms. Sancho: Nagkaroon po ba ng…. support of what, sir? Sorry.
PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: Of one another’s efforts, hindi ba? Okay.
Ms. Sancho: Nagbago po ba ang desisyon ng Pangulo na baguhin ‘yung kanyang desisyon na, you know, i-open ulit ‘yung peace process with the ano — ?
PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: No, basically I think it had to do with the secretaries. The secretaries and… They remain at the Cabinet.
Rosalie Coz (UNTV): Good afternoon, sir. Ask ko rin po kung ano po ‘yung naging agenda tungkol po ‘nung sa meeting po ng labor groups with President Duterte. Meron po silang ipinu-push na proposed EO against contractualization.
PRESIDENTAIL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: Wala pa pong ano — wala pang…No statements also regarding that. Thank you.
Ms. Ranada: Sir, may we know the agenda for the PARC later, Presidential Agrarian Reform Council?
PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: Ah mamaya daw po, mamaya.
Mr. Morong: Parang kwentuhan lang.
PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: Kwentuhan lang eh ano, eh nagtatanong kayo.
Mr. Morong: Sir, two topics, sir. Sir, follow up lang doon sa AMLC na statement ni Presidente na he is willing to at least as far as he is concerned to reveal his net worth. Any actions that the President have taken?
PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: Hintayin na lang natin na lumabas, okay? Thank you.
Mr. Morong: Pero may plano po siya to write the AMLC?
PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: …ng alin?
Mr. Morong: to write to the AMLC, sir?
PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: I suppose so, you know. But… yeah.
Mr. Morong: Sir, sa Lascañas na lang, sir. Right now, the decision of the Senate is to hear him ‘no pero with the Senate configuration na nangyari kahapon, do you think maaapektuhan ‘yun, sir? Should he testify?
PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: Come again?
Mr. Morong: Should he testify para lang malaman na ng lahat? Because the President said hindi niya naman — hindi ganun ‘yung relationship niya with Lascañas.
PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: Well, I think much of it has already been rehashed. Napag-usapan ito dati and it depends on the Senate whatever actions they take on Mr. Lascañas.
Mr. Morong: Whether he does, sir?
PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: Whether he does or not.
Chona Yu (Radyo Inquirer): Sir, ibalik ko lang doon sa German.
PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: Yes po.
Ms. Yu: Ano ‘yung reaction kagabi ng Pangulo when he was informed na pinugutan na nga at saka may bago bang order sa AFP and PNP against Abu Sayyaf?
PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: I’m sure he was deeply affected, okay, as he usually is regarding those matters.
But regarding the actions, we’ll just have to wait until we see the actual steps taken by AFP and the rest. Thank you.
Ms. Halili: Sir, may we know the details about the meeting of the President yesterday with some Chinese officials or businessmen? Sa railway.
PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: Yeah, regarding the railway, all right, all right, let me see. That I think I have. [laughs]
It was basically a brief meeting reiterating the commitment of their company to partner with the Philippines regarding key infra projects, including the possible railway projects, consistent with the agreements he made during the State Visit to China.
He also gave a profile of the company and pointed out possible areas of cooperation in building, planning, and maintenance in railways, including especially Mindanao.
He also highlighted the important role of infrastructure in physically integrating in our country and helping spur growth and development.
The President welcomed the call and reiterated his socio-economic agenda, which includes increased public spending on infrastructure. It was a very welcome meeting.
Ms. Halili: Sir, just a follow-up on the reorganizational action in the Senate. Sir, do you think there’s a need for the President to have a bigger influence in the Senate nowadays?
PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: I don’t know if it’s — you’d call it a bigger need for the influence, you know.
The Senate is quite independent of the President. They need to do… They do what they need to do.
Ms. Halili: Thank you, sir.
Ms. Ranada: Sir, Senator Lacson had a recent statement saying that the confirmation of Secretary Yasay is the least of his problems and, in fact, he could be liable for perjury. What is the Palace reaction to this? And has this been also brought up by the President, given his concern in the elections for people being elected or put into position when they are citizens of other countries?
PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: I think Mr. Yasay has already made a very credible and logical, reasonable response regarding the matter.
And so, Mr. Lacson, of course, makes his own comments. But Mr. Yasay stands on his own explanation.