Press Briefing by Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella
Press Briefing Room, New Executive Bldg,  Malacañang,
27 July 2016

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: What I like to do first is just go ahead and give a short summary of the meeting and then we can entertain two or three questions at most. Okay.

This afternoon, Secretary of State John Kerry met with President Rodrigo Roa Duterte over lunch. And they covered a few points and I’d like to give you a brief summary of the points that were covered.

First, it was a courtesy call. It was a very interesting lunch because they shared common interests. They talked about motorcycles and hunting. And Mr. Kerry talked about how he had a motorcycle and he had a funny incident regarding that.

Second, they also affirmed their long-standing relationships — the relationship between the two countries and stated in particular that there are four million Filipinos in the US or there are at least 500,000 Americans in the Philippines.

Next, they also discussed common concerns: terrorism, crime, drugs, religious fanaticism, and maritime security. In relation to this, they also mentioned a menu of solutions.

Next, the US committed $32 million in training and services. Next, they also touched on the EDCA and it was affirmed that whatever works for the Philippines will be what will work.

Next, they also touched on climate change and Mr. Kerry was helpful in defining certain issues about the Paris Pact and the President also responded appropriately when he said that the Philippines will work out just as long as everything is fair.

Lastly, they also talked about John Kerry’s involvement in the 1986 snap elections and the events that led up to it and afterwards. He mentioned how invested he was in the democratic practices in the Philippines. That about sums it up.

All right, thank you. I will now entertain questions.


Weng dela Fuente (NET25): Sir, good afternoon. Sir, you mentioned about the 32 million dollar — dollars — a promise by the United States. May we know what will be the focused of this —

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: Basically, it will come in the form of trainings and stuff. Trainings —

Ms. dela Fuente: Training for what?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: Law enforcement, law enforcement.

Ms. dela Fuente: Sir, what was discussed about the maritime dispute? Did the President mention to Secretary Kerry the position of the Philippines? And what was agreed? If there are things that —

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: There were no agreements regarding that except that the President did mention that whatever talks we will engage in will begin with the ruling, that will be the foundation, the ruling regarding the area.

Joseph Morong (GMA-7): Sir, as things stand now, China has been saying that no, before we talked to the Philippines, we have to abandon the ruling but we have said that we are insisting on the — we are following the rule of law and the UNCLOS. This sounds like a stalemate. How are we going to move forward with this kind of position?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: It is not a stalemate. Congress session will continue to proceed.

Mr. Morong: Was there an offer for the President to go to the United States for a state visit?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: There was no such thing discussed.

Ted Tuvera (The Daily Tribune): Sir, was it discussed with Secretary Kerry on how to implement — how to use the EDCA to implement the PCA ruling?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: There was no discussion regarding that. Those things are not — they’re not related. As Mr. Yasay mentioned earlier, the two are not related.

Mr. Tuvera: Sir, follow-up. Is there an assurance na hindi po makakabalik yung mga US Bases as agreed in 1991, sir?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: There was nothing mentioned regarding the matter. Thank you.

Maricel Halili (TV 5): Hi sir, good afternoon. Sir, on other issue about the National Security Council meeting this afternoon. What will be the agenda of the meeting? What are the topics to be discussed?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: Basically, I think first, there will be a review of what has a — review, and then a summation. The agenda is not that clear. Okay? Thank you.

Ms. Halili: But are you going to talk about the West Philippine Sea or the anti-drugs campaign? And did the former President confirm their attendance?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: I believe the [laughs]… I believe they will be in attendance.

Ms. Halili: All of them, sir?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: I believe all who can will be there.

Ms. Halili: And what do we expect to hear from them, sir?


Ms. Halili: Support for?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: For our — Philippine efforts. I mean at the end of the day, they are all Presidents of the Philippines. It would be a cooperative venture.

Reymund Tinaza (Bombo Radyo): Yes sir. Sir, good afternoon. Can you describe how was the dialogue went in the meeting — the feel. Because considering that during the previous and almost all the statements of the President, he is not a fan of the US, so was there a positive exchanges?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: I think we need to qualify what you’re saying that he was not a fan. He, in fact, he abides by the law and he does appreciate — we do appreciate the support that the US has given us.

It’s just that there were certain incidents in our past, in our historical past, that he was pointing out. You know, we need to, for example, historically, he did mention it again about the— in 1521, how the relationship — how America, you know, and the other foreign colonial powers actually inflicted a lot of, you know, historical pain upon — especially the residents of Mindanao.

Leila Salaverria (Philippine Daily Inquirer): Sir, at the DFA, Secretary Kerry spoke of the need to protect human rights. What did he say to President Duterte about it? And did he express alarm about the spate of extrajudicial killings in the country?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: It wasn’t…There was no alarm that was mentioned there. Although, what Mr… President Duterte did mention about his — the way he has been handling the war against crime and especially narco — the narcotic leg.

Ms. Salaverria: How about the Secretary of State, what did he say about it?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: He was listening very intently.

Mr. Morong: Sir, si Secretary Kerry has been very vocal in — medyo repetitive — in saying that we hope to see a process and quoting — “we hope to see a process that will narrow the geographic scope of the maritime disputes and set standards for behavior for contested areas.” How are we interpreting this vis-à-vis China’s insistence on its nine dash line and control of some areas like Scarborough?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: Basically, I’d like to take a cue from what he said earlier during the DFA. He said, “Let us not focus on confrontation but let us focus on solution.” And I think that was very apt.

Ms. Rocky Ignacio: Thank you, Secretary.

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: Thank you very much. Good afternoon.