Interview with Presidential Spokesperson and Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Secretary Salvador Panelo by Pinky Webb (CNN Philippines – Balitaan)

WEBB:  (recording cut) dating Secretary Albert Del Rosario, sir?

SEC. PANELO:  Alam mo Pinky, unang-una, pareho din iyong kaso ni Ombudsman Chit Morales. We cannot question the authority, the right of a country to stop or to investigate any guest or visitor wanting to enter that particular country. That’s their exclusive domain.

Now, whether or not a person is a security risk to them is for them to determine not us or not the country where that person or guest do belong. Now, with respect to Albert Del Rosario, I cannot also understand the good Ambassador, why he knew from the very start that the Hong Kong authorities have “detained” former Ombudsman Morales. Of course, we can only speculate that it could have been in relation to the case filed against China. But having said that, because if I were Del Rosario, I would have not gone to Hong Kong because  I would be—I’m sure, I would have anticipated, that I would be going to the same ordeal like the former Ombudsman did. Now why did he go there? That’s my question to him.

WEBB:  That’s the question—

SEC. PANELO:  Is it deliberate on his part, so that he will have the same situation where he can use it as a forum for his advocacy?

WEBB:  So, parang—ang tanong n’yo po, Secretary Sal: Posible bang sinadya ito – is that what you are saying to be clear – ni dating—

SEC. PANELO:  No, I’m not saying na sinadya. I’m asking him: sinadya mo ba iyan? Kasi alam mo na nga na nagre-react, eh bakit ka pa pupunta roon.

WEBB:  No, iyon pong ginamit kong tanong sir: possible bang sinadya? Iyon po ang tinanong ko sa inyo: Posible bang sinadya ni Sec. Albert Del Rosario? Tama ho ba iyon?

SEC. PANELO:  Well, if you’re question is: Puwede bang sinadya? In other words, you are talking about possibilities, possibilities are limitless. Kaya nga ako nagtatanong na ako sa kanya: Eh, alam mo naman na nagre-react na, alam mo namang pareho kayong sitwasyon, bakit ka pa pupunta doon, di ba?

WEBB:  Sec. Sal, let me bring this up, because iyong kanilang—

SEC. PANELO:  Pinky, sandali ha. If I were Mr. Del Rosario, I would have written the Hong Kong authorities that I intend to go there: Do you have any objection, hindi ba?

WEBB:  Iyon na nga po, sir—

SEC. PANELO:  Dapat ganoon ang ginawa niya.

WEBB:  Actually, sir that’s what I was going to tell you, because we just spoke to his lawyer, si Atty. Anne Marie Corominas. I am not sure if you heard it, Secretary Sal. Pero ang sinabi nga niya po, that he is holding, number one, a diplomatic passport and in fact he informed Philippine officials about his intent to go to Hong Kong bringing this Philippine passport. Kaya ang tanong po ni Atty. Anne Marie Corominas was sinabihan na nga po ang Pilipinas, kung may problema daw, sana daw nasabihan si Secretary Albert para alam niya na magkakaproblema siya sa pagdating niya sa Hong Kong.

SEC. PANELO:  In other words, sinisisi niya ang gobyerno dahil nagsabi sila sa Philippine Foreign Affairs na pupunta sila roon.

WEBB:  The government was informed—

SEC. PANELO:  Eh bakit hindi niya pinalow-up kung ano ang nangyari doon sa kanyang information. In other words nag-aantay siya kung ano ang response ng ating gobyerno.

O eh ang tanong ko naman: eh kung wala pang response, hindi ibig sabihin okay ka nang pumunta. Eh dapat, you should have the initiative to go to the Department of Foreign Affairs and ask from them kung ano ang nangyari doon sa request.

Pangalawa, ako I will not limit myself with the Department of Foreign Affairs, I will write directly the Hong Kong authorities considering that there was a situation before, hindi ba. Dapat ganoon ang mga galaw ng isang responsableng dating opisyal ng gobyerno.

WEBB:  But, iyong paghawak po ba, kapag hawak-hawak mo ang isang diplomatic passport, Secretary at ang sabi ho kasi nila, dapat kapag ganito maiiwasan iyong mga ganitong klaseng proseso ng pagpigil, number one; o pag-kuwestyon sa kanya. What do you say to that, sir?

SEC. PANELO:  Hindi, alam mo kahit na may diplomatic passport ka, pag sinabi ng isang bansa na you are a security risk, wala iyong mga diploma-diplomatic passport na iyan. Di ba? Hindi naman natin na maku-kuwestyun iyong kanilang… sila ang nagde-decide kung ano ang security risk. But actually hindi natin alam kung bakit siya hininto, we can only speculate. That is an educated guest, kung totoo man o hindi, hindi natin alam.

But what I know is karapatan nila iyon, may kapangyarihan sila tanungin ang mga gustong pumasok sa kanila.

WEBB:  Last question, Secretary. Dapat po bang tulungan ng Philippine government si dating Secretary Albert Del Rosario?

SEC. PANELO:  Oh, hindi ba nandoon na nga iyong Consul General. I think he is being attended to; ganundin ang ginawa natin kay Ombudsman Morales at that time. Wala namang question doon, we even will help anybody in need of help in other countries and as far as we are concerned, mga kababayan natin iyan.

WEBB:  Pero dapat ho bang—follow up lang, sir ha. Dapat ho bang kuwestyunin ng Philippine government ang ginagawa ngayon kay Secretary Albert Del Rosario, ang kanyang pag-hold sa airport? Should we protest this?

SEC. PANELO:  Gaya nga ng sinabi ko, wala tayong kapangyarihan tanungin kung bakit nila ginaganun iyong—kanila iyon, pareho din natin iyan. Hindi ba pag may pumasok sa atin at ayaw natin ang isang tao for whatever reason, under the law na hindi pupuwede, wala ring makakapakialam sa atin.

WEBB:  Iyong sinasabi pong they can deny entry, hindi ho ba?

SEC. PANELO:  Of course!

WEBB:  Kung saan mang bansa.

SEC. PANELO:  That is absolute. That’s absolute authority for a particular country to deny entry to their country.

WEBB:  Maraming salamat po sa inyo, Presidential Spokesperson Sal Panelo. Thank you, sir.


SOURCE: PCOO-NIB (News and Information Bureau)