Interview

Interview with Presidential Spokesperson and Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo by Christian Esguerra (Early Edition-ANC)

ESGUERRA: It’s over, the impasse, the budget impasse. But of course, basically, it’s seen as the Senate blinking and giving in to what the House wanted in the first place. Now the ball is in the hands of the President—

SEC. PANELO: Not really blinking because there are reservations.

ESGUERRA: Yeah, there are reservations just to end the budget impasse. So will the President veto the supposedly unconstitutional provisions mentioned by Senate President Sotto?

SEC. PANELO: You know, when you say ‘unconstitutional provisions’ that is the opinion of the one expressing it. It doesn’t mean that it is unconstitutional; that is an opinion or legal opinion at that. So the President, like a lawyer that he is, will be evaluating the budget, scrutinize every provision and then decide whether or not as claimed by some, certain portions are unconstitutional.

ESGUERRA: How long will, you think, it take the Palace to actually make a decision on this before it signs this budget bill?

SEC. PANELO: I’m sure soon enough, a few days.

ESGUERRA: In a few days?

SEC. PANELO: I think so.

ESGUERRA: So within the week, this will be signed by the President?

SEC. PANELO: Hopefully. But given the schedule of the President, baka hindi makayang within a week.

ESGUERRA: But what do you think of those realignments? Because basically the debate is that the product of the bicam was somehow altered by the House of Representatives by trying to break down the supposedly lump sum provisions in the budget.

SEC. PANELO: Actually, I haven’t seen the budget eh that’s why I cannot even give an intelligent response to your question. I need to examine the budget.

ESGUERRA: But on principle, can members of Congress do that? It has been settled at the bicam and then when you return the bill to either House, basically, can a congressman or member of the House or a senator make refinements or changes?

SEC. PANELO: Well, the House says that there is nothing wrong with that.

ESGUERRA: What do you think as Chief Presidential Legal Counsel?

SEC. PANELO: If it passes through plenary session again, any amendment from the bicam, that would be okay.

ESGUERRA: That can be done? Is that part of the budget process?

SEC. PANELO: In other words, bicameral committee, you know, you have a product of the bicam and then the House decides to alter it and then there is a plenary session,  then I think that would be okay. Because the one submitted to the bicam was passed by the House in the plenary session. So if they will return back what they have passed and change it and then the plenary session again approve it, mukhang walang problema doon kasi—

ESGUERRA: So what’s the use of having a bicam when supposedly it was supposed to reconcile the conflicting provisions when, if you return the version passed by or approved by the bicam, you could still change it?

SEC. PANELO: ‘Yan ang problema ng dalawang Houses na ‘yan, that’s why they have to settle, and they settled naman.

ESGUERRA: Hindi, I’m asking for the opinion of the Palace, is that even allowed, because there’s concern that this might set a dangerous precedent in the future?

SEC. PANELO: That’s why there is a mechanism of the power of the President to exercise line veto.

ESGUERRA: Personally, how did the President feel about this long impasse regarding the budget because there’s also the impression that this reflects on the leadership of the President if both Houses could not even agree on the President’s budget? This is the President’s budget.

SEC. PANELO: You know, the President, as a matter of policy, does not interfere; and that’s the Constitutional duty of both Houses – to pass the budget.

ESGUERRA: But that particular deadlock or impasse also had an effect on his own programs, his own administration’s programs.

SEC. PANELO: Yes, but as the economic manager said, we are ready for that whatever outcome, whether there will be a reenactment budget or a new budget – so ready pa rin. But the President will never interfere with them. Ever since ganiyan naman ang style niya eh.

ESGUERRA: But next time, would the President be more involved in terms of resolving similar issues like this in the future to prevent a longer impasse because—

SEC. PANELO: You must remember that he did something about that.

ESGUERRA: But it was not resolved then during that meeting.

SEC. PANELO: Kaya nga sabi niya, you solve that yourselves. Eh kayo ang gumagawa ng problema eh.

ESGUERRA: So the hope is that this will be finished within the week?

SEC. PANELO: Hopefully.

ESGUERRA: Okay. Now, let’s go to the other issue, the Chico River Pump Irrigation Project. So you made a lot of controversial comments, and you were actually disputed by Senior Supreme Court Associate Justice Antonio Carpio.

SEC. PANELO: Yeah, with respect to the … my comment that before a public property can be converted to patrimonial property, there should be a law – wala namang nabago doon. Sabi niya, mayroon na ngang batas eh. But even mayroon na ngang batas – I agree with him na mayroong batas – but it doesn’t alter the situation.

ESGUERRA: But what he said was that, a 1972 law already converted oil and gas in the Recto Bank into patrimonial assets.

SEC. PANELO: Exactly. Even nga … and I agree na mayroon nga, it doesn’t alter the situation—

ESGUERRA: So you stand corrected?

SEC. PANELO: No, wala naman akong sinabing wala eh. Ang sinabi ko—

ESGUERRA: Hindi, what you said was, you would need a law to convert oil and gas on Recto Bank.

SEC. PANELO: But that is the correct ruling of Justice Carpio. I didn’t say na mayroon o wala. Sinabi ko lang na there’s a ruling by Carpio on Chavez vs. PEA. But even – even nga na mayroon nga – mayroon na nga as he said and I agree, mayroon – pero it does not alter the situation – iyong sinasabi ko. Why?

ESGUERRA: What situation are you talking about?

SEC. PANELO: Oh di ba sabi ko, there is nothing wrong with that.

ESGUERRA: With converting or using those resources as collateral?

SEC. PANELO: First—teka muna, there’s a loan agreement, ‘di ba, nangungutang tayo? In the bank, when you loan, the bank will impose certain conditions kung minsan onerous because they want to secure na mabayaran natin ang loan.

Kaya iyong sinasabi ng critic: ‘eh bakit onerous?’ Eh nangungutang tayo eh. Alangan naman tayo ang pabor, eh di hindi tayo pauutangan niyan—teka muna, patapusin mo ako.

ESGUERRA: Wait, ano lang, I won’t let you go on that particular point. So you are admitting that the loan agreement is onerous?

SEC. PANELO: Hindi, iyon na nga—eh sila nga ang nagsasabi na onerous eh.

ESGUERRA: But you’re comparing that to a bank loan which could be onerous. So in this case, are you saying that this is also onerous?

SEC. PANELO: Assuming na onerous nga, kasi the critics are saying na onerous—

ESGUERRA: But what do you think? Is this onerous or not?

SEC. PANELO: Given the situation, mukha namang hindi. Why? Number one, unang-una, iyong interest rate [ay] mababa, tapos inflexible pa – you cannot change it. Twenty years, two percent pa rin.

Number two, may mga safeguards eh. Like iyong sinasabi nila, ‘Eh bakit ka pumasok sa … there’s an immunity waiver?’ Unang-una, the state cannot be sued, right, unless, it consents or enters into a contract. Eh pumasok nga tayo sa kontrata so that means winaive [waived] talaga natin kasi iyon din ang doktrina – kapag pumasok ka sa kontrata, you waived your immunity.

Now, ano ba iyong sinasabi doon? Nakalagay doon, patrimonial property. At sinasabi ni Justice Carpio, and I agree, na may patrimonial property na nga iyong sa Reed Bank. Pero ano bang problema natin doon? As pointed out by my son, lawyer, “Teka muna, Dad,” sabi niya, “eh babayaran natin iyon.” Halimbawa nag-default tayo, babayaran natin, ano bang problema na iyong natural gas na supposed to be i-exploit iyon ng contractor, iyong – ano bang pangalan noon? Forum, something, Energy — kapag in-exploit mo iyon, ibebenta mo iyon, right, para magkaroon ng share ang gobyerno.

ESGUERRA: To generate revenue?

SEC. PANELO: Exactly. Oh eh may utang tayo, nag-default tayo, hindi ba dapat bayaran natin iyong utang natin, kukunin natin doon. Ano bang kaibahan noon?

ESGUERRA: But first let’s settle this: So you agree that oil and gas at Recto Bank is used as collateral in this particular loan agreement?

SEC. PANELO: Wala. Walang collateral, hindi naman collateral iyon. Wala ngang collateral, kaya lang, kapag nagkaroon ng arbitral ruling, halimbawa nagkaroon ng arbitration—

ESGUERRA: In Beijing.

SEC. PANELO: In Beijing—pupuntahan ko rin iyon. Assuming na mayroon nga, ‘di siyempre parang dinemanda ka sa hukuman natin dito, kapag nanalo ka, you will attach certain properties to satisfy your debt. But iyong assuming na nag-default, assuming na mayroon tayong utang, iyong kukunin nating equivalent sa utang natin doon sa product na in-exploit, na binenta, kasi … kaya nga mayroong contractor, kukunin iyong natural gas and oil. Ibebenta iyon para magkaroon ng pera—

ESGUERRA: Para mabayaran siya, iyong assuming—

SEC. PANELO: Hindi lang iyon, para may income ang gobyerno. So iyong parteng income na iyon, galing doon sa natural gas. Oh hindi ba pareho rin iyon? Ano bang kaibahan noon? Ibabayad din natin iyong perang galing doon, sa utang natin.

ESGUERRA: But is that   even constitutional to basically use natural resources such as this as collateral in a loan?

SEC. PANELO: Hindi nga eh, sinasabi nga, as Carpio says, patrimonial na nga iyon eh.

ESGUERRA: So because of the law in 1972?

SEC. PANELO: Because of the law. Kaya nga, ano ngayon ang … bakit tayo—

ESGUERRA: (Unclear) also of the opinion that can you even do that under the Constitution, natural resources use as collateral when supposedly they are inalienable?

SEC. PANELO: Hindi naman nga … there’s no collateral nga doon sa loan eh. Ang sinasabi lang, puwedeng iyong utang mo ay kukunin mo doon sa pinanggalingan ng … iyong natural gas na kinuha mo sa lupa, na binenta mo, na may share ang gobyerno, iyon ang kukunin mo bilang kabayaran sa utang mo.

ESGUERRA: Now, you also made mention of … you also said that the waiver of immunity over these patrimonial assets ‘a standard practice’, really?

 SEC. PANELO: Eh kasi nga—

ESGUERRA: In all loan agreements?

SEC. PANELO: Teka muna, the rule is the state cannot be sued, unless it consents and if it enters into a contract. So automatically, talagang magwi-waive ka, pumasok ka sa kontrata eh.

ESGUERRA: But how about other loan agreements with other countries, I think, like Korea or Japan, this does not necessarily include the use of natural resources as collateral? Bakit sa China mayroon? So papaano ninyo nasabi na that is standard?

SEC. PANELO: Alam mo, kagaya ng sinabi ko, the economic managers – I’m just thinking along this line – that they knew from the very start that our country will never default. We have a rich history of paying the nuclear plant, magkano ba ang utang natin doon? Two point six billion dollars ($2.6 billion)..?

ESGUERRA: But it took us so long.

SEC. PANELO: But we paid, iyon nga ang point ko eh; ito magkano ba ito? Sixty-two million dollars ($62 million), magkano lang ba iyon – two point six billion pesos (P2.6 billion)?

ESGUERRA: At least, P3.2 billion.

SEC. PANELO: All right, magkano ba iyan in a year, siguro mga hundred sixty something? Parang lumalabas niyan monthly – 13 million, in other words, Christian—

ESGUERRA: Masyadong mura, kayang bayaran?

SEC. PANELO: Teka muna—hindi, kapag may utang tayo, nasa budget mo iyan eh. Every year nakalagay na diyan so sa madali’t sabi, hindi ka magde-default kasi palaging kasama sa budget iyan.

ESGUERRA: Now, if that is the argument, so why use this particular oil and gas at Reed Bank as among those that can be used as collateral kung kaya naman palang bayaran eh?

SEC. PANELO: Exactly, iyon nga ang point ko. Kaya sila pumasok diyan, it doesn’t matter to them siguro. Anyway, hindi naman mangyayari iyan. Iyon nga ang sinasabi ko.

ESGUERRA: But another way of looking at it: why even use it as collateral?

SEC. PANELO: Eh kung iyon ang ini-impose siguro ng nagle-lender.

ESGUERRA: Would that make it onerous now?

SEC. PANELO: Which one?

ESGUERRA: This particular loan agreement?

SEC. PANELO: Hindi rin. You know why? Gaya ng sinabi ko, ano ba ang kaibahan ng natural gas saka iyong inilabas mo, ibinenta mo at binigyan mo ng share ang gobyerno, at iyong kung may utang ka, iyong creditor, kukunin iyong share ng gobyerno?

ESGUERRA: I think there’s also a problem with comparing this particular—important … much more important loan agreement between the Philippines and China with simple bank financing. It’s not as simple as that.

SEC. PANELO: At saka isa pa nga pala before I forget, doon sa—

ESGUERRA: But you have to answer that.

SEC. PANELO: Which one?

ESGUERRA: The one I just said.

SEC. PANELO: Ano sabi mo?

ESGUERRA: A lot of people see a lot of issues or concern with the fact that you were comparing this very important loan agreement between the Philippines and China with a simple bank financing – iyong mangungutang ka lang.

SEC. PANELO: Siyempre, bakit naman hindi mo iku-compare, nangungutang ka namang talaga eh. Siyempre, iyong lender will always make sure that you’re going to pay me, otherwise, why should I be lending you eh di kinuha mo lang ang pera.

ESGUERRA: Pangalawa, of course, you also need to consider the financial situation of the one borrowing.

SEC. PANELO: Exactly, kaya nga nagpapahiram sila eh dahil alam nila we can pay eh.

ESGUERRA: Hindi, in this case kasi, the sense that some people are getting or a lot of people are getting from the way you have been responding to this issue is that parang you’re siding more with China.

SEC. PANELO: No. Tingnan mo ha, isa pa, tingnan mo iyong agreement, may arbitration, right? Sinasabi nila, talo kaagad! Eh unang-una, hindi naman kaagad papasok sa arbitration. The agreement says there will be negotiation if you default, mayroon pa ngang extension eh – seven years.

ESGUERRA: The grace period.

SEC. PANELO: Oo, may grace period. Assuming na nag-fail ang negotiation, eh di mayroong arbitration. Sabi nila, dalawang Chinese ang arbitrator – eh natural, sila ang lender eh! But assuming na nanalo nga sila, Christian, under the agreement, enforceable iyon sa Pilipinas. You’ll have to validate the arbitral award in our courts.

ESGUERRA: Even if the arbitration is in Beijing, following Chinese law?

SEC. PANELO: Yeah. Tingnan mo ha, isa pa mayroong nakalagay doon na iyong arbitral award ay magiging enforceable lang provided: one, walang collusion; number two, walang fraud; number three, it’s not against public policy sa ating bansa.

ESGUERRA: So that is one of the safeguards. Pero this is also another concern: Why would you even make use of that or allowed that to be used as collateral in a loan—

SEC. PANELO: Hindi. Teka muna, hindi naman ginawang collateral eh.

ESGUERRA: That’s your position.

SEC. PANELO: No, no, hindi collateral iyon. Akala ko nga collateral kasi, ang sabi nila may collateral so I assume na totoo. But the agreement, wala namang collateral. Puwede lang, they can go to your property to pay your debts na hindi mo nabayaran.

ESGUERRA: Oo, sige, that’s your position. But I think the issue is that, iyon nga, the idea that this is being used as collateral in a loan with China which is also having this … is trying to get pieces of our territory, doon mo nakikita iyong natural conflict eh. So parang you’re giving away a portion of your resources under that condition if, of course, default happens; and you’re dealing with someone like China.

SEC. PANELO: Hindi eh. Kasi—ulitin natin ha, nanalo ka sa award, you have to pay that award. Where will you get the money?

ESGUERRA: Sinasabi doon, sa ano …

SEC. PANELO: Iyong pinagkunan ng gas na binenta mo na nagkaroon ng share ang gobyerno. So ano bang problema doon, ‘di ba? May problema ba doon?

Kasi iyong natural gas, you’ll have to get that from the soil. Tapos you’ll have to sell that para iyong profit, magshi-share kayo ng gobyerno. Eh doon mo nga kukunin eh.

ESGUERRA: Okay.

SEC. PANELO: Teka muna, isa pa. Maganda iyong point ni Paolo – ng anak kong abogado – sabi niya: “Dad, teka muna, alam mo parang pinalalabas ay unpatriotic ka.” Pero ano bang ginagawa ni Justice Carpio? Eh siya ang lumalabas na unpatriotic dito. Sorry, Tony ha. Junior brad ko iyan eh. Kasi, oo nga naman, sabi niya, parang tinuturuan niya pa ang Chinese; wala namang loopholes, binibigyan niya ng loopholes! Parang supposed to be Justice ka ng Supreme Court dapat protective ka sa ating interest. Eh parang kumakampi ka doon sa kabila – in a way—

ESGUERRA: But do you think the Chinese have not realized that, that they might just get their cue from Carpio?

SEC. PANELO: Sa tingin ko, sa tingin ko—

ESGUERRA: Do you think they’re not that smart?

SEC. PANELO: Christina, sa tingin ko iyong sinasabing portion na iyon, in-impose nila iyon. In-impose nila na, ‘Oh kailangan we can, like, attach your patrimonial property,’ iyon na nga iyon. Pero siguro naman iyong mga economic managers na pumasok: ‘sige, hindi naman mangyayari iyon,’ besides ano ngang kaibahan niyon? Iyon nga eh, you answer my question. Ano bang kaibahan niyon na nagkautang ka, babayaran mo kung may pera ka sa Treasury, at iyong gas na binenta mo at nagkaroon ng share ang gobyerno, doon mo kukunin?

ESGUERRA: I think before we even go to that particular point, I think the basic question is: Why even attached it in the first place? That is the basic issue.

SEC. PANELO: That is an imposition by the lender, and the borrower thinks na wala namang kaibahan doon sa, iyon na nga, kung ia-attach mo.

ESGUERRA: And that’s why some people see you as unpatriotic. Now let’s go to the other issue: Scarborough. The impression is that, the way you answered the concerns raised by the fishermen who were interviewed in that documentary by Neri Colmenares, to be honest, you sounded defeatist.

SEC. PANELO: No, kasi inilabas lang nila iyong portion. Unang-una, Mr. Colmenares, hindi ka naman nakikinig sa sinabi ko. Hindi ko sinabing show me proof. Ang sinabi ko, is that video recent one or iyong dati iyan? Kasi kung iyong dati iyan, nagawan na natin ng paraan iyan.

ESGUERRA: They said it’s Feb. 16.

SEC. PANELO: Ha?

ESGUERRA: Feb.16. And the one who actually, I think the one who produced it also made a statement on Facebook saying that was taken February 16.

SEC. PANELO: Kaya nga. Kaya nga sabi ko, kung recent iyan, then we will have to protest. Iyon ang hindi nila nilalabas eh.

ESGUERRA: So what are you going to do now? Are you going to protest?

SEC. PANELO: Oh, definitely. ‘Di ba sabi ko, we will not allow fishermen to be harassed.

ESGUERRA: Have you actually filed a diplomatic protest because of this?

SEC. PANELO: That’s for the DFA. I will not preempt Secretary Locsin.

ESGUERRA: But the DFA will do that?

SEC. PANELO: Definitely.

ESGUERRA: Baka naman kayo lang ang nagsasabi niyan, but the DFA won’t do that.

SEC. PANELO: Bakit naman hindi. ‘Di ba sabi ni Secretary Alan, nagpuprotesta tayo but we don’t publish it.

ESGUERRA: Well, I think, that was also debatable before because you said, there are different ways, different forms of making the other country know these things that are happening.

SEC. PANELO: Basta the policy, Christian, we will not allow our fishermen, our countrymen to be harassed by any foreign entity or country.

ESGUERRA: But they are already being harassed. So I think aside from the diplomatic protest, what else can the Philippines do to safeguard the livelihood of these fishermen? In more concrete terms, what can you do?

SEC. PANELO: Eh ako, kung ako ang tatanungin mo, I think we should go back to the negotiating table; siguro tingnan din natin iyong mga trade agreements natin. Eh kung inaapi ninyo kami, teka muna, mukha yatang tingnan muna natin uli iyong mga agreements natin.

ESGUERRA: Actually, there’s already an ongoing bilateral mechanism between the Philippines and China. So the concern is that, why it seems it isn’t working in this particular case? Because you have been saying that the situation on the ground, on Scarborough, has drastically changed since President Rodrigo Duterte assumed office. So, sinasabi ninyo that, basically, our fishermen were allowed into the area already, but it seems that they are not!

SEC. PANELO: Ang problema doon sa … iba-iba kasi ang mga ano … mayroon akong nakita na ini-interview sa istasyon ninyo na hindi naman daw sila iniistorbo. Pero mayroon namang video na iniistorbo sila. Sasabihin naman ng Coast Guard, hindi totoo.

So kung totoo, and since sinabi mo February 16 eh di ibig sabihin recent iyon, ay hindi pupuwede sa atin iyon. And I think, I will suggest to the President, even if not suggesting, him I think, he will raise that as an issue during the visit.

ESGUERRA: In China.

SEC. PANELO: Yeah.

ESGUERRA: Really?

SEC. PANELO: I think so. Eh si Presidente, nire-raise kaagad iyong mga ganoon eh, but hindi iyong para kang nagwawala o ano.

ESGUERRA: The impression is that—

SEC. PANELO: Swabe iyan mag-ano eh.

ESGUERRA: Hindi, statements like those that you have just said seem to be the product of mere lip service. Para bang you just say these things just to placate certain people.

SEC. PANELO: No.

ESGUERRA: But in reality, the government is not actually doing anything about it.

SEC. PANELO: You must remember that prior to this, noong hindi pa nagkakaroon ng magandang relasyon ang China, talagang tinataboy iyong mga fishermen natin. And then noon nagkaroon ng usapan, medyo naging cordial na iyong relasyon, hindi na sila tinataboy.

ESGUERRA: But you also admitted in that press conference that the area is controlled by China.

SEC. PANELO: Eh mukhang hindi naman natin kontrolado dahil wala naman tayong puwersa doon.

ESGUERRA: So that already also is an acknowledgment, because that also has a lot of implications—

SEC. PANELO: But it doesn’t mean na wala tayong magagawa. Kahit kontrolado na nila, as you said and other critics, we can do something other than going to war.

ESGUERRA: Iyon nga eh, why do you keep talking about that dichotomy that if we raise issues with or against China, the other option is going to war? It’s not as simple as that!

SEC. PANELO: But that’s the line of the President, and he feels very strongly about that.

ESGUERRA: But is that correct?

SEC. PANELO: Bakit naman hindi. Eh kung nagkaroon nga naman ng gulo doon, sino bang maaapektuhan, hindi ba tayo?

ESGUERRA: But look at Vietnam and China, they’re not necessarily clashing lately. Of course, there was a history of clashes between them, but they could be more assertive without actually going to war with China!

SEC. PANELO: How are they being assertive?

ESGUERRA: They’re calling out all these incursions by China, etc., etc., but they have maintained these economic relations with China. But they’re not exactly quiet with what is happening in Spratlys, in the Paracel, for example.

SEC. PANELO: But we’re not quiet naman eh. We’re not quiet.

ESGUERRA: Hindi, let’s go back to the … why do you always use that war argument?

SEC. PANELO: As I said, the President feels strongly na baka iyon ang gagawin – iyon ang kaniyang feeling eh. He is very protective of his countrymen. Ayaw niya na kapag nagkaroon ng digmaan, iyong mga kababayan natin ang tatamaan. Eh tayo ang pinakamalapit eh.

ESGUERRA: Well, this is the same President who said during the campaign that he would ride a—anong tawag doon – ski? And then going to the island and plant the Philippine flag there – motorski!

SEC. PANELO: Puwede na niyang gawin uli iyon.

ESGUERRA: It turned out it was a joke. That’s a point eh. A lot of people saw a lot of problem with that acknowledgement from you, saying that it’s effectively controlled by China.

SEC. PANELO: In a way, yes. But it doesn’t mean that they can do whatever they want.

ESGUERRA: Aren’t they doing that already, whatever they want? Because the fact that Filipino fishermen need to get their permission to actually fish in an area that has been determined to be traditional fishing grounds based on the ruling that we won.

SEC. PANELO: If that is nga the present situation which is different from previous ones that has already been agreed upon between the two countries, then that is a very serious thing to be concerned of, and that should be raised in any bilateral meeting between the two countries.

ESGUERRA: Final issue. Let’s talk about Michael Yang. You said that he is no longer an economic adviser of President Rodrigo Duterte. But what really happened to that report that was supposedly transmitted to different agencies and supposedly submitted to Malacañang by Eduardo Acierto?

SEC. PANELO: He is saying that he submitted pero I do not know whether that has been submitted to Malacañang. But it appears now that this Michael Yang is different from the Michael Yang na sinasabi ni Acierto.

Narinig ko si Director Aquino, sinasabi niya na mukhang hindi. Kasi there is no adverse, any adverse statement or lumalabas na report regarding the adviser.

ESGUERRA: So this Michael Yang, the adviser, was clean?

SEC. PANELO: Eh parang iyon ang lumalabas sa statement ni Director Aquino. Moreover, tama iyong sinasabi ni PNP Chief, na kung totoo iyong sinasabi mo, why didn’t you arrest or file charges against this Michael Yang, whoever he is? And hindi naman niya ginawa.

ESGUERRA: How about the other Michael yang, what happened to him, iyong kapangalan?

SEC. PANELO: Hindi nga malaman eh, mamaya tanungin mo si Director Aquino, guest mo.

ESGUERRA: yeah, he is our guest in the next program – na may plug-in pa tayo ano. Hindi, pero iyon nga, why do you think Eduardo Acierto decided to come out today, iyong the timing of it because you are trying to assail his credibility ‘di ba? Pero let’s try to get the sense of the motive here. Why do you think he decided to come out?

SEC. PANELO: Eh hindi ba na-dismiss siya, may mga kaso siya. Hindi nga siya … he didn’t even appear sa House probe, bakit? Siguro gigisahin siya doon, lalabas ang katotohanan. Why did he not appear there?

ESGUERRA: He said, I think, he also feared for his life then, until now.

SEC. PANELO: For somebody who fears his life, eh napakalakas ng loob niya na magsasalita. And one who fears his life will hide, will not make any statement – tatago na lang.

ESGUERRA: Finally, the acknowledgement by the President that it seems the problem is getting worse despite all these efforts, do you think there’s a problem somewhere especially in terms of approach? Why this is the situation?

SEC. PANELO: Puwede ring gumagaling iyong mga kalaban na nakakapasok dito. What is important is that Director Aquino says nahuhuli natin. Can you imagine kung hindi natin mahuli? The fact alone na na-stop natin is definitely a success.

ESGUERRA: But why do you think these people are not feeling afraid?

SEC. PANELO: Money, easy money.

ESGUERRA: Despite all these efforts by the government.

SEC. PANELO: Bilyun-bilyon ang involved dito, Christian. Money, they risk lives because of that. Malaking pera eh!

ESGUERRA: Okay. That’s all. Thank you very much, Secretary Salvador Panelo, for joining us.

SEC. PANELO: Thank you.

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Source: PCOO-NIB (News and Information Bureau-Data Processing Center)

 

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