Interview

Interview with Presidential Spokesperson and Presidential Legal Counsel Secretary Salvador Panelo by Cherie Mercado (The Source – CNN Philippines)

MERCADO: Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo, good morning.

SEC. PANELO: Good morning, Cherie.

MERCADO: So how are you now?

SEC. PANELO: I’m okay. I’m okay, as always.

MERCADO: As a more active role, as a spokesperson?

SEC. PANELO: It’s the same. I’ve been doing that ever since, even during the campaign.

MERCADO: Sabi mo nga, that’s what you signed up for – you’re really spokesperson.

SEC. PANELO: Yes.

MERCADO: And then what happened? How come it was delegated to Attorney Roque?

SEC. PANELO: No, I think—nobody knew about it. Even I, I didn’t know until I saw the Executive Order.

MERCADO: That he was the one who was Presidential Spokesperson?

SEC. PANELO: No, I said, the Executive Order—kasi itong posisyon ng Chief Presidential Legal Counsel, nag-evolve eh. Dati ang assistant parang Usec lang. And then, in the time of President Cory, in-amend niya iyong Executive Order; ginawa niyang secretary level, Cabinet member level. And then, nakita ko iyong isang provision doon, siya rin ang spokesperson ng Presidente. This was the time of Teddy Boy Locsin. When he was the Chief Presidential Legal Counsel, at the same time as spokesperson.

MERCADO: Okay, of Cory. Okay, so now you are taking on the two full roles. But what happened? We were interested with what happened to Secretary Roque. In the first place, was he ever part of the administration’s consideration for senators?

SEC. PANELO: I think so. I think ever since—the impression was that he was part.

MERCADO: So anong nangyari? Nagbago ba iyong isip ng Pangulo na hindi na siya isama sa senatorial slate?

SEC. PANELO: Mukha namang hindi eh. Ang naging problema yata kay Sec. Harry, naging ambivalent siya, hindi mo malaman kung tatakbo o hindi. Tapos nag-file siya ng leave so there was a vacuum, so the President had to fill it up. Parang ganoon lang ang nangyari.

MERCADO: Kasi parang lumabas nga medyo nagtampo or iyon ang naging impression na medyo may tampo si Secretary Roque dahil hindi raw niya nalalaman iyong schedule ng Pangulo. And as spokesperson, nung sinabi niya na … about the health ‘no, when he went to Cardinal Santos Hospital.

SEC. PANELO: Sabi nga ni Presidente, hindi naman kailangan sabihin sa’yo lahat. Pero hindi naman siya nagtampo, sinabi niya sa news briefing namin kahapon.

MERCADO: Na hindi naman siya nagtampo. The President, nagtampo ba siya kay Secretary Roque?

SEC. PANELO: Mukhang hindi, there was no sign na nagtampo siya.

MERCADO: Noong sinabi kasi ni Presidente na ano … sabi ni Presidente, parang nalito siya ‘no whether Harry was running or not; what his intention was.

SEC. PANELO: Eh magkakaroon ng vacuum kasi nag-leave pa siya at the same time, kaya siguro finil-up-an (filled up) na niya.

MERCADO: And ano iyong nangyari doon sa last talk? Sabi ni Secretary Roque kahapon, nag-usap daw sila ng Pangulo and he took his advice na Congress na lang.

SEC. PANELO: Siguro nga kasi iyong survey parang malayo siya, baka hindi abutin pagdating ng eleksyon; and I think that’s practical. And Secretary Roque, when I was talking to him, he really wants to be a senator or a member of Congress again.

MERCADO: And he said nga, he was clear about that since he entered—

SEC. PANELO: Talagang gusto niya naman from the very start.

MERCADO: At this point, let’s just listen to what Secretary Roque said yesterday in the briefing where you were also there.

[AUDIO CLIP]

MERCADO: So ano ang reaksiyon mo doon, he’s going to be his own person now? As a Presidential Spokesperson, parang you don’t have your own personality.

SEC. PANELO: I don’t know. Kasi ako, as a spokesperson, ganoon pa rin ako; hindi naman ako nagbago.

MERCADO: So what do you think of what he said na—kasi he also became a little bit more vocal. Sabi nga niya, nahirapan siyang ipagtanggol iyong kiss ni Pangulo sa Korea.

SEC. PANELO: Depende kasi eh, iyon ang kaniyang personality. Sa akin, ang tingin ko doon sa kiss, wala. Sabi nga ng asawa ko, halik ng lolo.

MERCADO: Yeah, you did say that when you were interviewed before.

SEC. PANELO: Kanina nga, I was talking with Doktora Panelo eh. Kasi ‘di ba, flinash na naman kanina eh. Sabi niya, look at their faces, nothing romantic, nothing passionate. Ano lang, parang nakakatawa nga in toto.

MERCADO: So now that you’re the Spokesperson, how do you think you’ll embody yourself? Is it going to be … kailan papasok iyong sarili mong thoughts and kailan papasok iyong talagang I’m just here to speak kung ano ang sinasabi ng Pangulo?

SEC. PANELO: Let me quote Tony Lopez about me and the President. Sabi niya, “These two have mind melt.” And the reason why the President chose me for the first time—di ba ako ang unang Cabinet member niya? When he was asked, bakit si Sal Panelo ang spokesman mo? I’ll quote him, exact words, “Sal expresses my thoughts in the manner I want it.” And the First Lady, Honeylet, nag-text sa akin last week yata about … nabasa niya iyong mga statements ko. Sabi niya, “You always read the thoughts and the ideas of the President accurately.” Kasi we’ve been friends for 30 years, so I know the man.

MERCADO: So hindi ka na mahihirapan na sabihin because you think alike.

SEC. PANELO: Hindi, kasi nagma-mind melt nga kami. We believe in the same ideology. We’re both lawyers. We were both activists. Pareho kami… para kaming ano, we’re outraged by any violation of law. Ganoon, pareho ang ugali namin.

MERCADO: How would you rate Secretary Roque as a spokesperson?

SEC. PANELO: I think he served well the President.

MERCADO: Punta naman tayo kay SAP Bong Go, Special Assistant to the President.

SEC. PANELO: I think he will win.

MERCADO: Sorry?

SEC. PANELO: Overwhelmingly. I think he will win overwhelmingly.

MERCADO: Especially the President going there. Anong ibig sabihin noon?

SEC. PANELO: Kasi ‘di ba, if you notice, iyong mga sumasama sa mga kandidato, iyong mga close sa kanila, either wife or husband. Eh si Bong, wala namang … ang layo ng Davao kaya siguro hindi niya maisama ang asawa niya. And the President is close to him and vice versa so tama lang na sinamahan siya.

MERCADO: Ang lakas ng kasama niya sa filing ng kaniyang candidacy. Of course, may mga nag-react na parang, “Oh, ngayon pa lang…” pinaalis daw iyong media. You know, dapat daw apat lang ang kasama, eh sila marami.

SEC. PANELO: Hindi naman. Kasi security eh, si Presidente naman Presidente ‘di ba. Iyong PSG, hindi mo maano iyan, siyempre security ng Presidente.

MERCADO: Pero mawawalan si Presidente ng isang special assistant.

SEC. PANELO: I’m sure mayroon—‘di ba mayroon na yatang kapalit, iyong isang lady lawyer.

MERCADO: Sino po ang kapalit?

SEC. PANELO: I forgot the name. But there is already one. Nabasa ko na sa internet.

MERCADO: Si Pangulo ang—of course, he was the one who chose, from Davao.

SEC. PANELO: Kaibigan yata ni Presidente o kilala niya personal.

MERCADO: What about the … iyong kahapon, iyong niro-roll natin ngayon, pinapakita natin sa Comelec kahapon ‘no. What’s your reaction doon sa nagsasabing ‘using the government resources’?

SEC. PANELO: No, I don’t think. You know, Bong Go has so many supporters, also supporters of the President who helped him during the presidential campaign. They will be doing the same for Bong.

MERCADO: Bakit ang gusto ni Presidente, sa Senado si Bong Go? Bakit hindi sa Davao?

SEC. PANELO: He explained it. Sabi niya, I do not want to miss the opportunity for this man. There is an opening for him to reach higher heights or level/stature; pagbigyan ko, sayang naman.

MERCADO: Why the Senate?

SEC. PANELO: Siguro mayroon siyang mga iniisip na mga bills to help the citizenry.

MERCADO: He needs help.

SEC. PANELO: Oo.

MERCADO: Okay. What about—sinu-sino pang mga puwedeng pumasok sa Gabinete now? Kasi may reshuffle, may mga nag-aalisan.

SEC. PANELO: Hindi ko alam. Si Presidente kasi keeps his nominees to himself, ganoon siya eh. You can never know that until he announces it himself.

MERCADO: Si Bato Dela Rosa, General Bato is running.

SEC. PANELO: Running for the Senate.

MERCADO: ‘Di ba, for the Senate. So ang sabi ni Presidente, si Faeldon daw ang kaniyang ipapalit.

SEC. PANELO: In-announce na yata.

MERCADO: Oo. Pero according to Faeldon naman, hindi pa raw niya … hindi pa raw sila nag-uusap ng Pangulo. How does this go? Do we wait in the meantime? Is there a vacuum, how does that go?

SEC. PANELO: Hindi pa naman, I don’t—mayroon namang OIC, ‘di ba. Palagi namang may OIC sa ahensiya ng gobyerno.

MERCADO: Reporters saying that Davao City lawyer Charmalou Aldevera —

SEC. PANELO: Yeah, that’s the one.

MERCADO: She’s the one being eyed to replace Bong Go.

SEC. PANELO: Lawyer yata siya ng—I don’t know if I met her. The name is not familiar, baka the face.

MERCADO: Ano ang mga batayan ng Pangulo for choosing her?

SEC. PANELO: Siyempre, confidence – trust and confidence.

MERCADO: Sigurado na ba?

SEC. PANELO: I think so.

MERCADO: Kapag ganoon, kailan ang effectivity?

SEC. PANELO: Ia-announce ni Presidente iyon. The President will announce.

MERCADO: Kapag nag-file na sila ng candidacy, like for example, Bong Go—

SEC. PANELO: Automatic iyon.

MERCADO: So hindi na siya Special Assistant to the President?

SEC. PANELO: Automatic resigned from the employment.

MERCADO: Oo, hindi na SAP ang tawag natin sa kaniya. Former SAP Bong Go na. Ganoon ba iyon? Okay.

(off air)

MERCADO: Judge, iyong dina-downplay, ang sabi nila support to the judge.

SEC. PANELO: Support ba iyon? Tingin ko doon, iba eh, baka funeral flower.

MERCADO: Iyan ang sinasabi ni Secretary Guevarra.

SEC. PANELO: Tingin ko ganoon iyon.

MERCADO: Sinabi nila, alam natin ang ibig sabihin niyang pinadalhan ng bulaklak.

SEC. PANELO: Tinatakot siya. Soriano siya di ba, Judge Soriano?

MERCADO: Yes, Judge Soriano.

SEC. PANELO: Tiningnan iyong history ni Soriano kung sino ba siya.

MERCADO: You don’t know Judge Soriano?

SEC. PANELO: No.

(continuation of live interview)

MERCADO: So, ito na nga na-mention na natin iyong name ng puwedeng papalit kay SAP Bong Go is Atty. Charmalou Aldevera. Ang title niya SAP din?

SEC. PANELO: Oo, Special Assistant to the President

MERCADO: Okay and then, the case of Senator Trillanes. Anytime now inaasahan iyong desisyon and there are talks and there are insinuations na nape-pressure or pine-pressure itong si Judge Soriano.

SEC. PANELO: Apparently, because I hear from the news that he has been receiving flowers. Sa akin ang dating ng flowers, hindi well-wishing kung hindi baka death wishing.

MERCADO: May kaakibat na penalty iyong ganito?

SEC. PANELO: Which one?

MERCADO: Iyong ganitong klase, kasi parang nabanggit ni DOJ Secretary Guevarra kahapon na may kaparusahan itong ganitong klase ng aksyon, kapag nagbigay ka ng bulaklak, may ibig sabihin—

SEC. PANELO: Parang ine-intimidate mo eh. But the problem is hindi mo alam kung kanino galing. I don’t think the flower shop will tell you, di natatakot din iyong mga iyon.

MERCADO: And of course, the other camp is saying your camp is the one who is pressuring the judge.

SEC. PANELO: Out of character for this government. We do not, as a matter of policy, interfere with the function of any branch of government.

MERCADO: How confident are you from 1 to 10 that Judge Soriano will come out with a warrant?

SEC. PANELO: 12. No, because you know, the issue is very clear: Was he given amnesty or not; did he follow the conditions imposed by it? The documents show that, hindi eh. There are no documents to speak of. So, papano niya—how can he prove that. Kasi, very clear iyong batas eh – you have to submit a form under oath and then you will have to attach a narrative of your participation and the circumstances surrounding iyong participation mo sa rebellion or sa coup d’ etat. Wala iyon eh.

MERCADO: There is also a possibility if ever the judge does not issue a warrant, what is the next step. Ano ang puwedeng gawin ngayon ng DOJ?

SEC. PANELO: Eh di, they can always ask for a motion for reconsideration of that order.

MERCADO: There is another step for reconsideration until it happens. And this is of course non-bailable ‘no?

SEC. PANELO: Yes.

MERCADO: So, is that the future you are seeing, you are seeing Trillanes behind bars?

SEC. PANELO: It would appear so. As I said earlier on in this program, Mr. Trillanes has to face the music and dance either to freedom or back to jail.

MERCADO: And you are still—it’s concurrent, you are still Legal Adviser—

SEC. PANELO: Yes, Chief Presidential Legal Counsel.

MERCADO: Magtatayo ba ng Press Secretary Office?

SEC. PANELO: Hindi pa—alam mo iyong Office of the Press Secretary, it will have to be created by an Executive Order, wala pa noon. I think it just being drafted.

MERCADO: Being drafted na, pero sino ang gagawin ngayon, first it was offered to Harry Roque. Are you going to be Press Secretary?

SEC. PANELO: Na kay Presidente iyon.

MERCADO: But what are the indications, mukhang—are you gonna be willing to take it?

SEC. PANELO: Depende, wala pa kasi, there’s nothing to decide on.

MERCADO: It doesn’t seem like something urgent in his mind, in the President’s mind to create a Press Secretary?

SEC. PANELO: Si Presidente, kailangan may continuity, that’s precisely why he designated me kaagad, noong nagkaroon ng vacuum.

MERCADO: And speaking of an EO. Itong TRAIN 2, iyong sa excise tax ‘no. Ia-announce daw ng Presidente anytime now. Is that something that we can expect?

SEC. PANELO: I talked with Executive Secretary Medialdea, I don’t know if he sent already the memorandum to Secretary Sonny. Ang sinasabi—kasi, the law is very clear. Before you can suspend, there are conditions to be complied with. So kailangan compliant ka.

MERCADO: Iyong mga $80 per barrel, average three months.

SEC. PANELO: Yes. Otherwise, you cannot do that.

MERCADO: And mukhang doon naman papunta ano, iyong sinasabi.

SEC. PANELO: Mukha nga, so most likely baka doon na rin.

MERCADO: Pero uunahan kaya ni Presidente iyong announcement before January 2019?

SEC. PANELO: Hindi, hindi natin alam. Basta pag nandoon na iyong conditions, immediately, kumbaga, gawin n’yo na, basta sundin ninyo ang batas.

MERCADO: What are on top of President Duterte’s mind right now? Ano iyong pinaka-concern niya, ano iyong pinaka-frustration niya?. Ano iyong—after being in office for two years—

SEC. PANELO: The man is still obsessed with eradicating the drug menace in this country as well as to stop corruption; saka iyong maayos niya iyong problema ng rebellion, iyong tatlong iyon.

MERCADO: So, iyong economy, ipinapaubaya niya sa economic managers and the other things.

SEC. PANELO: Mukha namang okay eh. If you look at the prices in the market, mukhang nagbabagsakan na uli ang presyo.

MERCADO: Wala namang nangangamba sa Gabinete? Is he confident… does he have the trust and confidence—

SEC. PANELO: Definitely. Let me just say something about the prices. I think we should listen to the President – the critics and the detractors – na talagang, kaya ito nangyari because of the increase in oil price. Doon talaga tayo tinamaan eh. And that is worldwide.

MERCADO: Kaya kailangan maghanap na tayo ng sariling langis. Kaya may China.

SEC. PANELO: Yeah.

MERCADO: Okay. When it comes to the next Chief Justice… so, si Justice Antonio Carpio has already accepted the nomination. What is the mindset of the President? Do you think that he is going to follow the seniority rule?

SEC. PANELO: Ang sinabi niya ano eh, palaging on the merits, kung ano ang tingin niya. O kung may all things being equal, siguro seniority; pero kapag hindi equal, merito.

MERCADO: Okay. And now this morning, Mar Roxas just field his certificate of candidacy.

SEC. PANELO: Ah yes.

MERCADO: Your reaction to that, the government’s reaction to that?

SEC. PANELO: Well, he is—every citizen of this country has a right to run for public office and to participate in a working democracy and we welcome his participation.

MERCADO: May mga ano daw kasi, people are curious about the new SAP, the incoming Special Assistant to the President.

SEC. PANELO: Bakit?

MERCADO: Kasi kapalit ni Bong Go who was very visual, lagi nating nakikita and nagkaroon siya ng sarili niyang identity as a SAP. Maraming hindi nakakarinig, including I think you also, about Atty. Aldevera.

SEC. PANELO: Iyong pangalan niya lang, kasi somebody told me, palagi mong nakikita iyon, kasama-kasama natin iyon, hindi lang siya visible.

MERCADO: Oo. With the way the President thinks, what do you think are the qualifications?

SEC. PANELO: Sa SAP?

MERCADO: Oo.

SEC. PANELO: Trust and confidence palagi. That person has to have completely the trust and confidence of the Presidente. Kasi sensitive iyong posisyon na iyan. Saka abogada siya. May advantage na siya dati.

MERCADO: More sensitive that your position?

SEC. PANELO: I think so. Kasi mas ano siya, nandoon siya sa periphery, hindi lang periphery, nandoon talaga siya, ang lapit niya eh.

MERCADO: Katabi talaga lagi.

SEC. PANELO: Katabi siya at lagi niyang kasama.

MERCADO: May mga alam si former SAP Bong Go na hindi mo alam.

SEC. PANELO: Yeah, meron din akong alam na hindi niya alam.

MERCADO: Okay, thank you very much, Presidential Spokesperson Sal Panelo. Anything else, anything that you wanna share with us, any scoop, anything new that you wanna, let us know about?

SEC. PANELO: Wala naman. Basta the President is bent on fulfilling all the promises he made during the campaign.

MERCADO: Okay and his health?

SEC. PANELO: His health nga pala. You know many people have been doubting, pero look at him, he has a punishing schedule. I cannot even imagine how he is doing all these, di ba meron siyang, sabi niya meron siyang sakit na ganito, ganyan and yet, aba eh sa araw-araw yatang ginawa ng Diyos eh, lumilipad, nag-i-speech, tapos may courtesy call sa Malacañang hanggang gabi.

MERCADO: It actually is a very punishing schedule ‘no.

SEC. PANELO: In other words look at the man, how he does his usual everyday and you will see a robust healthy man.

MERCADO: Okay, thank you very much Atty. Panelo.

SEC. PANELO: Thank you, always a pleasure.

MERCADO: And before we go Atty. Panelo, baka meron tayong clarification on the Special Assistant to the President.

SEC. PANELO: Yes, the lady lawyer that was mentioned earlier as the successor of Bong Go. The President has not yet made any decision on who will replace Christopher Bong Go as Special Assistant of the President. There are names that—maybe she is one of those being considered but there is no definite announcement who in particular.

MERCADO: So no final decision yet. Thank you very much for clarifying that. And thank you for joining us here on the Source.

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

 

 

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