Press Conference of Presidential Communications Office Assistant Secretary for Operations and Special Concerns Marie Banaag and Department of Labor and Employment Secretary Silvestre Bello III 
Press Briefing Room
22 November 2016


ASEC. BANAAG: Good morning, Sweeden. Good morning po sa Secretary at sa Malacañang Press Corps.

Our guest resource person this morning is a lawyer, a human rights advocate, peace worker, and public servant.

From his former life as corporate person, he entered into government service in 1986, not so long ago. 

As Undersecretary of the Department of Justice, he became as… a Department Secretary of the Department of Justice in 1986.

He also became a Solicitor General next, then Secretary again of the Department of Justice and President and Chief Executive Officer of the PNOC development and management corporation. 

He became a General Manager of the Philippine Reclamation Authority; a Cabinet oversight officer of the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples, a Cabinet officer for the Regional Development for Region II; Secretary to

the Cabinet from 2008 to 2010; and representative of 1BAP Party List from 2013 to 2016.

He is a trusted man of both the government panel and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines in the ongoing formal talks, started in Norway in August this year.

He is beloved to the OFWs stranded in Saudi Arabia for more than one year whose expatriation he sought after hearing their stories of their survival and fear.

He is cheered by workers who want an end to ‘endo.’ The ‘endo’ is resorted to by business interests, businessmen, who refused to acknowledge their obligations to provide workers’ benefit by way of security of tenure.

He is embraced warmly by teachers whose stories of plight of displacement he listened to after they were terminated unceremoniously by private schools in the [unclear] implementation of the K to 12 program.

There is much more to look forward to after his watch. The man has to do the balancing act to address the concerns and interests of both labor and management. 

But he takes the marching order from the President whose instructions are clear – zero tolerance to corruption and abuse of power and privilege.

Ladies and gentlemen of the Malacañang Press Corps, my honor to introduce to you, Secretary of the Department of Labor, Secretary Silvestre Bello III.

SEC. BELLO: Thank you, Ma’am, Asec. Baraan. Kababayaan pala kita. Kaya pala maganda kayo.

Sweeden, it reminds me of Oslo. Alam niyo kasi pag nasa Oslo kami, ang mahal ng mabili doon. Kaya ang ginagawa namin, we cross the border to Sweden, doon 50 percent discount ang binibili namin. Malaking bagay sa amin si Sweden.

Anyway, Asec, hindi ko akalain ganito ka-pormal ang ating press con eh. Akala ko kagaya ‘nong araw Benjie ‘no, na pagpasok ko dito, nandito na si Secretary Remonde, nandito na si Secretary Gabby, at pag hindi nila masagot ‘yung tanong, saka lang pinapasa sa’kin.

Akala ko may kasama akong Cabinet minister, Cabinet secretaries ngayon, pero nag-iisa pala ako. Ako lang siguro hindi sinama ni President Rody sa Peru dahil wala namang OFW doon eh. 

So, anyway, my dear friends in the press, good morning to all of you. I am very happy to be back. I was here about—How many years ago? Nine years ago, nine years ago, nine years ago.

Ganon tayo kabata. Nandito pa rin ‘yung ano ko, ang ganda-ganda pa rin ninyo ha. 

Ang nami-miss ko dito si Joyce, Joyce Pañares, oo. Kasi ‘yun ang pinakama-utak sa inyong lahat.

Anyway, kagaya ng sinabi ni Asec. Baraan, I am with the Department of Labor. This is a new experience to me.

Tanungin niyo ako about cases, rebellion, murder, illegal recruitment, kayang-kaya ko sagutin. Pero you ask me about labor, medyo bago ‘yan sa aking ano, bokabularyo. 

Kung baga sa ano, parehas kami ni President Duterte, bago siya sa presidency, bago rin ako sa Department of Labor. 

Pero kagaya ng sinabi ni Asec. Baraan, may mandato ang ating Presidente, very clear ang kanyang instruction, kailangan sumunod tayo, baka tayo mapatay.

So, ang sabi ni Presidente, no to ‘endo’ and no to contractualization. Let me qualify ‘yung contractualization, ‘yung contractualization po, eh merong legal at tsaka illegal.

I’ll give you an example of a legitimate contractual arrangement: If you are for example a ship builder, trabaho mo ‘yung magpatayo ng malalaking barko. Ordinary, you should have a complement of about three to 500 regular employees.

But the moment you get an order to build one big ship, it will require not less than 10,000 workers, 10 to 15,000 workers to put up the ship.

Ngayon, paano mo patayo ‘yun kung you use ‘yung regular employees mo, 500. So what do you do? You look for contractuals to be provided by what we call the service providers.

In that case, the law allows you to have contractual employees. Allowed ‘yun. They are called the project-based employees.

Another, alam niyo ang pinag-iinitan ngayon sa mga ‘endo’ ‘endo,’ itong big little department stores, like SM, Robinson. Ito ‘yung mga alleged violator ng ‘endo.’

Sila meron silang complements of sales girls, itong mga sales girls, they are very necessary and beneficial to the conduct of the business of a retail. ‘Di ba paano ka magbenta kung wala kang sales girls?

Ito ‘yung mga… let’s say, let’s go to SM North. Kailangan siguro mga 500 sales girl ‘yan. Pero pagdating ng Christmas, ito malapit na, tiyak dadami ‘yung mga customers, so to meet the exigency, what do they do? They hire what we call the seasonal employees. That again is an example of an allowed or a legal contractual arrangement. ‘Yun. 

Other than that, the law says no to contractualization. ‘Yun ang sinabi ni President Duterte when he said, no to ‘endo,’ no to contractualization. He meant illegal, illegitimate contractual arrangement. ‘Yun ang bawal which are actually ‘endo.’

Alam niyo naman siguro ang ‘endo.’ Marami sa inyo victims ng ‘endo’ eh. Pero I will not, I will not, put up a fight against the networks. Alam niyo naman kung sino ang mga nage-‘endo-endo’ diyan sa inyo.

Pero alam ko hindi ko kayo makapagsalita. Kasi wala kayong security of tenure which is the most important right of an employee, of a worker, whether in government, in the private sector, or even in the networks. Importante ‘yung… Pinaka-mahalaga ‘yung security of tenure. 

So ‘yun ang mandato namin sa Department and we have been trying our best to achieve the order of our President and that is zero to ‘endo’ and zero to illegal, illegitimate contractual arrangement.

And so far, medyo maganda naman ang aming, ang resulta ng aming efforts. 

For example, we already, as of two weeks ago, we already registered the regularization of not less than 25 contractuals. Malaking bagay ‘yun.

But in proportion to our work force, maliit pa rin ‘yun. Kasi 25,000 is probably less than 10 percent of the entire workforce in our country today. 

Kaya tuloy-tuloy ‘yan hanggat ma-kwan, matupad natin ‘yung kagustuhan ng ating Pangulo at kagustuhan din ng manggagawa na lahat ng ating mga manggagawa ay magiging regular.

So that they will have the Constitutional right to the security of tenure and the right to unionism, ‘yan. 

Unti-unti ginagawa namin at in fairness to our management group, the employers, in fairness, mukha naman, they are cooperating and they said, wala ng ‘endo,’ the end of ‘endo.’

So ang pag-uusapan na lang, ‘yung contractualization. Doon, magkakaroon ng konting, kung baga sa ano, win-win solution, kasi we have to balance the interest of management and labor. 

Alam mo ‘yung business kasi parang ano ‘yan eh, parang pag-aasawa, parang marriage ‘yan between the husband and the wife. The wife being the employer and the husband the employee, ‘di ba. 

‘Yan ang debate ‘non sa Cebu ‘nong sinabi ko ano ba ang husband, employee or employer? Sumigaw ‘yung mga babae, ang husband employee lang, sunod-sunuran lang sa asawa. 

So ‘yan ang iba-balance natin, the right of the employer to good business transaction, good return of his investment and also the rights of employee to security of tenure and the right to unionism. 

‘Yan po ang aming… utos ng ating Pangulo sa amin na kailangan naming ipatupad. Not to mention, ‘yung favorite ng ating Presidente which are the OFWs, ‘yang ating mga Filipino migrant workers. 

Ang dami nating Filipino migrant workers. We have all throughout the world, we have about 4.8 million OFWs, concentrated sa Middle East, where we have na almost two million. And another concentration is Saudi Arabia where we have almost 900,000.

Ito ang tinututukan ng ating Pangulo, how to protect their rights, while they are there. How to see to it that they get what is due to them, and see to it that we cannot be, we should never be the object or the subject of cruel treatment by their employees. 

O ‘yan po, if you will recall, early part of my incumbency as the Secretary of Labor, I received, unofficially ha, I did not receive this from our labor attaches, one gentleman from GMA asked me a question, Sir, anong gagawin mo doon sa mga 11,000 stranded overseas workers sa Saudi?

Ayaw ko naman mag-ano, magpakita na ignorante pala ako, hindi ko alam pala ang nangyayari sa Department ko. So I said, O, I am going to Saudi for that purpose.

So the following week, I went to Saudi to look into this 11,000 overseas workers natin who have been stranded, have been unpaid their wages for nine to 12 months and even as long as 24 months. 

Pinabayaan ang kapakanan ng ating mga OFWs. I don’t know what happened to the previous administration. I don’t want to blame them for that.

Basta ‘yun ang inabutan namin, na meron pala tayong mga 11,000 kababayan na hindi nababayaran ang sweldo for more than one year, at least nine months. How in the world can a government close its eyes to its countrymen in that situation?

Kaya ako pumunta ako agad doon, kasama ko ang ating Undersecretary and some of our POEA and OWWA personnel and we went to the different camps where they are housed, living at the mercy of ‘yung mga employers nila sometimes, living at the mercy of some, some… Anong tawag dito? ‘Yung… ‘di ko alam ‘yung term na ‘yan eh, ‘yun bang tumutulong ka na walang ano—

Anyway, ‘yun, pinuntahan namin and we saw how they live miserably. Ang init-init pa naman pumunta ako doon, 55 degrees, Centigrade ba ‘yun or Fahrenheit?

Asec, ano, anong tawag natin sa ating ano—Celsius 55 degrees Celsius.

Ayaw kong lumabas ng hotel ‘non eh, kasi masyadong ma-ano, mainit. But then we had to see the actual situation of our countrymen doon, pinuntahan namin doon, kawawang-kawawa sila, they were there in camps. Meron pa nga doon, there were a group of Filipinos who were encamped in a abandoned swimming pool. Abandoned swimming pool.

Kasi meron pala silang park doon na inabandon na, so may mga swimming pools doon, doon nakatira ‘yung mga ano, mga kababayan natin. They put up makeshift beds. Pero you know what, maganda pala ‘yun, malamig pala ‘yung nandoon sa ganon, ‘yung sunken portion of the area. 

So, before that, before even going to Saudi, I requested the board of the OWWA to appropriate half billion pesos for immediate financial assistance to our countrymen. 

Fortunately, although medyo reluctantly they agreed. Kasi ‘nong una sabi nila malaking halagang ito. Sabi ko, pera ‘nong ano ‘yan e, hindi naman natin pera ‘yan. Walang perang gobyerno diyan, wala tayong pera ‘yan, pera ng mga OFW. Now kailangan nila, dapat ibigay natin ‘yan.

Sabi niya pag-isipan namin, sabi ko pag-isipan niyo pero magre-recommend din ako kay Presidente pag-isipan niya palitan niya ang buong board. Aba, pumayag sila bigla. 

So they appropriated 50, 500 million and with that, we went to Riyadh, we gave them 20,000 each, all of the 11,000 Filipino workers. 

And I was very lucky to meet ‘yung Minister of Labor ng Saudi Arabia and he was very nice. He told me that the King of Saudi Arabia instructed lahat ‘yung mga employers, the big construction companies to settle the unpaid wages of our workers. 

He also told me that the King of Saudi Arabia waived all the penalties of our overseas workers, so wala ng babayaran fine. 

And believe it or not, ewan ko anong nangyari sa hari nila, siguro magandang pagkagising niya, he offered to defray the transportation expense of all our OFWs, billions ‘yun. 

So, sabi ko doon sa Minister, medyo ginanahan ako mabait pala mga ito ‘ka ko. Sabi ko, Mr. Minister ‘ka ko, I came from Bahay Kalinga, this is a settlement of our runaway OFW women, mga babae. 

Sabi ko, I just came from that place, ‘ka ko, Minister, I see that they are hard up. Some are really yearning to go back to our country, may I make this special request Mr. Minister, can you prioritize itong mga kababayan kong ito ‘ka ko, let them go home. 

You know how he reacted, sabi naman sa akin, ang tangos ‘ka ko naman ng ilong niya, gumanon siya, sabi ko, nainsulto yata ‘ka ko. Gumanon, sabi ko, ‘di hindi ako naka-imik. Sabi sa akin, You know what this means? It means no problem.

Ganon, ‘yung Minister, mukha yatang may tama sa akin eh. Joke lang ‘yun ha. Pero ano, maraming ganon doon sa Saudi. Anyway, wala ‘yan sa Labor, huwag na nating pag-usapan, huwag na nating pag-usapan ‘yung ano, ganon. 

Anyway, so ganon ang nangyari. Right now, we have succeeded in bringing back 3,000 of our overseas workers and we still expect to bring more. Kaya lang doon sa naiwan, nakakuha na ng panibagong trabaho, with good pay. 

So probably doon sa naiwan na mga 8,000, siguro mga 2,000 na lang ang uuwi dahil nakahanap sila ng bagong trabaho. So, that made it easier for us. But at least, nakita naman ng ating mga overseas workers kung gaano sila kamahal ng ating Pangulo. 

Ayan ang palagi niyang sinasabi, ‘yung mga OFW natin ha, huwag mong pabayaan. I don’t want to see any OFW lining up in the, in your offices. 

I don’t want ang ating mga OFW kung saan-saan pumunta para lang ma-meet nila ang requirements. What was the result? We put up a one-stop shop where all the offices where our OFWs should get their papers are located. Nandiyan lahat, 16 government agencies, including DFA, PhilHealth, SSS, PAG-IBIG, NBI, BID, lahat ng government offices na may kailangan ang ating OFW. They are house in one office. We have one at the POEA office at EDSA corner Ortigas. 

And so far, our records will show that we have serviced 416,000 OFWs. Both returning and leaving. 

And we have duplicated itong one-stop shop in Pampanga, Clark, in Puerto Princesa, Palawan, in Cebu, in Cagayan de Oro, in Iloilo, and hopefully in Davao City. 

We will put all one-stop shop in all the regions. ‘Yun po ang aming gagawin. So ‘yun po, that is what is happening in the Department of Labor and Employment.

Yesterday, we got the approval of our budget. Alam mo, marami nagtanong, pero they never asked about our budget. Samakatuwid, nakita nila na ang budget na sinubmit namin, very reasonable. 

Para kami kasing Ilocano doon eh, biro mo. Our budget was decreased by three percent from the 2015 budget, 2016 budget. 

Kaya walang nagtanong, bakit ganito ang pera niyo ganon, wala. Ang tinanong sa amin ‘yung mga policy direction ng ating Department. And fortunately, we got our budget approved by the Senate in a record time of less than one hour.

‘Yan. So that is the story of the Department of Labor and employment.

Now I am open to very easy questions ha. Huwag niyo pahirapan.


Celerina Monte (Manila Shimbun): Good morning sir. Sir you have mentioned that in, last two weeks, there were about 25,000 workers who are not contractuals anymore.

SEC. BELLO: Yeah, regular na sila.

Ms. Monte: Regularized. So this is less than 10 percent of the, about 250,000. Right?

SEC. BELLO: That’s true. 

Ms. Monte: Would that include the government workers?

SEC. BELLO: Very good, you asked that ha because the government workers are beyond our jurisdiction. Hindi po namin sakop ang mga government employees. Nasa DBM ‘yan at saka Civil Service Commission.

Ang sakop namin ay ‘yung mga workers in the private sector. ‘Yan.

Ms. Monte: So how does this government intend to address contractualization in government?

SEC. BELLO: Well, unang-una, sa budget ‘yan, sa DBM. Gagawa sila ng istraktura kung ano ‘yung mandato nila, anong kailangan mga position to meet the exigency of the service ganon pero hindi na amin ‘yan.

Hindi ko sila tuturuan ‘yan, baka sabihin pinakikilaman ko pa ‘yan.

Ms. Monte: Sir so ano ‘yung target by this administration na at least ‘yung reasonable target to lessen these–?

SEC. BELLO: Contractual—The target is zero ‘endo,’ zero illegal contractuals by year, the end of year 2017 and it is doable. 

Ms. Monte: Sir last question from my part. There’s this proposal before to create the Department for OFWs. Are you still pushing for that considering that… have this– The President stated before that he wants the OFWs to come home. 

SEC. BELLO: Yeah, kaya nga ‘yung ano, I don’t want to go against it because it might be self-serving. Pero alam mo kasi, the structure of the Department of Labor and Employment is that we have agencies under us, like OWWA, POEA, PRC. 

In fact, TESDA was with us for a while, until now, by law I am the chairman of TESDA, but it has been subsumed by the office of Secretary Evasco.

Pero pag ginawa mo ‘yung bagong ano, bagong Department, parang you are institutionalizing ‘yung sending of our Filipino workers abroad, when in fact the program of our President is really to get them back, because he knows the social consequences of our Filipino migrant workers going abroad at the expense of their family life and family relation.

Ms. Monte: So we’re not going to push through with it anymore?

SEC. BELLO: I don’t want to speak about it kasi self-serving ‘yan eh. Ang usapan namin ni Secretary Sitoy ng PLLO is we will have a common position. 

Ms. Monte: When do you intend to come up with that common position?

SEC. BELLO: Actually, we were supposed to meet last ano, last Monday kaya lang namatay ‘yung anak ni Secretary Sitoy so he asked for postponement. So we’ll probably meet next week.

Ms. Monte: But initially on your part, the DOLE, what’s the position?

SEC. BELLO: Sabi ko nga, ayaw kong sabihin kasi it might be self-serving eh.

Hannah Sancho (Sonshine Radio): Good morning Secretary. Sir na-mention niy0–

SEC. BELLO: Sonshine, sonshine? That is, kwan ba ‘yan UNTV ba ‘yan?

Ms. Sancho: Kay Pastor Quiboloy. 

SEC. BELLO: Kay Pastor ‘yan?

Ms. Sancho: Yes po.

SEC. BELLO: Thank you ha. I’d like to publicly commend your network kasi when I went to Saudi Arabia, your people were there all the way. In other words, ‘nong nandon kami sa aircon offices ng DFA, they were with us, ‘nong pumunta kami doon sa mainit na parte, they were still with us. 

So I would like to commend your network. 

Ms. Sancho: Sir, question ko lang sir kasi na-mention niyo–

SEC. BELLO: Huwag mo nang pahiramin, kinomend (commend) na nga kita. 

Ms. Sancho: Mine-mention niyo po ‘yung regarding po sa OFWs, ‘nong pumunta po ‘yung, ni-welcome po sila ng Pangulo, nag-promise po ‘yung Pangulo na ‘yung hindi po nila natanggap na sweldo, aasikasuhin ng pamahalaan, ‘di ba po, meron tayong mga group of lawyers na pinapunta doon. Ano na po ‘yung status ‘non sir? At kung may natanggap na po sila?

SEC. BELLO: Yeah, thank you, thank you for asking about that. I should have also reported. Kasi we brought a team, a composite team after my trip to Riyadh in early or late August, we send another team, this time composite team, on Health, Justice, and DOLE. 

They brought public attorneys to help our overseas workers claim for their unpaid wages. Alam mo, when we talk about unpaid wages, millions ito ha. Ang laki ng sweldo ng ating ano, ‘yung first batch ‘non na dumating, 137 OFWs. 

Ang tingin ko ‘non eh, 300 millioners ‘to ‘ka ko eh. Kasi each one of them was worth more than one million eh. Kasi ‘yung unpaid wages nila for one year, plus ‘yung tinatawag na end of services, that is to our local ano, legal parlance, as separation pay. And that is one year for every year of service. 

So each of one them was worth about 1.2 to 1.5 million noon. Kaya lang hindi pa nabayaran and that is what our lawyers are doing. And again, let me commend the King of Saudi, si King [Salman]. 

He also directed the lawyers to coordinate with our lawyers and help them follow-up our claims there. Meron ng nabibigyan, pero still judicial [inaudible]. Ang importante may proseso.

Leila Salaverria (Philippine Daily Inquirer): Good morning Secretary. Sir, I’m going to ask about the peace talks. Sir, where are we now in terms of crafting the bilateral ceasefire agreement? Because according to Benito Tiamzon, the December 10 date mentioned in a report is not actually accurate, wala pa raw agreement in the works. So how, where are we now in terms of–?

SEC. BELLO: Actually, after our October talks, we agreed that November or October 26, we would sign a joint ceasefire. But then, may mga terms and conditions na hindi pa nagkaroon ng consensus. 

Kasi mahirap din ‘yan eh. Like for example, I’ll give you an example: The issue of what is conceded as hostile act. 

‘Yun, kung titingnan mo lang eh, madali ‘di ba. Madaling pag-usapan ‘yan pero mahirap din. You know why? There are ramifications eh. 

Like for example, is collection of revolutionary tax considered a hostile act? ‘Yan, medyo madugo ‘yan. That is why although we were hoping that we would be signing the joint bilateral ceasefire on a very symbolic day and that is December 10, which is International Humanitarian Day.

Mukhang hindi namin na… Hindi pa kami nagkakaroon ng consensus on this term of reference like for example, what is considered as battle zone, who constitute the monitoring team that will monitor the implementation and compliance with dealing ceasefire.

Hindi pa nagkakaroon ng consensus kaya medyo hindi natin siguro ma-attain ‘yung December 10. But we are still, we are not giving up na by December 10 magkakaroon pa rin tayo ng signing of the joint bilateral permanent ceasefire. ‘Yun ang huwag ninyong kalimutan, permanent ceasefire which will eventually lead to the cessation of hostilities. 

Ms. Salaverria: Sir anong guarantee, kasi magde-December na, anong guarantee that your separate unilateral ceasefires will hold throughout the holiday season kung wala pang bilateral, in case there will be no bilateral agreement signed?

SEC. BELLO: I went to Cebu last Friday. Fortunately, Fidel Agcaoili, the chairman of the NDF panel was there in the plane, in the terminal going to Davao, I was going to Cebu. But we had occasion to meet and explain to him about the difficulty of getting it, final signing of the bilateral because of the definition of terms.

But we had a gentleman’s agreement that we may make some announcement regarding the unilateral ceasefire. Because if you recall, the unilateral ceasefire declared by them is indefinite.

Pero sabi ko naman, for the sake of our public, ‘yung taong bayan ‘ka ko, maganda siguro kung meron tayong announcement na we are extending para magkaroon ng peace of mind ang ating mga kababayan, especially during the Christmas season. So that’s very possible. 

Ms. Salaverria: Sir last na from me. ‘Yung, the release of the political prisoners, is this another factor hampering the signing of the bilateral ceasefire? Is this a precondition or not?

SEC. BELLO: No. It’s been very clear that the release of political prisoners or detainees is a confidence building measure. And, I’m not trying to raise up President Duterte but he is the only President who came up with a statement that he will release all political prisoners and detainees. And that built a lot of good, of ano, confidence.

Pinakita niya ang sinceridad niya kaya nakita niyo for the first time in the history of the talks, the NDF agreed, not only to talk about ceasefire, they agreed to declare ceasefire.

Noon araw, panahon ni President Cory, panahon ni President Ramos, panahon ni President Estrada, panahon ni Gloria Macapagal Arroyo at saka ‘yung nakaraang administrasyon, they would never discussed or even talked about, ceasefire. 

Because to them that is already capitulation. Pero, what happened? Because of their confidence in the President, they agreed to declare a unilateral ceasefire, that we can give that credit to the President dahil pinakita niya. 

Aside from showing them confidence building measure, he even offered government position to them. ‘Di ba? Meron na silang ni-recommend na… Secretary of Labor daw? Hindi naman Labor. Secretary of Agrarian Reform, ‘yun. 

So ito ang pinakita ng ating Pangulo, ‘yung kanyang sinceridad na makipag-usap sa kanila tungkol sa kapayapaan. That is working magic to them.

Marlon Ramos (Philippine Daily Inquirer): Sir, regarding din sa peace talks. Sir how is the military holding up? ‘Yung doon sa efforts ng Duterte administration to broker a peace deal, a lasting peace deal with the Communist Party?

SEC. BELLO: Okay naman. In fact, unknown to many of you, we have so many military officials in the panel. We have military officials in the Joint Monitoring Committee which is the implementing arm of the human right, or the Comprehensive Agreement on Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law. 

We have military officials in the Ceasefire Monitoring Committee. Meron kaming military officials in the four substantive issue on end of hostilities and disposition of forces. 

We also have military advisers. Just as we have advisers from the local government, advisers from Congress. We also have military advisers. So lahat ‘yan naka-consulta. 

Mr. Ramos: Did the AFP raise their concern regarding the proposed released of all CPP members, communists rebels?

SEC. BELLO: In fairness, wala naman, wala naman. We had very close meeting and discussion with Secretary Lorenzana and even Secretary Esperon on… our National Security Adviser. 

We keep constant consultation with them. Wala naman, not a single hint of ano opposition. 

Mr. Ramos: Sir just on the DOLE matter. Kasi I think, it’s also very important, pertinent to the government’s attempt to end ‘endo’ is to promote trade unionism. Ano pong… what’s the program of the, your Department in promoting unionism?

SEC. BELLO: As I was saying, when the President was talking about ‘endo’ and contractualization, he was conscious of the labor’s right to unionism and security of tenure.

Kaya siya nagsasalita ng ganon eh. Dahil he knows what our laborers are entitled to and what our workers have been deprived of for the past years. 

So ‘yung pagsabi niya tungkol sa ‘endo’ at saka ‘yung contractualization, lakip diyan hindi lamang ‘yung security of tenure, kung ‘di ‘yung right to unionism. 

Mr. Ramos: Sir are you in favor of at least kung ‘di man po buwagin, at least to review the system of tripartite system–?

SEC. BELLO: Sa wage?

Mr. Ramos: Ah, yes, opo. 

SEC. BELLO: May mga school of thoughts na ganon. Pero mukha namang it’s working eh. Mukhang it’s working kasi alam mo under the law, when it comes to wage increases, it’s only Congress who can determine ‘yung minimum, national minimum wage level.

Sila lang, ang Congress. Wala kaming power diyan. Ang power lang namin is ‘yung mga regional tripartite board who continuously monitor the economic situation in the respective region and then on the basis of this, they make recommendations for salary adjustment.

By the way, nagkaroon lang ng bago sa Region 11, the regional wage board doon recommended an increase of I think 38 pesos for Region 11. I was supposed to give that in a press con kasi malaking bagay ‘yun ha. 

So that happens every now and then, depending on how this regional wage board assess the economic situation in the respective regions.

Reymund Tinaza (Bombo Radyo): Sir, good morning. Sir, itanong ko lang kung since peace process, wala bang parang indikasyon or pahiwatig from our counterparts na ‘yung mainit ngayon na Marcos burial ay magiging issue considering na their groups or their legal fronts are one of those, you know, very up and high against the burial?

SEC. BELLO: Well, expected naman ‘yung reaction nila tungkol sa paglilibing kay Mr. Marcos doon sa Libingan ng mga Bayani. Expected ‘yung kanilang ano. They have been consistent on that. 

But in fairness, I don’t think this will affect the peace process. Dahil to my mind and I think this is also to their mind, the issue of ‘yung burying a dead strongman is of little significance to the purpose of the peace talks and that is to achieve a just and lasting peace for our country.

Hindi mo pwedeng ano… hindi mo pwedeng barahin ‘yung takbo ng, ‘yung daloy ng peace process just because of an incident like this, especially so na hindi natin, I don’t know kung anong… nasusundan ‘yung development on the case.

It was not our President who ordered his burial eh. This is a judicial decision of the Supreme Court. 

So, although meron siyang sinabi niya I’m in favor, but that is the right of any person, just like it is my right to say na I am not in favor.

Pero it was the Supreme Court that decided that he can be buried in the Libingan. So we have to follow the Supreme Court. It is supreme when it comes to the interpretation of the law. Just as like the President is supreme in the implementation of the law.

Mr. Tinaza: Sir so, may any plan from the President to, I mean to hold dialogue with this, especially the rejectionist faction who are now coalesce with the government, at least to explain to them what was his… actually the reason why he approved to the Marcos burial?

SEC. BELLO: Hindi naman siya nag-approve eh. He just said that he was in favor. As to the approval of the burial of the former President, it was the Supreme Court, so wala siyang ano. And I think that knowing their long association, I don’t think na that it will really affect the peace negotiation. 

Although meron kang naririnig kung minsan na papitik pero that’s normal na ipakita nila ‘yung indignation nila. We should expect that especially from them, na ‘yung mga victims of human rights violations like disappearances, killing and everything.

You expect an emotional reaction to that ano, especially lalo na sinabi na nga ni Senator– Was it Senator Drillon? Sabi niya, even in death he was a thief, sabi yatang ganon na binigla lahat ano na, hindi nalalaman na bigla na pa lang inililibing.

So it made the matter more emotional pero again I said it should not detract our co-negotiators from the fact that we have a more noble, more important and significant mandate and that is to achieve peace for our country.

Mr. Tinaza: Sir isama… May patanong lang , may kinalaman sa expertise niyo. Sir, basahin ko lang as is: What is the department doing to ensure that alleged bribery in courts will not prosper to the disadvantage of workers who want to file cases against employers violating security of tenure and other rights?

SEC. BELLO: What is our guarantee?

Mr. Tinaza: Yes sir.

SEC. BELLO: It is our mandate to protect workers from violation of their rights as workers. The same with that we are also mandated to protect the rights of our employers.  

‘Yun na nga sinasabi ko minsan, na mga employers na hindi kami biased in favor of the employees. But we have to consider that the disadvantaged one is the employees, ‘di  ba? Kaya mas… naintindihan naman nila kung ang aming pag-aalalay ay sa mga, sa medyo mas mabigat para sa employees. Kasi disadvantaged sector sila hindi ba? But that is not to be unfair. Kailangan i-balance natin sila.

Ted Tuvera (Daily Tribbune): Good morning sir. Sir ‘yung, balik lang po tayo doon sa usapin ng peace talks. May mga leftist groups po kasi na nagsasabi ngayon na may mga violations daw po na kino-commit ang AFP tsaka PNP sa ceasefire. May mga punitive actions daw na nagagawa. Sir, ano po ‘yung reaction natin dito, sir?

SEC. BELLO: So far, alam mo may committee ‘yan eh. So far wala kaming reported incident. In other words, may nagsasabi na may na-violate, may na-violate pero officially wala naman dumarating sa aming complaint that there is a violation of the ceasefire, both from the military and the NDF side.

Kasi only yesterday I talked to Secretary, former Secretary Nani Braganza who is a panel member and he said na nag-complain sa kanya si General Cruz na meron daw in-ambush na mga sundalo. 

Sabi niya, nakakatakot kung NPA ang nag-ambush, violation ng ceasefire, sabi niya. Sabi ko huwag kang matakot. I-verify niyo kung sino nag-ambush.

Ganon din, may mga nagsasabi na vina-violate daw ang rights ng mga NPA pero wala namang dumarating na official complaint. Kasi meron kaming ano eh, Ceasefire Monitoring Committee eh. So doon dapat dinadala. So far, wala naman nagre-report. In other words, our ceasefire commitment is holding out.

Mr. Tuvera: Sir, kasi you sound so optimistic po doon sa pagkakaroon ng bilateral ceasefire by December and then ‘yung NDF naman, particularly si Benito Tiamzon, sinasabi niya na medyo imposible daw na magkaroon ng bilateral ceasefire soon dahil nga may alleged violations tapos parang, may mga binabanggit sila na may tendency daw si Presidente na maging mala-Marcos. Sir how do you respond to those statements?

SEC. BELLO: Eh sabi ko nga sa’yo kanina na these are emotional reactions. Siguro, remember Benito Tiamzon ilang beses, ilang taon ‘yan nakulong. 

Hindi lang siya kung minsan nakulong, kung minsan kasama pa niya ‘yung wife niya. So nandiyan ‘yung bitterness eh. Nandiyan ‘yung bitterness. 

So when there was an incident like that, eh pinahayag agad ang kanilang sentimiyento. 

But I’m sure Mr. Tiamzon and the rest of the NDF understands the position of the President. Otherwise, sinabihan na nila ako. Tinawagan na ako ni Fidel Agcaoili.

Mr. Tuvera: Sir, you mentioned earlier na parang nagiging isyu niyo ngayon ‘yung usapin ng revolutionary tax. Sir, sa part po ng government peace panel, do you consider their collection of revolutionary taxes unlawful?

SEC. BELLO: Siyempre naman, it is unlawful pero kagaya ng sinabi ko sa iyo, that’s part of the process. 

Kasi sabihin nila ihihinto namin ‘yung revolutionary tax collection, paano namin mabuhay ‘yung mga sundalo namin. Kagaya rin tayo, o huwag kayong mag-collect ng tax. Paano naman tayo mabubuhay ang ating mga empleyado kung wala na tayong nakokolektang tax? So, give and take ‘yan. We have to understand that the reality is they are doing that for their forces.

Mr. Tuvera: Sir, last from my part, nabanggit kasi kanina ‘yung usapin ng mga rejectionists, sir how do you go about doon sa mga ibang splinter groups, so to speak ng mga komunista. Merong RPA, meron ibang, iba pang grupo. Sir, how, may plano po ba kayo sir na gayahin ‘yung ginagawa ngayon ng peace panel sa mga Moro, wherein parang nagkakaroon sila ng dialogue with other groups. Sir, sa pakikipag-deal po ba sa mga komunista, gagawin din po ba natin ‘yung pakikipagusap sa ibang mga splinter groups?

SEC. BELLO: Siguro kung meron mang grupo na makikipagusap sa, ‘yung mga splinter… Ito ‘yung mga tinatawag na rejectionists ‘di ba? Eh siguro ibang panel ‘yan, ang ike-create ng ating Presidente para maka-focus kami doon sa talks with the NDF.

Mr. Tuvera: So may possibility na gagawa–?

SEC. BELLO: Oo, pwedeng gagawin ‘yun, oo.

Mr. Tuvera: Thank you sir. 

Giovanni Nilles (Philippine Star): Sir, good morning. 

SEC. BELLO: Good morning, Giovanni.

Mr. Nilles: Sir, ibabalik ko lang po doon sa issue ‘nong seasonal workers. Marami po kasing season ang Pilipinas, merong graduation season, mayroong Valentine season, Christmas season, and everything, so para lang ma-compensate sir, alam naman natin mga job order lang ‘to. Would you agree na or would you propose na dapat mas malaki ‘yung compensation na ibibigay sa mga workers na ‘to, kasi nga hindi nila, hindi naman talaga ‘to mare-regularize ang mga workers na ‘to, so mas mataas dapat sa minimum pay hindi ‘yung ganon lang din ‘yung level ng pay nila?

SEC. BELLO: Baka magtampo naman ‘yung mga regular employees.

Mr. Nilles: Wala silang benefit sir eh.

SEC. BELLO: Sabihin nila, kami regular, ilang taon na kami, ganito ang suweldo namin, magkukuha ka ng seasonal mas mataas. Hindi, hindi fair ‘di ba? They will come in us, parang the same rate as theregular employees.

Otherwise, you will be ano, you will be, anong tawag dito? Going against the interest of the regular employees. Kasi alam naman ng mga seasonal, alam naman nila na their services are required only for a specific season. 

Sabi mo nga, merong Christmas, merong Valentines ‘no, katakot-takot na Valentines card diyan, ang daming heart na binebenta, o pati puso ng saging binebenta. 

So totoo ‘yan, basta seasonal, even during enrolment days eh. Seasonal ‘yan lalo nang maraming namimili ng uniform, sapatos, medyas, and everything. So there is need to hire seasonal employees.

Pero hindi naman siguro makatarungan kung mas mataas ang sweldo ‘nong seasonal doon sa regular. Magrereklamo ‘yung regular niyan.

Mr. Nilles: Pero hindi ito mare-regularize ang mga seasonal workers sir?

SEC. BELLO: Hindi ho, kasi that’s the reason why they are hired only for the season.

Mr. Nilles: Okay, so wala talagang chances na–

SEC. BELLO: Talagang ganon ‘yun talaga, oo.

Benjie, kasama ko pa sa DOJ ‘yan eh. Forty years siguro ba ‘yun?

Benjie Liwanag (DZBB): Sir, good morning.

SEC BELLO: Good morning Benjie. 

Mr. Liwanag: I have only two questions.

SEC. BELLO: I am happy to see you again after forty years.

Mr. Liwanag: Sir, ‘yung number one, kahit na paano ho ba napag-usapan ninyo sa NDF o NDF na kasi open si Pangulo doon sa pagpapalibing kay dating Pangulong Marcos. Marcos, it’s Marcos yeah. Inuungkat niyo kasi ‘yung nakaraan. Ngayon sir, napag-usapan niyo po ba doon sa NDF panel sa Oslo ‘yung sitwasyon na ayaw nila or tumututol sila?

SEC. BELLO: Kagaya ng sinabi ko hindi namin tinalakay ‘yan kasi unang-una hindi naman dapat nakalakip ‘yan sa peace talks eh. 

Ang sa peace talk, pinagusapan namin ‘yung mga reason why nagkakaroon ng armed conflict in our country kaya nga sinasabi ko madalas ‘yung committee on socioeconomic reforms is the heart and soul of the peace talks because this is the issue that addresses the root causes of the armed conflict.

Ayon angano namin. Hindi namin, ‘yung mga side events like ‘yung burial ni Marcos hindi namin po pinag– hindi namin pinag-uusapan ‘yan.

Mr. Liwanag: Okay second, may mga pending na warrants of arrest against sa mga NDF, CPP, NPA. Ano pong status nito sir? Hindi na ba ito ipapatupad ng Philippine National Police or kino-consult ba ang GPH or GPH panel or what?

SEC. BELLO: Yes, yes. Oo. ‘Yung ano just to give you an idea, in the case of Wilma Tiamzon and her husband Benny, they were released upon orders of the court, ang court nag-order niyan and they were released on the basis of ‘yung recognizance in the higher interest of a peace negotiation. 

So, but only during the duration of the peace negotiation. Kung halimbawa nag-collapse, eh balik sila, balik sila.

May mga iba naman who were released on bail. Meron naman iba who were realeased on parole. Merong mga iba release on recognition or recognizance. Others were released because they were pardoned by the President. And in a few days maybe the President is going to pardon some of their consultants.

Mr. Liwanag: Nasabi niyo ‘yung mga nakakulong sir eh, ito pending. Huhuliin pa lang. 

SEC. BELLO: Huhulihin pa lang?

Mr. Liwanag: Oo, huhulihin pa lang. Yung PNP ba kahit na paano nakikipag-ugnayan sa inyo na tsaka sa NDFP or paano ‘yun? Or malaya naman sila?

SEC. BELLO: May mechanism Benjie for that eh. Kung halimbawa meron silang consultant na aarestuhin dahil merong warrant for his arrest, i-clear niya with the panel and then  they will discuss on how to be, how that person will be treated. 

Mr. Liwanag: Thank you very much sir. 

SEC. BELLO: Thank you.

Ms. Monte: Sir, follow-up lang regarding doon sa December 10. So you’re saying na there were still some contentious issues that need to be threshed out. So the most that we could expect by December 10 is the possible pronouncement between the two parties that you are going to extend the indefinite ceasefire?

SEC. BELLO: Sabi ko nga, there is difficulty ‘no. Pero I was not saying that it is impossible. In fact, Secretary Braganza is doing his best to come up with a consensus on the three remaining terms of reference. Oo. 

In other words, hindi kami nagi-give up. Pinipilit namin na magkaroon ng consensus sa mga terms na ‘yun. 

Ms. Monte: Pero in case, that’s the most feasible na–?

SEC. BELLO: Yes, oo. Totoo ‘yan, oo. Kung halimbawa hindi ma-ano ‘yun. In fact, there is no need to ano eh, to declare kasi indefinite naman eh. 

Pero for the ano, for the comfort of our people, mabuti ‘yung meron statement na o, we are extending. Para naman ‘yung mga kababayan natin na hindi naiintindihan ang situation will be given some asssurances. 

Ms. Monte: Sir, are we expecting some of these political detainees to be given pardon during this holiday season?

SEC. BELLO: Very possible may mga mabigyan ng pardon, especially ‘yung mga elderly, ‘yung mga sickly and ‘yung mga babae. O may ano eh, may biased ang ating Pangulo for ‘yung mga women detainees or prisoners.

Ms. Monte: Do you have any estimate as to how many ‘yung possible na mabigyan?

SEC. BELLO: Give and take, mga abot tayo ng mga 40 to 50.

Ms. Monte: This is ano, members sila ng NDF, CPP, NPA. Itong 40?

SEC. BELLO: Hindi natin alam pero, the NDF panel requested for their release.

Ms. Monte: This 40? This around 40?

SEC. BELLO: Yes, yes, oo.

Ms. Monte: Sir, would you respect, according to observers, you have mentioned that, it was the Supreme Court who decided on the burial of the Marcos, but according to observers it’s because of the President’s pronouncement, that’s why some people petitioned, to oppose this burial, so–?

SEC. BELLO: Well, we respect the position of this people. But the reality, the fact is it was the Supreme Court who said he can be buried there. Hindi siya ang nag-uutos. 

Although he said nga, oo I’m in favor, pero ‘yung pag-order mo for the actual burial is another thing and it is the Supreme Court.

Ms. Velado: Secretary, just a phone-in question from Kyodo News, Ron Calunsod of Kyodo News: Sir what is the latest on the hiring by Japan of Filipino household workers? When will the first batch be deployed?

SEC. BELLO: Actually meron ng deployment, meron ng deployment. Pero kaya lang, very selective kasi what the Japanese government or the Japanese recruiters want are Japanese speaking, nurses or caregivers. 

What happens is that there are taken in, parang one probationary and they’re given one year to learn Nippongo.

Ang problema pag hindi ka nakapasa doon sa language ano, adoption mo, ‘yung Japanese language, male-lay off ka. But on going na ‘yan ganon, ongoing kaya lang very selective. Kasi unang-una ‘yung preference nila, so mga Japanese-speaking service workers, house service workers. Hindi na domestic helpers ang tawag sa kanila.

Mr. Ramos: Good morning uli sir. Sir, ‘yung binabanggit niyo na timeline niyo na end of 2017, kasi no more–

SEC. BELLO: No more ‘endo,’ no more illegal contractuals, opo.

Mr. Ramos: Is it really possible sir? We all know na even the President had asked for an extension of his six… ultimatum doon sa drug war. Pagdating po sa in your campaign to end contractualization, is it really possible?

SEC. BELLO: Sabi ko kanina, it’s doable, doable ‘yun, especially since we have the cooperation of management. In fact, I should have mentioned this earlier, coming from the Department of Trade and Industry and together with the management group, they came up with a win-win proposal. 

Ito, with this, assuming that labor will accept it, this will end the whole, everything eh. Kasi ang kanilang proposal ganito, we have a tripartite relationship where we have the principal, the service provider, and the worker. Okay, under ano ‘no, under ngayon ng present system, the worker is the contractual employee of the principal, pina-farm out niya doon sa service provider ‘di ba? 

Now under the proposal of the DTI and the management group, they say, the service provider or the agencies, manpower agencies, now assume the role of an employer. 

Sila na ang employer, ‘yung mga workers na ang employees. So there is now an employer-employee relationship. So wala ng contractuals wala ng  ‘endo.’ ‘Yun ang proposal nila.

That is the reason why we had three summit, one in Luzon, another one in Davao, and last Friday we had one in Cebu, to get the inputs from labor, ‘yan kung ano ang paningin nila dito sa win-win strategy ng DTI and management.

Mr. Ramos: Sir is the Labor Department, aware that most of these agencies are actually owned by the company, which hire ‘yung mga–?

SEC. BELLO:  Hindi naman lahat, meron din, meron din. Sometimes under the guise of cooperating. Alam naman natin’yan. 

Mr. Ramos: How do you deal with that situation? 

SEC. BELLO: Eh, bawal yun eh, bawal ‘yun. 

Mr. Ramos: So you will be compelling the—

SEC. BELLO: Bawal ‘yun. ‘Yun ang tinatawag na contracting only—

Mr. Ramos: Labor contracting, yes.

SEC. BELLO: Kaya nga bawal ‘yun. Pero ‘yung pinag-uusapan dito, how we will end ‘yung contractual relationsip and ‘yung pino-propose ng ano, ng DTI, ‘yung win-win solution nila, mawawala na ‘yung issue kasi ang magiging employer, ‘yung mismo agency at employee ‘yung worker. 

So, ang relationship is between the service provider and the worker, wala na ‘yung principal.

Maganda… kung on– Anong tawag dito? Kung on the surface, mabibigla ka, ang ganda nito, wala ng problema ng security of tenure dahil they are already regular employees. 

Pero ‘nong kinonsulta namin ang labor, ayaw, ayaw, against. They are vehemently against. On the three island summit, Luzon, Visayas, Mindanao, ayaw. Sabi nila, that is anti-union and there is no security of tenure.

But again, we still have to keep the balance and that is what is, that is our main responsibility in the Department, how to solve this ano, impasse between two sectors. 

Mr. Ramos: After the CPP issued its strongly-worded statement about the Marcos burial, is there a need for GPH peace panel to also issue its own statement regarding this ticklish issue?

SEC. BELLO: ’Yung aming panel? As I said, these are extraneous matters that should not affect the talks eh. Kailangan, hindi ma-detract ‘yung aming attention doon sa main issues which are the main issues that addresses the armed conflict, the root causes of the armed conflict. 

Kasi kung lahat ng ganyang issue, kung baga issue ni Espina, issue ni De Lima, pakikialaman namin, hindi kami makakausad. So, we stick to the issues, social and economic reforms, political and constitutional reform and finally the end of hostilities and disposition of forces. 

Mr. Ramos: Thank you sir. 

SEC. BELLO: Thank you Sweden. Asec, thank you very much ha.

ASEC. BANAAG: Buti na lang dumating si Secretary, at least nakapagtanong na kayo ng maraming questions. 

We proceed. We’d like to make few points only and of course we’d like to be grateful to the President and to all who accompanied the President in the APEC Summit in Peru which yielded positive results, nakita naman po natin.

And we would like to appreciate of course, ‘yung mga countries like Russia, China, and Vietnam for sharing kung ano man ‘yung alam nila sa teknolohiya, sa bagong teknolohiya on climate change mitigation at iba pang mga bagay na may concern ang ating bansa.

And of course, doon po sa comment ni former President Ramos kahapon, nirerespeto po natin ang opinion ni former President Ramos tungkol doon sa hindi pagdalo ni Presidente Duterte sa picture taking at sa gala dinner. 

However, the non-attendance of the President to the gala dinner at sa picture taking po should not be a barometer to measure whether the participation of the Philippines is successful or not. ‘Yun po ang stand natin po doon. 

And on the matter of the ERC issue on the President’s asking from the ERC officials to resign and they– Some of them, we believe refused to resign and they have made their positions clear. 

We understand that the ERC officials have fixed-terms of office, fixed-term of office and that is the very reason why the President is exercising his moral suasion for these officials to voluntarily resign. 

May pamantayan po ang ating Pangulo ukol sa kung papaano ang pamumuno ng isang ahensiya– And he has been clear about fighting corruption. 

And again, on the issue of the Marcos burial, on the issue raised by former President FVR in his press briefing yesterday, again, we respect the opinion of former President Ramos but the President’s position is very clear. 

The Supreme Court ruled on the basis of its appreciation of the legal aspect of the case, whether Martial Law led to human rights violations or some other political issue.

Thank you. 

Ba’t ang dami pa, easy lang ha, easy questions. 

Maricel Halili (TV 5): Hi ma’am. Follow-up on the Marcos burial. Also, FVR said yesterday that the administration or President Duterte now is losing friends because of what happened. May we have your reaction to that?

ASEC. BANAAG: Former FVR? Well, as I said, as we said, that is his opinion and of course, kung ano man po ‘yung opinion ni FVR, kung nauubusan na ng kaibigan si Presidente Duterte, opinion po niya ‘yan. 

It may not be true, we may not believe it, but that is his opinion and we would respect that. 

Ms. Halili: Pero ma’am, as of now, meron ba talagang kumakalas sa alliance because of what happened? 

ASEC. BANAAG: So far, wala pa naman, wala pa tayong alam at wala pang… Siyempre darating naman ang Pangulo, mag-uusap naman sila. 

We… the President has been consistent na may mga bagay, may mga bagay siyang gusto and not everyone would really agree to whatever his decisions are, but then if this is what he wants he pushes it. 

Ms. Halili: Ma’am on other issue. May we have an update with regards po dun sa mga Cabinet Secretaries and appointees na hindi na-confirm because I understand na-submit na daw ‘yung list sa Commission on Appointments, tama po ba? 

ASEC. BANAAG: Yes, Maricel. 

MARICEL HALILI: Opo, and wala daw po sa listahan si Secretary Gina Lopez, may we know the reason why? 

ASEC. BANAAG: Maybe, ano lang ‘yan, hindi lang siguro, na-overlook lang siguro ‘yan. It was just overlooked siguro.

Ms. Halili: So, isa-submit po uli ‘yung pangalan?

ASEC. BANAAG: Yes, of course.

Ms. Halili: Thank you ma’am.

Ms. Sancho: Hi Asec. ‘Yung regarding po sa ERC, balikan ko lang po. Humihingi po kasi ng appointment ‘yung head ng ERC kay Pangulong Duterte kasi gusto niyang i-explain ‘yung side nila. May we know kung may formal communications na po sa Palace para magkaroon po siya ng appointment sa Pangulo at kung kalian po ito magaganap?

ASEC. BANAAG: Well, wala pa tayong alam as to whether may pina-receive na formal communications, but they wanted, they were requesting for a dialogue with the President and pagdating ni Presidente, if he would like, he would like to, or he would entertain a dialogue, marami namang remedyo, if he would not want, we go through other legal remedies on how to go about the ERC issue.  

Ms.  Sancho: Nakarating na po ba ‘yun sa Pangulo ma’am, ‘yung… ‘yung iba sa kanila, hindi po magbibitiw sa pwesto despite po sa sinabi ng Pangulo na zero budget at ipabubuwag pa niya ito sa Congress?

ASEC.  BANAAG: Perhaps nakarating na sa Pangulo. They’re in-flight so hindi natin alam kung nakarating. But then, we know na he’s  being updated every now and then, everytime na may network silang nakukuha. 

Mr. Tuvera: Ma’am, clarification lang po doon ma’am, kasi last Friday po ata sinabi niyo dito sa press con na hindi po kayo aware or Malacañang is not aware na ililibing na si President Marcos on that day and even President Duterte yesterday sa Peru sinabi niya na hindi niya rin mismo alam. Pero ma’am may funeral flower po doon ma’am eh, saan ho galing ‘yun ma’am? And it is true na hindi po talaga natin alam na ililibing na on that day si President Marcos?

ASEC. BANAAG: We have been so consistent about that. It has been very clear na, insofar as ang Pangulo, the President is concerned, he wanted that kind of burial for the former President.

But as to the exact date, we don’t know, because that is a family decision, hindi naman tayo ang namatayan. So hindi naman ang gobyerno or ang administrasyon ang namatayan para lahat na lang ng bagay tungkol doon ay dedesisyunan. 

Marami pong problema ang ating bayan, it’s, we are not saying na, we are not saying na hindi issue ‘yung paglilibing, ang sinasabi lang natin po, hindi lang po ‘yan ang inaatupag ng ating Presidente, marami pong mga bagay. 

And so, insofar as doon sa bulaklak or sa wreath na galing sa Presidente, I don’t think, personally, I don’t really think na pati ‘yung mga pagbibigay ng bulaklak, kung kailan, ngayong araw na ba ‘to or bukas or sa makalawa eh magpadala kayo ng bulaklak, hindi naman siguro naiisip ng ating Pangulo ‘yan. 

Mr. Tuvera: Ma’am sa Marcos burial pa rin po. Ma’am kasi si President Duterte, there are times na nagbabago ‘yung kanyang desisyon sa mga bagay-bagay. Halimbawa, ‘di ba dati sinasabi niya na against siya dun sa Paris Climate agreement and then kinuha niya ‘yung consensus ‘nong kanyang Cabinet, ma’am do you think President Duterte will raise this issue before the members of the Cabinet? 

ASEC. BANAAG: The issue of?

Mr. Tuvera: The Marcos burial?

ASEC. BANAAG: The Marcos burial. I don’t think so. He had been consistent about it. Even during the campaign.

Mr. Tuvera: Pero ma’am kasi–

ASEC. BANAAG: Iba ang isyu ng climate change sa isyu ng burial. Ito nirerespeto niya ang isang patay at gusto niya ito, so ginawa lang po niya kung ano ang sa isip niya ay gusto niya naaayon sa batas.

Mr. Tuvera: Okay ma’am. Thank you.

Trisha Macas (GMA News Online): Hi ma’am. Just to connect, still on the Marcos burial. There are growing, not really growing but there are plans of protest in the coming days. I think on November 25 and November 30. Yes. So, baka po may message ‘yung Palace or is the Palace alarmed na may mga ganitong protesta na pinaplano ang iba’t ibang grupo?

ASEC. BANAAG: Yes, again the Palace has been consistent to acknowledge kung may protesta man, may mga protest man, for as long as hindi sila magkakasakitan and for the PNP of course to exercise maximum tolerance pag masyadong emotional ‘yung mga nagpro-protesta. Let’s, let’s keep it that way.

They can voice out, they can ventilate all their grievances, they can voice out their opinions on the matter. But then it has to be just like that.

Ms. Macas: Just another question but another topic. Recently, Vice President Robredo said that, VP Robredo– I just want to quote her ma’am. This is about abuse against women, I think ‘yung mga comments online especially, I think, this is related to the rumor that she was pregnant. Si VP  Robredo po. So she voiced out her concern na, the women daw are now reduced to their bodies and it’s very unacceptable here on our society. This is abuse against women po. So I just want to get the Palace comment on this?

ASEC. BANAAG: That is personal to the Vice President. 

Ms. Macas: Yes, but she, kasi ma’am, I’m relating to what happened to her. She’s now calling parang, she said na, this remarks are inappropriate advances versus women, against women, should have no place in our society. And then, just earlier Senator Risa Hontiveros filed bills seeking penalties against misogynistic attacks online, after, I think, a woman was parang na-abuse yata siya sa isang comment, there was unappropriate comment against her.

ASEC. BANAAG: So that was comment by a netizen?

Ms. Macas: Yes.

ASEC BANAAG: Yes. You know, sometimes things may go haywire on online media. And that sometimes, we cannot, we cannot, we cannot– How do you call that? I don’t know how we could regulate social media so that netizens could not, you know, push in very under the belt issues. 

But of course that is their, that is up to them. We cannot comment on that, on that matter. Of course it is not fair, being a woman to receive such, such comment which are below the belt. 

But then, again we respect VP Robredo and all women, especially so that sometimes we could be ridiculed for anything.  And as public servants of course, our life is an open book.

Ms. Salaverria: Good morning ma’am. Clarification lang on the ERC issue. You said the President was exercising his moral suasion, so he, he’s only making a request to the ERC Officials. Is he in a position to actually order them… removed from their post?   

ASEC BANAAG: We have other remedies, under the law and he is asking them to resign because of alleged corruption issues in the ERC. 

That’s what the President is asking. There are other remedies, investigation is one, preventive suspension. 

And the President even had raised other options. So once he arrives we’ll see how these options would push through.

Ms. Salaverria: So you’re saying, if they don’t leave their post as… to comply with the President’s directive, these other remedies will be called upon?


Ms. Salaverria: Thank you.

Mr. Ramos: Good morning ma’am. Just a follow-up doon sa tanong ni Ted kanina. Because last week the PNP Chief Director General Dela Rosa was quoted as saying that the President knew of the, he was told in advance. But we all know the President has said na hindi niya talaga alam, he was not informed before hand regarding the date. So, is the Palace now saying the NCRPO and the PNP Chief are lying about what–?

ASEC. BANAAG: I just read the transcript of the article on the interview of General Bato. I read it last Friday and I think he was referring, General Bato was referring to assistance at the Libingan ng mga Bayani. Not about announcement na, o bukas General Bato, may ililibing diyan.

It’s not about that. General Bato was saying na pag ililibing somehow, ganito ang intindi ko doon. Pag ililibing please assist, para hindi magka-gulo sa Libingan ng mga Bayani. As to when, walang na-mention po.

Mr. Ramos: And also, is the President, Malacañang alarmed by ‘yun nga, ‘yung there two big protest which are organized by those against the Marcos burial would snowball into bigger mass action against the President?

ASEC. BANAAG: It’s not about, it’s not about being alarmed. It’s about respecting, if they would really want to, like I said a while ago. Kung gusto nilang mag-protesta, nirerespeto naman ‘yan ng Pangulo. And the President has been so clear about that.

If you want to voice your opinions for as long na hindi magkagulo, huwag kang magkagulo kasi magkakaibang panig na ‘yun. Pwedeng may magka-ibang panig diyan siguro. We don’t know what would come. 

However, we would always, we would– The President has always been consistent about that na kapag may rally man, may malaking rally man na sabihin nila ‘yung opinyon nila, walang problema po doon.

Mr. Ramos: Ma’am just recently the President and President Ramos met here in Malacañang apparently to thresh out their differences regarding the climate change issue and other things which did not, parang they did not sit well with the former President. Does the Palace see another meeting between these, between the two leaders, regarding this issue on the Marcos burial?

ASEC.  BANAAG: Perhaps, perhaps. We don’t know yet, we don’t know yet, but—In fairness to former President Ramos, he’s been clear na there are some issues na he may not agree to, decisions of the President to which he may agree to, but he still part of… he is one big brother.

Mr. Ramos: Okay last na. Former Senator Saguisag and other Martial law victims are calling for, those who are in the Cabinet who are criticizing the President about his decision to allow the Marcos burial to resign from their post. What’s the take of Malacañang on this ma’am?

ASEC. BANAAG: The Cabinet Secretaries are, they’re, they hold position at the pleasure of the President. And if the President trusts his Cabinet secretaries then I don’t think there’s any reason for them to resign. 

They may always, they may not agree on various fronts but then, let it not be said that this would mean, this would mean resigning.

Because they have other, other programs to which they would want to implement together. Like for instance, Secretary Taguiwalo, he may not agree, she may not agree. 

However, there are some fronts to which he would agree with the President in the social, social welfare and development of children and relief operations, sa bagyo, sa lahat ng bagay na pro-poor. Alam naman natin na nagkaka-isa sila, as to that. Is not all about the Marcos burial.

Vanz Fernandez (DZRJ): Good afternoon ma’am.

ASEC. BANAAG: Good afternoon.

Ms. Fernandez:  Any reaction po sa sinabi po ni Senator Lacson regarding this na meron daw pork barrel daw sa budget ng DPWH?

ASEC. BANAAG: For 2017 na budget? Well, we haven’t seen the budget of the DPWH. However, we would, we would not preempt any, any comment from the DPWH because they are the agency who would best explain kung ano ‘yung nasa budget nila.

Ms. Fernandez: Okay ma’am, on another issue. Pabor po ba ang Pangulo na magkaroon ng third term ang Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas Governor?

ASEC. BANAAG: That we are not yet certain. Perhaps they could sit first with the, their finance, finance consultants or advisers as to that matter.

Ms. Fernandez:  Thank you ma’am

Vic Somintac (DZEC): Ma’am can we get the Palace reaction, dito sa kakapasok lang na report confirmed na po, naaresto po sa San Juan La Union si Ronnie Dayan. The alleged–

ASEC. BANAAG: Confirmed na?

Mr. Somintac: Opo, the alleged driver, lover ni Senator Leila.

ASEC. BANAAG: Sigurado ka diyan ha?

Mr. Somintac: 11:30 po. Confirmed na po.

ASEC. BANAAG: Last, last Friday, sabi mo confirmed na ‘to sabi ni General Bato. Nagulat ako sayo last Friday ‘eh. Kaya tinanong ko ngayon ko. Sabi ko, nako confirmed ba ‘yan. Anyway sige. I’ll get back to you soon as na-confirm natin sa PNP.

Mr. Somintac: 11:30 ma’am. Talagang confirmed.

ASEC BANAAG: Talaga? Anong–?

Mr. Somintac: It’s General Bato, you ask General Bato.

ASEC. BANAAG: O, mag-iisang oras na, sige mamaya pagkatapos, tatawagan natin ang PNP and soon we can confirm. At tsaka pag nadala na, kasi nadala na dito sa Manila–

Mr. Somintac: I think ma’am, hindi ako ‘yung nagtanong sa inyo regarding Ronnie Dayan last Friday–

ASEC. BANAAG: Hindi tungkol sa Marcos burial, sabi mo nandoon si General Bato sa Libingan ng mga Bayani. Sabi niya, inutusan daw siya kahapon. Nagulat ako. Kaya ngayon nagugulat pa rin ako kasi sabi ko, 11:30–

Mr. Somintac:  Confirmed ma’am, confirmed. Naaresto na.

ASEC. BANAAG: Confirmed na ba? Puntahan natin mamaya pagdating.

Mr. Somintac: Any… Halimbawa, halimbawa confirmed… Kung ma-confirm niyo ma’am, kasi hindi niyo pa kino-confirm.


Mr. Somintac: Kasi sinabi ni Secretary Aguirre noong nakaraan na briefing natin dito. Ronnie Dayan was protected by local politician somewhere in the North. Naaresto po siya sa La Union. ‘Yun bang mga local officials doon subject din po ba ng any investigation or verification coming from the Office of the President, Asec?

ASEC. BANAAG: Huwag naman Office of the President. Sa DOJ ‘yan ‘di ba? Sa Department of Justice ‘di ba? So tingnan natin mamaya kung saan talaga siya nahuli at sino ba ang pumo-protekta kasi baka dumaan lang siya doon, ‘di ba? Hindi natin alam kung anong instances ‘nong pagkakahuli ni Mr. Dayan, kung talagang nahuli siya. O breaking news na naman ‘yan ha.

Mr. Somintac: Kung ma-confirm niyo uli ma’am, halimbawa, ano po ang reaksyon ng Palasyo, ito ba’y makakatulong dito sa kaso against Senator Leila De Lima?

ASEC. BANAAG: Yes, hopefully kasi– After the allegations, siya daw, daw, kasi alegasyon naman siya. Siya daw ang bagman. So tingnan po natin kung papano ang imbestigasyon, mahirap mag-judge kasi nga, may mga, may, nasa DOJ naman ‘yung kaso at hindi tayo ang, hindi naman ang Palasyo mismo ang, ang nag-iimbestiga. May DOJ naman po tayo na tumitingin doon sa bagay na ‘yan, diyan sa bagay na ‘yan.

Okay na? Maraming salamat.