Press Briefing

Mindanao Hour Press Briefing by Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella with Secretary Ramon Lopez Department of Trade and Industry and Assistant Secretary Kristoffer James Purisima Deputy Administrator for Administration Office of Civil Defense

Event Mindanao Hour
Location Malacañang Press Briefing Room, New Executive Building

OPENING STATEMENTS:

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: Thank you. I’d like to welcome you to our newly refurbished briefing room. It’s an excellent shade of blue. But it should be bright inside.

So this morning, to give us updates on the Task Force Bangon Marawi, we have Asec. Kristoffer James Purisima, Deputy Administrator for Administration of the Office of Civil Defense.

Also, we have Department of Trade Industry Secretary Ramon Lopez joining us today and aside from sharing DTI’s part in Marawi rehab, he will also discuss matters on foreign direct investments and consumer confidence.

So ladies and gentlemen, we welcome Sec. Mon Lopez and Asec. Toby Purisima. Toby…

ASEC. PURISIMA: Thank you, Spokesperson Abella. Good morning, Malacañang Press Corps, here are the updates from your Task Force Bangon Marawi.

The post-conflict needs assessment for the municipality of Butig, Lanao del Sur was conducted last 7 to 9 October 2017.

The team which conducted the PCNA was composed of technical experts from various government agencies. While further validation and consolidation of report is ongoing, the preliminary report was already presented by the PCNA team.

About 2,450 families or 12,250 individuals from 12 barangays in Butig were displaced to nearby municipalities, most of which were home-based due to the armed conflict between government forces and an ISIS-inspired Maute group, which transpired on November 2016.

Public and private structures were destroyed and agricultural resources as a source of livelihood and socio-economic activities were damaged.

Because of this, Butig Sangguniang Bayan Resolution No. 15 on the declaration of a state of calamity was issued then.

With agriculture as the primary source of livelihood in Butig, most of the damages and losses incurred was in the agricultural sector.

Production losses in crops, such as rice, corn, coffee, other vegetables and fish ponds were noted in the initial analysis conducted.

The validators also observed that majority of the agricultural lands were abandoned due to safety and security concerns.

Water source in the irrigation system was also affected due to the encounter between the military forces and lawless elements.

The construction of irrigation canals was disrupted because of safety and security issues.

Damages observed in the municipal hall and public market were very minimal. During the PCNA team’s visit in Butig Regional Health Unit, supplies, medical apparatus, and equipment were noticeably lost and damaged.

In addition, the PCNA team also visited the municipality of Piagapo, which also experienced similar skirmishes early this year.

There were damaged agricultural produce due to abandonment by owners who fled for their safety and as a result of which, they were not able to harvest their crops.

Some interventions to be done in Butig are the immediate repair of school buildings, including agricultural inputs and capacity building.

For Piagapo, agricultural input shall also be done.

Meanwhile, the post-conflict needs assessment, particularly the damage and loss assessment or DALA in other areas in Marawi City declared cleared shall begin on Monday, 16 October 2017.

And the schedule of the PCNA validators in Marawi will be as follows:

On October 14, the teams, the team members will arrive from… and they will come from different government agencies and they will have a security briefing at the national emergency operations center, that will be tomorrow.

On October 15, on Sunday, there will be a brief re-orientation of PCNA methodologies as well as team preparations.

And then, from October 16 to 27, field deployment in cleared areas in zone 0 to 12 within Marawi City will be done and which will include data analysis, consolidation, as well as workshop.

The schedule might change of course depending on the progress of AFP’s clearing operations in uncleared areas in Marawi City.

That is all I have. Thank you.

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: Sec. Mon…

SEC. LOPEZ: Thank you. Good morning, friends.

For the DTI, we’ve launched several programs that would cover basically livelihood programs, market access programs, financing, as well as skills training ‘no.

So on livelihood program, actually what we’ve done is we’ve provided, aside from the usual entrepreneurship trainings to those who can and are willing already to start with start with their entrepreneurship endeavor.

So we gave entrepreneurship training. And at the same time, we profiled them. Many of them, we found out, are into sewing garments making.

So immediately, the sewing machines that we have in some of the negosyo centers were given to them. I understand there’s about 14 sewing machines already given to them.

At the same time, we also provided the raw material, mga tela, and the sinulid, you know, threads, needles, and all the requirements.

So that they can immediately start producing the garments, the malongs, lahat ng pwede nilang ibenta.

So that’s been provided. Then the good thing, so we’ve been and upon further survey, we found out that there’s an opportunity for about 100 more sewing machines.

So what we did, we scouted for another 100. There’s another 50 that already arrived through the courtesy, I think the donation from PBSP.

And it will be distributed in the next two days. It’s being assembled now. Disassembled kasi dinala sa atin. It’s already in the Marawi area, in Iligan City.

And there’ll be another 50 sewing machines that we will procure from the DTI side.

We’ve allocated some after realigning some funds or savings from what we were supposed to give out sa ‘Yolanda’ rehabilitation.

So nabigay na kasi lahat ng requirements doon sa ‘Yolanda,’ so we are rechanneling some for Marawi. And we’ve gotten also the President’s approval in the realignment.

And so that will be another 50, so total of about 140 sewing machines.

So the initially produced materials actually were given market access, binigyan na natin sila ng access to mga trade fairs, mga tiangge, that were done in Kahimunan, Cagayan de Oro o Kahimunan Trade Fair and also sa Diyandi Festival in Iligan, still ongoing, 45 days.

And… so they’ve been selling there, mga IDP exhibitors, 58 individuals. Those who have produced the garments. Nakakabenta na rin sila as of the first two weeks of about P183,000.

So practically, lahat ‘yun tubo nila kasi they were given with the raw materials also. So sweat equity sila, labor equity.

So again, that is to jumpstart ‘yung… the bringing them back to normalcy because tinatanong din natin, “What were you doing before, ‘yung before the crisis,” and ito ‘yung mga ginagawa nila.

So tinulungan natin sila doon at tutulungan pa through additional sewing machines.

We’re coordinating also with other NGOs. Let’s say on baking. So those who are interested in bread making, we will be giving that kind of livelihood assistance.

On trucking, ‘yung mga… they call it bongo. Para ngang Bong Go, ano. They call it bongo. Mga elf trucks daw, mga for delivery.

So immediately, they can also provide trucking services, hauling services doon sa mga kalalakihan na gustong mag-ganun, mag-transportation and delivery services.

We were also told na some are… can do rice milling. So we will be providing portable rice milling facilities through our SSF budget.

So far, we are realigning about P40 million from some savings in the DTI to realign it to Marawi for this purpose.

In addition, because we’ve been really aggressive in trying to give them market access because at the end of the day, when you have a business, you have a product to sell, you need a place to sell in, and ginawa nating mga initiatives dito.

So for example, ‘yung mga trade fairs and mga weekend shops. Si DTI paid for the pwesto para meron silang titindahan.

We are also talking to Robinsons Iligan City, the newly opened Iligan City para mabigyan sila rin ng pwesto.

Now, I’ve talked to the owners led by a friend. Si Ms. Robina Gokongwei and she immediately said that they will allocate the space.

Immediately, ang may sinabi sila sa ground floor, it would be an island kiosk na maraming pwedeng sellers doon.

So bibisitahin nga namin dapat today, na-postpone lang ako. But I’ll do it next week so that we can assure na merong pwesto doon na many sellers can be present, can sell their products.

That’s being done. And the other thing is we proposed to the President, right now, we can request mga LGUs, so that public markets around the country, or pwedeng near or in the Mindanao area, can be encouraged to allocate maybe limang pwesto, walong pwesto in the palengke as their support to Bangon Marawi efforts. So that again, those will be instant selling areas.

At palengke, bakit palengke? Kasi natural na bilihan na eh. Doon na pumupunta ‘yung tao.

Mahirap kasi bigyan sila ng pwesto sa malayong lugar at wala namang tao. Mafu-frustrate, walang bibili.

So sa palengke ang kakausapin natin. So ngayon mag-request tayo, hopefully the President can probably help us endorse and the DILG, DTI can work with the LGUs so that we that we can work on opening up more stalls, market stalls for the Bangon Marawi.

Pag nabuksan natin ‘yan, imagine ang daming pwesto na pwede ng tindahan ng mga nagnenegosyo.

Ang mga nasa Marawi daw po, we were told, ay talagang mga negosyante. So maraming tinitinda.

Marami ring dinonate na mga logs, confiscated by DENR, ido-donate. So for wood working activities, mga wood furniture, handicrafts.

So ang DTI at TESDA will also provide mga training services so that they can also convert the wood into products.

So on the skills training, of course TESDA is also working, would have a program for skills training on many possible skills.

Ang DA, I understand, would also have a line up of programs, mga fingerlings, mga bangka na pwedeng ibenta doon sa mga into fishing.

And then of course ‘yung financing natin, as you know, we have the Pondo Para sa Pagbabago at Pag-Asenso. Immediately, pwede tayong magpautang doon.

We are also working within the SB Corporation, parang Islamic financing scheme ‘no na ibibigay para pwede ring mag-direct lending ang SB Corp. for this particular project. So ‘yun muna tayo.

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: Thank you, Sec. Mon, Asec. Toby.

Before going to the other items, we just like to announce for — As of — data as of Thursday, 12th of October. Today’s… data as of yesterday:

Enemies neutralized, 813 or plus two;

Civilians killed, 47;

Civilians rescued, no change, 1,750;

Firearms recovered, 832 or plus 3;

Unexploded ordnance recovered, 44;

Improvised… IED recovered, 7;

Killed-in-action, 160;

Buildings cleared 12, as of October 11, 37.

Cash donations as of 3:00 p.m., 12 October:

The status of cash donations for the Marawi AFP casualty is P102,647,084.03; and

Marawi Internally Displaced Persons, IDPs, is P1,136,595

On other matters, the Philippine Stock Exchange:

The local stock market continues to ignore the political noise and hits a new peak yesterday when the index closed for the first time above the 8,400 mark.

We are confident that we would be able to attain our growth target for the year and sustain our economic momentum as we move forward with our plans and programs, including rolling out the Build-Build-Build Infrastructure Plan.

Also, of interest, Pulse Asia’s approval and trust ratings:

The Palace welcomes the results of latest Pulse Asia’s nationwide survey on the performance and trust ratings of top Philippine government officials.

Despite the multifaceted political noise, President Duterte is still the most approved and the most trusted government official in the Philippines today with an 80 percent approval rating and 80 percent trust rating. Take note.

The survey, conducted last September 24 to 30 at the height of the demolition job against the President, even implicating some members of the President’s family.

We hope these survey results inspire us in the government that despite the odds and challenges, we continue to provide a comfortable life for all Filipinos in an environment free from illegal drugs and criminality.

This is the way we return the overwhelming confidence and trust bestowed by our people on the President.

A few questions.

QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS:

ASEC. PURISIMA: Sir, may I invite everyone to view the video of our Task Force Bangon Marawi Executive Director Cesar B. Yano.

Undersecretary Cesar Yano ensuring our initiatives to engage with Ulamas and traditional leaders and our IDPs in various evacuation centers as well as our psychosocial support services.

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: We’ll view the video later. Let’s just proceed with the questions.

Rose Novenario (Hataw): Good morning, sir. Kay DTI Sec po, Lopez. Sir, maganda po ‘yung mga pinakikita ninyong mga pagtaas po ng sa stock market at kung ano-ano pa po. Pero sabi po ng mga pang-karaniwan mamamayan, hindi raw po ito nagre-reflect sa palengke o kaya sa tunay na — Haliimbawa, sa public market kasi po tuloy ‘yung pagtaas ng presyo ng mga pangunahing bilihin. Pati po ‘yung bigas, halos linggo-linggo po tumataas po ‘yung presyo ng bilihin… ng presyo po ng bigas. Ano po ‘yung masasabi natin dito?

SEC. LOPEZ: Alam mo sa… Meron kaming systematic monitoring system, mga teams pumupunta sa mga palengke and lahat nung reports sa amin ay talagang napaka-steady ng mga presyo.

Maaring merong ilang produkto na from time to time tumataas because these are agriculture products na supply and demand.

So noon may time na umakyat ang garlic, may time umakyat ang ilang produkto. I think bigas. Pero if you look at — even in the Iligan City area, na malapit sa kaguluhan sa Marawi, ‘yung mga presyo doon ay napaka-steady.

Nasa 30 to… range ng P35 per kilo to a high of P49 per kilo. So hindi gumagalaw siya kahit nung may time na… at hanggang ngayon na may kaguluhan.

At ang monitoring po namin ay consistently done every week. And even if you track it, talaga hong napaka-steady.

At if you remember, merong issue pa nga noon, ‘yung sinabi ng DTI na hindi na dapat dadaan sa amin ‘yung approval ng SRP dahil wala naman tayo sa price control system.

At ang may nagsasabi na tataaasan lahat ng presyo base sa survey ay talagang wala pa ring tumataas. Kasi napakalakas ng competition lalo na doon sa mga kategorya, mga categories na nagko-compete.

Sa mga de lata, sa pasta. Even ‘yung talking about about the Noche Buena products. Nung tiningnan po namin, unfortunately ang na-highlight siguro ‘yung three brands out of the ten brands na nagsabing mag-i-increase ng P1 or P2.

Pero hindi na-highlight ‘yung mga seven na nagsabing hindi sila mag-i-increase. Kaya ang talagang pinaka-storya talaga doon actually ay even for the, looking at the Noche Buena products talagang walang price increase na…

In fact, during the Christmas holidays, mapapansin ninyo, napakarami ng mga bundling activities and promo activities because everybody’s trying to grab market shares from each other.

Unlike if you talk of de lata, pasta, naka-bundle ang sauce, mga cheese nakasama rin minsan doon, pare-pareho po at hindi ‘yun tumataas. And maga-guarantee ko ‘yun.

Pumunta tayo sa grocery, talagang very competitive ‘yung presyo lalo na sa mga kategorya na napakadami ng brands. Away-away ho ‘yun. Kanya-kanyang pakulo, promo, bundling, at diyan ho ‘yung marami — maraming nangyayari.

So, siguro tingnan natin ‘yung pangkalahatan. ‘Yung talagang average. Baka kasi anecdotal ‘yung iba, na may sinasabi, may nagtaas. Totoo, sa ibang tindahan siguro, pero pumunta po kayo sa regular market talaga, palengke, supermarket, kung saan ang presyo ho na mino-monitor natin ay napaka-steady.

Reymund Tinaza (Bombo Radyo): Follow up, sir. Excuse me, Secretary Lopez. Sir, what’s your barometer or your indicator of the investor confidence? Kasi, Secret — Undersecretary Abella had been saying of the rise on the — the local stock market, the PSE, where in fact, this is impacted or affected by the external factors. Howev — in the other side, there are reports that the foreign direct investment dropped. So how can we reconcile those two ends, Secretary?

SEC. LOPEZ: Okay, Reymund. In fact, ‘yung sa recently na nabalita — nababalita about foreign direct investments, the way we look at it po kasi, na-highlight na… In foreign direct investment, maraming component — equity, reinvestments, mga placements, ano.

And, unfortunately, na-highlight ‘yung equity part. But the way we look at it kasi, foreign direct investments, lahat ng investments, kasi lahat ng components na ‘yun will create jobs, will — will also have multiplier effects.

So, ang sa amin, nung tinitingnan namin ‘yung galaw ng FDI, yes, may drop — may drop siya, minus 14 percent. At masasabi natin na these are all really just a matter of timing. Kasi, tiningnan namin lahat nung mga indication.

For example, may study, even from the Japanese Chamber of Commerce and 2016 ha.

Sinabi doon, “Ano sa mga all ASEAN countries…” actually, nandito yata ‘yun or wala dito… All ASEAN countries, Philippines ‘yung may pinakamataas percentage na sinasabi nila, “We have a firm business plan, na pupunta kami sa Pilipinas.”

Another set of indicators, ‘yung mga — base na lang ‘to sa mga investment — inward investment missions that we are receiving at the Board of Investments.

Comparing January to September 2017 over January to September 2016, may mga 25 percent increase in visitors and interest — investment interest.

So, tingin namin dun, ito talaga, they are all in different stages of studies — feasibility studies. And just to let you know, some are already coming already. May tapos na ‘yung kanilang study.

I just had a recent visitor, chairman ng big Chinese company, the biggest real estate from China. But in — in coming to the Philippines, he has other businesses coming to the Philippines. Ang interest nila, magtayo ng iron and steel facility, na gusto rin nating buuin ‘yung industriya na ‘yun.

So, meron tayong indications from local investors na may mga investment in iron and steel, meron ding from China. So lahat ‘yan are — are all adding up.

What I’m saying here is that, beyond the FDI even, if you look at local and foreign, ‘yun ‘yung sinasabi nating ‘yung growth nandoon din.

Kasi ang local ngayon ang talagang sobrang lakas because the confidence is so much, na ang local registration of investments natin ay 33 percent up, January to September this year versus last year.

So ‘pag local and foreign ang pinag-usapan, ang laki ng — ng growth. And that shows really the — the confidence. So, masasabi ko, ‘yung from the foreign, might be a matter of timing na nag-aaral pa sila, and they are all conducting feasibility studies, those who have come over and visited the — the BOI.

Investment delegations, dumadami. And you know, whenever we go out, parati po nilang sinasabi… Oh, by the way, before I go there, also, there is this one big investment — one-time investment that took place last year.

Kaya medyo, kung titingnan mo, may an — extraordinarily, mataas ‘yung base nung last year. There’s this big investment in a foreign Japanese company buying a bank or invested in a bank here.

Dun pa lang, 800 million dollars na, more than a one-month equivalent FDI. So, ang typical FDI, mga 400 million eh, ganyan, so — or 300 million or more than, three or more than two — two-months equivalent. So, it’s an unusually very high base, sabihin na natin. And that’s one time.

I was about to say that, in every — everywhere we go, pagka — tulad ngayon, sila — the economic team, managers are in the US. I also came from New York a few weeks ago, and EU, and even Germany, and Japan.

Na, pag kausap namin mga business chambers, wala hong nababanggit actually mga ibang — itong mga issues. They’re all just bullish on the growth.

Ang sina-cite nila, economic data. Philippines is on a breakout. They want to invest in the Philippines of tomorrow, not — not the Philippines of — not only of today. Because they look at the — the growth rate, that’s 6.5 percent; they look at industry growth, manufacturing, solid components, growing at seven to eight percent, that used to be one-percent growth only.

And — and even agriculture turned around to six percent, coming from again, a negative three-percent, four percent in previous quarters.

Tapos, ‘yung business confidence index, this is another index na pwede nating tingnan. The latest report we got, about — I think it’s 38 percent positive, business confidence index.

Consumer confidence index, if you remember, in the early part of 2016 and before that, that used to be a negative number. Now, it’s positive 10 percent.

So when the consumer confidence index is positive, you can imagine, ‘yung business confidence din, tumataas, kasi alam nilang, “Ah, willing magbili at mag — tumataas ang purchasing power pag bumababa rin ang — ang unemployment, kasi mas maraming employed.”

So, so many things happening po. The demographics, 105 million, and so on and so forth.

Marami tayong pwedeng banggitin na kung mag-i-invest sila dito. Kasi sabi nila, anlaki ng population, very young, 23 years old average age, employed, growing middle class, going into the Philippines will allow them that market here, since may ASEAN tayo; FTA will allow them access to market in ASEAN, will allow them access to the market of ASEAN plus six other countries na ka-partner ng ASEAN.

So dun lang po, they’re go — they’re looking into a much, much larger, sabihin nating market — target market or population. So, that’s the reason why a lot of interests are still here. So, masasabi nating timing lang.

Mr. Tinaza: Sir, you just mentioned interesting word. You came — you said you just came from EU, Germany, US.

SEC. LOPEZ: Yeah, yeah.

Mr. Tinaza: So, how did they receive you, sir, in light of them being bad — badmouthed regularly by the President?

SEC. LOPEZ: No, no, no. Actually, ano, they received us well. I was with Senator — former Senator Ed Angara, former Senate President.

You know, the reason why we went there, gusto naming ipakita na we are open to dialogues and — and we would like to update them on many things, because this is in relation to our — our ability to keep the GSP Plus.

Because, as you know, may mga lumalabas na baka they’re concerned baka mawala ‘yung GSP Plus. So pumunta kami to make sure.

Kasi ngayon, may evaluation, October to December. That’s why nung September, bumalik kami dun — ah hindi bumalik — pumunta kami sa Brussels. Iba pa ‘yung trip nung Germany, more of investment ano ‘yun, promotion.

But on the — on the process, it’s really to update them on the many things happening here, both on the economic side, at si Senator Angara handled naman ‘yung mga ibang concerns.

And — and one thing we assured them, una they appreciated the high-level presence, the open dialogue we — we reinstituted. They appreciated also… We — what we told them kasi, “Please don’t be carried away by the international media releases,” na ma — mababahala ka talaga, mako-concern ka pag ‘yun ang nabasa mo.

Kasi, ano ba ‘yung nare-release sa international media? ‘Di syempre, kung may balitang gum — nanggaling dito, lalo na at that time, naalala ko at the height of ‘yung mga teenagers na mga namatay.

So we were telling them na may mga ganung incidents na unfortunately, nangyari.

But our President — number one, we assured them na ang Presidente natin, ayaw talaga ng mga abuso na ganun. That’s why 1,000 policemen na-replace, etcetera, lahat nung efforts may investigation.

Tapos, sinabi rin natin na ang ating country, since even — we’re even one of the signatory dun sa Convention on Human Rights na talagang up to now, we adhere to the principle of protecting human rights.

In fact, natuwa sila na ‘yung sinabi namin, ‘yung adherence to human rights is just one thing.

The other thing is, we mentioned, our President is a President na ayaw niyang may naaapi. ‘Di ba nahahalata naman ninyo na galit na galit siya ‘pag naaapi ‘yung mahihirap, ‘yung maliliit na tao.

So, kinwento namin na kaya nga ngayon, tuloy ‘yung program natin sa micro SME. Tulungan, i-empower ‘yung maliliit. ‘Yung may CCT program tayo, may universal healthcare para dun sa walang pambili ng gamot, meron tayong free education na — na recently passed at sinuportahan.

Meron pang free irrigation na tinutulungan talaga ‘yung mga farmers dahil nararamdaman ng Presidente, wala na nang pambayad itong mga farmers, sisingilin pa ng irrigation.

And ganun ‘yung mga programa na pinakita natin na talagang pro-poor ang ating Presidente at ine-empower ‘yung mga un-empowered.

So, we presented these — these stories. Si Senator Angara also mentioned that our President has welcomed the setting up of mga monitoring centers, which they appreciated, because sabi nila, that shows na wala tayong tinatago o talagang willing tayong mag — sumama sila, mag-monitor sila nungg mga itong campaign natin sa anti-illegal drugs.

So, we are basically correcting misperceptions. Sabi namin, “you look at the real numbers.” ‘Yung na-highlight sa international media are the isolated cases, a few of them. But, you for — you forgot, ‘yung 108,000 na peaceful arrest, hindi na-highlight. Hindi lumalabas. Napakadaming peaceful arrest. And — and ang crime has — crime rate has gone down.

So, these are the benefits. That’s the reason why we are still getting very good satisfaction rating.

I mean, the President is getting very good satisfaction rating because of all these things na ‘pag nasa baba ang minonitor (monitor) mo, nandoon talaga ‘yung nararamdaman ‘yung improvements.

And sa mga kanto-kanto nila, neighborhood nila, wala nang siga-siga, wala nang nangho-holdap, at nabawasan talaga. Dahil nga, you are bringing back discipline and law and order.

Leila Salaverria (Philippine Daily Inquirer): For Spokesperson Abella. Good morning, sir. Where does the relationship between the Philippines and the European Union stand now in light of the President’s statements yesterday?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: Well, first and foremost, you have to understand that you know, he was — the President’s expression of outrage was in reaction to statements by this seven-member delegation of the International Delegates of Progressive Alliance, I believe, which was — which falsely portrayed itself as an EU miss — mission.

So, this delegation’s irresponsible statements protesting the alleged… You know, the perception was, it demeans our status as a sovereign nation, to which the President was reacting to, okay.

So the call of the President for the — must be taken in this light, you know. For so long as the President has tolerated these interferences, he has decided that these must stop if only to preserve the integrity and dignity of our state.

He was actually… In other words, he was actually outraged at that particular situation.

Ms. Salaverria: Yes, sir. But he repeatedly mentioned the European Union. So are we going to issue a clarification to the block?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: To what?

Ms. Salaverria: Apologize to… Because he repeatedly mentioned the EU. He name-checked them eh. Sir, he didn’t refer to the parliamentarians.

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: Actually… Yeah. Actually, there’s some conversation going on behind that… Alright, so…

SEC. LOPEZ: Actually, maganda ‘yung sinabi nung EU na…

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: Go ahead.

SEC. LOPEZ: Actually, if I may ano ‘no? ‘Di ba just today or I think yesterday, the — the EU mentioned hindi kanila ‘yung grupo na ‘yun and hindi, hindi mi — hindi nila mission ‘yun ano ‘no.

And so they disowned it and what they highlighted is that a lot of collaborative, positive efforts and programs they’re doing with the Philippine government.

Ms. Salaverria: So sir, in short, we’re good. I mean, the Philippines and the EU, how are we right now? We’re good?

SEC. LOPEZ: ‘Yung reaction nung Presidente, tulad ng sabi ni Sec. Abella is really on that instance na itong grupo na ‘to na parang nakikialam na naman sa atin. Nakakagalit talaga ‘yun, kasi wala dapat ano eh, interference.

Maingat din ang totoong EU na mga kausap namin. Maingat sila.

[If — if I may, Mr. Sec.?]

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: Yeah.

SEC. LOPEZ: In fact, nung nandun kami, na-notice namin ni Senator Angara, they were… Hindi sila ‘yung lecturing type.

They were actually saying, “Tell us how we can help.” Ganun ang sinasabi nila as we were describing the anti-illegal drug campaign, for example, and all these issues.

After we’ve explained, given them the correct set of numbers, they’re telling us, “How can we help?” So nagulat — medyo nagulat din kami dun na they’re not really into lecturing and into meddling, and they’re saying, “How can we help?”

In fact, we called their attention to that, sabi namin, “Oh that’s a nice — that’s a nice offer, that’s a nice reaction.”

Ang approach nila, “How can we help?” hindi ‘yung, “Why are you doing this?” Hindi ganun.

And we — and we met the parliamentarian members, some leaders there ‘no. ‘Yung iba, if you no — if you remember, may apat na nagpunta dito na EU Parliament members recently? Sila Ms. Soraya Post, ‘yung isa — ‘yung isa doon. And we also met her again and she’s very happy and pleased with the visit, she was telling us again.

And actually, isa siya sa nag-invite sa amin to go there to — to present what we presented. Kasi she liked hearing the — the way we presented it, ‘yung more correct numbers as well.

Ms. Salaverria: So sir, what happens to the President’s warning yesterday that he may expel the ambassadors of the…

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: Again, that makes reference to the seven-man team, you know? Basically that. I mean, the — the focus was on that.

And again, the European delegation yesterday, they issued a clarification that — it cleared the air, in other words, that there’s — they are not — the seven-man team was not the EU itself, okay.

So basically, it’s a lesson for us also to — for the need for critical reporting and — and reading of the news.

So, the President reacted as any leader would when national sovereignty is violated. So, we call upon the — also for the media to heed his request too for correct reportage.

Ms. Salaverria: So, are — we are not… Since the parliamentarians don’t represent the EU, we are not expelling the ambassadors?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: We are not… This is not in reference to the ambassadors, okay.

Ms. Salaverria: What do you mean, sir? Kasi, because the President —

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: Yes —

Ms. Salaverria: — Mentioned the threat to expel…

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: In other words, it — in the conversation, when he was expressing himself, it was pointedly — it was assuming that this was the situation, okay.

Ms. Salaverria: So, since this is not the situation —

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: Okay…

Ms. Salaverria: — We will not expel them?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: The — there is no actual reporting, there’s no actual follow-up on that matter, at this stage.

Joseph Morong (GMA): Sir, I’ll try to rephrase. If I were a European ambassador, should I get out of the country now?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: There’s no need — there’s no directive to do that.

Mr. Morong: Sir, ‘yun pong — kay Secretary Lopez, ‘yun pong mga ganyan na pronouncement ni President ‘no yesterday, how do you see that affecting our relationship with… particularly the EU block?

SEC. LOPEZ: Kung naka-clarify that those are not coming from EU and that, of course, the ire of the President was referring to that particular incident, na napakasama nga nung dating dahil may front — naka-front page pa na may mga dalang placard.

Ang — it’s really ano, interference. So, kung hindi naman nagre-refer dun and hindi na — hindi na relevant ‘yung sinabi siguro ng Presidente. ‘Yung galit niya siguro hindi — mababawasan kung malalaman din niya na hindi nga ganun ‘yung nangyari.

At ‘pag ganun naman, naintindihan ng EU na… Kaya nga mabilis silang sumagot eh. They — they responded quickly in saying that, “These guys are not our mission, are not official mission from the EU.”

But syempre pagka merong — just like any, any country, ‘pag sinabing, let’s say pa-diretso sa kanila, referring to them, they’re a bit concerned.

Minsan, sinasabi lang nila, “Sometimes, we’re surprised with the statements of the President, we are concerned,” ganun. But, they’re — they’re trying to analyze it also. That’s why they are also careful.

If you talk to the real EU Parliamentarians, the officials, they are more careful eh. They’re — they’re not… They don’t want to appear interfering eh. That’s the… I guess, they’re learning also.

They know that we are a small country sensitive in our sovereignty, and we wanna protect that, and that’s why they’re very careful. And they’re now… their approach nga is more collaborative.

Mr. Morong: So sir, uhm sir, ibig bang sabihin niyan, medyo misinformed si Presidente?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: It’s not a question of being misinformed. Basically, ‘yun ang… Come again?

Mr. Morong: Misled siguro by certain reports?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: Basically, he was reacting to what he was reading, okay. He was reacting to what he was reading and… So it’s not a question of being misinformed. That means to say he was being fed the wrong information, but based on…

SEC. LOPEZ: Kung ano ‘yung nasa news. Frankly, kami rin eh. Ako, when I saw that, “Ba’t ito na naman ‘to? Sino ‘to?” Kasi, nung — when we talked to the guys in the EU, hindi naman ganyan ‘yung dating nila, ‘yung approach nila eh. Parang tingin ko nga, somebody asked them to come over at manggalit eh, you know?

Q: [off mic]

SEC. LOPEZ: Sorry?

Mr. Morong: You have a theory of —

SEC. LOPEZ: Hindi, tingin ko lang ‘no, kasi bakit all of a sudden, may mga dumating na ganyan at parang nagpo-provoke or nanggagalit. And — and yet, hindi naman sila official representatives ‘no.

So, but if you look at the — the papers, and at the case, during that report yesterday, nakita — or the other day yata ‘yun na talagang kahit sinong Pilipino na gusto mong may sovereignty ka, ay ma — magagalit ka din ‘no. Magagalit ka talaga. “Ito na naman, makikialam,” ganyan so…

Mr. Morong: So sir, meron bang efforts to probably explain the issue to the President better na in terms of context, sir, meron bang efforts kay Presidente na medyo i-explain sa kanya?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERON ABELLA: The President is aware of the nuances. He’s really aware of the nuances and I suppose there are other — there’ll be other venues in which he’ll be able to express that more clearly, especially referring more clearly to that particular group.

SEC. LOPEZ: You know, prior to that, Mr. Sec, actually, when we were there, we also — that was the time also when I think that the Philippines, I don’t know through the DFA extended the invitation to the EU President, Donald Tusk, to come to Manila during the ASEAN Summit.

So parang ang ganda nga ng timing din na parang talagang may normalcy ‘no ‘yung relationship or strengthening. So up to that point — kaya we were also surprised with this group’s visit.

Mr. Morong: Thank you, sir. That’s it from me.

Ina Andolong (CNN Philippines): To Spokesman Abella. Sir, as you mentioned, the President was misled by —

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERON ABELLA: Well, not misled.

Ms. Andolong: —what he read. He was talking from a —

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERON ABELLA: He was responding to what he had read.

Ms. Andolong: He was coming from a different context basically. But that does not negate the fact that the President, the country’s top diplomat, basically, cursed at the EU na whether or not, he meant it for another group. Doesn’t Malacañang feel or see the need to correct those tirades made again by the country’s top leader?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERON ABELLA: I’m sure these things are being clarified to… directly to persons concerned.

Ms. Andolong: You mentioned that maybe there would be another venue for the President to express clearly what he possibly meant. Does that mean that if any apology or clarification is coming, it would come directly from him?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERON ABELLA: I suppose all venues will be exhausted regarding that matter.

Ms. Andolong: Thank you, sir. Other issue na, sir.

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERON ABELLA: Yes?

Ms. Andolong: You mentioned earlier regarding the Pulse Asia Survey that there is a demolition job that you said apparently did not work, but can you give us an assessment on what you think this demolition job is giving? Can we say that you’re looking at the so-called “yellows” as those behind this?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERON ABELLA: Well, basically, we’re just saying that there seems, even as Secretary Mon Lopez has said, he has made reference to, that there was… they’re seem to be timed ‘no. Or whoever it was coming from, there seems to be some form of orchestrated information, disinformation that is in operation.

Ms. Andolong: So you’re not eyeing a certain group?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERON ABELLA: It’s not for us to speculate, it’s not for us to speculate. But there seems to be that particular effort in order to the put the President and his administration in a particular light.

Ms. Andolong: Is that the end, the only end goal that you’re seeing or is there something else? Do you think that the end game is to oust the President? Because just recently the Defense Secretary said that he doesn’t see any serious destabilization plot against the President.

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERON ABELLA: Well, for all it’s worth, at least, it’s just an attempt to shake the foundations. But apparently, as the Pulse Asia rating has shown, that there is… there seems to be an enormous amount of appreciation for the President, not just from a particular isolated report.

Ms. Andolong: Thank you.

Pia Gutierrez (ABS-CBN): Sir, in his speech yesterday, the President actually — parang he gave the impression that the… his directive to give the PDEA the sole power to conduct drug operations is a move to satisfy critics of the drug war. Is this the reason behind his directives, sir, to satisfy those behind — those critics behind the drug war?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERON ABELLA: Well, I don’t know if it’s meant to satisfy, but it’s meant to… it’s — you know, the President is very… in a sense, he’s shown how democratic he is and he has allowed himself to…

And he, you know, he listens to people and he’s just saying that, “Okay, if this is, if you would… if, you know, if this is the way to go, that you will feel more comfortable to go this way, then let’s go that path.”

Ms. Gutierrez: In his speech din yesterday, he said that, he told the public that parang basically if you don’t — if you think that things are not going as good or as well as you hope that this thing will go, then don’t look at me. So parang in a way, sir, is he — he also gave the impression that he gave the directive to prove a point.

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERON ABELLA: He gave the directive in order to accommodate, apparently to accommodate those who think that the campaign against drugs should be conducted otherwise.

Ms. Gutierrez: Last, sir. The President has repeatedly mentioned and discussed ‘yung scale and scope of the drug problem.

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERON ABELLA: Yes.

Ms. Gutierrez: Is he confident, sir, that PDEA has enough manpower and resources to undertake this big campaign, sir, considering how big the drug problem is in the Philippines?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERON ABELLA: Well, as he said, as he pointed out. If the perception is that PDEA would be more acceptable in doing the campaign, waging the campaign, then let’s see how it goes. That’s the President’s — that was the tenor of the President’s statement.

Ms. Gutierrez: Let’s see how it goes?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERON ABELLA: Let’s see how it goes. In other words, let’s find out if this is the way you think it should go.

Ms. Gutierrez: So parang hindi — parang mukhang hindi naman pinag-aralan yata, sir, kung ganun ‘yung ano niya na, “let’s see how it goes.”

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERON ABELLA: No, he was backed up by state — by facts and figures, right? He pointed it out. He pointed out, he’s very well aware of the facts and figures.

For example, the PDEA is for example, he said, has lesser deaths under — it lessened drug-related operations. And so he says if this seems to be more accommodating to the mood of the times, then let’s see how it goes.

Ms. Gutierrez: Thank you, sir.

Mr. Tinaza: Sir but — does PDEA or Director General Aaron Aquino enjoys the full trust and confidence of the President to really deliver and carry out that very mission?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERON ABELLA: Well, according to… he said to me this morning, they have known each other for 22 years and so regarding trust, I imagine that there’s a [unclear] of trust there. However, the capability, you know… it’s… now that they’re the lead, let’s…

Well, even the PDEA Chief said he wishes that the 900 million will be directed to them, but he won’t ask for it.

So, in other words, there still are — any major campaign will require a period of adjustment, so let’s see how it goes.

Mr. Tinaza: So… and from the… also from the order, do we… don’t we sense any sarcasm to the order of the President when he says that, “This is what you want, but if something happens that you don’t like, don’t look at me.”

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERON ABELLA: So are you concerned about the sarcasm of —

Mr. Tinaza: Yeah, can we digest or sense any sarcasm with that tone of the President?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERON ABELLA: No, he’s… I’m sure that the President has allowed his full range of emotions but he’s making a decision regarding that.

Mr. Tinaza: And last point, sir.

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERON ABELLA: Yes?

Mr. Tinaza: This is — categorically the order is not a graceful exit or to cover up that apparent or seeming or alleged failure of the PNP in the anti-drug war?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: I think that’s, you know, that’s presumptive to think that it’s a grace… it’s a graceful cover up, no. It’s simply a response to a situation. It’s a — if it were a business, it’s a corporate decision.

Mr. Tinaza: Thank you sir.

Deo de Guzman (RMN-DZXL): Morning, sir.

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: Yes sir.

Mr. de Guzman: Sir, now that the President has given the power of… to the PDEA —

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: Yes.

Mr. de Guzman: — The whole power for the anti-drug war. How would the government support PDEA? We know that PDEA has only less than 2,000 personnel, including the agents. Now, how are we going to help? How is the government going to help PDEA in order to implement the very difficult task of fighting illegal drug in the country?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: They still have access to any agency and they can actually resource whatever support they need from all the other agencies that are available.

Mr. de Guzman: But the order said that the sole proprietorship…

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: They have the sole responsibility for doing that, okay. They’re totally over the whole thing.

On the other hand, as Mr. Aquino has made clear that they have access to resources and they can call upon those resources if necessary.

Mr. de Guzman: What resources? What resources, sir?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: Well, resources from other agencies.

Mr. de Guzman: But the President has said that all resources will be from PDEA only.

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: Kaya nga, but if they… if they so fit, they see fit as what he said. So in other words, the organization is PDEA — the organization is PDEA, and they may call on if necessary, other…

Mr. de Guzman: Are they open to use the President’s fund for their operations?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: Well, that depends on the — I’m not privy to those things.

Mr. de Guzman: Because the PNP has already given up everything to PDEA, including the information of drugs and even PNP Chief Director General Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa is saying that any information regarding illegal drugs would be given directly to PDEA if given to them. So parang hands off na sila eh. ‘Yun ang ginagawa — ang sinasabi ng PNP eh.

So how would the… how would PDEA get help from other agencies of government if the other agency of government is refusing?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: I don’t know if the word is refuse, okay. I think you’re already using words that are… I have not said. Okay.

But on the other hand, if… let’s — At this stage, all that is the information that we know, that we have. And it’s something that we can clarify later.

Mr. de Guzman: Eh kasi po sir, clear po doon sa memorandum and doon sa batas na sole. Sole power lang.

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: Tama po kayo.

Mr. de Guzman: Yes.

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: Okay, so…

Mr. de Guzman: How would the government help? Padadamihin ba natin ang agents ng PDEA?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: That is not within my purview but we can clarify. We can ask. We’ll get back to you.

Mr. de Guzman: Thank you, sir.

Mr. Morong: Sir, can the PDEA use the police in their operations?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: Okay, having said what I just said, I’ll get back to you on that.

Q: [off mic]

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: Come again?

Mr. Morong: At this point, we don’t know yet?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: I will not speculate, okay. It’s not within my purview.

Mr. Morong: Sir, just going back to the EU, are we going to maybe write the ambassadors to clarify? Of course they couldn’t just rely on news, but rely on foreign… on official channels like maybe the DFA. But is there some kind of an explanation from the Palace to the EU ambassadors regarding the President’s statements?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: I suppose those things will be done as needed, okay. But conversations go between agencies and our partner nations.

Mr. Morong: Sir, just again on the PDEA, I remembered. Without the negative sentiment, as far as some killings are concerned, would the President have transferred the power from the PNP to the PDEA?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: That’s speculation, it’s not…

Mr. Morong: No, that’s a question. Without the negative sentiment…

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: No, we don’t — From my part, that would be speculation.

Mr. Morong: Okay sir, thank you.

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: Thank you.

Mr. Morong: Okay, Friday.

ASEC. PURISIMA: Again, I now invite everyone to view the video of Task Force Bangon Marawi.

Executive Director Undersecretary Cesar Yano showing our initiatives to engage with Ulamas and traditional leaders, and our IDPs in various evacuation centers, as well as our efforts at providing psychosocial support services to the affected population.

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: Thank you. Happy Friday.

— END —

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