Press Briefing

Pre-departure briefing of Department of Foreign Affairs Assistant Secretary Meynardo L.B. Montealegre and Chief of Presidential Protocol and Presidential Assistant on Foreign Affairs Robert Borje on President Rodrigo Roa Duterte’s visit to China

Event Press Briefing
Location New Executive Bldg., Malacanang

OPENING STATEMENT:

Good morning, ladies and gentlemen.

Upon the invitation of Chinese President Xi Jingping, President Rodrigo Roa Duterte will undertake an official visit to Beijing and Guangdong, China from 28 August to 01 September 2019.

This will be the 5th visit of the President to China. In Beijing, the President will hold bilateral meeting with President Xi Jinping to discuss the accomplishments as well as the shared goals of the Philippines and China under our Comprehensive Strategic Cooperation.

President Duterte looks forward to exchanging views with President Xi on how to accelerate the pace of our functional cooperation in terms of concrete projects as well as on issues of mutual interest to both countries.

This marks the 8th meeting of the two presidents. Both leaders will also witness the signing of a number of cooperative bilateral documents and memoranda of understanding, which are all aimed to further increase the breadth and depth of our cooperation between the Philippines and China.

Afterwards, the President will travel to Guangzhou to join our countrymen in supporting Gilas Pilipinas as they compete at the FIBA World — Basketball World Cup. President Duterte will personally cheer for Gilas Pilipinas in our scheduled game against the Italian team on 31 August 2019.

While in Guangdong, President Duterte will also receive a call from Chinese Vice President Wang Qishan. The President and Vice President Wang are expected to discuss ways to strengthen cooperation in anti-cooperation efforts, increase trade and investment and deepen the friendship between our countrymen and the people of Guangdong.

Thank you very much.

QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS:

Pia Gutierrez (ABS-CBN): So Asec, President Duterte will no longer go to Guangzhou — ah to Fujian Province?

ASEC. MONTEALEGRE: Not in the schedule right now. It’s postponed to a more appropriate time.

Ms. Gutierrez: May we know the reason behind the postponement?

ASEC. MONTEALEGRE: I think it’s not appropriate at this time. It’s lack of… I don’t know it was just postponed for more appropriate period in the future.

Ms. Gutierrez: Is it because the lack of time? Because the Palace has already announced that President Duterte’s trip will be from August 28 to September 03.

ASEC. MONTEALEGRE: The schedule that I have is from August 28 to September 01. So I think with that — within that period so there’s not enough time to visit Fujian Province at this period.

Joseph Morong (GMA-7): Sir, the President I think maybe two, three days ago had said na if the arbitral ruling will not be discussed, there will not be any meeting. Now since we are proceeding with the trip, does that mean that China has accepted that the President will bring up the arbitral award?

ASEC. MONTEALEGRE: Well, I think that’s the President’s prerogative to discuss the particular issue. At the same time, he already made pronouncement on this particular matter. So it’s the President’s call to discuss this specific issue.

Mr. Morong: And China has no problem about it?

ASEC. MONTEALEGRE: We have not heard of any.

Mr. Morong: Would you know, sir, kasi sabi niya may nag-advice sa kanya na not to bring up the arbitral ruling?

ASEC. MONTEALEGRE: I’m not privy to that, sir.

Mr. Morong: I’m just trying. Thank you.

Sir, pa-b na lang ‘nung dates ‘no. So August 28 he will be arriving in Beijing. And then the meeting proper with President Xi would be when?

ASEC. MONTEALEGRE: On the 29th.

Mr. Morong: Okay, and then on the 30th?

ASEC. MONTEALEGRE: On the 30th, I believe there are some business forum courtesy of the DTI.

Mr. Morong: This will be in Beijing?

ASEC. MONTEALEGRE: Yes, it’s in Beijing.

Mr. Morong: Sir, 31st?

ASEC. MONTEALEGRE: Yes.

Mr. Morong: On the 31st?

ASEC. MONTEALEGRE: 31st ah, as I said he will be going to Guangzhou.

Mr. Morong: This is for the opening?

ASEC. MONTEALEGRE: This is for the game between Gilas Pilipinas and I believe it’s Italy.

Mr. Morong: Italy.

ASEC. MONTEALEGRE: Yes.

Mr. Morong: Italy ‘yung first game and then he will be flying out to Manila on September 1st?

ASEC. MONTEALEGRE: Yes. Ah COPP can verify this if the schedule is accurate?

Mr. Morong: Affirm, sir. Will he be watching the opening of the FIBA?

CHIEF OF PRESIDENTIAL PROTOCOL BORJE: What we have in our schedule right now is that President’s attendance at the game between team Gilas Pilipinas and Italy. Not at this point.

Mr. Morong: Sige, sir.

Ms. Gutierrez: Sir, kailan ‘yung meeting niya with the Chinese Vice President? Is it after or before the game?

CHIEF OF PRESIDENTIAL PROTOCOL BORJE: If I may, the meet — ah the courtesy call actually by the Vice President will happen before the game of team Gilas Pilipinas against Italy.

So before that happens, that’s when the courtesy call takes place and the Vice President is expected to be joined by the leaders of the Province of Guangdong.

Ms. Gutierrez: Sir, the President mentioned in a speech that the Vice President will be accompanying him during the game? Tuloy pa po ba ‘yun, sir?

CHIEF OF PRESIDENTIAL PROTOCOL BORJE: That’s correct. Actually, the Vice President has been tasked by President Xi Jinping to specifically accompany the President to this game.

Ms. Gutierrez: Sir, natanong ko na kay Asec pero ulitin ko na lang, Sir Robert. Why did the President cancel his trip to Fujian Province, sir?

CHIEF OF PRESIDENTIAL PROTOCOL BORJE: The President did not cancel that visit. If you may know, during these types of visits, we go over different types of scenarios in different types of destinations.

And until such time that these are confirmed and announced to the public, nothing is really confirmed. So the President, in the strict sense of the word, did not cancel anything.

Ms. Gutierrez: So why was this taken out of his schedule, sir?

CHIEF OF PRESIDENTIAL PROTOCOL BORJE: It’s taken out of the schedule because the decision was made that it’s more appropriate to be held at a later time and not at this time.

Ms. Gutierrez: Thank you, sir.

Nestor Corrales (INQUIRER.NET): Sir, Nestor from the Inquirer. It was the President in a speech last week in Malacañang who mentioned that “it would be something somewhere, I’m proceeding to Fujian because they built a building in honor of my mother”. So it was the President who actually first announced that he is going to Fujian Province to inaugurate a building in honor of her mother.

CHIEF OF PRESIDENTIAL PROTOCOL BORJE: That’s correct. That was the initial plan. But again, plans have to be finalized and the decision for the non-inclusion of this particular stop went through the vetting process of all the agencies and that was the recommendation.

Mr. Corrales: Just to be clear. But there are future plans for him to visit Fujian Province, sir?

CHIEF OF PRESIDENTIAL PROTOCOL BORJE: As the Assistant Secretary said earlier, the decision was to postpone the visit. So that’s still included in the plan. Thank you.

Hannah Sancho (SMNI): Sir, tayo po ‘yung nag-postpone or upon their recommendation po?

CHIEF OF PRESIDENTIAL PROTOCOL BORJE: Who is “their”?

Ms. Sancho: The Chinese government po.

CHIEF OF PRESIDENTIAL PROTOCOL BORJE: No. It’s a decision that’s made mutually.

Ms. Sancho: So we’re going to resched po in the…

CHIEF OF PRESIDENTIAL PROTOCOL BORJE: It’s been postponed. We’re going to work on the plans. As to the dates, we will have to work on it. There are certain things that need to be done further.

Ms. Sancho: Thank you, sir.

Mr. Morong: Sir, when you said that it’s postponed indefinitely until — we’re waiting for a more appropriate time. What do you mean by “more appropriate time”? What’s going on now that makes it not feasible to go to Fujian?

CHIEF OF PRESIDENTIAL PROTOCOL BORJE: The schedule of the President is always a work in progress. There are times when the windows are given and sometimes the schedule or the window that is given is about eight days, six days, whatever it is.

Sometimes the window shortens for reasons that are maybe logistical in nature, sometimes it’s substantive, sometimes it’s also due to domestic issues.

But for this particular visit, there was a plan and then the recommendation now is to move it at a later date because it’s more appropriate to be done at a later date and not at this particular time.

Mr. Morong: You mentioned, sir, the reasons why ‘no ‘yung domestic, ‘yung substantive, or logistical. This is more logistical or substantive slash domestic?

CHIEF OF PRESIDENTIAL PROTOCOL BORJE: It’s a combination of all these elements.

Mr. Morong: So there are issues that maybe affected the decision to go to Fujian?

CHIEF OF PRESIDENTIAL PROTOCOL BORJE: I’m sorry?

Mr. Morong: Are there issues that may be — that may have affected the decision to go to Fujian?

CHIEF OF PRESIDENTIAL PROTOCOL BORJE: How do you mean issues?

Mr. Morong: Probably if he goes to Fujian and inaugurates a school in honor of his mother it implies something and the President may not want to…

CHIEF OF PRESIDENTIAL PROTOCOL BORJE: Maybe you’re extrapolating things. But as of this time, it’s really more logistical rather than those issues that you are implying.

Again, the windows of the President for his trips whether abroad or here in the Philippines are always a work in progress.

Mr. Morong: With the FIBA, will he meet with the players?

CHIEF OF PRESIDENTIAL PROTOCOL BORJE: That’s something that we’re working on. But what’s definite is the President, of course, wants to support Team Philippines.

Mr. Morong: Okay, ‘yon muna sa akin.

Q: Good morning. Who else will the President meet in Beijing aside from President Xi Jinping? I mean Chinese officials?

ASEC. MONTEALEGRE: As I mentioned earlier, he will  be receiving the call of Chinese Vice President Wang Qishan when he is in Guangdong.

Q: Yeah that’s in Guangdong. But in Beijing only meeting with Xi Jinping?

ASEC. MONTEALEGRE: As of this moment it is, yes.

Q: Only one official meeting.  What are the agreements that will be signed?

ASEC. MONTEALEGRE: Well, there are several agreements that are in the pipeline. Some of them are in the final stages of vetting but I cannot give you specific number. It pertains to education, science and technology, and soc — economic and social development. So those are the agreements.

Ms. Gutierrez: Sir, is there a possibility that the President will have a one- on-one meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping?

CHIEF OF PRESIDENTIAL PROTOCOL BORJE: At this time, what we have is a bilateral meeting with President Xi Jinping. As to the final details, that’s also something that we are working on.

Ms. Gutierrez: So sir, we can assume that it is — it will be in this bilateral meeting where the President will bring up the arbitral ruling to President Xi Jinping?

CHIEF OF PRESIDENTIAL PROTOCOL BORJE: We cannot assume. When it happens, it happens.

Mr. Morong: Sir, with regard to the arbitral ruling. Question for the DFA and Secretary, Sir Robert. What have — what steps have you taken to finalize ‘yung talking points if this is going to be raised?

ASEC. MONTEALEGRE: Well, as I mentioned earlier we cannot preempt what does the President will discuss in particular regarding the arbitral ruling. So it will be his call during the meeting with the President with his counterpart. So that’s the general thing.

Mr. Morong: May we know the — ?

CHIEF OF PRESIDENTIAL PROTOCOL BORJE: If I may just interject, it’s also an opportunity for the President to discuss other issues covering the full bilateral relations between the Philippines and China. Just to put things into context.

Mr. Morong: But of course it will be discussed ‘no I mean just to take it out there, it will be discussed, the arbitral award as the President said? There’s no like skirting around it? It will be discussed?

CHIEF OF PRESIDENTIAL PROTOCOL BORJE: The President has said that he will raise the issue.

Mr. Morong: Sir, sino po ‘yung mga secretaries na kasama?

ASEC. MONTEALEGRE: Well, right now I think the — I defer to the Office of the President on that because the Cabinet officials economic and security Cabinet ministers will be joining the President. But as to the specific names, I don’t have the list with me.

Mr. Morong: All right, so economic and security clusters, sir?

ASEC. MONTEALEGRE: Yeah.

Mr. Morong: So, mukhang I — we have the idea of what they are talking about. Iyong 60-40 sir, paano na inilalatag ‘yon? DOE is, of course, going to be there ‘no? Secretary Cusi?

CHIEF OF PRESIDENTIAL PROTOCOL BORJE: If I may? The members of the delegation are still going — the list of the members of the delegation is still being finalized.

It depends partly on the agenda items, partly on the agreements to be signed. And since these are still being negotiated, we will get the final list closer to the date.

Mr. Morong: Sir, Secretary, in this meeting, what does the President wish to accomplish with regard to our arbitral award?

ASEC. MONTEALEGRE: Well, the President will be going to China upon the invitation of President Xi Jinping. And as I mentioned, this is the fifth visit of the President and the eighth bilateral engagement with his counterpart.

So there is a close bilateral ties, friendly relations between the two countries. And there are other issues that can be discussed in the economic front and people to people exchanges. It’s not just one particular issue that the two sides can discuss.

Mr. Morong: When the President said he will raise the award, what is the objective?

ASEC. MONTEALEGRE: I cannot…

Mr. Morong: What does he want to get?

ASEC. MONTEALEGRE: Well, it’s the President’s prerogative. I cannot preempt what he will say on those particular points.

Mr. Morong: Okay. Sir, may we have a — maybe you have an opinion?

CHIEF OF PRESIDENTIAL PROTOCOL BORJE: My opinion doesn’t count. [laughter]

Mr. Morong: Thank you.

CHIEF OF PRESIDENTIAL PROTOCOL BORJE: Thank you.

— END —

SOURCE: PCOO-PND (Presidential News Desk)

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