Press Briefing

Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella with Chairman William Ramirez Philippine Sports Commission

Event Press Briefing
Location Kalayaan Hall, Malacañan Palace

OPENING STATEMENTS: 

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: Good morning, Rocky. Our resource person for today is Philippine Sports Commission Chairperson and Chief Executive Officer, Undersecretary William Ramirez.

Prior to his appointment, Usec. Ramirez, known also as “Butch,” was the dean of the Philippine Sports Institute in Ultra in Pasig from 2009 to 2010.

He also served in the Davao City Government as Officer-in-charge of

the Sports Development Division Office from 2013 to 2016.

He will share with us today the accomplishments and programs of the

Commission.

So ladies and gentlemen of the Malacañang Press Corps, let’s give a warm, in spite of the rainy weather, welcome to Chair William Ramirez.

CHAIRMAN RAMIREZ: Magandang umaga po, sir, ma’am. Good morning po.  It’s my first time to be here.

When the President appointed me at 12:30 in the morning, that was June 26, I was hesitant to go back to the place where I came from. At one time I was the chairman. But you cannot say no to the President.

So I came back to the PSC in July 1 and I made these three fundamental things:

One is the housekeeping of the PSC in terms of the values of the employees, the efficiency of the employees and the quality assurance that the PSC employees is giving to our stakeholders.

Number two, for the past 27 years of PSC existence and for the past 90 years of olympicism, there is no grassroots sports program to speak of.

When we speak of grassroots sports program, we talk about sports activities taking place in the periphery, the community where children are playing together and have fun and learning perhaps values, characters or going to the practice at the time set by the coach.

And at the same time at the community, the adults must be having 30 minutes walk every morning to improve their quality of life. Because after all, it is

a state policy that it is the duty of the state to create a healthy, vibrant citizen.

And that’s the program and that’s the basic of the grassroots sports program that we are doing now aside from the grassroots that is taking place in our collaboration of local government units, DepEd.

The PSC’s mandate, it is impossible for us to achieve our goal in grassroots without local government units, without DepEd, without DOH, without collaboration. So that’s what we are doing. Collaboration.

And for the past year, we are now crafting the provincial city physical fitness council to chart, to assess the sports program of the community, where they should go and what are its focused sports and what are its human involvement in the place.

And one is housekeeping, three is grassroots sports and our special activities of the grassroots is the children’s games for peace, which we started in Davao, in Benguet, in Baguio, in Ifugao.

And a week ago, we went to the Marawi bakwit. We went to Iligan for a children’s games for peace. And to tell you, we were touched and it’s very alarming because a thousand children from Marawi played for fun for the past two days. At the end of the activities, we found out that the children were happy and they started working, playing with Christians also.

But there was one observation that we had that most of our Filipino children considers other people as heroes —- sports heroes, military heroes. But here, we don’t have research, we don’t have — this is not scientific, but it was written by our coaches when we had our children’s games for peace that some, if not many of these Marawibakwit children, they considered ISIS as their heroes. Wow.

So when we heard that from the report, it is something that I have to share to some secretary that this is not an ordinary feedback that we heard in all the communities that we had children’s games for peace and it must be said this morning.

And I do not know if other department like LGU, DepEd, DSWD, if they captured this feedback. Malamang na-capture din nila. But for us, for us, we consider this one very vital because I could remember a sage who said that this earth — we did not inherit this world from our ancestors but we inherit this world from our children. And the children are the future. And if you have thousands of children, they can be Manobo, they can be B’laan, they can be Maranao, Tausug and this is the kind of directions of the children.

I think the government must be alarmed on this. So kami sa Philippine Sports Commission, after that, we will go back and have a special focus on our children’s activities.

This is not a very scientific way of intervention but there are research and data that we got all over the world that we are doing fine because all over the world, most of the children’s games are NGOs.

And I was proud to report to other secretaries that the Philippines, while some EUs and some institution are looking our country on different perspective, the UNESCO came over three weeks ago, appreciated us for our government — ininfuse kasi namin as a government policy and the UNESCO was very appreciative. They came here and invited us to be part of the ministerial meeting in Russia in Kazan and say something about that.

And we took pride of that although it’s very, very – hindi pa kami magaling diyan so it was a great motivation for us. So marami pa akong sasabihin but this is the pivotal thing that I would like to share with you and we will continue to chart our journey.

Philippine Sports Commission is a small agency. But to my discerning, to my research or my vision, if sports can be planned properly to really go to the periphery, it can be a big agency because the involvement, inspiring children to go to school, inspiring children that even if you are poor, you can exist properly and enjoy the quality of life that we look for,

I think we will be doing fine and I am here at the PSC to live a legacy to live by in the next generations of board of commissioners.

Maraming salamat po.

QUESTIONS & ANSWERS:

 Leila Salaverria (Philippine Daily Inquirer): Good morning, sir. I just want to follow up on your statement that there are findings that children — Marawi children consider ISIS as heroes. Sir, ano… What was the basis for this daw? Ano daw po ‘yung reason that they look up to them and ano po  ‘yung intervention that we plan to do?

CHAIRMAN RAMIREZ: ‘Yun nga wala kaming research, wala kaming scientific data, but it was a feedback given to us by the children.

So we take note of that and we gave it to our psychologist so that perhaps in our next activities, we will… We did not bring a lot of psychologists because ang balita namin sa tao namin doon na marami ng debriefing.

So we were just very contended, sige laro-laro lang tayo, peacemaking. Nung nakita namin na wow, it’s not easy. So we are bringing 4 to 5 sports psychologists to — and tap the local sports psychologist there. Because we did this one time when I was one time chairman also of — during the time of the President GMA.

We went to Cotabato then assembled 500 children, the sons and daughters of MILF, we brought them to Midsayap Notre Dame and together with 200 children, Christians and it was a five days activities under 12 years old.

Then the experience of that on the first night, one of the room occupied by MILF boys under 12, nilalagyan nila ng blockade — upuan, bangko, isinara nila.

So somebody reported to me na, “Coach,” I’m called in Davao “coach.” “Coach, sinara nung mga bata ‘yung kwarto.” So I went up. Sabi ko, “Boys, bakit isinara niyo ‘tong door at nakasarado? Delikado ‘yan.” “Ay coach, mahirap na coach baka makapasok ang kalaban.” In a sound like a Maguindanao.

Then so we were alarmed. So I told the current trainer that our sports psychologist to take note of that along the way sa five days activities.

On the last day after playing, knowing each other, tinanong siya again, the same boy and other children, “Ano po ba ang experience mo sa limang araw na paglalaro?”

Ang sabi nung bata, ang sabi niya, “Coach, akala ko hindi mapagkatiwalaan ang Kristiyano.”

That was beautiful but what was sad, the Philippine Sports Commission when they left the office did not continue that program. Malamang those 12 years old boys are now brigadier general of the MILF.

So sa aming resolution sa PSC, we are not experts anyway, we come up with some resolution na dapat ipagpatuloy ‘yung early peacemaking sa mga bata, early playing, early activities because kung ang mga bata mag- start ng maaga, ‘yung mga adults mahirap mo na turuan ‘yan eh to appreciate the diversity of our culture, of our religion, of our identity.

But when you start playing with the children, there is a saying that when children plays, humanity celebrates.

So it’s the children that are the future. When I pass by the ordinary streets of Manila and there are many poor children in Tondo, in Manila, iniisip ko, “Ano kaya ang mangyayari sa mga batang ‘to?”

As a matter of fact, in one of the — our first campaign with Mayor Duterte in Tondo at 2 o’clock in the morning, I told him, “Secretary, maaayos ba natin itong Tondo ‘pag nanalo tayo?” Sabi niya, “Eh trabaho na ‘yan ng mga department secretary.”

So ako, as a small agency, we will use our money to these children not only for Maranao, to Tausugs, to Maguindanao, to the Cordillera and the other poor provinces because we are crafting — we are having a sport consultative meeting.

Maliit mang opisina kung ang mandato niya ay gagawin niya at aayusin niya, and he has a feel of urgency to serve, malaking bagay ito. And I cannot do this alone. I have to share this with the DepEd, with DSWD, with DOH and other organization because it would be big.

I think that’s one of the reason, without you asking first why we did not push through with the Southeast Asian Games.

That instead of spending our 500 million to 700 million to our 9 countries, foreigners, there is much demand from our brother Muslims, Cordillerans, Manobo, who are not  — who are neglected by our government.

Maybe because, ma’am, I will go to your question, maybe because they consider this ISIS as heroes. Just like what happened in Iraq and Aleppo. The ISIS are giving them foods, they are giving salaries. And nobody among the department look at these children.

Now if sports can do that and find this money in a proper place, sabi ko, fiesta ‘to, and I could take pride to the President and to other people na, “Hey, we are doing for these children, this is an intervention.” Anong malay mo ma-inspire mo ‘yung mga Maranao na mga bata instead mahalin ‘yung ISIS mag-aral nang maayos at maintindihan ‘yung ating liberal arts instead of going to extremism.

Alam natin poverty is one factor, neglect. But I think it’s the duty of government. Hindi na kailangan sports pa or DOH or what. Any community, any department can go there.

Ako ngayon after this press briefing, I’m going to assemble my group and focus not only in Marawi, Tubod, Lanao Sur, Lanao Norte, Maguindanao, et cetera, Caraga.

There are many Marawi children who are in need, hindi lang ang Marawi. And the money that we are going to spend — 500 million to 700 million — malaking bagay ‘yan sa mga batang… Our children needs us  ‘no and that’s one of the reason na… There are other important reasons that we have but nung nakita namin ‘yung feedback, tama yata ‘yung aming resolution. 

Henry Uri (DZRH): Hi, sir, magandang umaga po. Nabanggit ninyo na, I think one of the reasons kaya kayo inappoint ng Presidente para doon sa housekeeping, paglilinis sa loob ng ahensya ano po? I think one of which is ‘yung paglilinis niyo ng corruption ano po? 

CHAIRMAN RAMIREZ: Opo.

 

 

Mr. Uri: Without mentioning who and what ‘yung mga nangyari pong corruption sa previous setup ng PSC, ano po ang kalakaran dati na pinagmumulan ng corruption na ngayon ay tinututukan ninyo at hindi na mauulit pa na magkaroon din ng ganyang klase po ng anomalya sa loob ng Commission?

CHAIRMAN RAMIREZ: Bago ko sagutin, sir, ‘yan, I came here not to blame the past, but to correct the past and set positive things at the PSC. It would not be fair to the past administration, to our partners in sports.

In terms of policy, I think the Philippine Sports Commission have grown for 27 years and dumating lang sa panahon na nag-27 years old siya, at titingnan niya na-implement ba ‘yung mandato niya o hindi?

So, sa palagay ko, malaking kakulangan at it would — we failed miserably implementing what is in the law. And we did not implement some policies.

Now, let’s go to that corruption issues. We have partners. In our mandate, there are three fundamental things — housekeeping, grassroots — meron ng grassroots — itong aming relationship sa National Sports Association, which are private. The National Sports Associations are under the International Sports Federation. Their mother organization is another private — the Philippine Olympic Committee — is under IOC. And their chart, they embrace the charter of the IF — International Sports Federation — the POC embrace a charter to the IOC.

The Philippine Sports Commission embrace our loyalty, our charter to the RA 6847 to the Constitution. And we have a mandate to help them in terms of international sports federation, by… Since 1990, when it was created, the Philippine Sports Commission have spent more than 15 billion, and maybe to a 20 billion if you include the indirect help.

So, hindi nagkukulang ang gobyerno diyan. Now, bakit ang performance ng Philippine team sa ibang bansa mababa? Southeast Asian Game, latest was sixth. Trabaho po ‘yun ng private group ng National Sports Association. Mandato po nila na they hire the athletes, they recruit the athletes, the coaches, and they’re in charge of that.

The role of PSC is to fund. Nagkakaproblema kami diyan because every time we fund, the COA are looking us or running after that, they have to look at where the money went, what happened to the performance, et cetera.

So, the private group — the National Sports Association cannot claim of autonomy of independence for as long as they receive government money. And we also studied the whole world of how the government support the private sector, the same.

But, sila ‘pag… Kasi nakikialam kami. For example, we hired 15 monitoring officers. And I don’t know how they look at it. The third is, we will be crafting contracts to athletes and coaches. We have — because we have to protect the athletes and the coaches. ‘Pag nabu-bully ‘yan, natatanggal ‘yan, walang due process. Magkakaroon na kami ng MOA na every time we give money to a sports association, to a private association from Batanes to Jolo, meron siyang responsibility to liquidate and others.

And at the same time, all sports — almost all sports association, including POC are staying at the PSC office at PhilSports Ultra free. We would like to look at that because our attention was called up by COA na we have to sign a contract. Pwede namang ilibre sila pero they have to sign a contract that this space commands 50,000 rental, icha-charge namin sa annual — annual budget.

Now, we speak about corruption, there are many faces of corruption. When you don’t liquidate, it can be a corruption. When you don’t perform, it can be a face of corruption because there are millions of children hungry, there are thousands of soldiers dying, we could have used that millions of money there.

But we are using for our athletes. So, hindi pwedeng atleta pupunta sa Southeast Asian Games at magbabakasyon. He should aspire for a medal. Because by September, after Southeast Asian Games, we would be based on performance, on the quality of leadership, if an NSA has a liquidation, we will not fund. Policy ‘yan.

Pangalawa, if there is an intra NSA disputes of leadership, we will not fund. But we will continue to fund to support the athletes and coaches. Papadala kami ng disbursement officer to continue their exposure. So, hindi totoo na ‘pag na-suspend ‘yung isang sports association for two violation, hindi… Tuluy-tuloy pa rin ‘yung tulong namin.

Kaya for example, we… We did not push through the Southeast Asian Games 2019. We continue to support our athletes. I have records here. I have records here and when the President appointed me, he told me, “Butch, walang committee-committee diyan. Tayong masusunod kasi ang pera sa atin. Tayong magpe-presyo sa COA eh.” Bisaya-style Tagalog ‘yan.

Pangalawa, “Pakainin mo ‘yung mga bata.” Eh ‘yung canteen kong sinabi isang taon na, hindi matapos-tapos. Procurement law. Okay?

Pangatlo, ‘yung mga equipment namin sa sports institute na ni-launch namin during — last January, for the first time, the Philippine Sports Commission launched a Philippine Sports Institute, which has two track — one is the grassroots sports program, the grassroots; number two is providing sports science, [nutritionist], sports psycho, and a building for athletes, a provision to our elite athletes.

So, we are responding to the time. We are responding to the time and that’s why I was very happy when I was invited. Ano bang topic dito, so that… Kami kasi, sa PSC, we seldom talk because for 27 years, maraming bagay na hindi nagawa ng isang ahensya. So, trabaho nang trabaho lang kami, sir.

But there are beautiful thing that we discovered, that the… I would like to inform the press that the mantra of the President is to make sports accessible to the periphery, to the community for the first time.

Ang… There is a wrong notion also that sports is about medals, is about our chase, our search for gold in Olympics. No, sports is about human development. If you have… If you fail to indulge into a human development — human program that sports take in the community, mahina ‘yung pool of players mo, kaya you hire foreign — Fil-foreigners, which is not supposed to be, because you demotivate the Filipino athletes when you engage into hiring foreign athletes.

But I’m not against Filipino — Fil-foreigner, Fil-Am, whatever. I’m not against. But, if I have my say, I would like to bring in the real Filipinos playing for the country.

There are many faces of victory, even if you lose the game. But if you gave your best and you bring the best of the Filipino, it’s still victorious.

That’s Filipino. It’s not about winning. You win in a basketball competition in Jones Cup, what’s next?

Joseph Morong (GMA): Hi, sir. Just a follow up on the effort to just cancel the Sea Games. Ang iyong reason, sir, is not security ‘no? But more humanitarian in our part?

CHAIRMAN RAMIREZ: There are many reason. One, we thought in two years, when we assumed office, we could build up facilities.

Mr. Morong: Instead?

CHAIRMAN RAMIREZ: For the Sports — for the forthcoming Southeast Asian Games. And we planned to put that one in the — in the Clark Green City.

But, there are many things that is taking place that we are not capable of putting up those facilities.

So, perhaps, if we postpone the Southeast Asian Games, maybe after Olympics, we can have decent sports facilities, because the Rizal Memorial Sports Complex was built almost 90 years ago, it’s obsolete and we cannot really repair. And that’s one of the reason that we have to look for a new place if not rehabilitate Ultra, because if you don’t — if you don’t provide clean dormitory, you don’t provide good foods, you don’t provide foreign exposures, do not dream of Olympic golds.

The basic provisions are not provided. Number…  Another very important thing that you have to know, for as long as the Filipino sports cannot unite, do not — do not dream of medals and Olympics. Because leadership is so vital in an organization, in a family. If the father doesn’t show leadership, mahirap ‘yun.

Yes, sir?

Mr. Morong: Sir, you said a while ago that the 500 million that we were supposed to spend for the 2019 SEA Games, you just wanted to just spend it — you mentioned children in Marawi?

CHAIRMAN RAMIREZ: No. There are many Marawi areas — CARAGA, Sarangani, Cordillera. There are many poor areas that don’t have sports facilities.

We can spread out the money and use for sports facilities, for sports feeding, sports program, but a special focus for Marawi.

Mr. Morong: Okay. Ang mga sports facilities po ‘yung gagastusan natin?

CHAIRMAN RAMIREZ: Yes. For example, Marawi, this is specific. Maraming… Marawi had been asking sports facilities for quite a long, long time. And naka-tengga na po ‘yun sa amin, ang problema pumutok.

We plan to put up a track oval, rubberized. We plan to put up a bleacher. We plan to put up other facilities with Governor Adiong, et cetera. Then perhaps go to Maguindanao, go to et cetera.

So, sabi ko, “While it is sad and can be painful not to host Southeast Asian Games…” Actually, the — that 2019, sir, was to be hosted by Thailand and Indonesia eh. Then, bago kami dumating — hindi ko alam kung the government was informed — but dumating kami, I said yes. But naabutan siya ng problema. So that’s why we informed them immediately.

This is my first interview. When I read the letter na we will cancel the 2019, I did not speak to any media because I don’t want to be misinterpreted on — on the small letter that we gave to the POC in respect to them kasi partner namin sila eh.

So, one is pumutok ‘yung Marawi, gagamitin namin ‘yung pera. Pangalawa — at naging totoo ‘yan noong nagkaroon kami ng feedback sa ISIS sa mga bata. Pangalawa, there are many areas na mag-ayos kami ng facilities. Then pangatlo, I think meron pang mga bagay-bagay na dapat ayusin din sa POC, na noong nag — noong nag-organize tayo 2005, meron silang mga bagay-bagay na sagutin sa

COA, na for us to do a 2019 at hindi ‘yan resolved, mahirap ‘yon.

I don’t want to… For example, mga disallowance lang po. Well, nasa Facebook ‘yan, 27 million disallowance. And, and — there are also unliquidated.

I don’t want to speak on that sana kasi it may hurt also my partner. But — but again, I am challenging… I am 67 years old. I’m a sports educator. It’s really time for the country, for our leaders to behave. It’s really time for our sports leader to really have leadership of integrity — a sports integrity.

Because if we are not — if we do not have that leadership, we are not gonna have honest picture, how can you lead that sports?

You… If you are a good leader, good organization, you can attract a lot of money from the corporate and you will not worry about money from government.

Pia Gutierrez (ABS-CBN): Good morning, sir. Hi, sir.

CHAIRMAN RAMIREZ: Yes, ma’am.

Ms. Gutierrez: Sir, may leksyon na po ba tayong natutunan doon sa naging experience ng Pilipinas kay Wesley So? And are there policy changes that we are doing to prevent another Wesley So from happening, sir?

CHAIRMAN RAMIREZ: Definitely, ma’am. Kami po, ako, under my leadership, we don’t pretend to be bright. But what we are doing now, within a year, we craft a lot of policy.

I know Wesley So. I was still a commissioner then I became chairman. I was — I look at these young people promisingly. And I was surprised na pumunta siya sa America. But I don’t blame him.

If the Philippines cannot provide his needs, talagang lilipat ‘yung bata. Just like an athlete from the province. If the province cannot provide him his needs, he will come to Manila eh. Ganun lang ‘yan.

Pero malamang, baka may mga problema doon sa kanyang NSA. Kaya… A sports association is just like a business organization or a family. So, kung hindi mo maayos ‘yung pamilya, magka-problema, parang ganun lang.

It’s not about… We know that it’s not about money. It’s about how we care our athletes. Kasi… Kaya ngayon, gumawa kami ng mga contract because there are athletes na tinanggal walang due process. There are coaches na tinanggal na walang due process.

So wala namang mapuntahan ang mga bata. At sa mandato namin, we — we are mandated to protect our athletes. So, so… But again, ang dating sa kabila, intervention.

No. If… It is always the mandate of olympicism in the IOC that you have to work with government in every country. You have to work together, because…

And I don’t believe — I disagree that… And I believe that sports and politics can play. You cannot say that’s pure sports so to speak. No, there is no pure sports. And the one who crafted our budget, the one who put up our facilities are government.

So, but the good politics in it. So, hindi pupwedeng punta ka ng probinsya, you sell the idea of crafting programs and you will not talk to the governor, to the mayor. You cannot dictate the team po of a local governance.

Tina Mendez (Philippine Star): Sir, good morning. Sir, gusto ko lang sana ipa — itanong sa inyo kung — kung paano niyo nakita ‘yung manifestation na ‘yung mga bata sa Marawi eh talagang ina-idolize na ‘yung mga ISIS? May role-playing din po ba sila?

CHAIRMAN RAMIREZ: Okay. It was unfortunate that I missed that day. I was supposed to go there that morning, but I was instructed by ES to make a — a presscon on — on the withdrawal of the 2019.

And sabi ng coaches namin, si Coach Henry Daut at si — sina former Congressman Aliah Dimaporo at iba pa, Malin, Mamba, and others, in the course of their playing and free time, tinanong siya, “Boys, ano ba ang pangarap mo sa buhay?”

Usually ang ginagawa kasi we’re not expert. Hindi naman kami psychologist. Sabi niya, normally, a normal poor community sabi niya, “Ah, gusto kong maging guro. Gusto kong maging pulis.” Lalo ‘pag nakakita ng pulis. Eh ito iba, “Pangarap po namin maging ISIS.”

“Bakit po?” Eh sabi niya, “Nagbibigay sila ng pagkain eh at tsaka ‘yung aming mga tatay, binibigyan ng sweldo. Eh wala man ang gobyerno.”

But you know, it’s a centuries old hatred, from the Spaniards, from 500 years of Spaniards colonization to 155 years of American occupation, those hatred of army uniform and our government leaders, that they look at very feudal.

Noon colonial, ngayon neo-colonial. So talagang nandiyan pa rin sa isip ng mga Muslim. Now, if those 12 years old ‘yun ang pananaw, hindi madali ‘yun ah, kasi we thought it’s only adults who have that kind of thinking.

‘Pag ang bata pa, bata pa at nagiisip ng ganyan, kahit na hindi sila bine-brainwash,  environment nila, mahirap ‘yan. I think we have to learn the lessons of history from Africa to the Middle East.

We thought na nangyari lang ito… Kasi we’re very, we’re very susceptible for that because we are… We are more than 7,000 islands, 82 provinces, almost… A big percentage of our country are poor.

So if the government leadership, all departments, up to down to the local government, will not look at this as one very important, wala ‘yan, dadami ‘yung — hindi lang Maranao children, Tausug, Maguindanao, sa Cordillera, sa Manobo and other areas.

So, para sa akin, I immediately called up — that day I called up ES, wala akong sagot maybe he has a meeting. I was able to call up Sonny Dominguez. Sabi niya, “Wow, Butch, that’s alarming!” So I called another secretary because hindi naman ako miyembro ng Cabinet, so I have to — I have to fill in ‘to nila.

Ang ginagawa namin dapat kayong mga secretary tulungan niyo kami kasi mabigat ‘yung problema. Hindi lang pagkain ‘yung problema eh. The dogs and the birds survive, pero ito iba ito eh.

‘Yung galit nila doon as I was watching not in the realms of sports, it’s not about pagkain eh, it’s about how they are treated, parang…

Alam mo ‘yung bata ‘pag hindi mo minamahal, hindi ka rin mamahalin. Look at the dogs and the animals, kahit na ano ‘pag mamahalin mo they are very compassionate, they respond the same compassion.

At sa amin naman, kahit na maliit lang ‘yung aming ginagawa, if we are able… Kasi meron kaming… Nag-appoint po kami ng — for the first time sa PSC — nag-hire po kami ng 50 sports coordinators on the ground.

So meron na kaming mga — sa Mindanao meron kaming pito. So we can allocate money there for that purpose and we…

Now ngayon, ‘yung tanong niyo hindi ko man po siya masagot nang husto, meron kaming mga organizational development, mga research and planning, gagawin po namin ‘yan kasi we are required by UNESCO to make a report of that intervention.

Rocky Ignacio (PTV): Sir, last question lang from JP Bencito, can we get PSC comment on the appeal of POC Committee President Peping Cojuangco to proceed daw po the hosting of SEA Games through funding coming from the private sector.

CHAIRMAN RAMIREZ: I leave it to the… I have to respect our partner. Secretary Salvador Medialdea and Senator Zubiri, who’s the Chairman and myself have made a recommendation to the President and we made… Through the President, ES Medialdea instructed me to — not to push through the Southeast Asian Games.

So, and that’s why hindi ako nagpa-interview kasi… Now, I’ve heard that… I read in the newspaper that they are asking for the President… I was asked my teammates to make a recommendation, the same recommendations.

Salamat po.

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: From the Department of Transportation. They have announced today that the P20 toll fee in Skyway connecting to the NAIA Expressway has been waived effective yesterday, July 26.

It will continually not to be collected for one month to reduce the expenses of motorists who are using the Skyway and NAIA-X. They have to pay P20 for using the Skyway and P35 when exiting the NAIA-X ramp. So okay, so the P20 toll fee will not be collected.

DOTr-CAB approves 20% discount on online booking for senior citizens and persons with disability:

Travelling is made more affordable for our senior citizens and PWDs.

A 20% discount on domestic flight will be given to senior citizens and persons with disability purchased through the carrier’s website or mobile as that the Department of Transportation-CAB has approved the resolution by last July 13.

Two months from the date of affectivity, airlines are expected to fully implement a virtual system which would apply discount on online transactions.

Meanwhile, summary of amount indicating the 20% discount should be presented to the senior citizens before the completion of transaction. In return, necessary IDs are expected to be presented.

Also, the Palace is pleased to announce the recent Social Weather Station Survey showing the lowest hunger level from among Filipino families in 13 years.

Families experiencing involuntary hunger at least once in the past three months dropped from 11.9% in March 2017 to 9.5 in June or a 2.4% decline.

This is the first time since 2004 that Filipino families experiencing hunger fell to a single digit.

We have made — certainly made significant headways in alleviating poverty and bringing prosperity in our first year in office.

Much needs to be done but with the full support of all sectors, we can make a comfortable life for all a reality.

Also, as of today, 27th of July, day 66 of the rebellion in Marawi, data as of 26th July.

Enemies killed 469 or and increase of nine.

Civilians killed 45, no change.

Firearms recovered 571 or plus eight.

Civilians rescued 1,723, no change.

Buildings cleared 8, yesterday [7].

Killed in action 111.

We also have a bit of rather good news, as of 26th — 3p.m., 26th July, the cash donations for the Marawi casualties now amount to 107,818,423.23 pesos or an increase of more than 98 million. This comes from an anonymous donor.

Marawi IDPs, totaling 883,315.21.

We will entertain a few questions.

Leila Salaverria (Philippine Daily Inquirer): Good morning, sir. What does the Palace think of the possible promotion of Superintendent Marcos? Sir, some Senators are concerned that the PNP is coddling Superintendent Marcos despite his pending homicide case for the killing of Mayor Espinosa. Does the Palace agree with the–?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: Well, the Palace’s position, it’s a bit premature to be talking about these matters.

It’s better to just let him do his job first and then — and perform, and see if there is any veracity for the new assignment. So it’s really quite premature.

Ms. Salaverria: Sir, Budget Secretary Diokno says that the government —-

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: Can you give her a new mic please?

Ms. Salaverria: Sir, Budget Secretary Diokno said the government is considering abolishing the PCGG and transferring its functions to DOJ. What is the President’s position on this? What would happen now to the ill-gotten wealth cases and the efforts to hold Ferdinand Marcos and his cronies accountable for amassing ill-gotten wealth?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: The President… Actually the Office of the Solicitor General, actually handles the cases filed to run after the Marcos ill-gotten wealth, while the PCGG actually handles the administrative function.

So based on their proposal, the OSG can also handle the administrative functions as well. So that should address your question.

Ms. Salaverria: So, sir, you don’t see the abolition of the PCGG affecting or slowing down any efforts to recover the ill-gotten wealth?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: I think it’s a question of streamlining. There’s no politics there.

Ms. Salaverria: But, sir, aren’t the DOJ and OSG already burdened with so many cases? How can they focus on the recovery of ill-gotten wealth if they are handling so many other cases at the same time?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: Well, based on — based on the OSG’s position, apparently, they can.

Tuesday Niu (DZBB): Hi, sir.

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: Yes, ma’am?

Ms. Niu: Sir, maraming nagpapatanong, wala raw bang balak magpasuspende ang Malacañang kahit half-day because there are several areas in Metro Manila na nabaha nap o at ‘yung ibang mga LGUs nag-suspend na rin po ng pasok pati sa mga empleyado nila?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: Ma’am, as… According to… According to PAGASA, there is no threat of increase of rainfall. So it doesn’t seem to be necessary to suspend.

Ms. Niu: May yellow rainfall warning na po as of 11 a.m.

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: Antayin na lang po natin, ma’am, kung meron man. Pero as of now, wala.

Ms. Niu: Sir, hindi ba magiging late na ‘yun para makauwi sila nang maayos mamaya?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: Mauna ka na lang. [laughter] 

Ina Andolong (CNN Philippines): On a different topic, sir.

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: Yes, ma’am?

Ms. Andolong: Can we get your reaction to Chief Justice Sereno’s response to the President’s SONA where he said that suspended nga daw po ‘yung RH Law. She’s saying that it’s not, na wala daw pong TRO on the RH Law’s implementation, rather on the distribution or use of two specific contraceptives. And that their ruling on that TRO says that if the FDA says that those two contraceptives are not abortifacients then pwedeng ma-lift ‘yung TRO. In effect, nasa FDA daw po ‘yung pagpapahinto nung dalawang contraceptives. Is the Palace aware of this because it seems that the President’s statement in the SONA, may disconnect po doon sa—?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: As far as I know, we’re not aware of that particular argument. But if that… If that is so, then it ought to have been presented immediately to the Office of the President. 

Ms. Andolong: So ‘yung 350 or 360 million pesos worth of family planning contraceptives mentioned by the President, does that cover, baka lang, ‘yung dalawa lang po ba ‘yun? Can you clarify lang, sir?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: I can clarify that. We can get back to you, please. Okay thank you.

Ms. Andolong: So are you saying, sir, na suspended muna ‘yung plan to donate these—?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: Ma’am, hindi po ganyan. But we will clarify and we’ll get back to you.

Ms. Andolong: Thank you.

Elijah Rosales (Business Mirror): Good morning, Spokesman. It seems odd all of a sudden that there is a seeming crackdown on agencies critical to the interest of the administration, specifically the Commission on Human Rights and the Presidential Commission on Good Government. Why is the government suddenly interested in abolishing these agencies with active functions?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: Well, regarding the PCGG, apparently that has been a move from sometime back and it’s not a…

Again, let me stress, it’s not a political question, it’s a question of streamlining and being able to consolidate functions so that there will be no overlap.

Regarding CHR, there has been no active… It’s basically, the President is simply expressing his frustration regarding his — regarding the apparent biases of the Commission.

Mr. Rosales: But then, is the President’s threats — threat against the CHR valid or is it just, again, a hyperbole or something?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: No, he’s actually… He’s actually stating that he’s… He’s actually stating his frustration regarding the matter, regarding his style of speaking that is his.

Mr. Morong: So he is serious, sir, about abolishing the CHR?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: He has actually stressed that… The… Let me just… He’s merely — not merely — he’s actually expressing his frustrations regarding the CHR.

However, it is a Constitutional commission and it cannot be abolished by mere legislation. The chairperson and his members however serve at the pleasure of the President.

Pia Ranada (Rappler): Sir, just a follow up on that. So, sir, you’re saying that the CHR might not be abolished but it’s possible for the President to fire commissioner, the chief?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: Technically, they may be replaced at his pleasure.

Ms. Ranada: But, sir, as far as the Palace is concerned, it’s an empty threat, it’s not a policy yet to abolish?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: We do not talk about empty threats. We talk about concerns. Thank you.

Ms. Ranada: On to my question, sir, my real question. Just asking about the status of the bills extending the validity of drivers’ licenses and passports. The President said in his first SONA that he wanted this passed and it seems that this is already on his desk but he hasn’t signed it yet. May we just know why it’s taking him some time to sign the bills?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: It is on his desk and we do not know the reason why.

Ms. Ranada: Okay. Sir, on to the… ‘Yung non-invite of the European Union and CHR to the SONA. May we know if the Palace had any reason? Did the Palace have anything to do with the fact that they weren’t invited? And if so, what was the reason for not inviting these two?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: The invitations did not come from the Palace. The invitations come from the House. And they were actually invited but apparently they declined.

Ms. Ranada: They were invited, sir?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: Yes. But coming from the ano… Coming from the — coming from the House, yes.

Ms. Ranada: But they declined?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: They declined.

Ms. Ranada: This is from… This is from the House? They confirmed that they were—

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: That is a statement coming from— [What’s his name?] Undersecretary Adaza.

Ms. Ranada: Okay. Sir, just also on the meeting with — of the President with the Foreign Minister of China. May we know, sir, what was discussed?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: We don’t have the details regarding that.

Ms. Ranada: May we know, sir, if the joint development was brought up during the meeting at least?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: It may have been but I don’t have the details.

Henry Uri (DZRH): Sir, magandang tanghali na po. Kausap po namin kanina ‘yung taga-pagsalita ng Kadamay. Ang gusto daw ho nila makausap ang Presidente. May naririnig ba kayo sa… Dito sa Palasyo o sa mismong sa Presidente kung pauunlakan nila ‘yung gusto ng Kadamay na makausap nila ang Pangulo? 

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: Eh kung paabot po nila, hintayin po natin ‘yung response ng Presidente. 

Mr. Uri: So kailangan po nilang formally sumulat sa Pangulo?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: Lahat po siguro ng nakikipagkita sa Presidente, kailangan dumaan sa proseso.

Mr. Morong: Sir, ‘yun pong eight of nine — Bilibid 19 are threatening to retract their statements against Secretary De Lima if they are transferred to Building 14, your thoughts first?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: Well, basically they are entitled to protection. They are entitled to the… Apparently, they are…

Okay. I can announce that. All right.

Mr. Morong: Government suspension na ‘yan, sir?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: All right.

Mr. Morong: Sir, hindi your thoughts about the threat na they will retract the statements against Secretary — Senator De Lima? 

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: Threats aside, they are entitled to protection.

Mr. Morong: What is that, sir?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: Apparently, they were afraid for if they were transferred. They’re afraid for their safety. So they’re entitled to their protection.

Mr. Morong: So they should be transferred or they should not be transferred?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: All right, there seems to be quite an insistence that it is announced that there is suspension at 1 p.m., yes.

Mr. Morong: Complete statement?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: Complete statement regarding?

Mr. Morong: The suspension?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: All right, okay. From the Office of the OES, work has been suspended at 1p.m. due to inclement weather.

Mr. Morong: All government offices?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: All government offices, all right?

Mr. Morong:  Should they be transferred?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: I don’t have… That is the call of the…

Ms. Ignacio: Sir, NCR po ba ‘yan?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: NCR kung saan apektado ng bagyo.

Mr. Morong: Sir, should they or should they not be transferred?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: We don’t have any opinion on that at this stage. That’s a matter for the DOJ to specify.

Ms. Mendez: Sir, good afternoon. May meeting si Cabinet Secretary Evasco yesterday regarding doon sa…  With Task Force Bangon Marawi sub-cluster on housing. I’m just… I just wanna know kung na-identify na kung ilang recipients ng mga pabahay na gagawin ang gobyerno? Ilang pamilya o ilang units? Magkano po ang involved at saan sila dadalhin?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: We will get back to you regarding the details on that. We don’t have the details right now.

Ms. Mendez: Sir, within the day… Do we expect that within the day?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: Baka mag-suspend ng trabaho. [laughs] No, I’ll get back to you. No, we will get back to you.

All right, NCR, government schools… Public schools are suspended all levels. Okay. Hey, I’m trying to get it back, okay. She gave it to me in bullet points. All right, but the private schools may have their option whether to suspend or not.

Philip Tubeza (Philippine Daily Inquirer): Hi, sir good afternoon. Follow-up lang po doon sa —

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: No class at all levels, sounds like. All right.

Mr. Tubeza: Sir, follow up lang po doon sa joint exploration sa West Philippine Sea.

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: What about it?

Mr. Tubeza: When the President said na we are talking already to a partner on the joint exploration, was he referring to a Chinese firm?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: Joint kaya, hindi ba?

Mr. Tubeza: Joint exploration.

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: The joint exploration. We will get back to you on the details regarding the matter. Okay.

Mr. Tubeza: And second question, sir. Are we open to having similar — similar joint explorations with other countries besides China?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: We will also have to defer to DFA regarding the matter.

Mr. Tubeza: Thank you, sir.

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: All right. As of… From the Office of the Executive Secretary, it has been announced that work will be suspended by 1 p.m. in the NCR area and that all government classes, all government schools may — are having also asked to suspend classes. Private schools we’ll leave that to their own discretion whether to suspend classes or not.

Q: High school lang ‘yan, sir?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: All levels. Thank you.

–END—

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