Press Briefing

Press Briefing of Presidential Spokesperson and Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Secretary Salvador S. Panelo

Event Press Briefing
Location New Executive Bldg., Malacanang

SEC. PANELO: Na-release na ba iyong sa Cabinet meeting statement? Pa-release na, hindi ko pala na-text.

REYMUND TINAZA/BOMBO RADYO: Good morning to the biggest winner last night.

SEC. PANELO: PBB.

REYMUND TINAZA/BOMBO RADYO: Sir, the President also cited the jurisprudence specifically the Fidel Tan versus People of the Philippines na possible legal basis for the re-arrest of the 1,700 inmates convicted of heinous crimes.

SEC. PANELO: One thousand ilan?

REYMUND TINAZA/BOMBO RADYO: 1,900 pero—

SEC. PANELO: Oh that is your answer, Joseph.

REYMUND TINAZA/BOMBO RADYO: Pero ang figure ng Pangulo, 1,700.

SEC. PANELO: Saan mo naman nakuha iyong 1,900?

REYMUND TINAZA/BOMBO RADYO: BuCor.

SEC. PANELO: Di yun ang tama.

REYMUND TINAZA/BOMBO RADYO: Sir, puwede ba ito, is this equally applicable to the cases of those 1,700 mentioned by the President considering that the primary basis of the Supreme Court ruling was the authority of the Warden to issue release order or to grant GCTA to Fidel Tan?

SEC. PANELO: In fact, even there was no Supreme Court ruling, the fact remains that the basis for their release has no legal justification. Hence, it is void ab initio and therefore the sentence remains and so they can be re-arrested because they have not served fully their sentence in so far as those who are disqualified from availing of the benefits of Republic Act 10592.

REYMUND TINAZA/BOMBO RADYO: Sir, iyong paghabol ng accountability with the release is also retroactive, just like the law di ba. So, how can we account now, Senator Bato Dela Rosa who himself during his term as BuCor Director General released also convicts of heinous crimes?

SEC. PANELO: With respect to Senator Dela Rosa, then that requires an investigation on whatever circumstances that made him sign released papers, case to case iyon; Iba naman iyong kay Chief Faeldon. Kasi iyon ang under investigation ngayon.

But, as I said earlier, the President he was going to wait for the investigation of the Senate. But apparently the basis of the termination of Chief Faeldon is not with respect to the ongoing investigation now. But as pointed out expressly by the President himself he is being fired because he has disobeyed a direct order coming from the President.

REYMUND TINAZA/BOMBO RADYO: And that was the August 20 call of President on Senator Bong Go?

SEC. PANELO: Yes. The instruction that was coursed through Senator Bong Go to relay the message to him and he received it.

REYMUND TINAZA/BOMBO RADYO: And why is it only last night that he made the decision to finally fire him?

SEC. PANELO: That’s his discretion, when to fire or when not to fire.

JOYCE BALANCIO/DZMM: Good afternoon, sir. Sir, reaction ninyo po. The President expressed full faith and confidence in you.

SEC. PANELO: I thanked him for that. I really thanked him.

JOYCE BALANCIO/DZMM: What happened when you met the President and talk about it.

SEC. PANELO: Wala, sabi ko, “Mr. President thank you for your expression of your confidence.” And he said, “ah totoo naman iyon eh.” iyon lang. Ay totoo naman iyon. Hindi, totoo iyong sinabi niya na he vouched for my character and that what I did was the correct thing.

Oh by the way, some of you were asking about the circumstances of the visit. You know that it’s only yesterday that I learned the detail, kasi hindi ko naman na—

Remember we had a press briefing on… ano iyon? Darren ano nga iyon? Ano iyong unang punta?

Feb. 7, meron tayong press briefing paglabas ko diyan, they were there. And I didn’t recognized the mother/daughter simply because 27 years ago na eh. So, siyempre nag-iba na ang mukha, medyo naging healthy; iyong isa naman batang-bata pa medyo naging adult.

So tinanong ko pa sila kung sino sila eh. So, they introduced themselves. Sabi ko, “ah kayo pala.” Sabi ko, “ano bang magagawa ko para sa inyo?” Sabi niya, “sir, nag-aapply si Mayor Sanchez ng executive clemency, tulungan n’yo naman kami.” Ang sagot ko – simple lang ang sagot ko – sabi ko, “oh di sumulat kayo, kasi protocol dito eh, kung ano ang kailangan ng kahit na sino, sumulat kayo sa opisina ang then I will officially respond.”

Tapos, di papunta na ako na elevator, and then pagdating sa opisina, ni-refer ko na sila sa staff. And then according to my staff Joy sabi niya, “sir ang ginawa nila, she emailed” and that was the first letter. Oh and then pagkatapos pala noon, siyempre I forgot all about it na, dahil everyday ang dami nating trabaho and then according to Joy, the daughter called her up. But before that sabi ko nga, kahapon, ‘paano nga pala nakapasok iyon? Bakit hindi ko alam na may darating?’ ‘Sir, hindi rin namin alam basta dumating lang iyon.’ Kaya nga in fact, I told her, sabi ko, “pa-imbestigahan n’yo nga sa PSG paano nakapasok ng hindi nalalaman.”

Sabi ko after that, ano ang nangyari. Sabi niya, “sir nag-text, nagpa-follow up.” Oh eh di after that, tapos nag-follow up uli siya noong 26th nag-text daw na pupunta at nagpa-follow up. So, what Joy did – since I assigned that to Asec Darren – pinuntahan si Asec. Darren. Pinuntahan ka di ba? At sinabihan sa iyo na pina-follow up. And then, Asec Darren naman at that time yata… may nagawa ka na ba o ginawa mo pa lang? O pinag-aralan tapos gumawa ka na.

So pagdating nila, they were ushered in and then I told them, oh sabi ko, “nandito na iyong response ko sa letter ninyo, ire-refer ko na lang.” Sabi niya tulungan n’yo naman kami. [Sabi ko] ‘kung ano iyong batas sundin na lang natin, basta ito ire-refer ko, hintayin n’yo na lang ang sagot nila.’ Iyon that was the end of it.

JOYCE BALANCIO/DZMM: So, there were no prior appointment, sir?

SEC. PANELO: Wala, pinaiimbestigahan ko nga ngayon paano nakarating sila ng dalawang beses eh ng hindi natin nalalaman.

JOYCE BALANCIO/DZMM: Sir, so bale po based sa alam ninyo, how many times sila pumunta sa office ninyo?

SEC. PANELO: Dalawa nga ang recorded.

JOYCE BALANCIO/DZMM: Iyong Feb 21 daw, sir. Meron din po bang ganoon, sir?

SEC. PANELO: Meron bang Feb. 21? Wala akong alam na may—

STAFF: Sir, kasi I checked the log book, based on the logbook, Elvira and Maimai they came.

SEC. PANELO: Feb. 7 muna.

STAFF: Feb 7 and then Feb 21. But noong Feb. 21 wala sila sa log sa guwardiya sa baba pero meron silang log sa 4th floor doon sa office mo, Elvie and Maimai Sanchez, February 21. Person to visit: Atty. Panelo at 10:00 am.

SEC. PANELO: Anong araw ang February 21.

STAFF: Feb. 21, Thursday, may briefing.

SEC. PANELO: Dapat may briefing ako, but parang hindi ko yata sila nakita noon. Natatandaan mo ba iyan Asec. Darren? But sigurado bang wala akong out of town, baka naman out of town ako, Feb 21? Basta dalawang beses ko lang sila nakita, iyong paglabas ko diyan saka iyong binigay ko iyong referral letter na ang tumanggap sila.

JOYCE BALANCIO/DZMM: Sir, kumusta po iyong libel complaints, have you already filed—

SEC. PANELO: Before you file kasi a libel complaint, you send a demand letter to them. So, I sent demand letters to the publisher, editor and the writer of that article sa Philippine Daily Inquirer; and also the publisher, editor and the writer of Rappler.

JOYCE BALANCIO/DZMM: Demand letter …

SEC. PANELO: Yeah, I was asking … I was explaining them why I’m suing them, because of what they maliciously imputed to me, an act which is not true that is recommending the grant. I never recommended anything. I just referred a letter perfunctorily. And I said, I demand an apology and a rectification of this, otherwise, I will have to go to court.

JOYCE BALANCIO/DZMM: Have they responded, sir?

SEC. PANELO: Wala pa eh. Pinadala pa lang naman. Was that sent by mail, Asec. Darren? Iyong demand letters? Pinirmahan ko kahapon, noong bago ako umalis.

JOYCE BALANCIO/DZMM: So kahapon lang, sir, pinadala?

SEC. PANELO: Napadala na ba? Kasi pinirmahan ko lang pag-akyat ko sa opisina noong hapon eh, pagdating ko.

JOYCE BALANCIO/DZMM: Sir, sa Cabinet meeting kahapon, nabanggit na po ba ni President Duterte kung sino ang gusto niyang pumalit kay Faeldon?

SEC. PANELO: Wala, wala siyang binanggit. Hindi ba tinanong ninyo raw, ano ba ang sagot?

JOYCE BALANCIO/DZMM: Hindi niya sinagot, sir.

SEC. PANELO: Baka naman iyong ano …kasi mayroon siyang in-appoint na deputy director, baka iyon muna – OIC.

JOYCE BALANCIO/DZMM: Sir, iyon muna, sir, iyong deputy?

SEC. PANELO: Baka. Kasi kung siya ang deputy, eh di automatically he will assume the OIC post.

Q: [OFF MIC]

SEC. PANELO: Yes, iyon nga yata, General Melegrito.

CELERINA MONTE/MANILA SHIMBUN: Sir, you have mentioned that the action taken by then BuCor Chief Dela Rosa should be investigated. Who will investigate?

SEC. PANELO: The President ordered the investigation—ah si Dela Rosa.

CELERINA MONTE/MANILA SHIMBUN: Yes, sir.

SEC. PANELO: Then somebody has to complain kung may ginawa siyang whatever.

CELERINA MONTE/MANILA SHIMBUN: So hindi motu proprio iyong pag-i-investigate, kailangan mayroong magpa-file pa ng complaint?

SEC. PANELO: Siyempre kung wala namang nagrereklamo sa ginawa niya, papaano mo naman …

CELERINA MONTE/MANILA SHIMBUN: Pero just—the case of Faeldon ‘di ba, the President ask the Ombudsman to investigate him since his action was done during when he was still with the executive, si Dela Rosa?

SEC. PANELO: Sige, I will ask the President kung anong … with respect naman to former BuCor Chief Dela Rosa.

INA ANDOLONG/CNN PHILS: Sir, related to that. Si House Justice Committee Chair Congressman Ching Veloso is saying ‘di ba dahil close to 2,000 or about 2,000 heinous crime convicts were released and those people were not just released during the time of Mr. Faeldon. So he is saying that even previous BuCor officials – not singling out now Senator Dela Rosa – should also be investigated dahil if they also committed the same or did the same process na ginawa ni Faeldon, mali din sila. What’s the Palace’s position on that?

SEC. PANELO: Well, I guess, since that is the sentiment of the House, they should do something about it. They can always recommend the filing. First, they will have to investigate; and then, they will have to recommend what their findings are and what their recommendation is with respect to those people.

INA ANDOLONG/CNN PHILS: But do you see logic in that? Because you’ve been saying that obviously that these heinous crime convicts should not have been released?

SEC. PANELO: Yes, because the law is very clear naman eh. Kaya lang baka, ang tingin ko diyan, baka ang defense nila diyan is iyong implementing rules kasi, allowed. Baka sabihin nila … iyong sinasabi nila na erroneous interpretation.

INA ANDOLONG/CNN PHILS: That’s the same, sir, with Mr. Faeldon?

SEC. PANELO: In other words, puwede rin namang good fate. Pero bahala na ang courts kung anong sasabihin ng court diyan.

INA ANDOLONG/CNN PHILS: Sir, speaking of the courts. You said kanina, void ab initio. Kailangan bang hintayin muna ang court to actually declare—

SEC. PANELO: Hindi na. Hindi na because kung void ab initio, ibig sabihin iyong sentence nila has not been fully served and, therefore, dapat sila ay nasa kulungan pa; kaya that’s precisely why the President gave them 15 days. So kung qualified ka, walang mawawala sa’yo kung hindi you present yourself, and then titingnan kung qualified ka. Pero kung hindi ka qualified, you have to go back to jail.

INA ANDOLONG/CNN PHILS: Because it would appear now, sir, that that void ab initio is just coming from your office – the Executive, tama ba iyon?

SEC. PANELO: No, no. My statement is a legal opinion that that it’s void since there is no basis for the release. So DOJ should take it from there.

INA ANDOLONG/CNN PHILS: So it will have to go through the court?

SEC. PANELO: Not really, kasi from our point of view, at least me, from my point of view – I suppose that’s also the opinion of the Secretary of Justice – since you have been released erroneously, nang walang legal basis, then the logical conclusion is you’re out and you have not served fully your sentence, so you have to go back.

INA ANDOLONG/CNN PHILS: Okay. Hindi ba, sir, kailangan ng re-Commitment Order from the court?

SEC. PANELO: I don’t think so. That could be a legal issue. The lawyer of that inmate could go to the Supreme Court and say na ganito, ganiyan – we’ll have to let the courts decide.

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: Sir, question on coverage. Right now we’re focused on what happened under Faeldon ‘no. But we’re dealing with a misapplication of the GCTA. Ang coverage ba, sir, noong pababalikin sa kulungan is all the way up to—

SEC. PANELO: 2013.

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: When the law was passed.

SEC. PANELO: Yes.

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: Kaya tayo may 1,900. So you have to arrest all of those people?

SEC. PANELO: Well … eh kung hindi naman dahil kung qualified naman eh. I’m sure hindi naman lahat doon were convicted of heinous crimes or all of them were habitual delinquents or recidivists, ‘di ba. So depende. Iyon lang na-release under that policy or program.

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: GCTA, heinous crime convicts, correct? So who is going to determine this one is heinous, this one is not?

SEC. PANELO: Makikita naman sa record iyon eh kung anong conviction mo eh, it’s in the record.

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: And that’s DOJ’s problem?

SEC. PANELO: It shows in the record whether you’re convicted of what crime.

INA ANDOLONG/CNN PHILS: Sir, are we basing it on the list of heinous crimes in the death penalty law?

SEC. PANELO: What do you mean?

INA ANDOLONG/CNN PHILS: Sir, kasi wala tayong list eh or clear definition of what heinous crimes are. Some are saying that we’re just going by the list that’s stated in the death penalty law – iyon po ba ang basis for determination?

SEC. PANELO: If there is a definitive definition of heinous crime, then doon mag-a-apply iyon. If for instance, this is my personal opinion, if for instance there is no definition of heinous crime after the passage of 10592 prior to that legal definition introduced in another law, to my mind as a lawyer, that will not apply. Kung walang heinous crime, papaano mo madi-determine kung heinous o hindi kasi wala pang definition at that time. They can argue, “Oh ba’t parang pareho din iyan kasi …” but kailangan, hindi pupuwedeng i-retroact mo … ang retroactivity nga dapat favorable sa accused. Ang gagawin mo ngayon, pinaparusahan mo na hindi naman dapat.

INA ANDOLONG/CNN PHILS: Sir, sorry, so paano nga? Who then or how do you determine?

SEC. PANELO: Hindi nga, sa akin, ang opinyon ko diyan, kung ako ang nasa committee na magdi-determine whether kasama siya doon sa hindi coverage, I will have to consider when the legal definition of a heinous crime was enacted. Kapag pumasok … halimbawa, kung 2014 – 2013 iyong 10592 ‘di ba – saka lang nagkaroon ng definition ng heinous crime, hindi ko isasama iyong 2013 to 2014 kahit na iyong … halimbawa, if heinous crime is murder at nakalagay dito ay murder, hindi ko isasama rito iyong year na iyon. Kasi niri-retroact mo iyong against the accused eh ang ruling doon palagi it should be favorable, iri-retroact mo. Magiging ex post facto law kasi iyon.

JINKY BATICADOS/IBC13: Sir, dito lang po sa GCTA law. Ang mga napalaya na po before ba, sir, can they invoke presumption of regularities sa release orders nila? Kasi ang tinatanong ng iba, sir, bakit kami magsa-suffer ng mistakes ng BuCor eh ang pagkakaintindi nila ay in-award iyon sa kanila.

SEC. PANELO: Unang-una, I don’t think they have suffered. Nabigyan nga sila ng release freedom eh. So how can you be suffering?

JINKY BATICADOS/IBC 13: But they can invoke the presumption—

SEC. PANELO: Hindi, the presumption of regularity is a general rule. There is an exception. What is the exception? Eh hindi nga kayo qualified from the very start, so hindi na regular. Sisirain mo na—you will be destroying or demolishing the presumption given by law or by our judicial system as regular. Kasi napakita mo na, na-prove na hindi pupuwede pala.

JINKY BATICADOS/IBC 13: Sir, kagabi mula ng magsalita ang Pangulo about doon sa pagpapasuko sa kanila, may mga sumuko na daw, sir. May nakarating na ba sa Office of the President?

SEC. PANELO: Wala pa akong balita. We will of course monitor kung sino. I’m sure the police agency will be informing the Office of the President.

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: Sir, coverage again, now in terms of investigating culpability. Klaro iyong kahapon, sir, si—even if he’s been let go, if he’s been fired, iimbestigahan pa si Chief Faeldon, correct?

SEC. PANELO: Yeah, kasi ini-imbestigahan nga eh.

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: And who else?

SEC. PANELO: Iyong lahat ng mga nasa BuCor na those involved in the… siguro kasama na iyong mga nagko-compute. Di ba may committee iyon, there must be a group or a committee that will determine whether or not you’re qualified and then they will make the computation.

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: And we also go back all the way to 2013 all the other BuCor Chiefs?

SEC. PANELO: That should be the logical consequence.

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: And the process would be, DOJ will investigate, refer to Ombudsman?

SEC. PANELO: Bahala na si DOJ Secretary. Turf na niya iyon eh.

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: Okay. Can the Ombudsman motu propio, on its own initiate proceedings?

SEC. PANELO: Under the law the Ombudsman can always motu propio, on its own investigate any complaint by any person and even without.

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: So from the President’s statement, is it going to be the Ombudsman or the DOJ who is going to do the investigating?

SEC. PANELO: Puwede namang Ombudsman saka DOJ both eh, puwedeng internal iyong sa DOJ for its own purposes.

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: And for what violation, sir?

SEC. PANELO: Oh eh di binayolate (violated) mo iyong regulation. Kung merong regulation na internal na dapat iyong mga qualified lang, tapos nilagay mo doon, di may violation ka na. Sa administrative puwede ka.

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: Admin, initial?

SEC. PANELO: Admin.

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: How about what the President said yesterday night it’s possible na binili iyong ibang—

SEC. PANELO: Exactly, admin muna; pero if you can prove na there was corruption, kaya mo sinama, oh eh di criminal na iyon.

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: How about lifestyle check?

SEC. PANELO: Kasama lahat iyon, siyempre.

REYMUND TINAZA/BOMBO RADYO: Sir, pero hindi ba, para itong lip service o susuntok sa buwan, dahil considering ngayon, lalo iyong mga previously released ay matatanda, hindi na nga halos mamukhaan. So, how would the PNP, NBI and military could easily locate, identify them iyong iba naka-abroad na. So, paano iyong magiging proseso and even offering 1 million each of these almost 2,000 convicted—

SEC. PANELO: That will be the problem of the police agencies, kung how they will go about it.

REYMUND TINAZA/BOMBO RADYO: So meron ba tayong parang time frame aside from the 15-day period for them to show up at BuCor?

SEC. PANELO: Hindi. Iyong 15 days, pag natapos iyon, di puwede na silang i-arrest as fugitive.

REYMUND TINAZA/BOMBO RADYO: Sabi ni Mr. Chiong, parang masyado raw matagal or mahaba iyong 15 days?

SEC. PANELO: Eh iyon ang binigay ni Presidente, discretion ni Presidente iyon. What is important is when the President saw that there was an irregularity; he acted on it immediately with dispatch.

JULIE: Sir, follow up lang po sa question ni Joseph. You said the probe might cover all previous BuCor Chiefs. Are we just talking about iyong BuCor Chiefs who released or who authorized the release of inmates based on the RA 10592 or are we talking about previous BuCor Chiefs who also released inmates under the GCTA provided by the Revised Penal Code?

SEC. PANELO: Apparently, ang pinag-uusapan lang dito iyong 10592, kasi iyon lang ang categorical kung sino ang disqualified.

JULIE: So, can the Palace categorically say na prior to RA 10592 wala pong naging mali sa implementation ng GCTA under RPC—

SEC. PANELO: We cannot say na walang mali, what we’re saying is: we are at this time focusing on the violation of Republic Act 10592. If there is any irregularity committed with respect to computation of good behavior allowance prior to enactment, then you have to complain para malaman natin kung meron nga.

JULIE: Okay, pero not like iyong sa kaso ng 10592, hindi puwede i-motu propio iyong years prior to—kailangan may complaints, sir?

SEC. PANELO: Kasi ang klaro iyong 10592 mukhang hindi na-implement ng tama.

INA ANDOLONG/CNN PHILS: Sir, doon sa 1 million peso reward for those who will not surrender. The President said he will announce a decision in three days if matutuloy iyong reward na iyon. But he himself made a computation kung 1,700, 1.7 billion; the real number is about 1,900, close to P2 billion. Is that prudent for taxpayers’ money to be used for that which is, you know, the fault of government officials who wrongly implemented the law?

SEC. PANELO: First, that is assuming that the P2 billion will be spent for all of them. For all you know, baka all of them will surrender, so wala ka. Pangalawa, what is more important is that the government is doing something to protect the threat against society with respect to these convicts who have been incarcerated by reason of their crimes deemed to be heinous, in other words, they become potential threats.

INA ANDOLONG/CNN PHILS: But still they were released—

SEC. PANELO: It is more important is you spent money to secure your people.

INA ANDOLONG/CNN PHILS: Sir, some are saying it would appear to be the biggest jail break daw iyong nangyari? Your comment on that?

SEC. PANELO: In the first place, when you say jailbreak, it was forced. Since it was not forced, it is not a jailbreak. They were released.

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: Sir, balik ako doon sa family. On February 7, when they came here, to your surprise they were here?

SEC. PANELO: Yeah.

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: And they said, ‘Tulungan mo naman kami.’

SEC. PANELO: Yes.

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: At that point, wala pa silang letter, correct?

SEC. PANELO: Wala pa, kasi nga—wala pa, wala pang letter, February 8 iyong letter eh.

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: Exactly.

SEC. PANELO: In-email nga nila iyon eh.

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: Yes.

SEC. PANELO: Kasi, I do not take action on verbal request, verbal complaint. I want all of that documented. Mahirap iyong mga verbal eh.

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: Yes. So at that point there is nothing to refer?

SEC. PANELO: No.

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: But you said, instead sumulat kayo.

SEC. PANELO: Yeah, because you are already requesting me di ba. Requesting me pero you’re saying it verbally. You have to write formally. Para I can officially act on it.

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: Yeah, but could you have said ‘no, not me, I’m the Presidential Legal Counsel’?

SEC. PANELO: You’re wrong. As I said already, this office is taking to heart the policy of the President to open Malacañang to all; to serve every citizen of this country; to respond to any complaint, grievance or assistance.

Had the Aileen family came to me, I would have responded the same. If they asked for my assistance why Mr. Sanchez is being released then I would have referred it to the Bureau of Pardons and Parole and tell them that, ‘Here is a letter of the Sarmenta family objecting to the release. So, I’m forwarding it to you for your evaluation. And tell us what you action will be so that we will know it accordance with law so that I can properly advise the President.’

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA 7: But they’re pretty confident to just go here to Malacañang, and the access is very—

SEC. PANELO: As I said, we don’t even know how they were able to come. But my experience here is that in Gate 2, hindi masyado. Kung minsan, istrikto; kung minsan, hindi. Kung minsan—no, that’s true. That’s why they really have to be strict kasi kung minsan nagugulat ako, ‘Oh bakit may tao diyan,’ nandito eh.

Pero sa Gate 4, hindi puwede iyon. Kasi ang Gate 4 kailangan may advance—may request pa. Pero dito, hindi masyado eh. In fact, kapag interviews hindi kayo uubra doon; dito puwede. So I think that’s security problem of the PSG, not us. Lax, siguro iyong lax.

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: But they’re pretty confident to go here, right? I mean—

SEC. PANELO: I think that’s just an opinion, kasi siguro—alam mo, alam mo ang mga Pilipino ‘di ba, ang mga Pilipino kapag nilapitan mo, “Kailangan po namin ng tulong,” ganiyan ‘di ba. Eh kung minsan ang mga Pilipino, ang iba suplado, ‘Ah hindi, hindi pupuwede, wala kayong ganiyan.” Ang iba naman, “Oh sige na nga, sandali lang kayo,” mga ganiyan – kahit saan ka pumunta, ganiyan ang mga Pilipino. Depende sa tao, mayroong matulungin, mayroong suplado, mayroong mayabang, mayroong asar.

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: Which one are you?

SEC. PANELO: Ako, I’m always smiling.

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: Accommodating.

SEC. PANELO: Accommodating, according to Teddy Boy Lacson: engaging. D

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: Helpful.

SEC. PANELO: I’m helpful to all of you, especially when if I’m not … I don’t have sleep, I have to make a statement so that you can write your stories. Even if I’m sleeping, somebody has to call, ring me up repeatedly. Hindi na nga sinasagot, nakakasampu pa na tawag, my God! Si Chona iyon.

ARIANNE MEREZ/ABS-CBNnews.com: Hi, sir. Question lang po. Kasi among those released were three Chinese drug lords, under the GCTA law. Sir, paano po kung nasa abroad na sila?

SEC. PANELO: Hindi, nakakulong pa eh.

ARIANNE MEREZ/ABS-CBNnews.com: Released, sir.

SEC. PANELO: Na-release sa Munti pero nandoon sa ano … nandoon sa—anong tawag doon? Iyong kulungan sa Bicutan, ng immigration. Hindi ba? Iyon ang alam ko.

Q: [OFF MIC]

SEC. PANELO: Dalawang batch ba iyon?

ARIANNE MEREZ/ABS-CBNnews.com: Sir, si [foreign name]—basta, sir, ito iyong mga names.

SEC. PANELO: In other words, dalawang groups ang sinasabi mo.

ARIANNE MEREZ/ABS-CBNnews.com: Opo, sir. So, sir, halimbawa iyong mga na-release na foreign nationals, and then kasi sir, since 2013 iyong law tapos nasa ibang bansa na sila, are we considering extradition?

SEC. PANELO: Depende kung may extradition iyong bansa. Kung wala, paano mo mai-extradite.

ARIANNE MEREZ/ABS-CBNnews.com: So paano iyon, sir, kung wala po?

SEC. PANELO: Anong magagawa na natin. Eh di hihintayin natin na pumunta ulit dito nang maaresto siya. Kung may extradition, i-extradite natin. Eh kung paano kung wala? What can you do?

ARIANNE MEREZ/ABS-CBNnews.com: Okay, sir. And then, sir, the Department of Justice, kanina sir, sinabi ni Justice Secretary Guevarra, they placed the—

SEC. PANELO: Teka muna, kahit na wala tayong extradition, puwede naman tayong sumulat, makiusap sa police authorities.

ARIANNE MEREZ/ABS-CBNnews.com: Is the government planning that, sir?

SEC. PANELO: Bakit naman hindi. Kasi, ang iniisip ko rin, pabor sa kanila. Siyempre sasabihin ‘Hoy, mga convicted ano iyan dito, felons on drugs, baka kayo ang magkaproblema, ibalik ninyo na lang sa amin. Kasi kung wala pa silang crime doon, dito ninyo na lang ibalik sa amin.’ Baka okay sa kanila iyon.

ARIANNE MEREZ/ABS-CBNnews.com: Okay, sir. And then, sir, nag-issue po kasi kanina si Secretary Guevarra ng statement na nilagay na nila sa Immigration look out bulletin iyong mga napalaya na heinous crime convicts. Pero, sir, there’s a 2018 Supreme Court decision that says, iyong pag-isyu ng hold departure orders are puwede lang pong manggaling sa courts.

SEC. PANELO: Iba iyong hold departure order sa watch list.

ARIANNE MEREZ/ABS-CBNnews.com: Puwede pa rin ba, sir, makaalis ng bansa itong mga …

SEC. PANELO: Hindi, paano makakaalis ang mga iyan, nasa watch list ka. Eh di siyempre titimbrihan mo iyong mga police, eh di aarestuhin ka.

MYLENE ALFONSO/BULGAR: Good morning, sir. Sir, despite na pinagtanggol po kayo ng Pangulo, may statement po kasi si Senator Risa Hontiveros na you should also be investigated because you acted in a preferential way that benefited convicted rapist-murderer. Tapos, sir—

SEC. PANELO: Paano naman nag-benefit eh dininay [denied] nga eh. Kaya nga ako natatawa, may power daw. Mayroong power, pero dininay. Ano bang power iyon?

MYLENE ALFONSO/BULGAR: Okay, sir. Ganiyan din daw po ba kayo ka-accommodating sa mga pamilya ng mga mahihirap na bilanggo?

SEC. PANELO: Oo. Pati sa kaniya magiging accommodating ako kapag may problema siya. If she comes to my office, I will accommodate her. Her mother is very good friend of mine, as well as her sister. And it doesn’t matter whether we’re friends or not, if she has a problem, she can come to my office and I will refer to the appropriate entity that requires action or whatever complaint she will bring to this office.

MYLENE ALFONSO/BULGAR: Okay, sir. Bukod po sa pamilya ni Sanchez, mayroon din po bang lumapit sa inyo para humingi ng referral for executive clemency?

SEC. PANELO: Marami. Hindi ba dinala ko dito iyong 50 plus or hundreds … it’s a normal request coming from inmates. In fact, I think I stopped a syndicate there. May sindikato doon, sindikato. You know why? I notice na may nagri-request palagi ng iyong commutation, in behalf of this and that, palaging iisa lang ang pumipirma. So I told my lawyers, sabi ko, gumawa nga kayo ng sulat idiretso ninyo doon sa convict. And tell them, kung Pilipino, Pilipino tayo. Pinasabi ko na natanggap namin ito pero galing sa isang taong hindi namin kilala at hindi naman nagpakilalang kamag-anak mo. Eh palaging ganoon. Kasi nagre-respond kami, niri-refer namin—baka kako ginagamit ang opisina, sinisingil sila in other words for writing letters to us; nag-aabogado which is illegal. Nahinto iyon, nahinto, kasi sinabi namin we will no longer entertain.

So ngayon, ang mg a natatanggap ko na either father, mother, convict, or sister – pero marami eh. I think, ilan ang nag-a-average tayo, Asec. Darren?

ASEC. DARREN: [OFF MIC]

SEC. PANELO: Ang dami eh. Iyon nga lang dinala natin dito the other day, singkuwenta yata mahigit iyon.

At saka iyong response nga pala ng Bureau of Pardons and Paroles, mayroon din silang template. Binabago lang nila, number, tapos may tsini-tsek lang sila kung anong naging action nila.

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: Sir, you’re confirming iyong bilihan ng …

SEC. PANELO: Ng?

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: At least the computation sa GCTA, right?

SEC. PANELO: Hindi, ang sinasabi ko iyong ano, iyong may nagpapanggap na abogado.

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: Asking to do what, re-computation, right?

SEC. PANELO: No, writing letters.

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: To do what?

SEC. PANELO: Instead na iyong convict ang susulat, ‘Sumusulat kami in behalf of this convict.’ Tapos kunwari may association sila.

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: Anong pinapagawa?

SEC. PANELO: Na kung pupuwedeng tulungan sa kanilang ano, problema nila sa … gusto nila may pardon, gusto nila i-reduce ang sentence. Kasi automatically, iri-refer mo iyon sa Bureau of Pardons and Paroles.

But nakahalata nga ako na iisang tao ang pumipirma, baka ‘ika ko nag-aabogado ito, sinisingil iyong mga inmates. Eh libre naman ang pagpunta rito at mag-refer ‘di ba. By doing that, they’re making money; kawawa naman iyong mga inmates. Lalo na kung ma-approve, ‘Dahil sa akin ….’

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: You’ve noticed that since you assumed office?

SEC. PANELO: Yes, pero natigil na iyon. Napansin ko kasi iisang penmanship, pero iba-ibang pangalan.

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: Would you remember the name?

SEC. PANELO: Hindi ko na maalala. Baka si Asec. Darren.

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: We will ask for the name, sir. Is he somebody from BuCor?

SEC. PANELO: Hindi ko alam. Pangalan lang.

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: Ah inmate lang.

SEC. PANELO: Inmate ba iyon? Ah inmate din, ah okay.

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: Secretary, ganoon?

SEC. PANELO: Ewan ko. Basta parang asosasyon ng mga ganito.

HANNAH SANCHO/DZAR: Sir, maliban kay Mayor Sanchez, sir, wala na po kayong other clients before na lumapit din sa office ninyo to ask for a referral letter.

SEC. PANELO: Marami nga. Hindi ba sinasabi ko nga hundreds.

HANNAH SANCHO/DZAR: No, no I’m asking, sir, kung meron ba na former clients ninyo na lumapit po sa inyo. Hindi ko naman alam sinu-sino iyong mga clients ninyo before, sir, na na-convict po na lumapit din sa office ninyo—

SEC. PANELO: Mayroon, Ampatuan.

HANNAH SANCHO/DZAR: Ano ang hiningi po ng pamilya ng Ampatuan, sir?

SEC. PANELO: Hindi. Ang kaso naman nung Ampatuan, I think one of the Ampatuans is at large, at large. And the wife and the… mother-in-law ba? Tama.

The mother of that Ampatuan is at large, iyong mga kapatid niya na-trail eh; pero siya at large. And they are claiming that inosente sila. Sabi ko ‘bakit hindi sumurender?’ Siyempre ayaw daw sumurender kasi pareho ng mga kapatid nakakulong hanggang ngayon, hindi pa tapos ang trial. So, they are asking the intercession of the President.

So madali’t sabi in one event – hindi ko alam kung paano sila naimbitahan doon – ipinakilala ko kay Presidente, ‘Mr. President, meron yatang.…’ Iyon pala parang kilala na niya dati, kasi mga taga-Davao eh.

So, sabi naman ni Presidente – narinig ko sabi niya – ‘eh antayin na lang ninyo kung ano ang judgment ng court, Eh nasa court na iyan.’ And then, apparently sumulat sila, hindi ko na matandaan nung sumulat sila sa Office of the President o nakipaghingi ng appointment kay Presidente. And then parang I received a note referring them to me. So nagpunta sila, I think mga two weeks ago lang eh. And then, I told them—sabi niya gusto naming makausap si Presidente. Sabi ko the fact na ni-refer Presidente sa akin iyan, ibig sabihin, ganundin ang mangyayari diyan. Kaya ang advice ko sa inyo pa-surenderin n’yo na lang iyong asawa mo, mag-trial na lang kayo. Tapos sabi naman nila, ‘eh paano kung makukulong?’ ‘Eh ganyan talaga ang risk mo diyan.’

But—kasi according to them, iyon daw mga testigo nagsabi na ng hindi sila kasama. Oh iyon pala kako eh, di ano na iyon, trabaho ng abogado ninyo. You surrender your husband, eh lawyer naman siya, you are a lawyer, you should know this, you better explain that to your mother. Kasi iyong mother, siyempre mother eh, you explain to your mother-in-law na ganyan talaga ang batas, you have to surrender first. And the magkapa-PI kayo oh di doon sa sa PI puwede nang i-recall iyong warrant kung makita nila talaga namang hindi kayo kasama, iyon. Iyon lang.

HANNAH SANCHO/DZAR: So far, sir, Ampatuan lang, sir ha. Wala na kayong maalala.

SEC. PANELO: Wala na.

HANNAH SANCHO/DZAR: Sir, do you have any number po, sir, na doon sa mga nabigyan n’yo po ng referral letter—

SEC. PANELO: What number?

HANNAH SANCHO/DZAR: Number na pinagbigyan po na magkaroon ng clemency or mapaliit po iyong kanilang sentence?

SEC. PANELO: Ang lumalapit through letters.

HANNAH SANCHO/DZAR: Yes, na naaprubahan po. Di ba, sir iyong letter na binibigay ninyo sa main, may mga reply po?

SEC. PANELO: Oo meron. May mga na grant, may mga response na granted, ng mga ganito, na-release na iyan.

HANNAH SANCHO/DZAR: Ilan po sa kanila iyong heinous crime po, convicted po ng heinous crimes?

SEC. PANELO: Ay iyan ang hindi ko alam, hindi ko na alam iyon. Wala na kaming way of researching there.

INA ANDOLONG/CNN PHILS: Sir, but you confirmed that because—

STAFF: Ten o’clock dumating siya.

SEC. PANELO: Oh meron dito, iyon daw dumating nung—Chona, iyon February 21 ang log daw 3 minutes lang nandito. Wala pa ako sa opisina. Hindi nga, three minutes… wala pa nga ako paano kami magmi-meet. Saka iyong sinasabing meeting, as if nakipag-meeting; paglabas ko nandiyan na nga eh.

INA ANDOLONG/CNN PHILS: Sir, doon sa case ng Ampatuan. But sir you confirmed that you were able to get them an audience with the President?

SEC. PANELO: Hindi, kasi nakita ko sila sa event. I think—alam ko sa Davao eh nung—

INA ANDOLONG/CNN PHILS: So that meeting was coincidence? You were all at the same place?

SEC. PANELO: Kasi official itong ano… iyong abogada, iyong married to an Ampatuan, is an official. Kumbaga Asec yata o what.

INA ANDOLONG/CNN PHILS: Can you name this person ba? Sinong Ampatuan iyong at large na sinasabi ninyo, sir?

SEC. PANELO: Hindi ko maalala ang pangalan, basta married to an Ampatauan eh. Anyway, I remember now the event was in… iyong a Foreign Minister ng China. Merong dinner doon eh, nagpunta kami doon, ang dami kaming Cabinet members noon eh, Davao, yes. So in other words, ang dami doon Muslim, parang… ang daming Muslim doon eh. Magkakilala sila kasi, I don’t know kung—

INA ANDOLONG/CNN PHILS: No, because kanina it would sound like you set up that meeting. Hindi ganoon. Can you clarify?

SEC. PANELO: I didn’t set up. Kumbaga nandoon lang.

INA ANDOLONG/CNN PHILS: And then you brought them to the President?

SEC. PANELO: Hindi brought, kasi lahat kinakamayan di ba. Nakakilala nga sila, in fact, kilala ni Presidente eh. Kilala na niyang dati eh. Kaya nga ni-refer sa akin eh, sabi ko naman, kilala ko rin iyan. Kasi nga abogada eh, nag-a-apply sa akin noon eh.

INA NADOLONG/CNN PHILS: Pero before that meeting nagpunta na rin sila sa iyo?

SEC. PANELO: Hindi iyong girl nag-apply sa akin pumasok sa –eh wala namang bakante. Pangalawa, sabi ko, eh Ampatuan ka, naku baka maisyuhan na naman ako niyan. Sabi ko apply ka na lang sa iba.

INA NADOLONG/CNN PHILS: Para lang sa timeline, sir. Nagpunta sa iyo, dito and then later on—

SEC. PANELO: Hindi, Nagpunta nung nirefer na sa akin ng Office of the President.

ARJAY BALINBIN/BUSINESS WORLD: Sir, there was a discussion on US-China trade war last night. Why was it brought up, sir, during the Cabinet meeting?

SEC. PANELO: Alam mo hindi ko alam. You know why, because I was falling asleep. I really had to beg leave, pumunta ako doon sa kabilang adjoining room.

ARJAY BALINBIN/BUSINESS WORLD: No, sir, but you wrote a statement, how come you don’t know?

SEC. PANELO: Yeah, I wrote a statement, I will read the statement—teka ilagay n’yo nga iyong statement kung anong nakalagay doon.

ARJAY BALINBIN/BUSINESS WORLD: So, you did not write the statement,sir?

SEC. PANELO: No, because that’s based on the transcript already, may transcript eh, tinatranscribe, kaya binasa ko ang transcript, tapos nilagay ko na diyan.

Ano ang nakalagay diyan: The NEDA and the Department of Trade and Industry share the impact of the US-China Trade conflict. While the Philippines is not vulnerable in the trade war, in the long run any prolonged trade war will have negative effects.

To counter these negative effects the following were recommended: The passage of the corporate income tax rationalization act; amendment on the foreign investment act; intensifying investment campaigns in East Asia; expediting business process and reducing processing time in [unclear] among others. You know this is very technical.

ARJAY BALINBIN/BUSINESS WORLD: Okay sir, so what did the President say about the recommendations?

SEC. PANELO: Approved. It was immediately approved kasi somebody motioned… ‘move, I move to approve.’ ‘Anybody objects? Okay, approved.’

ARJAY BALINBIN/BUSINESS WORLD: Sir, pakikuwento naman iyong nangyari sa discussion on IRA adjustment?

SEC. PANELO: IRA. Si Secretary Finance, diniskas [discussed] niya iyong magiging effect kasi iyong Mandanas case, ‘di ba, nanalo sila. Ngayon, eh ang award yata ay 500 billion. Ang problema mo ay kung ibibigay mo iyong 500 billion, ano ang matitira sa national budget ‘di ba.

But I understand from Solicitor General Calida, parang they were able to get from the Supreme Court an extension for the implementation of the award in 2022 yet. Ako naman, mayroon akong suggestion: Kasi papaanong ibibigay natin lahat iyan? Eh sabi ko, simple lang iyan, let’s file a motion in the Supreme Court to suspend the execution of the award of the 500 billion kasi hindi kayang bayaran. And the alternative, we can ask the court na ibibigay natin itong part ng IRA, installment para hindi apektado ang national budget. Iyon lang naman iyon.

ARJAY BALINBIN/BUSINESS WORLD: Sir, you wrote in your statement, Mr. Dominguez discussed the possible early implementation of the Supreme Court’s decision in the case of Mandanas vs. Ochoa relative to the internal revenue allotment for local government units prior to fiscal year 2022.

SEC. PANELO: Yeah.

ARJAY BALINBIN/BUSINESS WORLD: So?

SEC. PANELO: May portion yata doon, sinasabi ni Secretary Dominguez, na mayroon portion doon sa award na puwedeng ibigay na hindi naman iyong buo.

ARJAY BALINBIN/BUSINESS WORLD: Prior to 2022?

SEC. PANELO: Prior. Kasi kung lahat ibibigay mo, ay talagang may problema tayo.

ARJAY BALINBIN/BUSINESS WORLD: But the decision sir, 2022 ‘di ba iyong implementation?

SEC. PANELO: Hindi, nakakuha siya ng extension. Dapat iyon ngayon na pero nakakuha sila ng extension.

ARJAY BALINBIN/BUSINESS WORLD: Okay. So deferred?

SEC. PANELO: Na-defer sa 2022. Sabi ni Secretary Dominguez, mayroon namang portion na puwede nating ibigay na hindi maapektuhan ang national budget which is the idea. And I do not think local governments will object to that. Matutuwa nga sila na iyong sinasabi nilang IRAng hindi natanggap nila ay matatanggap nila nang dahan-dahan.

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: Sir, yesterday, the President when asked tungkol sa arbitral award, what now? And then he said, covariates ‘di ba? So what does it mean? I mean, not literally the term ‘no, but in terms of what are we going to do now? Is he admitting, is he conceding that we’re not benefiting from the arbitral award?

SEC. PANELO: No, ang sinasabi niya, nag-agree na nga iyong dalawang party to continue to peacefully negotiate for the pacific solution of the conflict. But meanwhile, let’s go to the other areas of concern na wala tayong problema. Ito, tuloy pa rin natin, tingnan natin kung hanggang saan tayo aabot.

In other words, he is actually responding doon sa mga critic na naman, ‘Ah wala pa lang nangyari sa atin.’ Nag-agree na nga sila, ituloy natin ang pag-uusap pa muli natin pero dito muna tayo.

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: And that statement with reference to what does it do to our claim?

SEC. PANELO: Our claim, as the President said, is final, binding and unappealable. It is a question of enforcing the same. Again, the question will arise, who will enforce it; how do you enforce it. We will have to look for a mechanism how to enforce it.

Meanwhile, tingnan natin, pag-usapan kung papaano mari-resolve. But to my mind, even if there is an impasse, there appears to be joint cooperation by both parties with respect to the joint exploration of oil; and that is a good sign.

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: I will go to that later, but just one more point. Just so it comes from you, we are not surrendering?

SEC. PANELO: Definitely, we’re not. I think that’s very clear from the President’s declaration.

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: And iyon pong kinuwento niya kahapon na sabi ni Xi raw, ‘bakit ako makikipag-usap sa iyo eh akin iyan,’ hindi naman iyon ibig sabihin sir, that the President agrees with President Xi?

SEC. PANELO: Ganoon din tayo ‘di ba. Pareho lang naman ang posisyon natin – amin iyan.

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: Sir, last sa joint exploration. Sixty-forty ang lumulutang but I think we are made to understand that the 60-40 will be seen per contract with the companies involved.

SEC. PANELO: Actually, hindi pa natin alam iyon kasi hindi ba mayroong mga steering committee na tinatawag, extra-governmental groups coming from both sides. I understand, the Chinese side has already formed its committee. I haven’t heard from Secretary Locsin kung mayroon na rin tayo. And then when they meet, malalaman na natin under what terms and conditions.

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: All right. Sixty-forty sir, are we agreeable to that when it comes to areas that are clearly in our EEZ? Sixty-forty ha, EEZ

SEC. PANELO: Sabi ko nga, iyan ang pag-uusapan. Hindi pa natin alam kung ano ang magiging …anong terms of reference.

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: Kasi nakasabay namin si Sec. Cusi, I think when we returned ‘no. Iyong 60-40 may be applicable to contested areas. But as far as maybe service contract 57, that’s in Palawan, clearly that is within our EEZ.

SEC. PANELO: Eh di, hindi puwedeng ipasok iyan sa under the terms of conditions; in other words, if that is our position ipapasok natin iyon.

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: All right. Now, the policy is if it’s with regard to areas that are clearly within our EEZ, we are not 60-40?

SEC. PANELO: Siguro. Kung iyan ang posisyon ni Cusi, being the alter ego of the President, unless overruled by the President, that is the policy.

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: Sound bite: What is that?

SEC. PANELO: I said if that is the policy of Mr. Cusi as Energy czar to limit the exploitation of a certain areas, then that is the policy of the government. Unless, overruled, altered or amended by the President without prior notice. Everything is subject to change without prior notice with this President.

ALVIN BALTAZAR: Thank you MPC, maraming salamat, Chief Presidential Legal Counsel and Spokesman Secretary Salvador Panelo.

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

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