Press Briefing

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

Event Press Briefing
Location New Executive Bldg., Malacanang

USEC. ROCKY IGNACIO: Good afternoon, welcome MPC. Let’s now have Presidential Spokesperson and Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo. Happy Birthday ulit, sir.

SEC. PANELO: Good afternoon.

You know, I’d like to thank those who conspired. There was a conspiracy of silence on the part of my family, of my staff, of my personal friends, including PRRD and the First Lady. My goodness, I was clueless. I was supposed to attend a meeting with him, suddenly they were all there. Pati itong si Joseph wala namang sinasabi… tinatanong ko kasi noong malaman kong may meeting, ang naisip ko kaagad iyong SOGO yung collapse, kaya’t tinawagan ko si Ina, sarado telepono… you’re phone was dead; so tinawagan ko si Joseph. Sabi naman ni Joseph, “I think I know why. Paano pa…” Sabi ko, “What?” “Basta…”

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: I did not sound like that. [laughter]

SEC. PANELO: Anyway, it was a fun party. Thank you so much and marami akong kuwento, but I will host a party for you; exclusively for you. Marami akong ikukuwento sa inyo.

By the way, I’d like to commend Lt. Gen. Ronnie Evangelista for showing his kind of delicadeza by resigning as Superintendent of the Philippine Military Academy. Sana ganyan iyong mga public officials, ‘pag nagkaroon ng isang insidente sa opisina ninyo and you feel that it’s command responsibility, eh huwag na kayong maghintay na ano… na bigyan ng insinuation na dapat mag-resign ka. Immediately nag-resign siya, including the Deputy I understand, and this is the right step to maintain the integrity of the Philippine Military Academy.

We will of course proceed with the investigation, and we will prosecute those who are behind this murderous – I will classify this murderous because hazing is intentional inflicting physical injuries on the victim.

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: Kailangan pa bang i-FYI si Presidente about it?

SEC. PANELO: Come again.

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: Kailangan pa po bang i-FYI, i-inform si Presidente about that decision or has it been—

SEC. PANELO: About what?

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: The decision to resign from the post, nakarating po ba kay PRRD?

SEC. PANELO: I think so. I mean, he listens, he reads news. So by this time, alam na niya iyon.

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: And were you able to talk about the incident last night?

SEC. PANELO: No. Hindi. We were sitting side by side, we’re just enjoying… watching the performers.

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: Sir, may mga reports po kasi na iyong sa hospital ‘no when Dormitorio was brought, ang diagnosis was just urinary tract infection. Now they’re saying that probably kailangan ding silipin iyong hospital director for maybe conniving or at least negligence—

SEC. PANELO: Eh lahat ‘yan. Siyempre we will have to subject everybody to investigation.

CHONA YU/RADIO INQUIRER: Sir, Defense Secretary Lorenzana is asking the President na i-exempt iyong kaniyang department doon sa decision to cut iyong loans and grants sa mga bansa who voted for the resolution of Iceland. He’s saying na like Australia, mayroon kasing makakaapekto sa modernization program ng AFP, like mayroon silang anim na Navy ships sa Australia.

SEC. PANELO: I do not know if that proposal has reached the President’s ears. So, let’s see.

CHONA YU/RADIO INQUIRER: Will you encourage Secretary Lorenzana to put into writing iyong kaniyang request para ma-exempt iyong DND?

SEC. PANELO: I don’t have to encourage him. I think he has already done that knowing him.

INA ANDOLONG/CNN PHILIPPINES: But, just a follow up on that. Is the President flexible doon sa kaniyang decision? I mean, the Secretary of Defense is saying basically that – unlike what you said yesterday na minimal iyong impact – for his agency there could be an impact that he would want to, you know, hindi mangyari.

SEC. PANELO: The President is a very reasonable man. If it involves national security, he might… he might. I do not know yet, we have to wait for his thoughts on the matter.

INA ANDOLONG/CNN PHILIPPINES: He might consider it, just to be clear?

SEC. PANELO: Let us wait for him to evaluate whatever recommendation the Secretary of National Defense will provide him.

MARICEL HALILI/TV5: Sir sorry, just a clarification. Does it mean that the President is willing to reevaluate the memo following the request of SND?

SEC. PANELO: I said, we will wait for his thoughts on the matter when he receives whatever recommendation the SND will give him.

ROSALIE COZ/UNTV: Sir, pagdating sa economic impact nabanggit n’yo po na wala namang masyadong epekto at iyong mawawala with UK na binanggit ninyo kahapon ay may puwede namang ibang pagkuhanan.

SEC. PANELO: Yes, according to Secretary of Finance Sonny Dominguez, yes.

ROSALIE COZ/UNTV: Pero doon po sa Defense, doon po sa modernization program. Mayroon po bang ibang puwedeng atrasan ang Pilipinas kung sakali ngang hindi i-consider iyon pong mga loans or iyong iba pong pagdating sa modernization program ng AFP?

SEC. PANELO: We will wait for the… as I said, evaluation of the Secretary of National Defense whatever recommendation he will give the President. I’m certain the President will evaluate it.

ARJAY BALINBIN BUSINESS WORLD: Sir, for more details. Is it his personal decision or he also consulted his Secretaries on the matter?

SEC. PANELO: Who?

ARJAY BALINBIN BUSINESS WORLD: The President on the memo.

SEC. PANELO: When a Secretary gives a memorandum to the President citing reasons therefore, then the President on the basis of whatever facts given to him, he will decide. He doesn’t have to consult, because the Secretary precisely has written a memorandum citing all the whys of the wherefores of the proposal.

ARJAY BALINBIN BUSINESS WORLD: No, sir the President upon issuing that memorandum.

SEC. PANELO: Ah, you are referring to the?

ARJAY BALINBIN BUSINESS WORLD: The 18 countries.

SEC. PANELO: Iceland?

ARJAY BALINBIN BUSINESS WORLD: Yes.

SEC. PANELO: Hindi tayo nagkakaintindihan, iba pala.

ARJAY BALINBIN BUSINESS WORLD: Was it his personal decision or he consulted anyone for that matter?

SEC. PANELO: According to him, he immediately called – upon the height of the Iceland resolution – Secretary Medialdea and to issue that memorandum.

ARJAY BALINBIN BUSINESS WORLD: So no one was consulted, no one was informed apart from Mr. Medialdea?

SEC. PANELO: He doesn’t have to consult.

ARJAY BALINBIN BUSINESS WORLD: And that is why now Mr. Lorenzana is surprised and which has just found out that he has pending loan agreement with Australia?

SEC. PANELO: So what if there is a pending loan?

ARJAY BALINBIN BUSINESS WORLD: And he is fine with that? We don’t need to consult any agencies before making decisions.

SEC. PANELO: He is the President that is his discretion. These are only alter egos of the President.

TINA: Good afternoon, sir. Sir, in connection pa rin doon sa Iceland resolution. Quick reaction lang po doon sa sinabi ni Senator Kiko Pangilinan that the President should think twice about his memo cause it might affect our OFWs given that iyong ibang pumirma po doon sa resolution like UK, Italy and Australia are among the top 10 destinations of overseas workers.

SEC. PANELO: He should also think twice before issuing such statement. Because when the President makes a decision he has studied all aspects of the same.

REYMUND TINAZA/BOMBO RADYO: Sir, quick follow up lang. Sir, pero di ba that resolution which according to you is nonsense, just it won’t prosper. Pero why the gravity of the reaction of the President to actually issue this stoppage of the acceptance of loans and grants and even… compromising even the welfare of the OFWs based in those countries?

SEC. PANELO: I think we already explained. The President felt that that Iceland resolution was an insult and an affront of this country, that’s why he directed an issuance of such memorandum.

REYMUND TINAZA/BOMBO RADYO: Just your view to what Senator Ping Lacson bared about this pork barrel insertion allegedly by the House for the allocation of 15, I think, Deputy Speakers. So don’t you see this na parang ito na naman tayo, baka this would again result to a reenacted budget kung magkaroon na naman ng squabble, magkaroon ng deadlock between House and Senate?

SEC. PANELO: Hindi naman, naaprubahan na ng House di ba. Now, with respect doon sa allegation of pork, it’s always the President who will decide. The President is a lawyer. So, if from his legal point of view is unconstitutional relative to this alleged pork, then he will veto that as he did prior to this budget.

REYMUND TINAZA/BOMBO RADYO: At this time, sir, I remember it was Senator Ping Lacson who again made the pointing out of alleged insertions and doon nga nauwi sa reenacted budget. Do you see this as parang déjà vu for the 2020 national budget?

SEC. PANELO: Hindi naman kasi yung—I remember last time, ang—nag-umpisa iyan sa gulo iyong sa loob ng House of Reps, hindi sa Senado. This time and House of Rep, ang bilis ng passage di ba, so iyon ang kaibahan doon.

PIA GUTIERREZ/ABS CBN: Sir, balik po doon sa memo. Ano po iyong nakikitang epekto ng Palasyo doon sa bilateral relations natin with each of the 18 countries?

SEC. PANELO: Wala, walang epekto. Kasi iyon namang relasyon natin bilang… is not confined with loans di ba. Pareho rin iyon noong ating away with China, hindi lang naman doon sa conflict natin, marami pang areas na puwede nating pag-usapan.

PIA GUTIERREZ/ABS CBN: Pero sir, the fact that they supported Iceland’s resolution. Ano po iyong naging epekto nito doon sa bilateral relations natin with each of the 18 countries, with their support of the Iceland resolution?

SEC. PANELO: Wala pa naman akong nakikitang adverse effect, wala namang movements sa parte ng 18 countries who favored. In fact, wala akong naririnig na reaksyon coming from them. Ang nagre-react lang naman iyong mga kritiko.

PIA GUTIERREZ/ABS-CBN: I mean, with how the Philippines sees this countries, sir?

SEC. PANELO: Kaya nga… Exactly! Wala… wala—Sa ngayon wala nga eh. Ni wala namang reaction sa kanila eh. So, kung walang reaction sa kanila, ang tingin ko doon they are not even offended by the move on the President.

PIA GUTIERREZ/ABS-CBN: I mean, sir, ‘yung fact na sinuportahan po nila ‘yung Iceland resolution. May nagbago po ba sa pananaw ng Pilipinas sa relasyon natin doon sa mga bansa na ‘yun?

SEC. PANELO: I will repeat. Maraming areas—in relationship between two countries, marami iyang kino-consider, hindi lamang isang aspect. So, kung nagkaproblema kayo sa isang issue it doesn’t mean lahat ng issue magkakaproblema kayo. So, sa tingin ko, let us see how it develops. Tandaan mo, how many months ago na ‘yun?

PIA GUTIERREZ/ABS-CBN: July…

MPC: July, August… two months.

SEC. PANELO: O, two months, wala naman akong naririnig. Mukhang hindi naman naapektuhan ang relasyon except may suspension nung current loans kung mayroon man.

PIA GUTIERREZ/ABS-CBN: Following on that thought, sir. Don’t you think na ’yung aspect nung loans and grants and ‘yung pananaw nila doon sa human rights situation ng bansa are two entirely different aspects?

SEC. PANELO: That is—bakit naman magiging—bakit different? Why different?

PIA GUTIERREZ/ABS-CBN: Or why is it the same sa pananaw po ng Presidente at ng Malacanang?

SEC. PANELO: Hindi, I’m asking you why different kasi sabi mo different. Hindi ko nakita ‘yung difference. Ano, bakit different?

PIA GUTIERREZ/ABS-CBN: Hindi. How they see our human rights situation and ‘yung loans and grants natin sa kanila; magkapareho po ba ‘yun, sir? Magkadugtong ba?

SEC. PANELO: ‘Yung reaction ni Presidente consistent with his saying na as far as I’m concerned, this is an insult to us. They assume that we’re not doing anything about their complaints. We’ve been doing that.

Number two, Iceland as well as those who supported it, must realize the fact that they are supporting a resolution coming from a country questioning the kind of governance of this country relative to the war on the drugs and yet this country/sponsor is allowing murders, killings of unborn children.

Dun ang reaksiyon dun. Kumbaga, what hypocrisy?

PIA GUTIERREZ/ABS-CBN: So, why did the President think na to cancel itong mga loans natin—

SEC. PANELO: That’s a political statement.

PIA GUTIERREZ/ABS-CBN: All right.

SEC. PANELO: It is a political statement. You don’t mess with this country with that kind of resolution.

PIA GUTIERREZ/ABS-CBN: Okay, sir. Thank you.

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: Sir, ‘yun lang pong sa budget. Initially, when we talked to Congressman Salceda, he confirmed but he would backtrack later on, na one hundred—

SEC. PANELO: He said it’s not pork barrel ‘di ba?

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: Yeah. Ngayon, sir, apparently, mukhang hindi lang siya one hundred million per congressman but seven times. Seven hundred million per congressman as alleged by Senator Lacson. First off, in terms of the amount, do you think this is reasonable?

SEC. PANELO: Depe—I think whether the budget is reasonable or not will depend on the needs of a particular district.

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: Does it mean, sir that—Say for example, a third class municipality would have the same need as probably a… urbanized city? Like, pareho ba silang kailangan ng seven hundred? Why is everybody getting seven hundred each?

SEC. PANELO: It could be the priorities require that kind of amount in a particular district. Even if it’s an urban place, kung mayroong kailangan sa isang aspect ng siyudad na ‘yun na kailangan and kailangan nila that kind of amount, ibibigay pa rin ‘yun.

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: So, you don’t see any problem with the seven hundred million for each congressman?

SEC. PANELO: Depende nga sa needs. Saan mo ba ilalagay? If you are an urban city o kaya mga structure mo, infrastructure tapos doon mo ilalagay, something is wrong with that. Bakit ka maglalagay okay na nga ‘yung infrastructure mo? Pero kung ‘yung urban city ilalagay mo sa health at mayroong epidemic doon, kailangan mo ng ganito, eh ‘do okay ‘yun. So, depende sa needs. Now whether or not this is pork barrel, that will depend on the evaluation of the President consistent with what the Constitution dictates and what the Supreme Court has decided on the matter.

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: Are you saying, sir, that when it comes to—when the budget is passed in Congress and it reaches the President, the President will scrutinize?

SEC. PANELO: Definitely, as he has done so in the past. We should always remember that he is a lawyer.

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: Why would he want to scrutinize the budget again for sound bite—

SEC. PANELO: Because that is his constitutional duty – to scrutinize budget.

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: Pero sir, ang sinasabi po rin po ni Congressman Salceda before is that… well, context first, ang sabi ng Supreme Court before hindi dapat ang congressman ‘yung nag-i-identify ng projects. Now, what they did was talked to the DPWH or to different agencies in the government tapos ipapasok ‘yung kanilang “needs ng constituents” doon sa National Expenditure Program. Do you think that is a circumvention of the Supreme Court decision?

SEC. PANELO: That will be the Supreme Court’s decision whether or not it is a circumvention.

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: But you don’t see any legal problem when they do that?

SEC. PANELO: As I said, it will be the Supreme Court who will be the final decider of that issue.

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: Yes, sir. Aside from the seven hundred million each, mukhang okay kayo depende sa need ‘yan, ‘di ba? Parang hindi siya masyadong malaki, you think?

SEC. PANELO: Depende nga sa needs eh. Kung kailangan mo ng seven hundred million—

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: You’re okay with seven hundred. Now on top of that seven—

SEC. PANELO: I did not agree with seven hundred. Depende nga eh, kung kailangan ng isang lugar ng seven hundred million, at ito ay hindi naman pork barrel given the yardstick provided by the Supreme Court, then okay ‘yun. But ultimately it will be, one, the President first; and then if somebody questions it, it’s the Supreme Court.

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: Okay. On top of the 700, mayroon pa pong 1.6 billion pesos that is going to be allotted. Ang sinasabi ni Speaker Cayetano is for research and facilities, improvement of facilities of our congressmen. Masyado tayong mayaman bilang bansa, sir, ‘no? What do you think?

SEC. PANELO: Well, kung iyan ang paliwanag ni Speaker Alan, then we’ll have to give him the benefit of the doubt. (Signal Cut) given to all officials acts will have to be applied until such time there is evidence to the contrary.

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: That is taxpayers’ money ‘no?

SEC. PANELO: Correct! Exactly, but there is such constitutional concepts as in law jurisprudence that every official act is regular unless proof to the contrary is supplied.

ROSE NOVENARIO/HATAW: Hi, sir. Good afternoon. Sir, ano po iyong reaksiyon ni Presidente na nabuhay na naman iyong isyu ng “Ninja Cops”? Pinagsa-submit ba niya ng report iyong PDEA, iyong PNP or DILG? Kasi August 2018, sir, nag-offer siya ng five million para sa ulo ng isang ninja cop, eh hanggang ngayon po ay wala namang nangyari at patuloy po iyong operasyon ng ninja cops.

SEC. PANELO: I’m sure when that news reaches the President, he will react accordingly. Hindi ko pa alam kung anong reaksiyon niya. I will ask him.

PIA GUTIERREZ/ABS-CBN: Sir, reaksiyon lang po. Isang international rights watchdog noted that the murders of environmental activists and land defenders in the Philippines have risen sharply daw po under President Duterte.

SEC. PANELO: Which one daw ang nag-rise?

PIA GUTIERREZ/ABS-CBN: Iyong mga pagpatay daw po sa mga environmental activists at mga land defenders. The group is claiming na iyong rhetoric daw po ni President Duterte sa kaniyang mga speeches may have emboldened the killers?

SEC. PANELO: I do not think so. You know, when somebody dies, we have to investigate whether or not that concerns whatever advocacy he has or that is a personal thing. We cannot just generalize.

ARJAY BALINBIN/BUSINESS WORLD: Sir, I’ll just repeat my question yesterday kasi you promised to ask the President if he is thinking of withdrawing from the UN. Did you ask last night?

SEC. PANELO: No, we didn’t have the opportunity to talk.

ARJAY BALINBIN/BUSINESS WORLD: You said magkatabi kayo?

SEC. PANELO: Magkatabi nga eh, hindi nga kami … kasi there were so many guests who performed for free – mga kaibigan kong personal eh. So we were enjoying, just watching.

Q: Like?

SEC. PANELO: Like Anthony Castelo, Malu Barry. Like George Yang of the McDonalds. Like the President himself singing. Like the First Lady herself singing. So it was really ano … walang oras magkuwentuhan doon; enjoy lang kami.

ARJAY BALINBIN/BUSINESS WORLD: All right, sir. Thank you.

SEC. PANELO: Like Gretchen Barretto singing.

Q: Sino pa?

SEC. PANELO: Marami, marami. Puro kasi mga singers ang nandoon eh.

Q: Anong message ni Presidente sa inyo?

SEC. PANELO: Hindi siya pinagsalita. He was just enjoying, watching, eating. We were busy eating our monggo. Can you imagine, monggo ang kinakain namin. Hindi, tatlo kami actually– Senator Bong Go was also eating. Kasi ‘di ba kapag ganiyang mga events, mga steak, mga isda, kung ano. Eh tiningnan ko siya, monggo ang kinakain at saka kanin. Eh ako, hindi ko rin makain naman kung ano iyong sinerve sa akin, eh di nag-order din ako ng monggo. Nakita rin naman ni Senator Bong Go, nag-order; kaya tatlo kami iyon ang kinakain namin. Eh di busog kami.

Q: Sa BGC, sir, di ba.

SEC. PANELO: No, it’s surprise party from my wife and my children.

Q: Sila ang nag-organize, sir?

SEC. PANELO: Sila nga … nag-conspiracy nga silang lahat eh. Nakakatuwa dahil, can you imagine I was with Joey Concepcion and the wife, I spoke before iyong Go Negosyo nila at saka summit. Wala namang sinasabi, kinantahan pa nila ako. And then—ang dami kong na-meet doon sa Shangri-La na papunta. Sabi niya, “Where are you going?” Sabi ko, “Here. I’m on an event.” “After this, where are you going?” Sa loob-loob ko lang, “Who cares? Bakit ka nagtatanong?” Sabi ko, “Aywan ko, kahit saan puwede ako.” Iyon pala papunta lahat sila doon. Kaya mga sira ulo—But you know, it was a pleasant shock. I enjoy it.

Ang wala lang doon na na-miss ko, iyong kayo. Eh tinanong ko si Dra. Panelo, “Bakit kako kahit isa yata wala kang naimbita doon?” Kasi exclusive nga; bibigay mo iyong party sa kanila, parang nabanggit mo na sa akin kaya hindi ko na sila sinama. Oh iyon naman pala kako eh.

TINA: Sir, bago lang maging controversial ulit. Si newly appointed BuCor Chief Director General Bantag nag-warning sa mga convicts doon sa Bilibid na ibu-butcher niya raw, kakatayin niya raw ang mga tao doon kapag binigyan siya ng pera o brinibe (bribe) siya. Gusto niya lang daw ayusin ang Bilibid. Ano ba iyon, may literal bang order na pag … kakatayin ang mga convicts?

SEC. PANELO: Wala. Pareho rin ni Presidente, it’s a political statement. It’s a warning to all of them that he is not the kind of man who will accept bribes. Iyon lang iyon.

USEC. IGNACIO: Okay, thank you. Thank you, Secretary.

SEC. PANELO: Thank you.

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SOURCE: PCOO-NIB (News and Information Bureau)

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