ALVIN BALTAZAR/RADYO PILIPINAS: Good afternoon, MPC. Good afternoon, Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo.
SEC. PANELO: Hello, good morning—good noon, rather.
ALVIN/RADYO PILIPINAS: Questions?
SEC. PANELO: Start.
ALVIN/RADYO PILIPINAS: Let’s start.
SEC. PANELO: Joseph.
JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: Why me? [laughs]
ARJAY BALINBIN/BUSINESS WORLD: Sir, have you talked to Speaker Arroyo regarding the 2.4 billion alleged pork insertions in the 2019 budget?
SEC. PANELO: I wasn’t able to talk to her; but she texted that Congressman Maricar Zamora explained it already. Their explanation is that contrary to the allegation of pork barrel, they said that this time there were items and these items were given by different agencies and it was prior to the approval, they’ve been there. Unlike the pork barrel lump sum where there is no specific item where it will go. That’s the explanation.
ARJAY/BUSINESS WORLD: So do you agree sir na walang irregularities doon?
SEC. PANELO: Well, you know the position of the Palace is that, that’s a different branch. Now they have to do their job. And I understand from what I read on the papers today that Budget Secretary Diokno has been invited to explain. So we leave it at that. We’ll see.
ARJAY/BUSINESS WORLD: What about the President sir, what is his position?
SEC. PANELO: His position is—I was talking to you when I say—he said that there will be some explanation on the part of Speaker Arroyo and others. So let’s hear them.
ARJAY/BUSINESS WORLD: Alright sir.
JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: Sir, you’ve issued a statement before ‘no, doon sa acquittal ni former Senator Revilla—
SEC. PANELO: Yes.
JOSEPH/GMA7: But just to belabor the point. What does the Palace think of the decision na acquitting the former Senator?
SEC. PANELO: Well, our statement is that we bow to the decision of the Court. We have never interfered and never will we interfere.
JOSEPH/GMA7: What do you think is the… will the effect be on the other pork barrel cases like other ones against former Senator Enrile and Estrada?
SEC. PANELO: Again, that will depend on the evidence presented by the prosecution in those cases you mentioned. It’s a Court’s call. The constitutional duty is imposed on them to decide on the basis of evidence. So we will not interfere.
JOSEPH/GMA7: Sir, the President said before ‘no… before way, way back na lalabas si Senator Revilla. Do you think—
SEC. PANELO: Lalabas? What do you mean—
JOSEPH/GMA7: I mean, may statement siya na ganoon na parang—do you think that has an effect on this case or none?
SEC. PANELO: First, I don’t remember him saying that. When was this? Second, I don’t think any statement coming from the President with respect to a personal opinion will effect any influence on the part of the judiciary. These are men of independence and probity. They will decide on the basis of law and evidence. Any accused or party litigant aggrieved or is not satisfied with the decision, there are legal remedies available under the law. They can always go to the higher courts.
JOSEPH/GMA7: Sir, just one last point on the case ‘no. The Court decided na iyong Chief of Staff niya and Ms. Napoles are guilty. But there was a dissent from one of the justices who voted against the acquittal that said na it is imposible for Attorney Cambe and Ms. Napoles to access the PDAF because it is under the control of the lawmaker. I asked this because this is probably the heart of all the other PDAF cases spending before the Sandiganbayan. What’s the Palace’s—
SEC. PANELO: Again, we will repeat what I said earlier: We will not interfere with the Courts. We will bow to the decision of the Court.
Dissenting opinion will always be there but our rule is that majority prevails. So we will abide by that. Anybody, again as I said, who question that can always go to the higher courts.
JOSEPH/GMA7: With due respect sir? This is not probably—
SEC. PANELO: Come again?
JOSEPH/GMA7: With due respect ‘no. I’m asking about your position whether you agree that anyone outside of… probably the—a staff could probably do plunder?
SEC. PANELO: First, I’m not privy to that. Second, the Executive neither is privy to that too. Strictly speaking the Court will have to decide on the basis of what is presented to it by the prosecution and decide. We can indulge in the speculation but again the rule of law will always prevail. We have to bow to majesty of the law regardless of who are involved.
NESTOR CORRALES/INQUIRER.NET: Good morning sir.
SEC. PANELO: Yes.
NESTOR/INQUIRER.NET: Sir, presidential son Paolo Duterte posted on his Facebook account list of groups and individuals which includes Vice President Robredo, Justice Carpio, some journalist and even top companies in the country allegedly plotting against the government. Robredo has slammed this as irresponsible because there were no proofs of evidence regarding their alleged involvement in the said destabilization efforts. What’s the Palace take on this, sir? Is Malacañang supporting these claims of the Presidential son?
SEC. PANELO: First, we are not privy to the list issued by the former Vice Mayor. Number two, the President always respects the freedom of expression. And the Vice Mayor – then – may have some reasons for issuing such a list, we do not know. And anybody who feels aggrieved, they can always refute the allegation contained on the list. That is the beauty of democracy, there will be – as the saying goes – free market of ideas and expressions.
NESTOR CORALES/INQ. NET: Will the President talk to his son regarding this alleged list of groups and individuals?
SEC. PANELO: The President, as a policy, does not talk to the children with respect to their principled positions or political decisions.
NESTOR CORALES/INQ. NET: Having such claim sir, from the former Vice Mayor, is this a cause of concern for Malacañang?
SEC. PANELO: As I said, the President respects so—I’m sure the former Vice Mayor is competent enough to explain his position on the matter.
CHONA YU/RADYO INQUIRER: Pero, sir, this statement coming from a presidential son and concerning the President. Isn’t the Palace bothered about it—
SEC. PANELO: You know, the former Vice Mayor is a son and all sons will react to any plot, any conspiracy that he perceives to be against a father. So, it is his right to react on certain things that he knows that we do not know of.
CHONA YU/RADYO INQUIRER: Will the Palace not—
SEC. PANELO: Is your name in the list?
CHONA YU/RADYO INQUIRER: [laughs] No sir. Pero, sir, will the Palace not ask the National Security personnel to verify this report?
SEC. PANELO: If there is a request from the source himself, maybe. But—you know, as I said earlier, the Palace will never interfere with anything that concerns matters that he is not privy of – the President.
HENRY URI/DZRH: Secretary, pero kung merong seryosong banta. Meron bang kapasidad ang kahit sinumang indibidwal o grupo na pabagsakin ang kasalukuyang administrasyon sa inyong palagay?
SEC. PANELO: Given the popularity rating of the President, no coup or for that matter conspiracy will succeed. The PNP and the military are in support of the President, as well as the majority of the Filipinos.
HENRY URI/DZRH: So, kung walang tiyansa. Iyong pahayag ni Presidential son Paolo Duterte, ano sa tingin ninyo iyon, dapat nang ibasura or kalimutan na o wag pansinin?
SEC. PANELO: Again, I will repeat: that is his right and we cannot deprive this person of expressing his sentiment, especially because he is a son and all sons have the right to defend, to neutralize any attempt to discredit or to assault the reputation or the integrity of a father.
CHRISTINE AVENDAÑO/INQUIRER: Sir, but the son made serious allegations against certain individuals and companies. So, hindi ba parang the Palace should made a stand because being the presidential son he could have, you know, access to certain confidential information?
SEC. PANELO: Well, as I said earlier, the people who were listed there, companies they can always respond, they can always refute the allegation. That is what freedom of expression is all about.
CHRISTINE AVENDAÑO/INQUIRER: So they will just refute the allegations that—
SEC. PANELO: Well if they can show that it’s wrong, then there is always legal remedies available to them.
CHRISTINE AVENDAÑO/INQUIRER: But shouldn’t, you know, Mr. Duterte, you know, be responsible enough na… you know, you won’t make these kinds of allegations because, you know, people then react?
SEC. PANELO: Who will react?
CHRISTINE AVENDAÑO/INQUIRER: The companies.
SEC. PANELO: As I said, they can always refute. The President will not interfere.
JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: Sir, you said this is a freedom of expression?
SEC. PANELO: Yes. When you, for instance, accuse somebody of committing a crime, that’s part of freedom of expression. Now, provided you do not violate the law; because if you do, then you are subject to libel laws.
ARJAY BALINBIN/BUSINESS WORLD: Sir, on Speaker Arroyo again. You said Speaker Arroyo told you that this time there were items. What do you mean, sir.
SEC. PANELO: No, not President Arroyo. She said, in a text message that has already been explained by Congressman Maricar Zamora and I was able to talk to her and she explained to me the way she explained it in the newspaper.
ARJAY BALINBIN/BUSINESS WORLD: What did she exactly say, sir?
SEC. PANELO: She said that, this is not pork barrel because it’s… the items were already been there prior to the approval; and not only that, she said—even according to Andaya, there so many other Congressman – even beyond the amount referred to – as having allocated to the area of Speaker Arroyo.
ROSALIE COZ/UNTV: Sir, nabanggit ninyo na po kanina na magpupunta si Secretary Diokno sa Congress sa Question Hour. Ano po ang stand ng Malacañang regarding sa allegations ng ibang kongresista na ang Executive branch an dahilan kung bakit nade-delay iyong passage po ng national budget for 2019?
SEC. PANELO: Well, you must remember that the national budget has been submitted on the day the SONA was delivered so I do not think that you can fault the Executive branch. It’s the duty of Congress to deliberate on the matter.
ROSALIE COZ/UNTV: Mayroon din pong allegations na ang Executive branch ang nag-i-insert po ng mga certain proposal sa budget.
SEC. PANELO: Well, let’s see. Since Secretary Diokno will be appearing there tomorrow, let’s hear.
ROSALIE COZ/UNTV: Niri-refute din po ba ng Palace iyon pong sinasabi nila na ang Duterte admin po ay may malaking underspending for the first two years of the Duterte administration?
SEC. PANELO: Let’s hear that from the horse himself – Secretary Diokno. He is the one, the boss in the budget thing.
JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: Sir, sa martial law extension. Last Friday, it was announced that the President has already requested Congress to extend. Do we have the document as to may be… that will outline the basis for the extension?
SEC. PANELO: I do not have a copy. Maybe we can ask the office of the ES.
JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: Yeah. There’s a schedule already for the special session, do you think?
SEC. PANELO: I do not know. I have no info on that.
JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: You can elaborate perhaps on the basis of extension?
SEC. PANELO: According to Congress, they will have to see whether they agree on the factual basis under which the extension is being asked. That’s their … supposed to be their duty so let’s just wait.
JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: Of course, the government has basis to extend it?
SEC. PANELO: I’m sure, otherwise it will not recommend.
JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: Which is?
SEC. PANELO: Which is, according to the Secretary of National Defense, the threat remains; the rebellion is still going on. So the same grounds given the Congress when it extended martial law.
CHRISTINE AVENDAÑO/PDI: Sir, this morning, Senator Risa Hontiveros said that the President is the singlest—
SEC. PANELO: The what?
CHRISTINE AVENDAÑO/PDI: Is the—wait, sir, ha. I’ll get it right. She said that the President is single biggest threat to human rights in the country and she attributed among others it on the war on drugs. Is this a fair statement, sir?
SEC. PANELO: She’s is entitled to her opinion. She’s been saying that since she became a senator or after the assumption of the President.
CHRISTINE AVENDAÑO/PDI: So the President respects human rights, sir?
SEC. PANELO: Of course. We’ve been saying so and we have shown it. We prosecute people who violate human rights.
CHONA YU/RADYO INQUIRER: Sir, how will you describe iyong human rights situation sa Pilipinas ngayon?
SEC. PANELO: Human rights, as depicted by the critics, as well as those critics from abroad, do not reflect what is happening on the ground. When they keep on saying that many have been killed, they make it appear as if the killings are state initiated. But we have repeatedly said that the fact alone that policemen are killed during operation will already rebut the theory that this is state initiated.
The fact is, even prior to the assumption of the presidency of former Mayor Rodrigo Roa Duterte, killings have occurred. And we’ve been saying that these killings are the result of people in the drug syndicate – they want to silence people from naming their accomplices, they want to silence people from pointing to them; and some of them could be deals or fraudulent deals between and amongst them.
Killings only come in connection with police operations when the suspects resist violently and endanger the lives of those in the operation. And as we have shown in the Kian case, it was the President himself who ordered the arrest and the detention and he categorically stated that such conviction cannot yield to a pardon from him because it was done intentionally and not in accordance with the duty imposed to the policemen by law.
ALVIN BALTAZAR: Maraming salamat, Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo.
Source: PCOO-NIB (News and Information Bureau-Data Processing Center)