Press Briefing

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

Event Press Briefing
Location New Executive Bldg., Malacanang

ALVIN BALTAZAR/RADYO PILIPINAS:  Magandang tanghali, MPC; magandang tanghali Presidential Spokesperson and Chief Legal Counsel Attorney Salvador Panelo.

SEC. PANELO:  Good afternoon. You know apparently, maraming journalists or reporters na hindi kasama sa MPC kasi akala ko ‘pag nilabas doon, alam ng lahat – hindi pala. Kasi ang dami pa rin, despite the statement nandoon pa rin iyong katakut-takot na mga queries.

Anyway before we proceed, let me make a statement on what I said earlier about the inclusion of PRRD in the hit list. I was talking to Secretary Esperon earlier and he said the inclusion of the President in the hit list has been validated by them; so it was not a wrong info fed to them. And according to him, as I said even if they deny it – Joma Sison has denied it – the fact remains that indeed the President is included in the list, including him, including the Secretary and others.

And as I’ve said in the last briefing, even if there was no false information, even if that’s true, we are ready for them. Because as I said, the very organization of the Communist Party is precisely to bring down the government and to assassinate the officials of that government.

And I’m issuing a statement on the latest statement made by Joma Sison.

Q:  You are going to make a statement now?

SEC. PANELO:  Later. I’ll make a formal statement.

But may I just say that the President is daring him to come home to the Philippines and have a one-on-one talk with the President even before this panel—no government panel involved, no panel on the Communist side. He is asking him to come to the Philippines, there will be no enforcement of any warrant, just come to the Philippines and talk with him.

We condemn of course the violations of the ceasefire agreement. You must remember that it was them who declared a unilateral ceasefire and that has also been violated, that there has been a violation. But nevertheless, we are giving them the chance to explain why it has committed such violation. And since the President has always been open, giving a little window to the pursuit of peace, he will wait for the explanation coming from them.

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7:  Sir, since we are on the subject already ‘no. So si Joma issued a statement—


JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7:  Quite a long one ‘no. Sabi niya, I’ll just maybe—okay. Response please, sabi niya: “The resumption of the peace negotiations can be realized by reaffirming the mutual agreements since The Hague Joint Declaration of 1992 and several other agreements in the past.” So, is the government ready to reaffirm those agreements in preparation for a peace talk, negotiation?

SEC. PANELO:  The government is open to a talk with them. But even prior to the talk, the President stated that he wants Joma Sison to come over, not to fear of any arrest. He’s man enough and sincere enough, he can come over and have a one-on-one discussion with the President.

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7:  Okay. Another comment sir, just response: “The Duterte regime is going downhill to hell and cannot find enough relief from its imperialist masters to overcome…

SEC. PANELO:  He must be referring to himself and his movement.

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7:  Alright sir, just going back your earlier statement. When did the President tell you that he wants to talk to Joma one-on-one?

SEC. PANELO:  24, Christmas Eve.

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7:  Formal invitation daw sir, mayroon ba—mayroon bang dapat formal invitation?

SEC. PANELO:  Wala siyang sinabi. Basta sinabi niya na—hindi ko alam if he already coursed it through Secretary Bello.

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7:  Uhum. What does the President hope to achieve with the one-on-one?

SEC. PANELO:  I don’t know, that’s his call.

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7:  But in the Philippines ‘no, come home?

 SEC. PANELO:  Yes, in the Philippines.

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7:  What if a third party country?

SEC. PANELO:  As I said, if he really wants to show his sincerity, he can come home.

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7:  Alright sir, thank you.

SEC. PANELO:  He should not be afraid in his own shadow.

INA ANDOLONG/CNN PHILIPPINES:  Sir, but was the context of that discussion, the one you had on the 24th? Why did the President end up telling you to invite Joma Sison to talk to him?

SEC. PANELO:  With respect to the ceasefire. We were talking about the ceasefire, about the localized negotiation and about the stand of the Mayor of Davao. He said the localized peace talks can still proceed.

INA ANDOLONG/CNN PHILIPPINES:  Speaking of that sir, iyong pag-exclude doon sa Davao na sinasabi ni Mayor Sara, what did the President say about that?

SEC. PANELO:  Puwede pa rin…


SEC. PANELO:  I mean, exclude muna in the meanwhile. Wala pa naman kasing talks eh.

INA ANDOLONG/CNN PHILIPPINES:  Okay. Sir, in the possible meeting with Joma Sison, is there anything specific that the President wants to talk about?

SEC. PANELO:  Wala naman siyang sinabi.

INA ANDOLONG/CNN PHILIPPINES:  Okay. And that possible meeting is separate from—it’s a separate—

SEC. PANELO:  Yes, from the government panel.

INA ANDOLONG/CNN PHILIPPINES:  —separate issue doon sa resumption of government panel? Okay, thank you sir.


ACE ROMERO/PHILIPPINE STAR:  Sec., has the President reacted to the attack by the NPA? Iyong attack during the day 1 of the ceasefire?

SEC. PANELO:  Well, he directed the authorities to investigate the matter and to explain why there has been such an attack.

ACE ROMERO/PHILIPPINE STAR:  So, what was his reaction?

SEC. PANELO:  Iyon nga, he wants to know the facts kung talagang—bakit nila ginawa iyon.

ACE ROMERO/PHILIPPINE STAR:  So, he’s still open—he still believes in the sincerity of the rebels despite—

SEC. PANELO:  No, he is waiting for the report and for the explanation why they made an attack. But one thing is clear: the President really wants peace among Filipinos.

ACE ROMERO/PHILIPPINE STAR:  Sec., regarding iyong sa exclusion noong Davao. So the President is considering that?

SEC. PANELO:  Yes. In the meanwhile that there are no talks yet.

ACE ROMERO/PHILIPPINE STAR:  Iyong exclusion on Davao City?

SEC. PANELO:  Yes, tuloy pa rin iyong ano…

ACE ROMERO/PHILIPPINE STAR:  Teka, in-exclude na ba Sec. o magkakaroon ng separate order for that?

SEC. PANELO:  Wala naman siyang sinabi. Basta sinabi—kasi tinanong ko siya, sabi niya: “Okay lang ‘yan, wala pa namang talks. Basta tuloy pa rin iyong mga ginagawa nila noon, localized.” Because the fear of the Mayor is that baka gagamitin lang ng kabila to reorganized; which is a very valid observation.

ACE ROMERO/PHILIPPINE STAR:  Okay, thank you po.

ROSALIE COZ/UNTV:  Sir, clarification lang. Mayor Sara is asking for the exclusion of Davao sa ceasefire. So ibig po bang sabihin, tuloy ang offensive ng military and police against NPA sa Davao since kino-consider ng Pangulo na pagbigyan iyong hiling po ni Mayor Sara?

SEC. PANELO:  I think more on the—ang palagay ko iyong kay Mayor Sara, more on the localized peacetalks. Kasi I understand that the local peacetalks are very effective. It has resulted into surrenders, surrender of so many NPA kaya ayaw nila ng localized peacetalks. Ayaw ni Mayor Sara na matigil iyon.

ROSALIE COZ/UNTV:  Ah, ayaw matigil ni Mayor Sara iyong localized peacetalks na ongoing na? Pero po iyong exclusion ng Davao sa ceasefire declaration, unilateral ceasefire?

SEC. PANELO:  Kasama iyon sa hinihingi niya.

ROSALIE COZ/UNTV:  Pagbibigyan siya ng Pangulo doon?

SEC. PANELO:  Eh kay Presidente naman eh okay lang, wala pa namang peacetalks daw eh.

ROSALIE COZ/UNTV:  So malinaw lang sir, tuloy ang opensiba ng militar at pulisya sa Davao City?

SEC. PANELO:  Unang-una, wala namang military offensive doon eh. I don’t think there is a military offensive right now kasi nga nagkakaroon—mayroong precise, localized peacetalks eh. When you’re having peacetalks, wala kayong military offensive.

ROSALIE COZ/UNTV:  Okay, sir. Sir, regarding po doon sa nabanggit ninyo po na one-on-one talk with the President ni CPP Founder Sison. Is this a condition para po mag-pursue iyong pagkakaroon ng informal—

SEC. PANELO:  Wala siyang sinabing condition. Basta sinabi niya, “I want to talk to him, one-on-one here.

ROSALIE COZ/UNTV:  Ang binanggit po kasi ni CPP Founder Sison is pupuwedeng magkaroon ng pag-uusap dito sa Pilipinas ‘pag nagkaroon po ng development sa pag-uusap ng government and NDF peace panel.

SEC. PANELO:  Basta that’s the stand of the President. He either takes it of leaves it.

ROSALIE COZ/UNTV:  What if CPP Founder turns down?

SEC. PANELO:  Ah, then we will decide when that assumption comes into being.

ROSALIE COZ/UNTV:  As of now sir, as soon as possible dapat mag-meet iyong dalawa po?

SEC. PANELO:  Whether it’s soon as possible, basta ‘yan ang posisyon ng Presidente – “You come over and let’s talk.

ROSALIE COZ/UNTV:  Okay sir, thank you.

JULIE AURELIO/PHILIPPINE DAILY INQUIRER:  Sir, clarification lang. Iyong sinabi ninyo po kanina na walang military offensive sa Davao or law enforcement operations against NPAs—

 SEC. PANELO:  Wala akong alam. Wala akong naririnig na may offensive.

JULIE AURELIO/PHILIPPINE DAILY INQUIRER:  Ah, okay. Pero given na Mayor Sara is asking that Davao be excluded from the ceasefire, does it also mean halimbawa, law enforcement operations like serving of warrants, ganoon, tuloy pa rin?

SEC. PANELO:  Siguro tuloy iyon, dahil kung ano ang current situation, ayaw niyang magambala iyon.

ARIANNE MEREZ/ABS-CBN NEWS.COM:  Hi, Sec. Sec., kasi si Mayor Sara po sinabi din po niya na she’s also asking for the exclusion of Davao City once the national government pursues the reopening of the formal peace negotiations. May reaction na po ba si President Duterte dito? Kahit daw po sa formal resumption ng peace talks, ayaw pong masama ni Mayor Sara iyong Davao.

SEC. PANELO:  Wala pa daw. Iyong portion na ‘yan wala pa. Iyong sinabi lang, habang wala pa so okay lang.

ARIANNE MEREZ/ABS-CBN NEWS.COM:  So sir, iyong sa ceasefire lang po iyong puwedeng i-allow? Iyong holiday ceasefire, sir?


ARIANNE MEREZ/ABS-CBN NEWS.COM:  May iba pa po ba sir na areas or cities na nag-request kay President Duterte ng exclusion?

SEC. PANELO:  None that I know of.

ARIANNE MEREZ/ABS-CBN NEWS.COM:  Okay sir, thank you po.

FRANCIS WAKEFIELD/DAILY TRIBUNE:  Sir, tanong ko lang. Kasi previously nga, ang PNP, AFP and DND kaya ayaw nilang magkaroon ng peacetalks is because iyong—they believe na wala nang grip si CPP Founding Chairman Jose Maria Sison sa whole organization ng CPP-NPA kaya nga ang AFP rin ay sumu-support sa localized peacetalks. Do you share the same sentiment na ganoon nga, kaya ayaw na ng DND ng peacetalks is—

SEC. PANELO:  Yeah, considering that—

FRANCIS WAKEFIELD/DAILY TRIBUNE:  Katulad sir noong iyon nga, nagkaroon na naman ng mga pag-atake. So apparently iyong sa ground, hindi na sinusunod iyong higher echelon ng CPP-NPA.

SEC. PANELO:  Considering the effectiveness of the localized talks, I share the view of Secretary Esperon and Secretary Lorenzana – kaya ayaw nila. Kasi ‘pag dumadami ang nagsu-surrender, oh ‘di nauubusan sila ng mga miyembro.

ARIANNE MEREZ/ABS-CBN NEWS.COM:  Sir, reaction lang sir. Sabi po ng NDFP sa Southern Mindanao, doon daw po sa pag-request ni Mayor Sara ng exclusion, she is

to rule with impunity daw po, doon sa pag-request niya. Sabi nila sir, “Mayor Sara wrongly blames the alleged failure of the peacetalks to the countless criminal acts and treachery of the revolutionary forces.” Pero iyong military naman daw po natin iyong lumalabag talaga ng ceasefire kaya daw napipilitan lang mag-self defense.

SEC. PANELO:  Sino nagsabi noon?


SEC. PANELO:  Then they should look at themselves in the mirror.

ARIANNE MEREZ/ABS-CBN NEWS.COM:  Okay. Pero, sir ‘yung reaction n’yo po that President—Mayor Sara is bent to rule with impunity daw?

SEC. PANELO: Kaya nga they should look at themselves in the mirror, ibig sabihin, sila ‘yun hindi si Mayor Sara ‘yun. Mayor Sara is always – being a lawyer – always wants that the rule of law prevails.


JULIE AURELIO/PHILIPPINE DAILY INQUIRER: Sir, ‘di ba hihingan po natin ng paliwanag ‘yung NDF – CPP – NPA about their violation of their own ceasefire, correct? After that, will President Duterte revoke, ‘yung pagde-declare n’yo ng ceasefire or is he gonna give them another chance pa?

SEC. PANELO: We will have to wait for the President to decide on that, we cannot speculate on what he will do.

JULIE AURELIO/PHILIPPINE DAILY INQUIRER: Pero noong unang-unang in-announce ‘yung ceasefire, may condition po ba for the lifting of the ceasefire like for example, isang violation—?

SEC. PANELO: Wala. Wala – wala siyang binanggit; wala kaming pinag-usapan tungkol doon.


TINA: Sir, Merry Christmas!

SEC. PANELO: Merry Christmas!

TINA: There are at least sixteen people reportedly killed during the typhoon Ursula. What are the directives of the President? Some local governments are asking the national government for assistance.

SEC. PANELO: Well, as we have repeatedly said during this time of calamities, all the agencies involved in the rehabilitation – in helping, assisting – are all in placed.

TINA: Sir, is there a chance that the President will visit this affected areas at least before the New Year or shortly after New Year?

SEC. PANELO: Wala siyang binanggit… wala siyang binanggit. I hope to talk to him when he—after the briefing.

TINA: We guess that he’s updated naman regularly?

SEC. PANELO: Itatanong ko sa kaniya para sigurado.

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: Sir, ‘yun lang pong in-approve ni Presidente na i-extend ‘yung validity ng 2019 Budget, why did the President decide and approved that?

SEC. PANELO: I do not know that. He hasn’t told me anything about it. I will ask him.

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: Yeah, okay. Just this for probably context kasi sir ‘di ba parang na-delay ‘yung Budget natin last year and then some projects were affected. Now, we have a cash-based system meaning if you’re not able to spend the money for 2019, it goes back to the National Treasury – that has effect on the capital outlays of some of the key projects of the Administration. Again, the question why?

SEC. PANELO: I will ask him so that we will know the specific answer to that.

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: Do you think—

SEC. PANELO: I’ll be talking to him naman after this so…

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: Do you think that will be beneficial for the economy – the extension? Because we will have the projects and—?

SEC. PANELO: Well, if he has extended it already, so, the obvious is obvious.

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: What is the obvious?

SEC. PANELO: O, ‘di beneficial! In-extend niya eh!

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: That was beneficial?


JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: I need a soundbite for the story.

SEC. PANELO: We will make a statement on that because we will be talking after this eh.

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: O, sige na nga.

ALEXIS ACE ROMERO/PHILIPPINE STAR:  Related to the budget, Sec. When will the President sign the 2020—

SEC. PANELO: Sabi niya, January, first week.

ALEXIS ACE ROMERO/PHILIPPINE STAR:  So, hindi… hindi na within the year? Kung hindi na within the year magre-reenact automatically first month?

SEC. PANELO: Parang ‘yun—unless, na I misheard him when we were talking on the phone. ‘Yun ang—Kasi, tinanong ko siya eh, “kailan n’yo ia-ano ‘yung budget”?

ALEXIS ACE ROMERO/PHILIPPINE STAR:  Okay, sinabi niya January, Sec?

SEC. PANELO: Parang sinabi niya January, parang first week.


SEC. PANELO: Parang ‘yun ang dinig ko.

ALEXIS ACE ROMERO/PHILIPPINE STAR: Will there be a ceremony?

SEC. PANELO: Ah, iyan ang ‘di ko alam.

ALEXIS ACE ROMERO/PHILIPPINE STAR:  O maano na lang… ‘yung parang last time na ano… na tahimik?

SEC. PANELO: Tanungin ko siya mamaya, mag-uusap kami eh.


SEC. PANELO: ‘Yan ang intindi ko. Pero I supposed January na, wala na namang pasok eh – 28, 29, Sabado, Linggo.

ALEXIS ACE ROMERO/PHILIPPINE STAR:  Okay. So, nakita n’yo na ‘yung mga… ‘yung draft, ‘yung spending bills, Sec?

SEC. PANELO: Baka pinag-aaralan niya pa ‘yun.

ALEXIS ACE ROMERO/PHILIPPINE STAR:   Nakita na niya ba ‘yung mga supposed insertions na sinasabi nina Senator Lacson?

SEC. PANELO: He will go through that; ‘di ba ganun si Presidente, mabusisi bago pumirma?

ALEXIS ACE ROMERO/PHILIPPINE STAR:  Kasi strongly worded ‘yung veto message niya last time, do we expect him to issue a similar statement?

SEC. PANELO: Tingnan natin, let’s wait. Basta ‘pag unconstitutional he will veto, ‘pag hindi…



ALEXIS ACE ROMERO/PHILIPPINE STAR:  Suffice to say, hindi niya i-a-allow ‘yung anything… ‘yung parang last time na vineto niya?

SEC. PANELO: Kasi ganito ‘yun, when somebody says it’s unconstitutional, it doesn’t mean it’s unconstitutional. This President is a lawyer, he knows what is unconstitutional or not so he decides for himself kung tama ba ‘yung sinasabi nitong isang tao o hindi.


ROSALIE COZ/UNTV:  Sir, basic lang po. Ano ipinagkaiba ng extension ng validity ng 2019 sa pagkakaroon ng reenacted budget para walang confusion?

SEC. PANELO: Hindi ko alam, I’ll ask the Secretary of Budget and Secretary of Finance. This is one territory I’d rather not enter into. This is very technical.

ROSALIE COZ/UNTV:  Okay, sir. Thank you.

SEC. PANELO: By the way, I read a statement of the detained Senator? May tanong kayo doon? Parang may nabasa akong ano—


SEC. PANELO: Anong sabi niya?

MPC: [OFF MIC] I hope to spend my Christmas with my children.

ALEXIS ACE ROMERO/PHILIPPINE STAR:  Sabi niya, she hopes this will be the last time she will spend Christmas in jail – ‘yun ‘yung sinasabi niya.

SEC. PANELO: That’s for the court to decide, not for us. No, I was referring to the reaction on my statement… said—de Lima said, “Presidential Spokesperson so-so, failed to understand the significance of a rider in the spending law that would deny entry. Panelo, according to her, “was sorely mistaken to believe that Philippine officials could seek reconsideration on the travel ban.” In the first place, we are not asking for a reconsideration; My statement is very clear, we cannot intrude into the process of a sovereign state in the same way that they cannot intrude into ours. What I was saying is that, examining the provision of that law, it says that it’s the US State Secretary who will determine whether or not a particular official of this Government has something to do with the wrongful detention of Ms. De Lima and the basis should be credible information.

Now, I happened to have talk – not really a talk, we were seated with each other with the Ambassador of the US and I don’t know if I’m at liberty to tell what he made an off-remark statement and he said, “I read your statement, it’s a very good statement, I agree with it. It’s Congress that passed that law.”

So, in other words, it’s the Executive Department that will enforce that particular law and that law precisely gives the discretion to the US State Secretary. That is why I said in my statement that we hope that the Secretary of – US State Secretary would gave an informed, an educated judgment on particular banning of certain people because as we’ve already explained, it’s not a wrongful detention. Like me for instance, what in heaven’s name can I be part of the detention of this woman? I’m not even part of the prosecution.

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7:  [OFF MIC] You failed to advice daw?

SEC. PANELO: Failed to advice? Advise what?


SEC. PANELO: That’s for the Secretary of Justice, not from this office.

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7:  Did the Ambassador tell you not to worry about it?

SEC. PANELO: He didn’t say not to worry about it, he said he agrees with my statement and he said that’s Congress.

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7:  Can you still go to the US, he said?

SEC. PANELO: If I want to go, ‘there is any event that I need to go, let us see.

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7:  Pero no assurance?

SEC. PANELO: But I’m not worried about that.

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7:  So, meaning sir, if it is the Executive Department’s prerogative, may chance na hindi siya i-implement?

SEC. PANELO: Eh, may colatilla nga dun eh – kailangan based on credible information.


JULIE: Sir, follow-up. This budget law by the US was passed pero may standing invitation pa rin si US President Donald Trump for President Duterte to visit the US—

SEC. PANELO: Exactly! O, ‘yun lang—

JULIE: So, what will happen?

SEC. PANELO: That is a contradiction. There is a standing invitation, kung totoo ‘yun eh ‘di sana eh hindi na—

JULIE: What do you think what will happen, sir?

SEC. PANELO: What do you—the standing invitation stands!

JULIE: So, si Presidente Duterte kung sakaling i-accept man niya ‘yung—

SEC. PANELO: Ay, na kay Presidente pero sabi ni Presidente, “ayaw ko naman talaga pumunta doon in the first place.”

JULIE: He’s not worried about it?

SEC. PANELO: Eh kung ayaw niya nga pumunta, why he’d be worried?

TINA: Sir, pa-clarify hindi kasi ako lawyer eh. Sir, sabi ni Senator de Lima both the US Congress and the US President have already determined the fact of my persecution and that this determination is already part of the federal law of the US.

SEC. PANELO: Correct.

TINA: As such can she use this—

SEC. PANELO: Correct, but as I’ve said, there is a colatilla in that law. You have to follow the process. There is a process where before the US State Secretary can ban any person, which of course is a right on the part of the sovereign state, it has to determine whether the information relative to a person being banned is credible or not. So, may discretion given to the authority that will decide whether or not you will be banned o hindi.

TINA: Regardless sir, can she use this document in any court proceedings in Manila to prove that she is being publicly persecuted by this Administration?

SEC. PANELO: She can always use anything she wants. It’s for the court to decide whether that’s relevant or acceptable as evidence.

TINA: Thank you, Sec!

SEC. PANELO: But you must remember that it’s always the court that will determine whether or not a person can be released whether on bail or whether one can be released because he or she has been acquitted. It’s all in the courts.

TINA: Sec. naisip ko lang. If so, if ever lang, Senator de Lima was released through bail or by the court and she goes to the US, can she use this particular document for applying for political asylum? Itong—

SEC. PANELO: Applying for a political asylum would depend on the country being applied to. Sila magde-determine whether puwede o hindi.

ALEXIS ACE ROMERO/PHILIPPINE STAR:  [OFF MIC] Saan daw magne-New Year si President?

SEC. PANELO: Doon din. Tinanong ko siya eh kung walang plano. Sabi niya, wala, sa mga apo ko lang.


SEC. PANELO: Sa bahay.

MPC: [OFF MIC] Honeylet?

SEC. PANELO Oo, palagi naman doon eh.

MPC: [OFF MIC] December 30?

SEC. PANELO Hindi ko alam kung mayroon ba siyang activity.

MPC: [OFF MIC] Rizal Day?

SEC. PANELO Parang wala akong nakita na ano ah… wala aking nakita kay Usec.


ALVIN BALTAZAR: Okay na? Maraming salamat MPC, Chief Presidential Legal Counsel and Spokesperson, Atty. Salvador Panelo.



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