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: Good afternoon, Malacañang Press Corps. Magandang tanghali, Chief Presidential Legal Counsel and Spokesman, Attorney Salvador Panelo.

SEC. PANELO: Good afternoon, MPC. I have a statement to make.

The United States 2020 Budget contains a provision which authorize the US Secretary of State to ban government officials in the Philippines from entering their territory about whom he has “credible information have been involved in the wrongful imprisonment of Senator Leila De Lima.”

While some media outlets have been twisting this information in their headlines as an outright ban against Philippine officials involved in the case of Senator De Lima from traveling to the US, we have explained repeatedly that the subject provision is ineffective given that the Filipino Senator is not wrongfully detained and therefore the impossibility of the US Secretary of State to receive credible information with regard thereto should a ban from entry into US territory be enforced against Philippine officials involved in/or by reason of Senator De Lima’s lawful imprisonment, this government will require all Americans intending to come to the Philippines to apply and secure a visa before they can enter Philippine territory.

Meanwhile, the Philippines is immediately ordering the Bureau of Immigration to deny US Senators Dick Durbin and Patrick Leahy – the imperious, uninformed and gullible American legislators who introduced the subject provision in the 2020 budget – entry to the Philippines.

The case of Senator De Lima is not one of persecution. As we repeatedly said, it’s one of prosecution. In fact, it is already being tried by our courts and no less than the highest court of the land, the Supreme Court has ruled on the validity of her detention as being lawful and valid.

No other State could dictate upon our officials, judges and justices the manner upon which we enforce and interpret our own laws vis-à-vis those who are believed to have committed a violation against our laws.

We reiterate that the Philippines – and we address this specifically to the Senators named as well as those who approved that provision. That we, the Philippines is an independent and sovereign state and it stands in parity with all other States including the United States and any form of pressure that is deemed or tantamount to an interference into our established justice system or other processes shall be reciprocated in accordance with our municipal law as well as public international law or the law of nations. In other words, we will not sit idly if they continue to interfere with our processes as a sovereign state.

HENRY URI/DZRH: Secretary clarification lang, kasi dito sa—nakalagay dito sa US Embassy website: “US citizens planning to enter and visit the Philippines for 30 days or less do not need a visa prior to travel to the Philippines provided their US passport is valid until and they have a valid return ticket.” Anong ibig sabihin ho nito, lahat lang? Hindi lang ho iyong tourist visa—o iyong tourist/US citizen na pupunta rito?

SEC. PANELO: Lahat.

HENRY URI/DZRH: Lahat na?

SEC. PANELO: Kung i-enforce nila, iyon ang colatilla doon. If they will enforce this provision in the US budget, then we will be compelled to require all Americans entering into this country to secure a visa before they can be allowed entry.

HENRY URI/DZRH: Regardless of their purposes, Secretary?

SEC. PANELO: Regardless.

HENRY URI/DZRH: Okay.

JULIE AURELIO/PHILIPPINE DAILY INQUIRER: Sir, was this the decision of President Duterte to impose—

SEC. PANELO: Yes!

JULIE AURELIO/PHILIPPINE DAILY INQUIRER: Okay. When did he communicate this decision—?

SEC. PANELO: To me.

JULIE AURELIO/PHILIPPINE DAILY INQUIRER: When, sir?

SEC. PANELO: Last night. He asked me to issue this statement.

JULIE AURELIO/PHILIPPINE DAILY INQUIRER: Can you tell us sir how he shared with you iyong decision niya to impose this—

SEC. PANELO: Iyon na iyon, kung ano ‘yung sinabi ko exactly what he said.

JULIE AURELIO/PHILIPPINE DAILY INQUIRER: Sir will this affect halimbawa, many Filipinos are also US citizens na rin. Will this ban also affect—will this requirement—

SEC. PANELO: Eh all Americans eh. If you are a US citizen, then you are an American.

JULIE AURELIO/PHILIPPINE DAILY INQUIRER: Okay, sir. Tapos sir, can you describe to us iyong sentiment ni President Duterte? Was he angry na ganito iyong naging kahinatnan? Kasi it has been a few days since—

SEC. PANELO: You don’t have to be angry to issue that statement: When your sovereignty is being assailed; if you’re the head of the state that is the natural course of action that one takes.

PIA GUTIERREZ/ABS-CBN: Sir, did the President take into account the possible repercussions or negative effects that it will have to Philippine tourism for example and the Philippine economy?

SEC. PANELO: When the President makes a decision, all circumstances are factored in.

PIA GUTIERREZ/ABS-CBN: Alright sir, thank you.

INA ANDOLONG/CNN PHILIPPINES: Sir, is there any effort by the, perhaps, Department of Foreign Affairs to communicate with US officials about the President’s sentiments about that law?

SEC. PANELO: I have not talked with the Secretary of Foreign Affairs.

INA ANDOLONG/CNN PHILIPPINES: Okay. So the President didn’t mention anything about communicating with US officials about it?

SEC. PANELO: No.

INA ANDOLONG/CNN PHILIPPINES: Thank you, sir.

JULIE AURELIO/PHILIPPINE DAILY INQUIRER: Sir, balikan ko lang iyong kay Trump, iyong invitation ni President Duterte kay Trump. So, did the President change his mind after what he said to you yesterday?

SEC. PANELO: About?

JULIE AURELIO/PHILIPPINE DAILY INQUIRER: About visiting the US, kasi ‘di ba he invited Trump—

SEC. PANELO: He said he never intended to visit the US naman, ever since.

JULIE AURELIO/PHILIPPINE DAILY INQUIRER: Okay. He said this last night after niyang inutos sa inyo—

SEC. PANELO: Well, repeatedly—many times, every time na kausap ko iyon naman ang sinasabi niya.

JULIE AURELIO/PHILIPPINE DAILY INQUIRER: Okay, sir.

SEC. PANELO: From the very beginning ‘di ba, during the campaign sinabi niya na rin iyon.

JULIE AURELIO/PHILIPPINE DAILY INQUIRER: But, did he say sir if this latest development concerning the US budget provision made a dent on whatever his desire—

SEC. PANELO: If I remember correctly, he said he would respond to the letter invitation and decline it.

JULIE AURELIO/PHILIPPINE DAILY INQUIRER: Decline it formally, sir?

SEC. PANELO: Will decline.

JULIE AURELIO/PHILIPPINE DAILY INQUIRER: He will decline it formally na, sir, iyong… Tapos sir did he also mention, kasi since it was US President Trump who signed the budget law, so does the President think less of President Trump now, kasi they’re friends ‘di ba?

SEC. PANELO: No. Kasi unang-una, I have already repeatedly said, it’s not naman self-executory eh. The law itself says if there is credible information received by the one who will decide – and the one who will decide will be the Secretary of State. And that is why even the Ambassador as I related to you when we had an encounter in one party the other night, he said eh sa Congress naman eh.

JULIE AURELIO/PHILIPPINE DAILY INQUIRER: So it’s safe to say sir that President Duterte does not hold it against US President Trump if he signed the budget law containing that provision—

SEC. PANELO: No.

JULIE AURELIO/PHILIPPINE DAILY INQUIRER: —even if it’s conditional?

SEC. PANELO: No.

ALVIN BALTAZAR/RADYO PILIPINAS: Maraming salamat MPC, maraming salamat Chief Presidential Legal Counsel and Spokesperson, Attorney Salvador Panelo.

SEC. PANELO: Thank you.

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