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 morning, Malacañang Press Corps; let’s now have Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo. Good morning, sir.

SEC. PANELO:  Good morning! Oh before that, I’d like to congratulate my son… my son, Salvador Angelo A. Panelo IV – he’s going to take his oath as a full pledged doctor at 1 P.M. today at the PICC.

Q:  [off mic] Anong…

SEC. PANELO:  Internal medicine, just like his mom. Shoot!

USEC. ROCKY IGNACIO:  Okay. Congratulations Secretary. MPC, questions…

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7:  Sir, follow up on your son—charot! Hindi, joke lang. Okay, sir I have several… Position sir ng Palasyo sa Road User’s Tax?

SEC. PANELO:  Ganoon pa rin, hindi nababago. We will… we’re against it, the release.

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7:  No, first the bill…

SEC. PANELO:  The what?

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7:  Is Malacañang in favor of abolishing the Board?


JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7:  Because, sir?

SEC. PANELO:  Iyon ang kailangan eh.


SEC. PANELO:  We want that the fund be returned to the Treasury, and then let Congress appropriate again for specific purpose.

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7:  Alright. So right now sir, I think the Senate has adopted the House bill ‘no, and I think senators said that it should be just transmit it to the President for signing. So we’re saying now that once transmitted, the President will sign the bill abolishing the Road Board?

SEC. PANELO:  Yes, that has been the position.

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7:  How soon are we going to do this, sir?

SEC. PANELO:  As soon as it is given to him.

INA ANDOLONG/CNN PHILIPPINES:   Sir I’d like to get your reaction, still on that same topic. Congressman Alvarez is saying that the differing positions of Malacañang and the some members of the House including House Speaker Arroyo on the abolition of the Road Board is the reason why some congressmen want Budget Secretary Diokno out, ito daw po iyong dahilan.

SEC. PANELO:  Could be.

INA ANDOLONG/CNN PHILIPPINES:   What do you mean ‘could be’? Can you expound on that?

SEC. PANELO:  Well, we don’t know exactly the reason why – that’s the statement of former Speaker Alvarez. We can always speculate…

INA ANDOLONG/CNN PHILIPPINES:   So is it ‘could be’ or is Alvarez speculating?

SEC. PANELO:  No. We are not privy to that, so how can we even give a categorical statement?

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7:  Alright sir… there’s a petition at the Supreme Court I think filed by Philconsa against the Bangsamoro Organic Law – this is the second petition I think, and one of the grounds of the second petition is that the Constitution only allows the creation of two autonomous regions – the Cordillera and then the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao. Philconsa argues that it is in violation of the Constitution because the BOL will create another autonomous region apart from the ARMM. Do you share that argument, sir?

SEC. PANELO:  We will let the Supreme Court decide on that matter. As we said, we will always defer to the other branch of the government.

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7:  But that point sir, that the BOL creates another autonomous region in Muslim Mindanao aside from ARMM, what do you think of that position?

SEC. PANELO:  Again, I will defer to the decision of the Supreme Court. We will not make any comment on that, because it’s now pending before the court.

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7:  It is pending before the court, but it is also one of the President’s key promises ‘no.

SEC. PANELO:  Notwithstanding, it is still with the court now, it’s sub judice.

INA ANDOLONG/CNN PHILIPPINES:   Sir, balik lang doon sa abolition ng Road Board. Why does—just to be—for the record, why does Malacañang want the Road Board abolished? Is it because of alleged misuse doon sa MVUC [Motor Vehicle User’s Charge] funds, alleged corruption in the Road Board?

SEC. PANELO:  That is the explanation of Secretary Diokno.

INA ANDOLONG/CNN PHILIPPINES:   Can you tell us if—what has the Secretary told the President about this alleged misuse; and what has the President said about it?

SEC. PANELO:  I guess we have to ask Secretary Diokno. I’m not privy to the conversation of the two.

INA ANDOLONG/CNN PHILIPPINES:   But, he has relayed this to the President?

SEC. PANELO:  Oh definitely. He said so during an interview.

ROSALIE COZ/UNTV:   Sir, iyong statement ninyo po sa isang interview na diversionary tactics ng ilang mambabatas iyong ginagawa against Diokno, iyong nagbabato ng allegations para—can you further—

SEC. PANELO:  Yes, I was just following the line of Secretary Diokno. According to him, this started because Senator Lacson exposed certain amendments or insertions. And because the members of Congress or two of them were in the hot seat, according to him most likely they tried to put him on a hot seat instead of them. So in a way, it’s diverting the issue – from them to him.

ROSALIE COZ/UNTV:   So, ano po ang magiging aksiyon ng Palace regarding this? Kasi ang reputasyon mismo ng isang Cabinet member ang nasasakripisyo dahil sa mga alegasyong binabato—

SEC. PANELO:  Well, we already made our statement – we stand by the integrity and competence of Secretary Diokno; all of us are in support of him; the President trusts him. As we said earlier, rightly or wrongly as between the reputation of Secretary Diokno and other members who casts aspersions on him, I think the… comparison is obvious rightly or wrongly. The reputation of Secretary Diokno is solid. In 32 years of his service, there is nothing that we can throw at him. He was known to be one who says ‘no’ to any irregularity or any favor that is asked of him – and he has been consistent with that.

ROSALIE COZ/UNTV:   So without interfering po sa ibang branch ng government, ano iyong pinaka-puwedeng gawin ng Malacañang para po iyong mga alegasyon ng korapsyon na ibinabato sa—with regards doon sa allegations po ng pork barrel insertions?

SEC. PANELO:  First, again we will repeat: Congress has the authority to review, to scrutinize the budget. The budget is just a proposal – it’s for them to go over it, if they see any irregularity, it’s for them to correct it. And if such irregularity amounts to a crime, then it is its duty to recommend filing and charges against the wrongdoer.

ROSALIE COZ/UNTV:   Sir, itong dispute between Secretary and some congressmen. Do you think this is enough reason para magkaroon ng constitutional crisis?

SEC. PANELO:  I don’t think so. There is no constitutional crisis.


SEC. PANELO:  It’s a question of how you treat a fellow worker. We are not questioning the authority to question Mr. Diokno. What we were complaining against is the manner by which the Question Hour was conducted – he was mocked in that Question Hour.

CHRISTINE AVENDAÑO/PHILIPPINE DAILY INQUIRER:   Sir, you mentioned na parang it was meant to divert iyong—because you said… when Senator Lacson raised the issue or the allegation against the pork insertions, the attack on Diokno came after, and you said it’s—

SEC. PANELO:  That’s—I said I was just adopting the line of Secretary Diokno.

CHRISTINE AVENDAÑO/PHILIPPINE DAILY INQUIRER:   So, does this mean that the pork insertions are true sir, if they want to divert it?

SEC. PANELO:  In the first place—let me repeat what Mr. Diokno has stated in all his interviews: The budget is the President’s budget; it is presented to the President and to the Cabinet, and the alignment of funds there come from the line agencies – he has nothing to do with it.

Now it’s Congress that will go over it. They can realign the funds. So whatever allegation they have on corruption, I think it’s about time they come up with evidence. You cannot be relying on according to him, according to this mayor, according to this other mayor there is its and such an anomaly. You can’t be destroying reputations of people on the basis of hearsay. You feel there is an offense, then please file it against the alleged wrongdoer.

CHRISTINE AVENDAÑO/PHILIPPINE DAILY INQUIRER: But sir, you agree that it was a diversion, sir, iyong the issue on the pork insertion, sir?

SEC. PANELO: Yes, I’m toeing the line of Secretary Diokno, it’s more believable.

CHRISTINE AVENDAÑO/PHILIPPINE DAILY INQUIRER: It’s believable that there were pork insertions, sir?

SEC. PANELO:  That it was skirting the issue; instead of him on the hot seat—I mean, them it’s now Secretary Diokno.

JOYCE BALANCIO/DZMM: Sir, are we not concerned, kasi po sabi ni Congressman Andaya before naging Cabinet Secretary si Congressman Nograles, isa din daw po siya doon sa makakatanggap, iyong distrito niya makakatanggap ng malaking portion ng budget for next year?

SEC. PANELO: You know sometimes, I’m even wondering why they are making a fuss out of these alignments. If the alignments are given to a particular district and that district needs it, then it should go there. What is important to the President and to us is that there is no corruption in the aligned funds to a particular area.

JOYCE/DZMM:  So sir if indeed makakakuha iyong district ni Congressman Nograles ng bigger chunk ng budget for next year, you don’t see any irregularity in it?

SEC. PANELO: If that district of former Congressman Karlo Nograles needs it, then it should go there.

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7:  Sir, sa January, I think sabi ni Sec. Diokno hindi siya a-attend ‘no ng House hearing sa Naga, because he was prevented. Would you know—

SEC. PANELO: He said he was not allowed.

JOSEPH/GMA7: Okay. He was not allowed… by whom, sir?

SEC. PANELO: Oh there is only one who cannot make him go there, it’s the President. So presumably it’s coming from the President. Perhaps, the fear there is he might again be receiving the same rude treatment. And according to him, if the only question is, ‘Do I know these people that they are claiming that I know, like the contractor. He said, ‘I don’t know them. So I’ll just execute an affidavit.’

JOSEPH/GMA7:  Sir, during the time of President Arroyo they used EO 464 ‘no. What’s the basis now of the Duterte administration for preventing Sec. Diokno from appearing in a congressional hearing?

SEC. PANELO: The basis would be the rude treatment that he has received. And another reason is that, if you will be submitting questions to the resource person and you’ll not be asking them, so what’s the use of going there?

JOSEPH/GMA7: Okay po, thank you.

SEC. PANELO:  But as courtesy, we will always respond to any invitations. All we ask is, please give us the courtesy as we give the same to you.

JOSEPH/GMA7: So parang sent questions na lang, affidavit form? Okay, thank you. Sir, si Cardinal Tagle, I think—Archbishop Tagle, sir—said that those in power should not be bullying people or whoever.

SEC. PANELO:  I agree. But whom does he refer to? Because those in power would also apply to those in the Church who use the pulpit for bullying people then it’s the same. If the message is in the generic or general term, then I agree. You cannot be using power to bully or to coerce people. The President is against that too.

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: Just the President or do you think the President feels alluded to by that comment, sir?



SEC. PANELO: Because he doesn’t bully people.

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7:  What does he do, sir?

SEC. PANELO:  He expresses his sentiment on a particular matter, situation. He expresses dislike, and he explains it. He threatens criminals, yes… to make them feel threatened and stop doing their criminal acts.

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7:  Any other else… any other sectors?

SEC. PANELO:  No more…

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7:  [Laughs] I’m just kidding. Thank you.

CHRISTINE AVENDAÑO/PHILIPPINE DAILY INQUIRER: Sir, you said Secretary Diokno was not allowed by the President to—?

SEC. PANELO:  Presumably I said, because that is what he said.

CHRISTINE AVENDAÑO/PHILIPPINE DAILY INQUIRER: So it’s—during the time of President Arroyo the Cabinet invoked Executive privilege, is this the same thing, sir?

SEC. PANELO:  If it concerns privileged communication, we will be invoking that. If it is not, it would be the apprehension that he will be treated rudely there. But I guess… I think the parties have learned their lesson. I don’t think it will be repeated again. Members of Congress are honorable enough to know when they go overboard or not. It could be in their exuberance, they have forgotten the demands of ethical refinements.

NESTOR CORRALES/INQUIRER.NET:  Good morning, sir. Sir, did you get any word from the President if the government will be declaring holiday truce with the Communist rebels? Because in his speech in Sulu yesterday, he mentioned, I quote: “I don’t want this government killing its citizens anymore.” So, may word na po ba from the President if the government will be declaring a truce this holiday?

SEC. PANELO:  No, no word from him. The recommendation of the Defense Secretary still stands – not to declare a truce.

NESTOR CORRALES/INQUIRER.NET:  So, that’s the Palace stand for now sir; not to declare a holiday truce?

SEC. PANELO:  No decision on that. The declaration is January 2nd is not a working day. So you’re free to extend your holidays.

Q:  How about the media briefing, sir?

SEC. PANELO:  No, it’s a holiday ‘di ba?

Q:  [off mic]

SEC. PANELO:  Ha? Government lang… ah. I’m sure the private sector will follow suit.

Q:  [off mic] Is there an EO coming up?

SEC. PANELO:  You’re encouraging our friends… Well it depends, I understand even in some companies they’re one week holiday. When I was with Unilab, we had one week Christmas holiday.

Q:  [off mic] So, we encourage…

SEC. PANELO:  I think Joseph Morong is encouraging the private companies [laughs]…

CATHERINE VALENTE/MANILA TIMES:  Hi, good morning sir. Sir, can we get the Palace’ reaction on the petition filed by the Philippine Constitution Association sa Supreme Court against po sa Bangsamoro Basic Law? The group claimed it’s illegal and unconstitutional; they cited po that only an amendment to the Constitution will allow the creation of new autonomous region. So, ano po ang position ng Palace regarding this?

SEC. PANELO:  I already made a statement on that early. I said, we will defer to the Supreme Court. Its sub judice, so we’ll not make any comment on that.

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7:  Sir, iyong kay Catriona na—

SEC. PANELO:  Who, your favorite…

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7:  Yes, as the country’s… Medical marijuana sir, is this a sensitive—there’s a bill on Congress ‘no?


JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7:  In the House… But in the President—ano ba ang position ni President aside from—?

SEC. PANELO:  I issued already a statement on that. I said, the statement of Catriona could have been influenced by the President’s decision on that matter. He said that he is in favor of the legalizing the same if it’s limited to healing purposes. Or I said, it could have been a conclusion reached by her because she listened to the pros and cons on the matter.

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7:  But, it terms of policy sir?

SEC. PANELO:  It’s what?

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7:  In terms of policy, will the Palace be asking allies in Congress to maybe push for the bill and the counterpart in the Senate to maybe ask for—to file a similar bill? And is there really a need for…

SEC. PANELO:  Since the President already made a statement that he’s in favor of limited use of marijuana… logically, then he will support.


SEC. PANELO:  And sign any bill that would be consistent with his stand.

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7:  Thank you, sir.

USEC. IGNACIO:  Okay, thank you Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo. Thank you, Malacañang Press Corps…

SEC. PANELO:  Thank you…

USEC. IGNACIO:  Thank you, Malacañang Press Corps…



SOURCE: PCOO-NIB (News and Information Bureau)