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 MPC, kasama na natin si Chief Presidential Legal Counsel and Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo. Good afternoon, sir.

SEC. PANELO: Good afternoon, MPC. What’s good in the afternoon other than your presence? No statement. The President has already made several statements last night.

HENRY URI/DZRH: Sec., iyong binanggit ng Pangulo kagabi na ipinagbabawal niya sa mga Cabinet Secretary ang pagtungo sa United States. Kayo po bilang Chief Presidential Legal Counsel and Spokesperson, paano ninyo ito tinatanggap?

SEC. PANELO: Tinanggap nang maluwalhati. Eh dapat lang naman huwag pumunta doon, eh kinakansela nila iyong sa kasama nating senador eh, kumbaga sabi niya nga, “Boycott tayo!”

HENRY URI/DZRH: Ano ba ito, kasama pati mga personal trips ng mga secretaries – family trips..?

SEC. PANELO: Oo… Huwag na muna pumunta roon. We have to defer to the President’s wishes.

HENRY URI/DZRH: Ah, that’s including Usec., Asec., Director?

SEC. PANELO: Hindi, Cabinet members lang naman sinabi niya eh. But I suppose that goes without saying.

HENRY URI/DZRH: Alright, thank you.

JULIE AURELIO/PHILIPPINE DAILY INQUIRER: Sir recently napabalitaan pong si Davao Mayor Sara Duterte ay nasa US. Do you think—I mean nandoon na siya, so kumbaga magiging after the fact na. Do you think this travel ban might also apply to members of President Duterte’s family, kahit na official iyon?

SEC. PANELO: No, that’s an official study tour organized by, I think the National Security–something of the US government. Para sa mga terrorism iyon ano.

JULIE AURELIO/PHILIPPINE DAILY INQUIRER: Opo. Hindi kasama iyong mga ganoong cases, sir? Halimbawa ‘pag—

SEC. PANELO: Hindi, mayroon nga siyang in-exempt. Sabi niya Foreign Affairs Department hindi kasama eh.

JULIE AURELIO/PHILIPPINE DAILY INQUIRER: Hindi, how about iyong ano—the President’s family po?

SEC. PANELO: Eh siguro the members of the family will do likewise in deference to the father.

JULIE AURELIO/PHILIPPINE DAILY INQUIRER: Okay. Thank you, sir.

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: Sir, kahapon po sabi ni Presidente that he has terminated and iyong procedure na you mentioned before that we are undergoing is just you know, pro-forma, parang something that we had to do to—?

SEC. PANELO: We will have to write them formally, but the effectivity is 180 days after.

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: But the decision has been made?

SEC. PANELO: Yeah, hindi ba sabi niya? Final na iyon!

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: Correct. What is the effect now of the termination of the VFA with the other two treaties that we have, I mean the MDT – the Mutual Defense and then another one, EDCA!

SEC. PANELO: Wala.

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: Why, sir?

SEC. PANELO: Eh bakit magkakaroon naman ng epekto, tanungin naman kita – ano naman kinalaman noon? It refers to privileges of the military personnel with respect to acquisition of jurisdiction in relation to the commission of crimes as well as the movement of their aircrafts and vessels. The other agreements will remain, but I understand the Senate will also be reviewing all the treaties.

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: So, ang action po ng Palasyo with regard to the Senate investigation to expand the review to include the MDT? You will just allow them or you’re in favor of it or…?

SEC. PANELO: Well that’s their prerogative. So, as a practice of the Executive Department is, not intrude nor interfere with the co-equal branch.

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: So sir, we don’t have any interest in maybe abrogating also the MDT?

SEC. PANELO: Nasa ano ‘yan eh, kung anong findings nila they can recommend.

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: Pero sir tayo, si Presidente – MDT, does he still want it?

SEC. PANELO: Which one?

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: The MDT sir, Mutual Defense Treaty.

SEC. PANELO: Oh, I’ll have to ask him. As he said and as I said earlier before that, the decision of the President to terminate the VFA is a studied decision. It is a tactical and strategical decision stated by him.

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: When you say ‘tactical’ and ‘strategic’, what do you mean by that sir?

SEC. PANELO: Well, in other words, he has something in his mind which he has not shared with us – which is of course privilege of the Chief Architect of the foreign policy of this country.

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: Just a little bit more on the VFA. Sir, so terminated na siya which is undergoing the process?

SEC. PANELO: Hindi pa, kasi 180 days ang effectivity noon eh. So hindi pa terminated. We don’t even know if the Secretary of Foreign Affairs has already made the letter kasi siya ang gagawa noon.

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: Alright, clarification. The President said we’re terminating, we’re undergoing the process but to formally say that the VFA has been abrogated is when we undergo—undergone to process?

SEC. PANELO: Yes, that’s what he—hindi ba explained to you last night?, there is a process, we have to follow the protocol.

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: Alright. But as far as the government is concerned, we’re just waiting for the formalities—

SEC. PANELO: Yes.

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: But the VFA is done, correct?

SEC. PANELO: Yeah, we will not.

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: Alright, consequence. When we terminate, when we reach that point that the VFA is formally terminated after the procedure, what’s going to happen? Say for example, kay Pemberton who’s being held under custody pero US iyong may hawak sa kaniya because of the VFA. What should happen to him?

SEC. PANELO: He remains in custody of the US?

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: Nasa Camp Aguinaldo sir pero iyong may hawak sa kaniya is Philippines and US because we have the VFA. What’s going to happen? What should happen?

SEC. PANELO: He will remain in custody with us.

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: You mean local court?

SEC. PANELO: Yes of course, because we acquired jurisdiction over him and therefore the jurisdiction remains. You must remember that the VFA states that we cannot acquire jurisdiction unless of particular importance and we already did that. Oh, hence, logic will tell us that the termination of the VFA will not affect the acquisition of jurisdiction by the Philippine courts.

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: Question in custody – saan po siya dapat ikulong?

SEC. PANELO: Ay, dito pa rin.

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: I mean—well, Camp Aguinaldo is here but Camp Aguinaldo or local jail?

SEC. PANELO: Eh doon pa rin siya sa dati. Eh doon siya nilagay ng court eh.

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: Only because we have the VFA.

SEC. PANELO: Not necessarily. The court has decided. But he remains under the jurisdiction of the court. So the court says dito ka, eh ililipat ka.

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: Alright. ‘Cause I’m not very sure if the court order iyong paglagay niya doon sa Camp Aguinaldo. So, but if nakalagay nga sa court decision is doon sa Camp Aguinaldo without mentioning the VFA, you’re fine with Pemberton staying in Camp Aguinaldo, even without the VFA?

SEC. PANELO: Eh, kung mas safe siya roon eh. Kaya lang siguro nilagay siya doon because of his safety.

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: Alright, iyon muna sir.

CHONA YU/RADIO INQUIRER: Sir, iyong boycott America, limited lang iyon sir sa travel?

SEC. PANELO: Meaning?

CHONA YU/RADIO INQUIRER: How about sir iyong sa trade relations – iyong importation, export, wala bang ganoong boycott?

SEC. PANELO: Eh hindi naman sinabi ni Presidente. Iyong pagpunta lang doon.

INA ANDOLONG/CNN PHILIPPINES: Sir, nabanggit ninyo lang kanina, can you clarify lang. So all Cabinet Secretaries except for the Secretary of Foreign Affairs?

SEC. PANELO: Foreign Affairs, ‘di ba, sabi niya Foreign Affairs – parang in-exempt niya eh.

INA ANDOLONG/CNN PHILIPPINES: Okay. Well, Secretary Teddy Boy Locsin is in Washington now. I was wondering—I’m unclear on the agenda. Is the Palace aware of why he’s there? Did the President perhaps send him there to—

SEC. PANELO: No. He went there because of several meetings previously scheduled.

INA ANDOLONG/CNN PHILIPPINES: Walang directive from the President na baka mayroon din pong inutos sa kanya si Presidente?

SEC. PANELO: Wala, hindi. Kausap ko si Secretary Locsin.

INA ANDOLONG/CNN PHILIPPINES: Okay. Sir yesterday the President also mentioned that he’s slowly toning down on our relations with the US, ano po gusto niya talaga mangyari? Ano iyong end goal niya?

SEC. PANELO: Hindi ko alam. We’ll have to ask him. He will have to elaborate on that himself.

INA ANDOLONG/CNN PHILIPPINES: Anong difference noon sir, sa initial pronouncements niya in the earlier part of his term when he basically said that he wants to lessen the country’s dependency on traditional allies like the US?

SEC. PANELO: I really don’t know. But you know, it’s about time that we as a country, relies on our own resources. We cannot be relying in others. We have to strengthen our capability in depending ourselves from foreign intrusions. By relying mainly on one particular country, you lessen your capability from the moment that alliance with that country is terminated. Bigla kang maiiwan, wala kang magagawa sa sarili mo. So, siguro mas gusto ni Presidenteng tingnan natin iyong ating kakayahan, palakasin natin ang kakayahan natin.

INA ANDOLONG/CNN PHILS: So, again sir ha, iyong agenda lang niya dito sa specific pronouncement niya of again toning down iyong relations with the US, you don’t know why, where he sees bilateral relations heading from this point?

SEC. PANELO: As I said he has to make elaboration of that himself.

INA ANDOLONG/CNN PHILS: Sir, can you clarify what the President said also, iyong limiting interaction with the US. Ano iyong scope noon, although clearly iyong travel, what else could that cover, iyong boycott na gusto niyang mangyari?

SEC. PANELO: I will ask him.

FRANCIS: Sir, follow lang doon sa tanong ni Ina: Iyong sinasabing boycott, tapos iyong i-limit nga iyong relations with the US – kasama rin po dito iyong eventually pag-recall ng Philippine Ambassador to the US, sir?

SEC. PANELO: Wala naman siyang sinabi.

FRANCIS: Just to stress a point lang na.

SEC. PANELO: Eh in-exempt nga niya iyong foreign affairs eh, di ibig sabihin sige pa rin iyong relasyon natin sa kanila. Siguro sa aking tingin ha, my personal insight of that decision sa boycott is more of a protest sa ginawa nila, sa ginagawa nila sa mga kababayan natin.

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: We don’t need to scale down our presence, diplomatic presence in the US because of this?

SEC. PANELO: Mukhang wala naman siyang sinabi eh. In-exempt niya nga ang travel ng Department of Foreign Affairs, ‘di tuloy pa rin lahat ng mga activities nila.

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: Maybe in the future?

SEC. PANELO: Hindi natin alam.

JINKY BATICADOS/IBC13: Sir, isa lang: What if mag-explain ang US?

SEC. PANELO: Mag-ano?

JINKY BATICADOS/IBC13: What if they explained their side on why they cancelled the US visa of Senator Dela Rosa, anong mangyayari, sir matatapos ba ang boycott natin. Will the President end that particular protest?

SEC. PANELO: Hindi naman iyong hindi pagpapaliwanag ang nire-react ni Presidente, ‘di ba? Nire-react ni Presidente iyong ginawa nilang intrusion, ‘di ba inisa-isa ko iyong mga reasons bakit. That’s why he said, hindi ko lang ini-announce pero nung ginawa pa lang nila iyong unang mali nila eh nagre-react na ako, nagpaplano na ako, pag ito ginawa nila, ito ang gagawin ko – that’s exactly what he did.

JINKY BATICADOS/IBC13: sir, one last. Ipapatawag n’yo po ba or does the Palace has this plan to actually call the presence of US Ambassador here?

SEC. PANELO: Who?

JINKY BATICADOS/IBC13: The US Ambassador, sir?

SEC. PANELO: Nag-usap na sila ni ES eh. They already talked. I don’t know what they talk about. I’ll ask ES.

ACE ROMERO/PHIL. STAR: Secretary just for the record. Iyong mga pronouncement ni President regarding the VFA, iyong toning down, may kinalaman po ba ito sa decision ng President to seek stronger ties with China?

SEC. PANELO: Not necessarily. His decision was mainly based on the actions of the US government, with respect to the US senate and the US immigration.

ACE ROMERO/PHIL. STAR: So, the President is not appeasing China or Russia?

SEC. PANELO: No.

ACE ROMERO/PHIL. STAR: Walang ganoon Sec? Okay salamat po.

VANZ FERNANDEZ/POLICE FILES: Kasi you have said banning the cabinet members going to the US. May reaksiyon po si Senator Lacson na saying that, it will affect our economy and security, kasi especially we have Filipinos in the US – any reaction on this?

SEC. PANELO: He is entitled to his opinion, but I don’t think so.

VANZ FERNANDEZ/POLICE FILES: Sir..?

SEC. PANELO: He is entitled to his opinion, but I don’t think so.

HENRY URI/DZRH: Sec., iyong protest lang. Binanggit mo—it’s a protest sa ginagawa ng US sa mga kababayan natin…

SEC: PANELO: Tingin ko lang, more on…

HENRY URI/DZRH: …ano iyon, yung ginagawa sa mga kababayan natin?

SEC. PANELO: Iyong mga sinabi ni Presidenteng mga reason why he is terminating the visiting Forces Agreement: Kasama na iyong ginawa nila kay senator Bato; Kasama lahat iyon.

HENRY URI/DZRH: So iyon ang primary reasons kung bakit talaga.

SEC. PANELO: The primary reason is, iyong binanggit kong apat na dahilan.

HENRY URI/DZRH: Which is?

SEC. PANELO: One demanding the release of the lawfully detained Senator De Lima, which is definitely a brazen interference with our judicial system, disrespecting our judicial process. Number two, passing a senate resolution condemning the war on drugs of the President. Number three, introducing an amendment to the national budget of the US barring entry of certain government officials who, according to them, had anything to do with “wrongful detention” to which we disagree vehemently. And number four, the cancellation of Senator Bato’s US visa.

INA ANDOLONG/CNN PHILS: In relation sa reason number three. Sir, I’m just checking baka lang may update. Is your visa still valid, your US visa?

SEC. PANELO: Wala akong—hindi ko alam. First I am not interested. So, I don’t even ask.

INA ANDOLONG/CNN PHILS: You haven’t check?

SEC. PANELO: No.

ACE ROMERO/PHIL. STAR: Secretary if the move to terminate the VFA is not intended to appease China or Russia. What does strategic and geo-political consideration mean?

SEC. PANELO: As I said, I will ask him. He has to elaborate that himself.

JULIE: Sir, can we get the Palace stake on reports na iyong pino-propose nila na Sangley Point international Airport is seeming to be in favor of state owned Chinese contractor, the China Communications Construction Company. Iyong mga other bidders kasi are complaining na rush daw iyong selection process and tilted in favor of China na parang operating under the assumption na it’s gonna be a partnership between China and the Philippines?

SEC. PANELO: You must remember that bidding process has certain conditions, so bidders will have to comply with all the conditions. So, if the Chinese company has complied with all the requirements unlike others, then necessarily the Chinese company will be the chosen one.

JULIE: In the case sir of that project, the Sangley Point International Airport, the Palace believes that everything was aboveboard.

SEC. PANELO: The presumption is it is above board, unless you give us proof that it is not. Then we come in.

JULIE: Is the Palace open to halimbawa, your saying if they give proofs then you—

SEC. PANELO: Of course. You must remember that this government has always been open to any complaint. In fact, we encourage people to complain, so that we will know whatever anomalies there are.

JULIE: Are we telling the other bidders who backed out of the project to complain to Malacañang and send—?

SEC. PANELO: If they have valid complaint, why not – they should.

TINA MENDEZ/PHILIPPINE STAR: Sir, there is a report that the US Federal agents raided the Philippine-based church – Kingdom of Jesus Christ Church in Los Angeles—

SEC. PANELO: Why daw?

TINA MENDEZ/PHILIPPINE STAR: For alleged human trafficking. They are placed in certain—there is an ongoing human trafficking investigation that led to certain arrests of two church leaders, sir any statement on this in connection with the Philippines’ Tier 1 ranking in the human trafficking campaign?

SEC. PANELO: Well, if the raid is legitimate then we cannot complain on that.

TINA MENDEZ/PHILIPPINE STAR: Regardless, sir if the church leader—known spiritual leader is also a close ally of the President.

SEC. PANELO: Even then. You must remember that if a crime is committed in any country, then the laws of that country will have to be followed. We have to respect them the way we asked them to respect ours.

TINA MENDEZ/PHILIPPINE STAR: Thank you, sir.

PRINCE GOLEZ/ABANTE: Sir, good afternoon! Sir may result na ba ‘yung review ng UP – Ayala Technohub lease agreement sir?

SEC. PANELO: Wala pa kasi nag-request pa lang ako ng copy. Parang pinadala pa lang nila kahapon.

PRINCE GOLEZ/ABANTE: Kasi sir, yesterday—last night, the President mentioned about it in passing? He said na—

SEC. PANELO: May binanggit ba siya? Parang wala akong nakita sa internet, anong sabi niya?

PRINCE GOLEZ/ABANTE: Yes, he said: “It’s not merely in the water sector. It’s in the LRT and some lands that were leased to them. Would you believe it at seventy pesos pero hectare ‘yung lupa diyan sa UP? Talagang if you compute all the corruptions done by those ‘yung mga Customs it fails in comparison sa nakaw rito.”

SEC. PANELO: So, the question is?

PRINCE GOLEZ/ABANTE: Does the President think—

SEC. PANELO: ‘Di ba we’re studying it?

PRINCE GOLEZ/ABANTE: Okay.

SEC. PANELO: We will study it. Eh, kadarating lang nung contract eh.

PRINCE GOLEZ/ABANTE: But sir, does the President think that the agreement was disadvantageous to the government?

SEC. PANELO: He does not think that—‘Yun ang kuwento sa amin, ‘yun ang… ‘yun ang— ‘di ba, that’s I told you somebody sent an article. I read it and I shared it with you that is why we got interested. We want to know whether those allegations are true or not.

PRINCE GOLEZ/ABANTE: Thank you, sir.

CHONA YU/RADIO INQUIRER: Sir, follow-up. You said kadarating lang ng contract?

SEC. PANELO: Yeah, kahapon. Ipinadala ni… ‘yung Vice President nila?

CHONA YU/RADIO INQUIRER: UP sir?

SEC. PANELO: Yes.

CHONA YU/RADIO INQUIRER: And how much—

SEC. PANELO: We requested it eh, a copy.

CHONA YU/RADIO INQUIRER: And how much daw sir ‘yung lease ng Ayala?

SEC. PANELO: Ah! Hindi ho alam, I haven’t even seen it. Sinabihan lang ako na nandiyan na.

CHONA YU/RADIO INQUIRER: Thank you, sir.

INA ANDOLONG/CNN PHILIPPINES: Sir, I just want to get your thoughts on nababalita especially on social media about how some Chinese nationals are behaving—

SEC. PANELO: Are beha—

INA ANDOLONG/CNN PHILIPPINES: Are behaving in our country. Let me tell you ‘yung—there’s a Chinese national “doing the number two” in a tourist spot in Manila; there’s also a photo of three of them peeing along a highway nang sabay-sabay; and just recently, ang pinakabago po yata, one is hitting a delivery guy who’s simply asking for her identification. What are your thoughts on that?

SEC. PANELO: Our policy is very clear. The laws, Immigration Laws are to be enforced, as well as all laws relative to the stay of any foreign national in this country.

INA ANDOLONG/CNN PHILIPPINES: But those specific actions, hindi ba bothered ang Palace doon? Do you see the need to maybe talk to the—

SEC. PANELO: You see them on the highway? Ano namang problema doon?

INA ANDOLONG/CNN PHILIPPINES: ‘Yung ginagawa nila, sir. Umihi—may ihi doon sa kalye—

SEC. PANELO: Then they will be charged.

INA ANDOLONG/CNN PHILIPPINES: ‘Yung isa nga “doing the number two” in a tourist spot in Manila.

SEC. PANELO: Sabi nga, nabasa ko rin ‘yun, but lumalabas hindi totoo.

INA ANDOLONG/CNN PHILIPPINES: And then nananakit po ‘yung isa. Well, are there efforts to maybe find out if, you know, these—if the tourists are perhaps given proper guidance on how they should be acting when they’re here?

SEC. PANELO: Those reports are always investigated by the proper authorities. Like the one defecating in—hindi naman pala totoo – so, inimbestigahan naman nila ‘yun eh. But we will not allow any violation of any law by any citizen whether foreign or local.

INA ANDOLONG/CNN PHILIPPINES: [OFF MIC]…Thank you, sir.

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: Sir, sa VFA lang. I’ve been reading mga background materials on it, so apparently, he is really under detention—

SEC. PANELO: Who?

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: VFA—si Pemberton? He’s really under detention sa Camp Aguinaldo because of the VFA. Again, just belaboring the question – Kung wala na ‘yung VFA, where should he be detained?

SEC. PANELO: Kahit walang VFA eh. Kung walang VFA then he would’ve been charged and tried in court.

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: Correct! Ang question ko sir is physical custody, as in jail? Right now, nasa Camp Aguinaldo siya because of the VFA.

SEC. PANELO: He will remain in custody because he’s been convicted by a Philippine court.

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: Where, is the question, sir?

SEC. PANELO: Ano, ano?

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: ‘Where’ – is the question?

SEC. PANELO: That depends on the courts.

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: Court?

SEC. PANELO: Court ‘yun.

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: Okay, okay. So, we have to go back to the court and ask it?

SEC. PANELO: Palaging court.

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: Okay. Okay!

JULIE AURELIO/PHILIPPINE DAILY INQUIRER: Sir, ‘yung kay Mary Jane Veloso po. A Nueva Ecija court convicted ‘yung dalawang kapitbahay niya of illegal recruitment. Now, Mary Jane is still in Indonesia undergoing trial for drug trafficking. Does the Palace see or the Philippines see an implication of—‘yung decision ng Nueva Ecija court on—regarding her case doon sa Indonesia? Like, can the Philippines cite ‘yung pagka-convict nung dalawang kapitbahay niya for illegal recruitment as… say… a defense or reason for her acquittal?

SEC. PANELO: As a lawyer, there is no connection. She is being charged with a crime there, nothing to do with the conviction of the traffickers here.

JULIE AURELIO/PHILIPPINE DAILY INQUIRER: Pero as a lawyer din or as a Palace official, how do you see ‘yung pagkaka-convict nung dalawang kapitbahay?

SEC. PANELO: Okay ‘yun kasi na-convict ‘yung mga transgressors of law.

JULIE AURELIO/PHILIPPINE DAILY INQUIRER: Okay, sir. Thank you!

ALEXIS ACE ROMERO/PHILIPPINE STAR: Secretary, clarification lang sa statements ni President about the nCoV. So, magkakaroon ng—

SEC. PANELO: n?

ALEXIS ACE ROMERO/PHILIPPINE STAR: nCoV. nCoV, Novel corona—will there be a repatriation now of Filipinos?

SEC. PANELO: ‘Si ba sabi niya at this time, hindi muna kasi unang-una—

ALEXIS ACE ROMERO/PHILIPPINE STAR: Hindi, hindi… Ang—

SEC. PANELO: Parang ang sinasabi niya—repatriation?

ALEXIS ACE ROMERO/PHILIPPINE STAR: May sinabi siya na ano… parang as long as there are measures, protection—

SEC. PANELO: Ah, yes!

ALEXIS ACE ROMERO/PHILIPPINE STAR: So, we are now—

SEC. PANELO: Hindi ba sabi niya pati sa eroplano kailangan—Kung—Basta ang concern ni Presidente is safety nila at ng mga nandito kasi darating sila eh.

ALEXIS ACE ROMERO/PHILIPPINE STAR: So, magkakaroon na po ng repatriation? Kasi ito ‘yung quote niya: “They are given the go signal. My thinking is that we will just have to go there and rescue them. I said, but all precautions must be in place so as not to allow another contamination there.” – So, magkakaroon na po?

SEC. PANELO: Ang problema kung may restriction ng travel doon.

ALEXIS ACE ROMERO/PHILIPPINE STAR: Okay.

SEC. PANELO: Kung may restriction, then we have to formally request for their repatriation.

ALEXIS ACE ROMERO/PHILIPPINE STAR: But we are now open to—

SEC. PANELO: Eh, sabi ni Presidente eh!

ALEXIS ACE ROMERO/PHILIPPINE STAR: What prompted the President to… ‘yung change of stance?

SEC. PANELO: Eh, they were asking us—

ALEXIS ACE ROMERO/PHILIPPINE STAR: Mayroon na—

SEC. PANELO: To bring them here.

ALEXIS ACE ROMERO/PHILIPPINE STAR: Okay. So, mayroon na bang moves ‘yung agencies to start the process.

SEC. PANELO: Ah, hindi ko alam kung mayroon nang nag-start. Kahapon—kagabi lang naman sinabi ni Presidente. I’ll ask the DOLE Secretary.

ALEXIS ACE ROMERO/PHILIPPINE STAR: Okay. Thank you, Sec.

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: Sir, kahapon si Presidente he said, he’s not inclined to ban travel from China, ‘yung mga flights coming from China—

SEC. PANELO: Kasi hindi naman yata nila bina-ban din ‘yun, parang ganun sabi niya ‘di ba? Hindi rin nila nire-restrict ‘yung pagpunta dun eh!

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: Oo, sir. And—

SEC. PANELO: Kumbaga – reciprocal.

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: And ‘yun pong kahapon, remember the question ‘yung sa Olongapo and you said what was the legal basis if ever you prevent the docking of the ship. But, sir ‘di ba sa Constitution somebody pointed out na parang their right to travel can be impaired due to interest of national security, public safety or public health as may be provided by law. Can you interpret this in light of that decision that we have to make if ever?

SEC. PANELO: I think that has become moot and academic. According to SBMA Administrator Eisma, she said that those cruise ships have already cancelled all the trips from February to March. – So wala, talagang walang darating.

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: Yeah, but removing that aspect, but the decision that we have to make if ever na—do we need to ban flights—

SEC. PANELO: Oo, if we need to ban them because of the safety of our countrymen, we can.

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: We can. But right now we do not—

SEC. PANELO: Huh?

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: We don’t—we cannot yet?

SEC. PANELO: Wala, wala nga. Wala—hindi—Unang-una, wala tayong iba-ban, hindi naman sila darating.

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: Sir, ‘yun pong “as may be provided by law,” ano ba ‘to? Dapat ba may Executive Order ni Presidente or Congress has to come up with a—

SEC. PANELO: Sinabi nga “as may be provided by law” eh, ‘di Congress.

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: Congress.

SEC. PANELO: Law eh!

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: And that is a requirement…

SEC. PANELO: Yeah.

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: …Before we can effect this one? Okay, thank you.

USEC. ROCKY: Okay. No more questions? Okay. Thank you, MPC! Thank you, Secretary Panelo!

SEC. PANELO: Thank you!

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