USEC. ROCKY IGNACIO: Good afternoon Malacañang Press Corps. Let’s now have Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo.
SEC. PANELO: Good morning, we are ready…
ARJAY BALINBIN/BUSINESS WORLD: So sir, how’s your inquiry with the DFA and the PCOO on the UGEC’s legality?
SEC. PANELO: Wala pa eh, wala pang… Ano bang latest doon? Nagpadala na ba sila ng ano? We’ll study it.
ARJAY BALINBIN/BUSINESS WORLD: You’re still studying it?
SEC. PANELO: Hindi, kadarating lang noong mga hinihingi namin. Hindi pa kumpleto eh. We are asking for documents kasi.
ARJAY BALINBIN/BUSINESS WORLD: The documents are there already?
SEC. PANELO: A few… Iyong nakita ko dalawa/tatlo.
ARJAY BALINBIN/BUSINESS WORLD: Like documents on what?
SEC. PANELO: Kontrata between UGEC and APO.
ARJAY BALINBIN/BUSINESS WORLD: When you requested those documents, what were the initial statements of those concerned agencies, sir?
SEC. PANELO: Wala, wala naman silang statement… kasi we just requested for documents eh. They just sent.
ARJAY BALINBIN/BUSINESS WORLD: But, they assured you that they will be—
SEC. PANELO: Wala nga silang statement, ‘di walang… there’s nothing.
ARJAY BALINBIN/BUSINESS WORLD: —that they will be coordinating with your office to—for the investigation or inquiry?
SEC. PANELO: We’ll be requesting documents for them to submit to us… documents we are requesting.
ARJAY BALINBIN/BUSINESS WORLD: So most probably, when can we expect initial reports on this?
SEC. PANELO: Until such time as I go over the documents, I cannot say anything. I don’t want to preempt myself.
ARJAY BALINBIN/BUSINESS WORLD: Okay, thank you sir.
ALVIN BALTAZAR/RADYO PILIPINAS: Good morning, sir. Sir, Palace reaction doon sa directive ni US President Donald Trump na huwag munang bigyan ng working visa ang mga Filipino for one year?
SEC. PANELO: I think that should be addressed to the DFA as well as DOLE, they are the most responsible departments to respond to that.
ALVIN BALTAZAR/RADYO PILIPINAS: Any Palace statement?
SEC. PANELO: Wala pa muna. I’d rather have them say their piece. Sila ang most concerned doon.
VIRGIL LOPEZ/GMA NEWS ONLINE: So sir, background lang doon. Iyong nag-issue ng—basically iyong parang… iyong pag-remove noong working visas – H-2A saka H-2B work visas for one year, the US Department of Homeland Security. Ang reason nila is severe overstaying and human trafficking concerns kaya we were delisted; hindi na tayo puwedeng bigyan noong work visa. So how does Malacañang take this report, sir?
SEC. PANELO: The President, if I remember correctly… when we were with President Xi, he says: “Whatever your laws are, we will never intrude into that, that same way that whatever laws we have, we will enforce it.” So if that is the law in the US and if there were violations, then we have to respect if they have basis for that. We will only react if our workers are being mistreated, maltreated or being discriminated against. And if they violated the laws of the US, then they have to face the music.
VIRGIL LOPEZ/GMA NEWS ONLINE: But on the issue of human trafficking sir, does the Palace share the opinion of the US Department of Homeland Security na—you know, para kasing ang dating the Philippine government is not doing that much to address human trafficking kaya nakakalusot.
SEC. PANELO: Not necessarily. When you say human trafficking, the US government must have conducted investigation on that. If their investigation yields that there was a violation, oh I don’t think puwede tayong makialam doon. What we can do is to do our own controls here para hindi nakakadating doon iyong mga trafficking na nanggagaling sa atin.
ROSALIE COZ/UNTV: Sir, good morning. Sir, nawala po iyong eligibility the Philippines, kasi batay po doon sa report ng US ay between 2015 and 2018 lumala iyong kaso ng overstaying and trafficking. So nagre-reflect ba iyon sa mga programs and priorities ng Duterte administration to have comfortable life for all Filipinos? Kasi iyong period na iyon, 2015 to 2018, so within the first two years of the admin sakop pa rin po noon.
SEC. PANELO: But that’s only a part of the program of giving comfortable lives to the Filipinos. Now with respect to this particular issue, let us wait and let us have the DFA as well as the Ambassador to the US take care of that initially, because that’s their turf.
ROSALIE COZ/UNTV: Pero sir, how do we console Filipinos who are planning to go to US to work and look for a greener pastures dahil may one year ban?
SEC. PANELO: Well, there are many countries, hindi lang naman Amerika ang pinupuntahan ng mga kababayan natin eh. So until such time as they lift that… what we can do is first, we need to know whether there is basis for their decision. If we can see na wala naman, then we will ask for a reconsideration – but that’s the job again as I said of DFA and the US Ambassador.
ROSALIE COZ/UNTV: Sir, nahanay po iyong bansa natin sa Dominican Republic as well as Ethiopia. So is this a cause of concern for the Palace, iyong pagkakaroon ng one year ban na mag-release ng US visa for H-2A and H-2B workers?
SEC. PANELO: Well, anything that will affect our countrymen will always be a concern of the President.
ROSALIE COZ/UNTV: Sir, will the Palace ask for consideration regarding this?
SEC. PANELO: I already responded to that. I said, that will be DFA and the US Ambassador to—Ambassador to the US that will initially tackle that.
ROSALIE COZ/UNTV: Kasi ang report is coming from the US Embassy in Manila.
SEC. PANELO: That’s why… kaya nga with more reason na dapat iyong ating US Ambassador will give us a report. Wala pa kaming natatanggap as far as I know.
ROSALIE COZ/UNTV: So, does this mean ipapatawag ninyo po—
SEC. PANELO: As soon as we receive the report, then we will make a move officially.
ROSALIE COZ/UNTV: Okay, thank you sir.
ARJAY BALINBIN/BUSINESS WORLD: Sir, former DFA Secretary Perfecto Yasay said this morning that huge lobby money was used to keep the 38-billion peso anomalous APO-UGEC partnership.
SEC. PANELO: Well, when somebody makes any allegation, that someone has to show us evidence. Until such time those are mere allegations.
ARJAY BALINBIN/BUSINESS WORLD: He’s a former DFA Secretary?
SEC. PANELO: Even then it doesn’t mean anything; even if he is former President of the Philippines, his statement will have to be backed up by evidence.
ARJAY/BUSINESS WORLD: But will you look into this?
SEC. PANELO: As I said he has to—
ARJAY/BUSINESS WORLD: This is a serious allegation.
SEC. PANELO: He can write us a formal letter and then attach their documents and then we will respond.
ARJAY/BUSINESS WORLD: Is the Palace still in touch with Mr. Yasay?
SEC. PANELO: As far as I know, no. He has not gotten in touch with us.
ARJAY/BUSINESS WORLD: But do you expect him to present any documents?
SEC. PANELO: That should be asked of him not of us.
ARJAY/BUSINESS WORLD: Do you want to urge him to communicate with you on this matter?
SEC. PANELO: That’s for him to decide. We will not preempt whatever he has in mind.
ARJAY/BUSINESS WORLD: But in case, you will be looking into this?
SEC. PANELO: Of course we’re always open to—as I said, this administration always welcomes any information relative to anomaly, scandal, corruption. But you have to tell us officially and with evidence to back up your allegation.
ARJAY/BUSINESS WORLD: Thank you.
JOYCE BALANCIO/DZMM: Sir, have you talked to the President regarding doon sa age of criminality responsibility? Is he in favor of 9 years old?
SEC. PANELO: As I said yesterday he has not made any statement on the age requirement.
JOYCE/DZMM: So you haven’t talked to him yet sir?
SEC. PANELO: No, with respect to that. All he has been saying since the campaign is he wants that lowered. And we will leave that to the lawmakers. I was listening to the Congressman who sponsored the bill Leachon and I think he sufficiently explained why’s… the whys and the wherefores of that bill, he even says there is no… contrary to the misconception that these children with criminal liability will not be imprisoned, they will be rehabilitated. I think the bill is more on… directed against the criminals as well as the parents who allowed their children to be used by criminal syndicates.
TINA MENDEZ/PHIL.STAR: Sir, good morning. So anong possible na middle ground for the Palace and Congress for the age, sir?
SEC. PANELO: Again, the President will not interfere because that’s the lawmakers’ job. We will not question that. Bahala sila; basta gusto ni Presidente, ayaw niya iyong 15 definitely.
TINA/PHIL.STAR: As such sir, will the President certify this measure urgent barely two to three weeks na lang bago mag-recess. Will the President certify this as urgent… this measure?
SEC. PANELO: But the House has already approved it. So Senado na lang, mabilis na iyon.
TINA/PHIL.STAR: It’s now for committee hearings pa lang yata sa Senate.
SEC. PANELO: Sa palagay ko since they are very concerned on that and many senators are expressing either for or against, sa palagay ko they will finish that; then we’ll wait kung anong final.
TINA/PHIL.STAR: We’ll just wait po. Thank you.
TINA/PHIL.STAR: Sir, by February 8 magre-recess na iyong Senate and Congress, magka-campaign mode na ang mga kandidato. What’s the plan of the President? Will he be doing sa mga major political rallies of administration candidates?
SEC. PANELO: He has not bared his campaigning plans or intentions. Most likely he will be telling us here in the Cabinet meeting. Sa ngayon wala pa siyang sinasabi.
TINA/PHIL.STAR: Do we expect him to be present sa mga campaign ads ng mga major political candidates? Right now although mayroon kasi pero hindi pa campaign—
SEC. PANELO: First, he doesn’t have to attend these campaign rallies. You know why? Because from the way I see the schedule, he will be in many provinces attending events and in the process, I’m sure he will be delivering speeches. So either in that speech he will be endorsing someone or whatever. Hindi na kailangan iyong palagi siyang nandiyan eh. There are always opportunities for him to do that eh.
ARJAY BALINBIN/BUSINESS WORLD: Sir, how’s the rice tariffication bill which is on the—
SEC. PANELO: Wala pa akong feedback eh, hindi pa ako sinasagot eh, iyong aking text eh. Baka hindi pa—
ARJAY/BUSINESS WORLD: Business groups yesterday, they urged the Palace to sign the rice tariffication bill so—
SEC. PANELO: But it is still there, the Office of the Executive Secretary has not given me the affirmative response to my question if he does sign.
ARJAY/BUSINESS WORLD: Alright. But it will be signed very soon, right?
SEC. PANELO: Most likely.
ARJAY/BUSINESS WORLD: Okay, thank you.
CHRISTINE AVENDAÑO/PHILIPPINE DAILY INQUIRER: Sir, back doon sa campaigning… the President campaigning for the midterm. But isn’t he like also campaigning now because he would bring some candidates, senatorial candidates in his—
SEC. PANELO: Hindi ko narinig iyong una mong sinabi.
CHRISTINE/PHILIPPINE DAILY INQUIRER: Sir, sorry ha. Sir, isn’t the President also like campaigning right now because there have been at least four events where he would bring some of the senatorial candidates with him, iyong mga barangay summit and he would, you know, let the audience be aware that they are there and he would endorse them. So isn’t he somehow campaigning for them right now?
SEC. PANELO: Number one, the assumption that he brings candidates is incorrect. He doesn’t bring candidates. Those candidates happened to be there. These candidates are very creative, they know the schedule of the President so that they go there and when the President sees them, if they see him or if he sees them… kasi if he doesn’t see them he doesn’t say anything eh. If you notice iyong mga speeches niya dire-diretso, tapos bigla iyang ‘oh.’ Kapag nakita niya then says something good. Ganoon siya eh, so it’s not intentional on his part.
CHRISTINE/PHILIPPINE DAILY INQUIRER: So it’s just that their—
SEC. PANELO: Magagaling lang iyong mga kandidato, marurunong na.
CHRISTINE/PHILIPPINE DAILY INQUIRER: So he did not invite them to these events?
SEC. PANELO: No, he doesn’t do that eh.
CHRISTINE/PHILIPPINE DAILY INQUIRER: Iyong mga barangay summit because you know, ano iyan eh.
SEC. PANELO: No, he doesn’t do that. Iba ang style ni Presidente eh. Si Presidente live and let live. Kung nandiyan ko, okay; kung wala ka okay pa rin. Okay sa kaniya eh, hindi siya ganoon.
CHRISTINE/PHILIPPINE DAILY INQUIRER: So should this candidate stay away from… itong mga ganitong events because… somehow—
SEC. PANELO: Who will stay away, the candidates?
CHRISTINE/PHILIPPINE DAILY INQUIRER: Oo like si…
SEC. PANELO: You cannot stop them, they are citizens of this country. There is no prohibition to be attending functions and events. In fact kung ako ang kandidato ganoon din ang gagawin ko. Eh ‘di siyempre kapag alam kong mayroong lugar na puwede akong mangampanya, pupunta rin ako.
Parang may bago tayong member? Ngayon ko lang itong nakita, iyong isang nakasalamin.
LEI ALVIZ/GMA7: Hi sir, Lei Alviz po, GMA. Sir, may update na po ba doon sa Lifetime Cellphone Number Act?
SEC. PANELO: Ano iyon? Parang ngayon ko lang narinig iyon ah. Ano ba iyon? What is that all about? Lifetime Cellphone Act?
LEI ALVIZ/GMA7: Opo. Kahit nagpalit ka ng service provider, you get to keep your cellphone number.
SEC. PANELO: Hindi pa. I’ll have to ask, check on that. Parang hindi ko alam iyon – Lifetime Cellphone Act. Nag-pass na ba iyon sa Kongreso?
LEI ALVIZ/GMA7: Opo.
SEC. PANELO: Senado, hindi pa?
LEI ALVIZ/GMA7: House and Senate.
SEC. PANELO: House and Senate. I’ll check on that, sige.
DANIEL MANALASTAS/PTV: Sir, for the record: Gaano po ka-confident iyong Palace na lulusot po iyong BOL after po ng plebiscite kahapon?
SEC. PANELO: I understand, from what I gathered, the initial unofficial tally indicates that majority of ‘yes’ have been cast in favor of BOL. And moreover, there was a survey conducted by the SWS saying that 79% of the Muslim population favors the passage of that law. So apparently, itong mga initial tally is validating that survey.
VIRGIL LOPEZ/GMA NEWS ONLINE: Sir, may feedback from the President regarding his assessment of the first day ng plebiscite? Did he say anything?
SEC. PANELO: Wala. I haven’t seen him. I haven’t talked to him. But siyempre, if the initial tally indicates the passage, then he would be pleased.
ARJAY BALINBIN/BUSINESS WORLD: Sir, gaano ka-confident ang Palasyo that the Duterte-allied senatorial candidates will have ano, magandang laban this coming midterm elections?
SEC. PANELO: Who are the Duterte senatorial candidates? Wala pa yatang official—
ARJAY BALINBIN/BUSINESS WORLD: Allied, allied, I mean.
SEC. PANELO: Iyong mga ano?
ARJAY BALINBIN/BUSINESS WORLD: Duterte-allied senatorial candidates.
SEC. PANELO: Well, if these candidates present themselves to the electorate, and the electorate respond affirmatively, oh di mananalo sila. Otherwise—hindi natin malalaman eh. You know how …
ARJAY BALINBIN/BUSINESS WORLD: Some observers said that this can be a referendum on President Duterte?
SEC. PANELO: Iyon ang sinasabi nila. But to me, kahit na mayroong manalong oposisyon, the message is, this President has the approval of an overwhelming majority of Filipinos. Kung pinanalo kita, ibig sabihin ng electorates, suportahan mo iyan; hindi para kontrahin mo siya dahil approve nga namin ang performance niya eh. So we’re voting for you to help him and not to destroy or to attack or to make a monkey wrench of his program. Iyan ang magiging message at hindi dahil pinanalo mo iyong isang oposisyon dahil kontra ka, otherwise, hindi consistent ‘di ba?
The logic will be, if you’re voted into office given the overwhelming mandate of this President, then the mandate for you is to cooperate with this President dahil gusto namin ang kaniyang ginagawa.
ARJAY BALINBIN/BUSINESS WORLD: So anytime soon, we expect the President to endorse any of these guys?
SEC. PANELO: Again, as I said, ang style ni Presidente, hindi naman siya … kapag nakita ka niya at gusto ka niya, he will endorse you. Kapag hindi ka niya gusto, kahit makita ka niya, he will keep quiet. ‘Di ba, iyon ang style ni Presidente.
CHONA YU/RADYO INQUIRER: Hi, sir. Sir, nakausap na po ba ni Presidente iyong kaniyang Cabinet about his plan to talk peace with MNLF Chairman Nur Misuari? Kasi sabi niya he will talk to Nur after the plebiscite of BOL.
SEC. PANELO: No, the Cabinet has not met yet. Sa Feb. 4 ba o Feb. 6 pa kami eh. After that announcement, wala pa siyang sinabi ulit. But matagal na niyang sinasabi iyon, that he wants to talk to Nur. During Cabinet meetings, sinasabi niya iyon.
CHONA YU/RADYO INQUIRER: Sir, can you give us a … kahit hindsight man lang kung ano iyong i-o-offer niya kay Misuari?
SEC. PANELO: Wala siyang io-offer. Gusto niyang marinig kung anong magiging stand ni Chairman Misuari. Kasi right now—kasi noon ang feedback, he was against it. But apparently, he was non-committal on this particular plebiscite; wala siyang sinabing pabor o kontra eh. Ang alam lang namin, because nakausap ko siyang personal, he is for federalism. Iyon ang alam ko.
BERNADETTE NICOLAS/BUSINESS MIRROR: Hi, sir. You said that the candidates just happened to be there po, doon sa mga presidential events, si—
SEC. PANELO: Didn’t happens to be there; they went there on their own. They really went there. They always go—siguro nagtatanong, “Saan si Presidente ngayon?”
BERNADETTE NICOLAS/BUSINESS MIRROR: Yeah. So kumbaga parang hindi naman intentionally talaga na magkikita sila sa isang event, parang ganoon, sir?
SEC. PANELO: Oo.
BERNADETTE NICOLAS/BUSINESS MIRROR: So how will you reconcile this statement, sir, sa fact po na nangangampanya po si Presidente po para sa kanila?
SEC. PANELO: ‘Di ba sinabi ko na nga, kapag nakita ka niya at gusto ka niya, he will endorse you. But even if he sees you, if he doesn’t like you—mayroong mga kandidato roon, hindi ko na sasabihin kung sino, nakita niya naman doon, bakit hindi siya umiimik. Ibig sabihin, hindi niya type.
BERNADETTE NICOLAS/BUSINESS MIRROR: Okay, sir. So ibig sabihin, sir, hindi talaga plinano ni Presidente iyong pangangampaniya doon sa mga kandidato na iyon during the Presidential event?
SEC. PANELO: Oh definitely. He doesn’t do that. This President doesn’t do that.
BERNADETTE NICOLAS/BUSINESS MIRROR: Okay. Okay, sir.
SEC. PANELO: Very spontaneous ang Presidenteng ito.
ALVIN BALTAZAR/RADYO PILIPINAS: Secretary, would you know kung sinu-sino iyong mga candidates na humihingi ng endorsement ni Pangulo?
SEC. PANELO: Wala akong alam na humihingi ng endorsement. Wala pa akong narinig eh sa harap ko. Hindi ko alam. Siguro iyong iba nagpaparamdam, ‘Sir,…’
ALVIN BALTAZAR/RADYO PILIPINAS: Sir, iyong mga nagpaparamdam na lang?
SEC. PANELO: Siyempre, from the way they’re … their body language eh si Christopher “Bong” Go. Siyempre gusto niyang magpa-endorse. Iyong palaging nababanggit niyang mga pangalan, siyempre gusto noon.
Q: [OFF MIC]
SEC. PANELO: Ha?
Q: [OFF MIC]
SEC. PANELO: Kahit pa. Hindi porke’t na-endorse ka ngayon eh … pangalawa, hindi ka lang binanggit, ibig sabihin eh nakalimutan …
Q: [OFF MIC]
SEC. PANELO: Hindi, hindi rin eh. Like sa Cotabato, wala naman siyang binanggit, nandoon naman iyong isang kandidato.
Q: [OFF MIC]
SEC. PANELO: Ah hindi. You can’t stop the President for saying something about a particular person. But I saw the candidate there, he didn’t mention anything.
ALVIN BALTAZAR/RADYO PILIPINAS: Pero, Sec., observation din na mayroon din namang mga alam nating tatakbo pero—
SEC. PANELO: Dapat na ano?
ALVIN BALTAZAR/RADYO PILIPINAS: Mayroon din namang mga tumatakbo at tatakbo—
SEC. PANELO: Hindi niya binabanggit.
ALVIN BALTAZAR/RADYO PILIPINAS: Nandoon sa event, pero hindi niya nababanggit.
SEC. PANELO: Exactly, iyon na nga ang sinasabi ko. This President, if he doesn’t want you or hindi niya type na banggitin ang pangalan mo, hindi niya ginagawa.
ARJAY BALINBIN/BUSINESS WORLD: Sir, you don’t see anything wrong with President Duterte endorsing candidates?
SEC. PANELO: No.
ARJAY BALINBIN/BUSINESS WORLD: Why?
SEC. PANELO: Is there a violation? No. Comelec na nga ang nagsabi there’s no violation nang pag-endorse. Wala namang masama sa pag-endorse. At saka, sinasabi niya lang naman ang qualities nitong mamang ito. Gusto ninyo eh di …kung ayaw ninyo naman, ‘di ba sabi niya, “kung ayaw ninyo, di huwag.”
ARJAY BALINBIN/BUSINESS WORLD: Even if it’s done on national television, like a government television?
SEC. PANELO: Yeah, even then.
ARJAY BALINBIN/BUSINESS WORLD: Government media.
SEC. PANELO: Walang masama doon. All Presidents do that. Mas grabe pa nga iyong—ito nga, ibang klase ito dahil he doesn’t—
ARJAY BALINBIN/BUSINESS WORLD: And there’s nothing wrong with that, sir?
SEC. PANELO: There’s nothing wrong with endorsing or praising someone who is running for the Senate.
USEC. IGNACIO: Okay. Thank you, MPC. Wala nang question? Okay. Thank you, Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo.
SEC. PANELO: Thank you.
Source: PCOO-NIB (News and Information Bureau-Data Processing Center)