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. IGNACIO:  Good morning, Malacañang Press Corps. Happy Monday. Let’s now have Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo. Good morning, sir.

SEC. PANELO:  Good morning. First, I’d like to acknowledge receipt of expressions, of sympathies, condolences and support from many countries of the world in relation to the tragic bombing that caused the lives and injuries to many people, particularly those that I have read from Australia, Canada and Ambassador Daniel Pruce of the Great Britain. And we would like to express our thanks  also to our  Pope, expressing also his sympathy to us.

And I’d like to congratulate another laurel to the Philippines, Miss Karen Gallman for winning   the Miss Intercontinental. I’m ready for your questions, ladies and gentlemen.

PIA GUTIERREZ/ABS-CBN:  Sir, ano ang reaksiyon ni President Duterte doon sa pagsabog sa Jolo, Sulu and ano po iyong mga directives niya?

SEC. PANELO:  Well, of course, he was so angry for one.  For another, he is so disappointed that despite the movement to thread the path towards peace and development, there are still certain forces in that region who sowed terror and killed and murdered people.

He has issued directive to the Armed Forces of the Philippines to secure the safety of the citizenry, and to attend to the injured and to provide succor to the families of the victims. He will be going there, I understand, 2 P.M. today – between noon and 2 P.M.

PIA GUTIERREZ/ABS-CBN:  So, aside from inspecting the blast site, ano po ang planong gawin in President Duterte doon?

SEC. PANELO:   Well, he has already ordered the AFP to undertake measures so that this incident will not happen again.

PIA GUTIERREZ/ABS-CBN:  May mga initial suspicions po si President Duterte? Does he feel that this has anything to do with the BOL?

SEC. PANELO:   No, he will wait for the investigation. Of course, one Islamic State is claiming responsibility. I read it in one of the briefers, that one terrorist group is claiming responsibility for that. But we have to await for the investigation – who’s behind it and what group or individuals.

PIA GUTIERREZ/ABS-CBN:  Sir, itong pagsabog na ito happened during martial law in Mindanao. What does it say about the effectivity of martial law in Mindanao?

SEC. PANELO: Well, they are saying that martial law, despite martial law, there has been bombing and therefore martial law should be lifted.  With more reason, martial law should be in place because  if you can do that under  a martial  law regime, then the  more reason you should  maintain it and be more strict in the implementation of  security measures in that area.

PIA GUTIERREZ/ABS-CBN:  The Palace still thinks that martial law is still effective in Mindanao, sir?

SEC. PANELO:  It’s effective but this incident is isolated, by the way. So, we will have to investigate how it happened. There may be some lapses in security, how they were able to put there—is that a motorcycle with a bomb—despite the fact that there were soldiers securing the place.

PIA GUTIERREZ/ABS-CBN:  Ganoon din po ba iyong tingin ni President Duterte that there were lapses in security?

SEC. PANELO:  Well, there is no other conclusion to reach.  If you have security there and there is one or two bombs being placed inside, then there must be a lapse in security. There is no other reasonable conclusion.

PIA GUTIERREZ/ABS-CBN: Last na lang, sir, iyong sa timing din, sir, noong pagbomba. Bukas kasi, sir, oral arguments na ng martial law. Considering the timing, do you think that this has anything to do with it?

SEC. PANELO: No. As I said, we have to wait for the investigation. We can only speculate. And there have been many speculations, we’d rather not.

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: Sir, you mentioned that there’s no other conclusion but to say that there was a lapse in security. So therefore?

SEC. PANELO: Then you should be more strict in your security measure. Like that motorcycle, if you inspected that motorcycle before it got into that area, then there would have been no bombing.

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: Any accountability in security forces, sir?

SEC. PANELO: Come again?

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: Should there be any accountability on our security forces?

SEC. PANELO: We will have to investigate. Mine is just a reasonable conclusion derived from the circumstances surrounding the bombing.

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: Sir, additional to the martial law point ‘no, in December, the President transferred the whole division of soldiers to Jolo. Remember?


JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: He activated the 11th Infantry Division. Why do we still have this bombing if there are forces, there are more forces now in Jolo?

SEC. PANELO: You know, just like the President of the United States, with all the security, a president can be assassinated. You cannot certainly stop everything that the enemy will give you. We can only learn from lessons and then introduce more stringent steps to prevent the occurrence of another bombing.

REYMUND TINAZA/BOMBO RADYO: Sir, considering that Sulu is a Nur Misuari-country, so you do not believe that the MNLF or the group of Nur Misuari is not involved in this attack?

SEC. PANELO: As I said, we cannot enter into the realm of speculation. It could be unfair and not good to be speculating. I know that Nur Misuari wants federalism better than be well, but he didn’t oppose it actively. In fact, he was non-committal with respect to the plebiscite. 

REYMUND TINAZA/BOMBO RADYO: Is there any plan for the President to talk to Nur Misuari after this incident to clarify things and to move on with the supposed plan of the President to negotiate with his group?

SEC. PANELO: He has said so himself. Remember, he wanted to talk to the Chairman of the MNLF.

ALVIN BALTAZAR/RADYO PILIPINAS: Sir, nabanggit po ba ni Presidente kung ikinu-consider niyang maglabas ng reward money for the immediate solution ng kaso?

SEC. PANELO: I didn’t hear about that. I’ll check with him.

ACE ROMERO/PHIL STAR: Secretary, we got document showing that the President reappointed Usec. Maglunsod, Joel Maglunsod.

SEC. PANELO: Who is he ba?

ACE ROMERO/PHIL STAR: Former labor Undersecretary that the President fired.

SEC. PANELO: He has reappointed to where? The same post?

ACE ROMERO/PHIL STAR: Some unit under the DOLE, Executive Director III, National Maritime Polytechnic. DOLE pa rin naman, pero ibang unit tapos executive director na hindi na usec.

SEC. PANELO: Is the document—

ACE ROMERO/PHIL STAR: Joel Bucad Maglunsod. Document from your office.

SEC. PANELO: Is that document spurious?

ACE ROMERO/PHIL. STAR: Galing sa inyo eh.

SEC. PANELO: Sa amin? Which sa amin, in my office or OP?

ACE ROMERO/PHIL. STAR:  Yes, binigay sa inyo. Galing po sa inyo.

SEC. PANELO:  We’ll check why—because the next question is why …

ACE ROMERO/PHIL. STAR:  Yes, definitely.

SEC. PANELO:  Then, I’ll check with the President.

ACE ROMERO/PHIL. STAR:  Kasi ‘di ba parang recently inaway din niya ito, parang binanatan niya sa speech niya dati ito ‘di ba?

SEC. PANELO:  Sige, I’ll check with him.

JOYCE BALANCIO/DZMM:  Sir, si former BOC Chief Isidro Lapeña was charged by NBI sa  DOJ  ng graft and admin charges. Is he still enjoying the trust and confidence of the President?

SEC. PANELO:   Yes, yes, he remains constitutionally presumed to be innocent.

JOYCE BALANCIO/DZMM:  Why is the President trusting too much kay Lapeña despite findings ng mismong agencies ng government na he could be liable probably for graft and other charges?

SEC. PANELO: Because he knows him personally. He has worked with him, and he trust him.

JOYCE BALANCIO/DZMM:  So with that, sir, is the President confident that these charges will be dropped?

SEC. PANELO: It’s for the courts to decide whether the charges are substantiated by proof beyond a reasonable doubt.

JOYCE BALANCIO/DZMM: But are you confident, sir, na eventually he will be absolved of the charges given na the President believes—

SEC. PANELO:   Well, as far as the President is concerned, he trusts him. But if the evidence proved otherwise, then it will be a different story.

JOYCE BALANCIO/DZMM:  So wala naman, sir, any plans si President to remove him from his current post? He still believes that he is still competent to hold a position?

SEC. PANELO:  None that I know of. 

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: Were you able to talk to the President na about the Jolo bombing?

SEC. PANELO:  Not yet, not yet.

 JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: Ah not yet. 

SEC. PANELO:  Hopefully, today.

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7:  But you said that the President was angry.

SEC. PANELO:  Oh yeah, because somebody told me. Somebody told me he talked to him. You know, you don’t even have to ask why he is angry; everybody is angry now for that bombing.

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7:  You know, maybe a stronger term than angry? Maybe, ballistic about this.

SEC. PANELO:  What do you want? He’s outraged. 

ARJAY BALINBIN/BUSINESS WORLD:  Sir, how are we supposed to judge whether martial law is Mindanao is effective or not?

SEC. PANELO: The fact alone that there is only one incident of bombing for the last … how many, one year plus?  That means martial is effective. Can you imagine how many bombings there would have been if there was no martial law there in operation? 

ARJAY BALINBIN/BUSINESS WORLD:  Just this month, sir, it’s not just one. 

SEC. PANELO:  One or two? That’s little, considering the— 

ARJAY BALINBIN/BUSINESS WORLD:  That’s little? That’s little, sir? Two bombings in one month, that’s little to you?

SEC. PANELO: No, that’s still, to my mind, if there was no martial law there, then there would have been chaos and anarchy there. You see how they were able to get Marawi? There was no martial law then.

ARJAY BALINBIN/BUSINESS WORLD:  So you’re saying the Palace is not disappointed with how the AFP is handling martial law or enforcing martial law in Mindanao?

SEC. PANELO:  No, but there should be some investigation as how it happened so that  preventive measures  can be undertaken.  

REYMUND TINAZA/BOMBO RADYO: Sir, today nag-start na iyong Bicameral Conference Committee deliberations. So what are your prospects? At saka willing ba kayo iyong—kasi ang problema na lamang ay iyong 75 billion alleged insertions, so willing ba kayo na i-scrap na lang iyon  para maipasa na rin iyong 2019 budget, if ever?

SEC. PANELO:  I don’t think that was scrapped. From what I gather from Senator Lacson, that was redistributed to certain departments. So, it’s still there.

REYMUND TINAZA/BOMBO RADYO:  So pinaghati-hatian na lang iyong 75?

SEC. PANELO:  Well, that’s the job of the Congress – to review, to amend, to restructure whatever.

REYMUND TINAZA/BOMBO RADYO:  So you expect this week, okay na?

SEC. PANELO:  I think so.

HENRY URI/DZRH: Secretary, balikan ko lang iyong bombing. Well, nag-isyu na kayo ng statement. Pero kung may nanunood na mastermind, involved sa bombing, as the Spokesperson of the President, paano ninyo sila gustong kausapin? Straight to their eye, kung nanunonood sila ngayon.

SEC. PANELO: Well, we already said, the law will not give them mercy. We will pursue them to the ends of the earth, until every killer is placed behind bars.

HENRY URI/DZRH: Ano pa iyong pinaka?

SEC. PANELO: Iyon na nga, the AFP will crush them.

HENRY URI/DZRH: Iyon na ang pinakamatinding gusto ninyong sabihin sa kanila?

SEC. PANELO: Yes, yes. And no amount of terrorism can stop the journey to peace and development in that region.

CHONA YU/RADYO INQUIRER: Sir, based po sa information na natatanggap ng Malacañang, sino po ba ang behind the bombing? Kasi according to the Philippine National Police, it’s the Abu Sayyaf Group, while the ISIS is claiming that they are the ones who are responsible for the bombing.

SEC. PANELO: I will repeat what I said, we’re still awaiting for the investigation. We cannot be indulging in speculation. We will wait for the final submission of the report of those who are investigating the incident.

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: Sir, for sound bite purposes lang for later. Iyong message to the families of the victims.

SEC. PANELO: Yes, we condole, we express our sincerest and heartfelt sympathies to the families of the victims. And we will do everything possible to give justice to those who have perished. And all government agencies have been directed to attend to the families. Meanwhile, we’ll pray for the eternal repose to the souls of those who are killed, even as we attend to the injured.

ARJAY BALINBIN/BUSINESS WORLD: Sir, how is the intel fund of the government?

SEC. PANELO: How is the what?

ARJAY BALINBIN/BUSINESS WORLD: The intelligence fund of the government being used in relation to monitoring terrorism in the country?

SEC. PANELO: I suppose they’re doing it correctly. We’ll have to ask the Secretary of national Defense on that.

ARJAY BALINBIN/BUSINESS WORLD: We did not see this coming?

SEC. PANELO: Come again?

ARJAY BALINBIN/BUSINESS WORLD: This bombing in Sulu, they did not anticipate this? They did not have any clue that this would happen?

SEC. PANELO: As I said, even in the United States, the most powerful country in the world, where the President is secured, but the President was assassinated; they didn’t see it coming. So this happens once in a while.


SEC. PANELO: Oo, mayroon pa, iyong sa rin. Subsequent to that, si Reagan

JOYCE BALANCIO/DZMM: Sir, sa interview po sa DZMM, sinabi po ni PAO Chief Persida Acosta that DOH Secretary Duque is bribing Dengvaxia victims to drop charges against government officials.

SEC. PANELO: That’s a serious charge. She should substantiate that.

JOYCE BALANCIO/DZMM: Is the Palace going to investigate this issue?

SEC. PANELO: We’ll leave it to her, to file the appropriate charges if there is such a case.

JOYCE BALANCIO/DZMM: But hindi po kayo magmu-motu propio investigation against a Cabinet member?


JOYCE BALANCIO/DZMM: Accuse of bribing.

SEC. PANELO: We’ll have to wait. That is just an allegation so we cannot just be poking into every allegation of every person or citizen of this country. If they have evidence against particular public official, then sue them and let due process run its course.

USEC. IGNACIO: Thank you, Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo.

SEC. PANELO: Thank you.


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