Press Briefing

Press Briefing of Presidential Spokesperson and Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Secretary Salvador Panelo

Event Press Briefing
Location New Executive Bldg., Malacanang

USEC. IGNACIO:  Good morning Malacañang Press Corps and welcome po sa regular press briefing ni Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo. Good morning, sir.

SEC. PANELO:  Good morning members of the national—National? Malacañang Press Corps, magiging national na kayo. Anyway, the Palace wishes to announce the following appointments. Inaantay ni Joseph eh.

Mr. Noel Quinazo Felongco is the lead convenor of the National Anti-Poverty Commission and also the appointment of Mr. Alvin San Juan Feleciano as Chairperson of the Presidential Commission for the Urban Poor. Both appointments were signed by the President last October 31. We will provide you with the appointments after this briefing.

CELERINA MONTE/MANILA SHIMBUN:  Sir, regarding these new appointees. May we know the background of Mr. Felongco and Mr. Feleciano?

SEC. PANELO:  I have no personal knowledge of the background of these two. We will provide you with the details.

ROSE NOVENARIO/HATAW:  Good morning, sir. Sir, ano po iyong update doon sa 6.8 billion shabu shipment sa Customs? Ano po iyong update sa investigation at ano na rin po iyong nangyari doon sa investigation doon sa 6.4 billion shabu rin po sa Customs?

SEC. PANELO:  The investigation is ongoing. We have yet to receive the findings and report coming from the investigators.

ROSE NOVENARIO/HATAW:  Wala pa sir ano, maliban po doon kay Commissioner Guerrero, wala pa pong ibang movement po doon sa—

SEC. PANELO:  The movement is that the Secretary of Finance and the newly designated BOC Commissioner met last Wednesday; and the marching orders of Secretary Dominguez to BOC Commissioner Guerrero was to rid the BOC of corruption and get a monthly revenue collection of 55 billion pesos a month as their target.

MARICE HALILI/TV5:  Hi sir, good morning. Sir, what do you think of the proposal to privatize Bureau of Customs?

SEC. PANELO:   Personally, I have no thought about it and the President has not made any comment on that. There will be a Cabinet meeting tonight or at 4:45 pm today. Hopefully, I’ll hear something about it and we’ll report to you.

MARICE HALILI/TV5: Because Senate President Tito Sotto, I believed said that he is willing to draft the bill if there is a need for a further study of the proposal. Do you think this is a good idea, sir?

SEC. PANELO:  Well, Senator Sotto thinks it’s a good idea and that’s the function of Congress to introduce bills into laws, make it into laws. Let’s see.

MARICE HALILI/TV5:  To privatize the Customs instead of military control?

SEC. PANELO:   That’s his idea, let see the pros and cons of that idea.

MARICE HALILI/TV5:  How about, sir, the proposal of Vice President Leni Robredo na  mag-implement na lang ng automation making the Bureau of Customs computerized to lessen the human interaction, para ma-limit din iyong corruption in the agency.

SEC. PANELO:   BOC Commissioner Guerrero is on top of the situation and he will undertake all measures geared towards the elimination of corruption in the bureau as well as getting the desired collection as directed by Secretary Dominguez.  

MARICEL HALILI/TV5:  Sir, so iyong issue on privatization of Bureau of Customs, will this be discussed during the Cabinet this afternoon?

SEC. PANELO:  Well, it’s not part of the agenda. If somebody raised it up.

INA ANDOLONG/CNN. PHILS:  Sir, can you tell us more about the lecture of the President later about illegal drugs, it’s in his schedule. Who is he going to speak to?

SEC. PANELO:  I think somebody will discuss it. We had—during the National Security meeting at Lapu-Lapu, there were military men who gave us a briefing. I think that will be a repeat for other members of the Cabinet to listen to the same.

INA ANDOLONG/CNN. PHILS:  So, it’s not the President who will be conducting the lecture, because the scheduled given to us says, PRRD’s lecture. So, it’s gonna be him?

SEC. PANELO:  Perhaps he would be making comment and annotations while the briefing is going on.

INA ANDOLONG/CNN. PHILS:  And sir, why does the President or Malacañang see the need to conduct a lecture to members of the Cabinet now?

SEC. PANELO:  Of course, we feel that national security matter is very important other than the usual concerns of the state and members of the Cabinet have to know.

INA ANDOLONG/CNN. PHILS:  Does it have anything to do perhaps with the continuous… apparent continuous entry of illegal drugs despite government efforts to curb them since day one of the Duterte administration?

SEC. PANELO:  It concerns national security so it embraces everything that is connected with it.

TINA BALANCIO/DZMM:  Sir, iyong discussions on shabu, illegal drugs and it being concern of national security. Do you think it will be considered also in the talks on possible extension of martial law or expanding it from Mindanao to nationwide?

SEC. PANELO:  Well, as the President said, the—whether or not, there will be lifting or extension of martial law will depend on recommendation of the Armed Forces of the Philippines they being on the ground.

TNA BALANCIO/DZMM:  Sir, kasi earlier di ba may basis din na… iyong Executive Order.

SEC. PANELO:  Of course all things will be considered.

TNA BALANCIO/DZMM:  So, is this part of the lawless violence or argument of Malacañang—

SEC. PANELO:  All factors that will contribute to the decision of lifting or extending martial law will be considered. 

PIA GUTIERREZ/ABS-CBN:  Sir, inflation remained at 6.7% this month. Do you think that this reflects the efforts of the government to temper inflation?

SEC. PANELO:  I think so, considering the directives of the President supplying us with food and other measures undertaken by the Department of Finance as well as Agriculture and Trade, I think that contributes.

PIA GUTIERREZ/ABS-CBN:  Sir, does the Palace foresee inflation slowing down in the next few months?

SEC. PANELO:  Hopefully—it depends, it depends on the global conditions.

CELERINA MONTE/MLA SHIMBUN:  Sir, do you think the increase of this transport fare could somehow affect the inflation in the coming months, tataas na naman; and there’s this proposal by the commuters group na to defer muna iyong pag-increase?

SEC. PANELO:  Let me see, the wage board has considered that.

CELERINA MONTE/MLA SHIMBUN:  No, not the wage, the fare.

SEC. PANELO:  Ah, the fare. Well, our suggestion at that time was for them to go to LTFRB and ask that agency to reconsider. I don’t know if they have done that. But they should, if they really feel that the increase in fare is too much for them.

CELERINA MONTE/MLA SHIMBUN:  So, Malacañang supports that call by the commuters group to—

SEC. PANELO:  We are encouraging them to use that avenue to settle whatever differences they have. 

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7:  Sir, just a little bit on the inflation, I’ll just go back. It’s the same level ‘no, 6.7 and then 6.7 again. Is this a good or a bad thing?

SEC. PANELO:  It depends on who look at it—

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7:  From the government’s side sir, from the government’s perspective, 6.7—

SEC. PANELO:  Of course, the government hopes that it will not go up and hopefully it should go down. 

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7:  Uhum… And just to repeat the points before, what are we doing to at least… then if not lower, maybe maintain the inflation rate? 

SEC. PANELO:  Well the same measures being undertaken by Department of Finance and the Department of Trade as well as the agriculture sector. You must remember that we flooded the market with food supply – that’s one. And then the Department of Finance said that they will be reducing the expenditure of the government among others.

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7:  He was talking about the SRPs of basic commodities, alright sir. Just a little bit, sir, on the lecture of the President ‘cause it’s kind of interesting ‘no. It was advised to us that the President will lecture on… aside from the drug problem, also militarization. So, is he in effect kind of defending his choice of military men to head some government agencies?

SEC. PANELO:  He has been doing that all along. He has been making comments in giving rationale to his appointment to these military officers who have retired.

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7:  Uhum… But now, the audience is… I’m assuming it’s going to be the Cabinet ‘no?

SEC. PANELO:  Yes.

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7:  Why the need to talk to the Cabinet?

SEC. PANELO:  Because not all the members of the Cabinet know the rationale behind.

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7:  Meaning, are there kind of misgivings from other—

SEC. PANELO:  Oh, definitely no. It’s more of information to them so that they will know how to explain when they are asked and in their particular departments by reporters like you, Joseph.

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7:  Anyway sir… but to just stress the point, of course the President can better elaborate on it. But from your perspective sir, why again are we preferring military men to head agencies and have they been proven to be effective? Because—well si Lapeña and then before him it was Faeldon; basically just rotating doon sa Customs. ‘Cause apparently, do you think it’s effective to place military men in these key positions?

SEC. PANELO:  I think so, because of their military discipline. The culture of the military men are different from the civilians. They follow orders, they talk less and argue less… they just work. And they’re always on the go.

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7:  Okay…

INA ANDOLONG/CNN PHILIPPINES:  But, the President himself has said na nalusutan pa rin po iyong dalawang earlier appointees niya doon sa BOC.

SEC. PANELO:  Well yes, but it doesn’t mean that when nakalusot ka once ay makakalusot ka forever.

INA ANDOLONG/CNN PHILIPPINES:  But definitely, it was reason for the President to replace them and then now he’s appointing someone with a similar background. Isn’t the President just… you know, he’s doing the same thing.

SEC. PANELO:  Not necessarily, because you learn from lessons, from mistakes. So hopefully, Commissioner Guerrero would learn from the lessons or the mistakes by the previous administration of that department has committed or has omitted.

ROCKY IGNACIO/PTV4:  Sir, may tanong si Pia Rañada: “PRRD denies Michael Yang is his Presidential Economic Adviser.” Ba’t daw iyong contract released by Malacañang Records Office show he is Economic Adviser to the President. “Did PRRD lie?

SEC. PANELO:  No. Michael Yang is just one of those advisers that the President consults on a particular matter. But he just receives one peso a year.

ROCKY IGNACIO/PTV4:  Okay. Second question niya: “What technical…” May follow up ka? 

CELERINA MONTE/MANILA SHIMBUN:  So sir, mayroong appointment paper—even if it’s just one peso a year, is there an appointment paper of Mr. Yang?

SEC. PANELO:  It appears from the documents that I saw, signed by Secretary Guevarra and Secretary Medialdea.

CELERINA MONTE/MANILA SHIMBUN:  When was the appointment made? Kasi before the President said that he could not be an appointee because he’s a Chinese, he’s a foreigner.

SEC. PANELO:  Oh it’s allowed, if it’s only a consultant.

CELERINA MONTE/MANILA SHIMBUN:  So apparently, the President was not aware that he signed the appointment paper of Mr. Yang?

SEC. PANELO:  It was not he who signed, it’s Secretary Guevarra and Secretary Medialdea.

CELERINA MONTE/MANILA SHIMBUN:  But, without the knowledge of the President.

SEC. PANELO:  Of course it’s with his knowledge.

CELERINA MONTE/MANILA SHIMBUN:  So he forgot, the President forgot…

SEC. PANELO:  No, what he was saying because apparently the implication is he could not… he could not appoint as a consultant this particular person – that is what he was saying.

CELERINA MONTE/MANILA SHIMBUN:  So you are not confirming that Mr. Yang is really a consultant of the President?

SEC. PANELO:  Yeah, one of the consultants of the President. He consults him every now and then. You know Mr. Yang is a wealthy man; he has rose from poor origins to being a wealthy man. And he has a technical know-how how to run a business, and also because he is Chinese, he knows a lot of people in the Chinese government – and he knows the psychology of Chinese. On that aspect, the President needs people like him.

ROCKY IGNACIO/PTV4:  So iyong second question ni Pia: “What technical services or expertise does Michael Yang provide to the Palace that no Filipino consultant can provide?

SEC. PANELO:  I think that’s between the President and the economic adviser. You cannot be revealing those things.

ROCKY IGNACIO/PTV4:  “What type of sensitive information is Yang able to access given this role? Does the Palace have a screening system for information Yang is able to access?

SEC. PANELO:  The same response…

ROCKY IGNACIO/PTV4:  Okay. Last question niya: “How can the Palace assure Filipinos that Yang is not using his role to influence Philippine policies especially since PRRD promises an independent foreign policy?

SEC. PANELO:  One, economic adviser cannot create policy. It’s the President who creates policies.

JULIE AURELIO/PDI: Follow up, sir, kay Mr. Yang. Sir, was there been any instance in which Mr. Yang’s service has benefited the Philippine government?

SEC. PANELO: That’s between him and the President.

JULIE AURELIO/PDI: Are you not aware of any circumstance?

SEC. PANELO: I will ask the President tonight.

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: Sir, you mentioned you’ve also seen documents ‘no, kontrata ni Michael Yang?

SEC. PANELO: No, I’ve seen it from the report of Rappler.

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: But not personal from Malacañang?

SEC. PANELO: No, I’ve not seen them.

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7:  But you will confirm that there was an appointment, yes?

SEC. PANELO: It appears. I think the better persons to respond to that are those who signed the appointment papers; they have personal knowledge.

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: But there was a press conference with the President when he said that he could not. Clarification lang: He could not contract Michael Yang as, say, economic adviser because he was Chinese ‘no. And then we have these documents saying—

SEC. PANELO: I have to see the transcript, in what context he was responding to a question.

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: I can tell you, sir, the context. We were there and we asked—

SEC. PANELO: I need the transcript. I need the transcript of those before I can …

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: But we can remember what happened during the press conference.

SEC. PANELO: Memory is the most treacherous thing in the world.

BERNADETTE NICOLAS/BUSINESS MIRROR: Sir, sa inflation lang po. Does the government still see the need to roll out other measures to further ease price pressures given the study October inflation figure or are we satisfied with the current government measures, sir?

SEC. PANELO: Well, apparently, the measure undertaken by the government has affected the inflation rates. So we will maintain that.

BERNADETTE NICOLAS/BUSINESS MIRROR: Sir, last na. So good news po iyong October inflation figure po at 6.7%?

SEC. PANELO: Well, the fact that it did not go up should be a good news. Sometimes it’s even going to 6.1 average.

CHONA YU/RADIO INQUIRER: Sir, kagabi po the President endorsed the candidacy of Freddie Aguilar eh dinis-own na siya ng PDP Laban. Does it mean that the President will endorse candidates who are not from his own political party?

SEC. PANELO: From what I know, the PDP Laban has not yet released a complete line up. So given that, the President certainly has the right to endorse someone he feels should be endorsed.

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: Sir, you were asking for a transcript. We can read the transcript.

SEC. PANELO: Can I see that?

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7:  Yes, sir.

SEC. PANELO: I’ll read it myself.

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7:  I think it was Henry. You asked this question during the press conference.

SEC. PANELO: Patingin nga. Can I see, can I see?

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: Okay. So we’re very quick to provide you.

HENRY URI/DZRH: Actually, Secretary Panelo, I was the one who asked the question during the press conference; kung si Michael Yang ba ay in-appoint niya na economic adviser. And I think he has the answers there. Anyway—

SEC. PANELO: The question is: Sir, may mga kumakalat din na balita na si Ginoong Michael Yang ay Presidential Adviser on Economic Affairs. Can you clarify or confirm that? Sabi niya, “No, it’s not that.” ‘It.’ So hindi naman pala sinabi niyang … so malabo iyong  … it’s vague. The answer was vague; it’s not either no or yes. Parang may ini-explain siya eh.

Q: [OFF MIC]

SEC. PANELO: Which baba?

Q: [OFF MIC]

SEC. PANELO: Nasaan iyon? Wala rito. Paano ba ito? Where? Where?

Q: [OFF MIC]

SEC. PANELO: Sinabi niya rin adviser eh.

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: Cannot be, sir.

SEC. PANELO: Oo, pero inano niya uli eh. After this, sinabi niya siya rin. Hindi, I will ask the President about this para siguradong mayroon tayong accurate response.

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: So you will open the …

SEC. PANELO:  I will ask him during the break.

HENRY URI/DZRH: Anyway, Secretary, just a follow up doon sa question ni Chona on Freddie Aguilar. Iyong endorsement niya kay Freddie Aguilar last night. Hindi ho ba iyon ay maituturing na paglabag sa batas ng Commission on Election – premature campaigning?

SEC. PANELO: Hindi naman eh. He was just expressing his opinion on the qualification of the person. Hindi naman niya sinabing iboto ninyo ito eh. Ang sinasabi niya lang, the messages of the songs of Freddie Aguilar have social content at magaling siya, brilliant.

HENRY URI/DZRH: Secretary, this is what the President said, “Kaya ako nakikiusap tutal dose man iyan, ibigay ninyo sa isang nationalist iyong isang tao na nagmamahal sa bayan. And the protest of his songs are there, makikita na ninyo for the next generation and generation to come.”

SEC. PANELO: Eh di wala siyang sinabing iboto ninyo iyan sa eleksyon.

HENRY URI/DZRH: “Kaya ngayon sabi ko, Freddie is running for senator, wala akong hinihingi sa inyo kung hindi just consider. He is a brilliant man.” 

SEC. PANELO: Consider lang pala eh, wala namang—

CHONA YU/RADIO INQUIRER: Sir, ito ang sinabi niya, “And may I, you know, just raise his right hand: Vote for Freddie Aguilar.” 

SEC. PANELO: Vote ba, parang hindi yata iyong narinig ko. 

CHONA YU/RADIO INQUIRER: Ito, sir, transcript ‘to, official – Vote for Freddie Aguilar. 

SEC. PANELO: He may not be referring to an election. He may be referring to you people vote for this man as an outstanding man.

USEC. IGNACIO: Question? No more na? No more question, MPC? Okay, thank you Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo. Thank you, Malacañang Press Corps.

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