Press Briefing

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

Event Press Briefing
Location New Executive Bldg., Malacanang

ALVIN BALTAZAR/RADYO PILIPINAS: Good afternoon MPC, welcome sa ating regular press briefing with Presidential Spokesman, Secretary Salvador Panelo. Good morning, sir.

SEC. PANELO: Good morning to everyone.

Let me just say something about the demise of the late Armida Siguion-Reyna. The entertainment world has lost one of its pillars, and the Palace expresses its condolences to the family, friends and colleagues of the former Movie and Television Review Classification Board Chairperson Armida Siguion-Reyna. Our condolences also go to the Enriles, she happens to be the sister of former Senator Juan Ponce-Enrile.

The Philippines, particularly the music, television and film had been immense in terms of the contribution of the late Armida Siguion-Reyna. I remember like many others of my generation and the succeeding ones, we grew up as well as they watching the television program ‘Aawitan Kita’ which she hosted and produced on television for more than 30 years. In fact, that particular show popularized Kundiman songs which lately has that been aired on radio songs like ‘Anak Dalita’ and ‘Dahil Sa’yo’.

Now if you look at her biography, specifically the biographical book entitled ‘Fear’ and if you have witnessed how this woman faced her detractors as well as her critics, immediately you will know that this woman is—or was, one who has—or who had an independent mind of her own, and a principled citizen at that. And she has demonstrated this kind of character all throughout her career, specifically when she was Chairman of the MTRCB where she defended artistic liberties in cinema.

Her voice, whether singing Kundimans or advocating free expression will be missed by many of us. So we pray for the eternal repose of her soul and may perpetual light shone upon her.

I’m ready for any question on any matter that you would choose to entail on.

NESTOR CORRALES/INQUIRER.NET: Sir, today is the start of the official campaign period, where is the President?

SEC. PANELO: At this time?


SEC. PANELO: I haven’t seen his schedule, but he is supposed to be… he is supposed to be here because he has some events to attend to today. I don’t know if he has already flown in. Most likely—usually he comes in after lunch or just immediately before lunch.


MARICEL HALILI/TV5: Sir, follow up. Sir, why did the President choose not to attend the launching of the Hugpong in Pampanga?

SEC. PANELO: Yesterday?

MARICEL HALILI/TV5: No, today… this morning.

SEC. PANELO: Hindi, akala ko one o’clock iyon. ‘Di ba mayroong one o’clock?

MARICEL HALILI/TV5: So, pupunta siya sir?

SEC. PANELO: Parang iyon ang alam ko, one o’clock.

MARICEL HALILI/TV5: So pupunta sir si Presidente doon sa kampanya ng Hugpong ngayong hapon?

SEC. PANELO: Iyan ang alam ko. Hindi ko alam kung nagkaroon ng change of schedule. Hindi, hindi ko alam kung nag-change. Pero iyon ang nakalagay sa schedule.

MARICEL HALILI/TV5: So, will he be endorsing also all the members of the senatorial slate of Hugpong?

SEC. PANELO: Well if he goes there, it necessarily mean he will have to endorse those who are on the stage sitting with him.

INA ANDOLONG/CNN PHILIPPINES: Hi, sir. Sir, are you referring to the Hugpong events in Angeles City? Is that right? Mayroon po kasing 1 to 3 P.M. and mayroong 4 to 5 P.M.; which of those is the President attending?

SEC. PANELO: Parang iyong one ang alam ko, but I’m not sure kung nabago na iyon. Palaging subject to change naman everything eh.

INA ANDOLONG/CNN PHILIPPINES: Okay. Sir, on another topic. May I ask for the status of the expanded maternity leave bill? Because ang sabi, mag-e-expire—I mean it will lapse into law on February 14.

SEC. PANELO: Wala pang sinasabi ang Office of the Executive Secretary kung napirmahan na.

INA ANDOLONG/CNN PHILIPPINES: Any word if the President will sign it before then?

SEC. PANELO: Wala pa eh… I’ll follow up my request.


JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: Sir, mag-follow up kami ng magla-lapse. Iyong rice tariffication, wala pa rin yun?

SEC. PANELO: Wala pa akong balita. Wala eh, nagkita kami ni Secretary Bingbong kanina sa misa, wala naman siyang nabanggit.

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: Okay. Sir, kahapon may nabanggit si Presidente na he likes the idea of renaming the Philippines to ‘Maharlika’ because that’s what former President Marcos also… you know, talked about before.



SEC. PANELO: Well his reason is, the word ‘maharlika’ is a Malay word. And ‘di ba, marami nang nag-criticize na iyong Philippines was named after King Philip na may sakit pa nga daw iyon ng… you know what. So tingnan natin how… how it evolves. He is expressing an idea again… as usual.

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: The country’s name, sorry…

SEC. PANELO: Well, there are views on this pero hindi pa masyadong clear. One, it is mentioned – as one of my staff lawyers pointed out – the Philippines is mentioned in the Constitution. So baka—if you issue an executive order or pass a legislation renaming it, baka some constitutional expert might say, “You cannot amend that, it’s in the Constitution.” Puwede rin naman na kaya nilagay iyon sa Constitution kasi mayroong batas na nagsasabing ‘Philippines ka muna.’ So pinag-aaralan namin kung how this word ‘Philippines’ evolved to be the country’s name.

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: This is a serious idea?

SEC. PANELO: Well, sa tingin ko kay Presidente ay magandang pakinggan ang ‘Maharlika’.

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: What do you call then…

SEC. PANELO: Maharlikano or we are all Maharlikas ‘di ba. Royalty hindi ba, sa Filipino language, ‘maharlika’ means ‘royalty’ hindi ba, mga—

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: Ah, Maharlika like the—

SEC. PANELO: I remember si Eddie Ilarde parang mayroon siyang bill noon eh. Si Eddie Ilarde when he was a senator, I remember he introduced a bill pero wala yatang nangyari.

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: Sir, does this have something to do with maybe resentment of the Spanish rule?

SEC. PANELO: No, not necessarily; siguro more of asserting our national identity.

CATHERINE VALENTE/MLA TIMES: Sir, follow up lang doon. So kailangan po ng Charter Change, kasi sabi ninyo, kailangan nasa Constitution iyong name na Philippines. So, nasa posibilidad ba iyon?

SEC. PANELO: Yeah, puwede. Kasi some may argue, ‘you can no longer change that kasi it’s in the Constitution.’ Others may argue also that ‘hindi kaya lang inilagay sa Constitution kasi may batas na sinasabing ito.’ So, kung palitan natin ng batas, automatically puwede mo ring palitan.

CATHERINE VALENTE/MLA TIMES: Pero kahit Executive Order, pupuwede kaya sir?

SEC. PANELO: Baka malabo iyon, more on congressional act siguro. Pero siguro mas preferred siguro pag constitutional amendment para wala nang question.

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: Any other ideas, Marcosian ideas that the President likes?

SEC. PANELO: No, it’s just happens na—actually, that not Mr. Marcos’ idea, parang… I forgot the name of that person. But Mr. Marcos at that time welcomed that idea, pero it was not his original.

ARJAY BALINBIN/BUSINESS WORLD: I asked this about two weeks ago. So how’s your review of the UGEC and APO contract, sir, is it legal?

SEC. PANELO: According to Secretary Locsin, he is still studying it. And I’ve not received other documents that—

ARJAY BALINBIN/BUSINESS WORLD: No. The last time I asked you sir, you said you received the documents from them so that is why you are going to study the documents.

SEC. PANELO: In our evaluation, meron pa kaming mga bagong nakitang kailangan naming dokumento.


SEC. PANELO: Like the original contract between the foreign corporation that was handling it before it was taken over from it, iyon ang gusto kong makita, hindi ko pa nakikita iyon.

ARJAY BALINBIN/BUSINESS WORLD: So what exact documents did you received?

SEC. PANELO: The contracts. Iyong joint venture contract ang nakita ko.

ARJAY BALINBIN/BUSINESS WORLD: So, based on your initial review, sir. How do you find it?

SEC. PANELO: We are still evaluating whether it contravenes the intent of the law, because according to—there are some lawyers are saying that joint venture, puwede. So, pinag-aaralan pa namin, tingnan natin.

CATHERINE VALENTE/MLA TIMES: Sir, regarding sa BOL, follow up ko lang sa question n’yo kahapon. Sabi ni Cotabato City Mayor Sayadi, her legal team is studying all options daw po. They are filing complaint before the SC to declare the plebiscite in Mindanao null and void. Is it possible po ba or are you confident na mababasura iyong ganitong petition if ever mai-file po?

SEC. PANELO: Di ba that is what I said yesterday, they can always file appropriate charges regarding their claims. But remember that there is still a pending petition before the Supreme Court questioning the constitutionality of the BOL, di ba. If the Supreme Court for instance decides that it’s unconstitutional, o di moot and academic lahat na iyon, ma-i-invalidate pati iyong plebiscite.

On the other hand, I’m sure the petitioners will argue that since there has been ratification by the people, then that cured the unconstitutionality. Depende sa Supreme Court kung anong basa nila.

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: Iyon pong proposal na—iyong idea na ganyan ni Presidente, iyong sa Maharlika, is he going to actively push for it?

SEC. PANELO: Hindi ba ang style ni Presidente, he floats an idea, then somebody gets it, kung sa Congress or kung sinuman, idea lang iyong kanya.

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: So he is floating lang an idea, that meaning maybe asking a study perhaps from—

SEC. PANELO: In the first place, it’s not even an original idea; it’s been there, I’ve been hearing that since I was in high school.

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: Wow, short time ago ‘no?

SEC. PANELO: Matagal na iyan. Matagal na iyang maharlikang iyan, I’ve been reading that. Parang walang masyadong kumagat.

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: Pero, sir, I’m sure the President has studied the idea, meron naman siyang in the past speeches iyong history ng—pagdini-discuss is BOL, iyong history ng ating mga Mindanaoan brothers ‘no. So, is he coming from historical perspective, that’s why his—

SEC. PANELO: I think so, because he said it’s a Malay word. Since we are Malays, we should have a name identified with us. I agree with him, I like the idea of Maharlika name for the Philippines.

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: So, parang Republic of Maharlika?

SEC. PANELO: Oh, biro mo iyon, Republic of Maharlika, the Maharlikan’s.

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: So, parang Binibining Maharlika? [laughs]

SEC. PANELO: Maharlako. [laughs]

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: Seriously, testing the idea. Maharlikana pag babaeng Pilipina, pag lalaki, sir – Maharlika?

SEC. PANELO: Nag-i-evolve naman iyan kung ano ang magiging eh, hindi ba, tingnan natin. But it’s an interesting idea.

GENALYN KABILING/MANILA BULLETIN: Sir, the campaign period has started. Does the Palace have any appeal to the poll candidates to follow rules or avoid dirty politics during this period?

SEC. PANELO: Di ba, the President even asked—called upon with the members of the Cabinet to strictly follow the rules on the prohibition on government employees, officials not to campaign for or against any political candidate; exempting himself, because the provision says he is exempted from it.

But, let me just emphasize that he will not be using government resources. In the course of his endorsement, it will be just verbal endorsement.

GENALYN KABILING/MANILA BULLETIN: Sir, how about your appeal to the candidates, do you have any appeal?

SEC. PANELO: Oh, yes, certainly. We’d been always—every government, every administration always appeals to all the candidates to strictly observe the elections laws… we have to have a clean, honest, fair, credible elections.

ACE ROMERO/PHIL. STAR: Sec, meron na bang schedule si President Duterte na mga campaign rallies?

SEC. PANELO: Wala pa akong nakikita.

ACE ROMERO/PHIL. STAR: Will he attend iyong—o um-attend ba siya ng Hugpong kanina?

SEC. PANELO: Hindi pa nga eh. Supposed to be meron siyang 1:00, hindi ko alam kung he will go there or he will not.

ACE ROMERO/PHIL. STAR: Ano iyong 1:00 pm, sir?

SEC. PANELO: Iyong sa Hugpong nga. Iyong sa Angeles. Iyan ang supposed to be naka-schedule.

Q: [off mic] That’s in the schedule?

SEC. PANELO: Kasi ang pagkakaalam ko pupunta rin siya sa San Beda pero sabi kanina ni Secretary Medialdea baka hindi, so depende siguro. Kaya si Usec. Mia wala pang nilalabas na ano eh, kasi nga tentative lahat eh.

ACE ROMERO/PHIL.STAR: Iyong PDP ba sa February 14 pupuntahan ni Presidente?

SEC. PANELO: Hindi ko pa alam iyon. Wala eh, walang ano eh… Tentative ‘pagdating doon sa election. Even our own meeting kanina o supposed to be 2 p.m., na-cancel din eh. So, tentative lahat ngayon iyong schedule for today.

ACE/PHIL.STAR: Bakit kaya, Sec.?

SEC. PANELO: Eh baka mayroong mas importanteng mga lakad si Presidente.

ACE/PHIL.STAR: Kasi you mentioned yesterday, he will be actively campaigning for the senatorial candidates?

SEC. PANELO: That’s what he said, he will definitely express his personal choices.

ACE/PHIL.STAR: So it must have been a very important issue kaya tentative pa lahat?

SEC. PANELO: Which one?

ACE/PHIL.STAR: Kasi sabi ninyo ‘di ba tentative siguro may pressing matters—

SEC. PANELO: No. Ang tentative iyong schedule niya, iyong schedule of activities for today.

ACE/PHIL.STAR: Okay, thank you, Sec.

NESTOR CORRALES/INQUIRER.NET: Secretary, good morning.


NESTOR/INQUIRER.NET: How confident is Malacañang that President Duterte still has that endorsement magic this May 2019 elections since observers have been saying that this 2019 midterm polls will be a test for the President’s endorsement power?

SEC. PANELO: Who is saying that it will be the test of his endorsement power? The opposition or you?

NESTOR/INQUIRER.NET: Analysts and observers, sir, are saying that this will be a test for the President this coming election. So how confident is Malacañang about the President’s endorsement magic?

SEC. PANELO: I think—iba kasi ang pananaw ko diyan eh, and even I don’t think the President believes in his magical so called power to endorse.

What he’s giving the people is ‘this are the people that I personally feel are capable of being in the Senate.’ That is why precisely nginangalanan eh, marami siyang pinipili eh. Siguro para… as in possible he has a deep bench, ‘di mamili kayo.

Now, as far as I am concerned and I think the President will agree with me that the—even the winning of an opposition candidate doesn’t mean a repudiation of the administration. It only means that when opposition candidates win, it is an expression of the electorate telling them that we’re putting you there to cooperate with this administration because we believe in this presidency and not you to destabilize it. I think that should be the message – kaya ka ilalagay diyan para tumulong ka, naniniwala kami sa iyo na tutulong ka kay Presidente hindi para sirain mo iyong kaniyang mga programa de gobyerno sapagka’t naniniwala nga kami sa kaniya, nakita mo naman ang survey eh palagi kaming approve kaya ka namin ilalagay diyan, tulungan mo. And I think that’s a good message coming from the electorate.

Kahit na hindi naniniwala si Ina by her expression. Irereklamo ka na naman ng isang caller. Oo mayroong… Hindi I will address myself to that caller who called the station. I don’t mind questions—

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: Do you think that the administration coalition, the administration candidates—who’s stronger, okay? Para medyo neutral iyong question: Who’s stronger, the admin or the opposition candidates? If you are saying… you know the… even if an opposition candidate who wins, it’s not a repudiation but it’s probably crossing to the other side. But back to the question, do you—

SEC. PANELO: Let me answer in this manner: Since this is the first day of official campaigning which directs us from refraining to campaign for or against, any comment with respect to your question may be deemed to be a campaign in favor of a certain candidate and therefore I cannot respond.

JOSEPH/GMA7: Sir, wala namang—

SEC. PANELO: Hindi. Kasi when you say something favorable to a particular group then you effectively endorsing. And we will not allow members of the media to trick us into violating the Constitution or the law—[laughs] joke, joke, joke.

JOSEPH/GMA7: Have we forgotten our special guests. [laughs]

SEC. PANELO: Joke. Joke. Joke.

JOSEPH/GMA7: Pero sir kung—ngayon ano na campaign, eleksiyon na tayo, right? And the President said that, you know, a government officials should not be campaigning for—

SEC. PANELO: O eh dapat lang, eh kasi nga… that’s the law.

JOSEPH/GMA7: Yeah. So we shouldn’t be hearing President Duterte—

SEC. PANELO: No, the law exempts him eh.

JOSEPH/GMA7: Ah really?

SEC. PANELO: Wala ka kagabi eh.

JOSEPH/GMA7: Kahapon.

SEC. PANELO: Ah kahapon, binasa namin iyong provision eh.

JOSEPH/GMA7: So exempted siya?

SEC. PANELO: ‘Except’ political offices o eh ‘di kasama siya doon. That’s why he’s—‘di ba sinabi niya kagabi, “except me I’m a political entity, I can do that.”

JOSEPH/GMA7: Pero what about setting an example?

SEC. PANELO: Hindi, precisely setting an example following the law. The law says you’re exempted, you better do that otherwise you are violating it.


ACE ROMERO/PHIL.STAR: So that means we won’t be able to ask… Hindi namin kayo puwedeng tanungin kung anong prediction ninyo – 12-0, 0-12? Wala kayong prediction? Mananalo ba—masu-sweep ba ng admin coalition iyong election o may mananalong—

SEC. PANELO: Regardless of whoever will win, the victory will be on the electorate because it’s their choice that will win.

ACE/PHIL.STAR: So wala, wala kayong nakikitang prediction? Wala kayong nakikitang sweep or whatsoever ganoon sa senatorial slate?

SEC. PANELO: Wala akong makitang—blangko pa eh, blangko pa. Wala pa eh, malalaman mo iyon ‘pag ano, siguro one week before election.

ACE/PHIL.STAR: Ah so maaga pa para mag-predict?

SEC. PANELO: Oo too early, wala namang…

ACE/PHIL.STAR: Okay, thank you, Sec.

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: Sir, do you think that the administration slate is strong?


JOSEPH/GMA7: Yeah, the Palace?

SEC. PANELO: I will ask the President because he’s the political entity that can express whether it’s favorable or not.

JOSEPH/GMA7: Ang daya may standard… [laughs]

SEC. PANELO: When I ask him and then he tells me then I can tell you, because I’ll be quoting him.

ALVIN BALTAZAR/RADYO PILIPINAS: Secretary, patanong lang ha. Do we expect the President to solicit the support of the religious leaders?

SEC. PANELO: I don’t think—wala eh… hindi naman—the President never ask help from any specific religion eh. What he does is he expresses himself and he tells us why he is doing this and that.

ALVIN/RADYO PILIPINAS: Thank you, Secretary. MPC no more question? One last question? No more question? Maraming salamat, MPC.

SEC. PANELO: Thank you.

ALVIN/RADYO PILIPINAS: Maraming salamat, Presidential Spokesman Secretary Salvador Panelo. Balik tayo sa Radyo Pilipinas at PTV.


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