USEC. ROCKY: Magandang tanghali MPC; nandito na si Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo.
SEC. PANELO: Good afternoon members of the MPC. I’m ready…
JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: Sir, last night po si Presidente had a meeting with MNLF founding Chairman Misuari. Can we have more details especially in the context of some statements from an MNLF faction that they will not take part in the BTA and they’re going to… parang establish a new MNLF to protests allegedly the dictatorship of the MILF?
SEC. PANELO: The meeting with the MNLF Chairman Nur Misuari lasted I think only about 15 minutes. They are going to meet again. What transpired last night was, the President told the Chairman that he admire his patience and he apologized for not having… implemented or enforced or whatever agreements that they had previously with respect I think to federalism or something. And they would be talking again precisely for that. They didn’t have much time to talk, so they will meet again.
JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: Sir, as a follow up. Apparently there were members of the MNLF whether this is—I mean sanctioned by the Chairman or not, they are disgruntled ‘no; I mean maybe not happy with the BTA. Because they submitted I think 39 names to the BTA, but only less than 10 were appointed. So number one, your comment on that; and number two, how do we address this sentiment?
SEC. PANELO: Well for one, if the MNLF was complaining about it – the Chairman did not mention it last night; number two, per General Galvez that there has been an equitable distribution or representation in that Authority.
JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: Did the President mention anything to Nur Misuari in relation to the BTA and the efforts with regard to the Bangsamoro government?
SEC. PANELO: As I said, most of the time I think it was the President talking and expressing himself. And nothing was touched on with respect to that.
JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: Would you know when the next meeting will happen and where probably?
SEC. PANELO: No info on that yet. They will schedule it and we will make the announcement.
JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: Okay…
INA ANDOLONG/CNN PHILIPPINES: Sir until now, no official list of the BTA members has been released? Can we have—
SEC. PANELO: Not to me, not to me yet. But we are going to get so that we can release it.
INA ANDOLONG/CNN PHILIPPINES: Is there a reason sir why did the release has not been made yet? Because the President on the day of the oath taking admitted that there were last minute arrangements made or changes made in the composition of the BTA. Can you expound on that a bit as well?
SEC. PANELO: No, I do not know the reasons… the whys or the wherefores for the delay. But we will provide you with a complete list of the information as soon as we have it.
INA ANDOLONG/CNN PHILIPPINES: Sir, iyong sinasabi po ninyo kanina na si General Galvez said that there has been equitable distribution?
SEC. PANELO: Yeah, he issued a statement on that.
INA ANDOLONG/CNN PHILIPPINES: What’s equitable? Because there are reports na lima lang daw po; some are saying, I think it’s about 7 or 8. How many really…?
SEC. PANELO: Siguro ang ibig niyang sabihin ng ‘equitable,’ not equally in terms of numbers but on how effective the representation would be with respect to the goals of the BTA.
INA ANDOLONG/CNN PHILIPPINES: And the President last night said that… basically he’s ordering the police and the military not to arrest Nur Misuari because the MNLF Leader is planning to go somewhere. Where is that, just to be clear?
SEC. PANELO: First, the courts have allowed the former—or rather the MNLF Chairman to travel to OIC, to attend the OIC conference. There is a permission granted by the courts – Sandiganbayan specifically.
INA ANDOLONG/CNN PHILIPPINES: [off mic] So, that’s a go?
SEC. PANELO: Yes, it is a go.
ACE ROMERO/PHILIPPINE STAR: Sabi ninyo Sec., the President apologized to Nur for not implementing their agreement on federalism.
SEC. PANELO: Not really… not implementing. But from what I gathered, they had talks before and they were perhaps agreeing on modus vivendi on the problem. But somehow because of the many matters that have to be attended to by the President, he was not able to attend to it. And that’s why precisely he was thanking the Chairman for being very patient. In other words, he was not pushy or he was not…
ACE ROMERO/PHILIPPINE STAR: So hindi pa naman siya sumusuko sa federalism?
SEC. PANELO: Oh definitely, no.
ACE ROMERO/PHILIPPINE STAR: Kasi tatlong taon na lang, kakayanin pa kaya iyon?
SEC. PANELO: Oh, definitely.
ACE ROMERO/PHILIPPINE STAR: What made you say so, Sec.?
SEC. PANELO: Well… if there is political will, anything is possible.
ACE ROMERO/PHILIPPINE STAR: Thank you, Sec.
ARJAY BALINBIN/BUSINESS WORLD: Sir, were you there yesterday or last night during the meeting?
SEC. PANELO: No. I was given a firsthand info on what happened.
ARJAY BALINBIN/ BUSINESS WORLD: Okay, sir. SAP Bong Go also sent us a photo showing the President also met with Senator Honasan and former Senator Enrile.
SEC. PANELO: That one, I don’t know about. Only the Chairman…
ARJAY BALINBIN/ BUSINESS WORLD : Alright sir, thank you.
REYMUND TINAZA/BOMBO RADYO: Sir, the President mentioned iyong, about the rumblings within the MNLF because of the—well, iyong komposisyon nga ng Bangsamoro Transition Authority. Sir, how serious is that rumblings? Would it… possible escalation into another splinter group or possible attacks because of the rumblings or pagkadismaya sa BTA composition?
SEC. PANELO: I do not think so, given the fact that the Chairman of the MNLF Nur Misuari is very reasonable, patient man. And that the fact that he did not make any complaint last night relative to that, shows that he understands.
REYMUND TINAZA/BOMBO RADYO: Thank you, sir.
INA ANDOLONG/CNN PHILIPPINES: Sir, but how is the President treating the MNLF as a group, because there seems to be different factions there? Is he—I mean, based on what you’re saying, you’re looking at what MNLF Chairman Misuari, iyong posisyon po niya but there are other factions. So, how is the President resolving those different groups?
SEC. PANELO: I think the faction is within the MNLF, assuming that there is one. As far as I know there is no major faction. There may be one or two voices; but by and large, the MNLF is Nur Misuari.
ACE ROMERO/PHILIPPINE STAR: Secretary, about iyong meeting with Senator Honasan and former Senator Enrile. Just for the record, ini-endorse ba ni President din iyong candidacy ni Senator Enrile?
SEC. PANELO: I don’t think he is included in the 12 that has been mentioned already. The last name that I heard that he endorsed was Raffy Alunan – so that completed the 12-man slate.
ACE ROMERO/PHILIPPINE STAR: So, iyong meeting had nothing to do with the midterm polls?
SEC. PANELO: I don’t think so.
ACE ROMERO/PHILIPPINE STAR: Okay. Thank you, Sec.
RUTH: Sir, at the PDP-Laban rally in Cebu City on Sunday, February 24, President Duterte raised the hand of former Mayor Michael Rama whom the Chief Executive publicly named as drug protector in 2016. Does that mean the President is endorsing the Vice Mayoral bid or Rama?
SEC. PANELO: I don’t know the circumstances surrounding the raising of the hand. But given the ethics of this President who does not want to embarrass people around him, I do not know if—whether that is an endorsement or not.
RUTH: But, isn’t it opposed to the President’s policy to go after individuals who have links to illegal drugs?
SEC. PANELO: It could be that there is a finding that he was not really involved. We do not know that yet. I will ask the President on that.
RUTH: But sir, what does President Duterte’s tacit endorsement indicate? Does it clear Rama of the charge of being into illegal drugs?
SEC. PANELO: As I said, it could be just courtesy.
RUTH: Last one sir. Apart from Mike Rama, Provincial Board Member Sun Shimura is also one of the PDP-Laban’s local bets endorsed by Duterte. Shimura is the step son of the Daan Bantayan, Cebu Mayor Vicente Loot who was tagged as drug protector. He is also running as in place of his father. Isn’t it contradicting the President’s stern warning that his crackdown on drug personalities will be harsher in his last three years in office?
SEC. PANELO: Again, I do not know the circumstance surrounding, what appears to you as endorsement. Number two, if that particular person is related to someone who appears to be involved, it doesn’t mean that that person endorsed is also involved.
JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: Sir, doon muna tayo sa Church. Why that face? All right, okay, there are a couple of statements yesterday. The President said that Roman Catholicism will be gone in 25 years. What’s this statement supposed to mean, sir?
SEC. PANELO: He is just expressing an opinion. An opinion… that is his belief, whether it will come about, we don’t know. In my case smiling like an impish…
JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: Where is this coming from, sir, this—would you say that this is an attack on the foundation of the Church?
SEC. PANELO: Not really, he believes in God, he prays, he invokes God.
JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: But not Roman Catholicism—
SEC. PANELO: He is just referring to certain men in the cloth that have violated their own vows. Even the Pope has become the number one critic of the Catholic Church.
JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: Sir, he also proposed that priest to marry either heterosexually or otherwise?
SEC. PANELO: Well, perhaps the Church should consider that, given that there has been many problems about remaining celibate.
JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: Paano ulit, sir?
SEC. PANELO: Given the fact that there have been problems of staying celibate for the rest of their lives, perhaps the Church could look into that. If other religious groups or orders allow their priests or I mean, their pastors to be married, why not the Catholic Church. It’s an idea… actually it’s for the Church to consider that. We’ll just sit by and watch.
JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: Is the President discrediting the Church?
SEC. PANELO: No. He is discrediting certain men of the cloth, as the Pope is so doing. I think that’s a healthy criticism, it will help the Catholic Church cleanse itself and purge itself from those who are not deserving to be there.
JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: So when he commented on celibacy, it is not a concept that is related to the foundations of the Church, but celibacy in reference to some members of the Church. Yes?
SEC. PANELO: I think so, yes.
ACE ROMERO/PHIL. STAR: Secretary, binanggit ni President Duterte iyong text message ni Cardinal Tagle about the supposed threats doon sa buhay nung ibang pari and then he warned iyong drug addicts na huwag saktan o huwag patayin iyong mga Obispo. But do you think iyong rhetoric ni President against the Bishops, sino iyong nag-encourage ng mga drug addicts na gumawa ng ganoong threats?
SEC. PANELO: Well, on the first place, when you are a drug addict, if you are one anyway—if you are a drug addict—if one is a drug addict, it doesn’t matter to him who endorsed. You know, drug addicts are crazy, they have been… their brains have been affected. So, there is no need for encouragement from anyone to do something bad against a person near him, near her or wherever.
ACE ROMERO/PHIL. STAR: So, it’s not—iyong rhetoric ni President na iyon, yung patayin iyong Obispo na maraming pera, not to be blamed for that.
SEC. PANELO: Again, that is just a hyperbole. Meaning, it’s a criticism. It’s just is a criticism. That is precisely why he warned those who will harm the priest and he is serious on that. Because this President is outraged by any kind of irregularity or violation of any law or any threat made against any person.
ACE ROMERO/PHIL. STAR: But don’t you think he should refrain from making such… you called it hyperbole, para hindi na siya kailangan mag-warning kasi nga mukhang sine-seryoso iyong mga threats niyang ganoon?
SEC. PANELO: Our countrymen have been used to this President’s style of delivering his responses, his remarks. So, I don’t see any problem on that.
REYMUND TINAZA/BOMBO RADYO: Sir, iyong kagabi, sinabi ng Pangulo na kung merong papatay or manakit ng pari or Obispo to that effect ay paninira iyon sa kanya. So, parang sinisisi niya iyong mga critics and even iyong umano’y death threat sa Caloocan Bishop and iyong sa isang priest na pinarating ni Cardinal Tagle. Ang sinisisi ng Pangulo iyong kritiko na taking advantage over iyong kanyang… iyon nga threat o pahayag sa mga addict na pagnakawan or patayin iyong mga obispong kung makita—
SEC. PANELO: I agree with him. Because you know, when he says that, we know that he is in a hyperbolic mode. Now, if the critics and the opposition use that, certainly it will encourage other people.
REYMUND TINAZA/BOMBO RADYO: So meaning, siya rin iyong nagbigay ng bala sa oposisyon na gamitin laban sa kanya.
SEC. PANELO: Not necessarily. Because as I said, alam na ng tao iyong style niya eh. Eh iyong mga—ginagamit lang iyon ng mga kalaban niya sa pulitika.
REYMUND TINAZA/BOMBO RADYO: Pero kung wala sana siyang sinabi na gawin ng mga addict, either hyperbole or not, wala sanang gagamitin iyong oposisyon laban sa kanya.
SEC. PANELO: Eh kung hindi naman niya sinabi iyon, di wala kang tinatanong ngayon.
MARICEL HALILI/TV5: Sir, after the statement of the President yesterday, does it mean that the President will now stop threatening the clergy man, the priests?
SEC. PANELO: Again: He was not threatening anyone. I will repeat what I said – When he makes comments, he creates certain situations either to make people laugh or to stress a massage, but he doesn’t threat people. He only threats criminals, only the criminals, the corrupt, the evil-doers, the scoundrels, the dregs of society, not the priest, not the bishops, not anyone.
MARICEL HALILI/TV5: I understand, you mentioned it, it was just a hyperbole. But the fact that he in a way encouraged other people to rob and to kill, to harm bishops, isn’t that a threat?
SEC. PANELO: If it’s a hyperbole, then it’s not an encouragement, it is only the opposition and the critics who make it so. That is precisely why they should be blamed for that, not him.
NESTOR CORRALES/INQ. NET: But why the need for the President to issue such quote, as what you mentioned hyperbole?
SEC. PANELO: It’s not a need, it’s his style. That has been his style since he was Mayor of the City of Davao. So, people are used to him.
PIA GUTIERREZ/ABS-CBN: Sir, if the President is just using hyperbole in his statements calling for violence against religious leaders, why is he taking so much offense on iyong public prayers of priest na binanggit niya sa speech niya calling/asking God for his death. Isn’t that, parang in a way, parang pareho lang iyon? Kasi they can argue that they are also using hyperbole, they are also jesting—
SEC. PANELO: There is a difference there. When a priest uses the pulpit that means he is serious. Priest do not use the pulpit to crack jokes with respect to praying for someone to die. That’s a different story.
PIA GUTIERREZ/ABS-CBN: So, the religious leaders can’t use the pulpit, but the President can use the presidential podium… to use the public events to call for violence against other people?
SEC. PANELO: As the President says there is a separation of the church and state. When a priest get out of the pulpit and make and crack jokes okay lang iyon; pero when you use the pulpit to destroy a person, you are violating your own vows, that’s a different story. What’s the ‘vow’? The vow is to be very good image of the God that they believe in.
PIA GUTIERREZ/ABS-CBN: So you’re saying sir, the President can use his position to call for violence and then call it hyperbole after… and that the priest could not use—
SEC. PANELO: In the first place, his style was already that even before he assumed the presidency. So you cannot be saying that he’s using that position. He has been doing that ever since, even when he was still a prosecutor ganoon na iyong style niya ever since. When I met him, ganoon na iyon eh.
PIA GUTIERREZ/ABS-CBN: So other people cannot joke on… calling for harm against the President, but the President can do that to other people sir? Is that what you’re saying?
SEC. PANELO: No, we’re talking about priests – priests do not do these; cannot be doing/using a pulpit to pray to God that person be killed or die.
PIA GUTIERREZ/ABS-CBN: Iyon lang sir, kasi—
SEC. PANELO: It would be out of character for a priest; while this President is not out of character because that’s his style. Style niya iyon eh, dati na siyang ganoon… at everybody knows him na by this time.
Pero halimbawa, can you imagine if Cardinal Tagle will do that or a priest we know, sabihin nating nagdadasal… Iba ang dating noon, even the parishioners will be reacting to that.
PIA GUTIERREZ/ABS-CBN: So, iyon sir… So the President is exempted because the people have already accepted his style? Iyon po…
SEC. PANELO: Not as a matter of exemption, it’s a matter of people being used to him; not taking him seriously with respect to that kind of deliverances.
JULIE AURELIO/PHILIPPINE DAILY INQUIRER: Sir, you mentioned that the President keeps on making those statements because the Church is not observing the separation of church and state; and yet, the President makes statements about theology… about priest. You say that the priests should not use the pulpit as a podium for their statements or as the President is using the presidential seal. So, what’s the difference? Does this mean that the idea of the separation of church and state should not be observed by the President?
SEC. PANELO: No. What I’m saying is, when the President criticizes the Church—actually, he’s not criticizing the Church, but specific members of the clergy especially because he was a victim of abuse. And right now, his utterances on this matter have been validated by the Pope himself who admits to this kind of violations, sexual violations.
JULIE AURELIO/PHILIPPINE DAILY INQUIRER: Sir my question is: So why is not the President observing separation of church and state if he says that the Church should not meddle in affairs of the state, then why he is meddling in the affairs of the Church?
SEC. PANELO: That’s part of his job…
JULIE AURELIO/PHILIPPINE DAILY INQUIRER: Because? Please expound sir, so that we can get a full quote. Why is it part of his job?
SEC. PANELO: What actually the President wants is, if you’re a priest and you teach the teachings of Christ, be consistent. So when you pray for the death of one person, you become inconsistent, and you become subject of criticism. While the President when he cracks jokes by way of criticizing certain members of cloth, it’s not being inconsistent kasi mayroon siyang pinaghuhugutan eh, may pinanggagalingan.
Eh kung ikaw pari, madasalin ka, relihiyoso ka, banal ka pagkatapos bigla mong sasabihin na, “Diyos ko, sana mamatay na itong mamang ‘to.” You see the dramatic difference between that priest and this person? Siyempre iba ang dating.
By the way, let me ask you [Joseph Morong]… did you get my statement on the clarification on the President’s stand on the Chinese workers?
JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: We’ll go there later, sir [laughs]. Sir, ito muna… Alright, we both agree that the President’s words carry weight, correct?
SEC. PANELO: It depends.
JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: What?
SEC. PANELO: If he’s cracking jokes, it’s a joke. It should not carry weight with respect to serious concerns.
JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: How do we—again, age-old question, since 2016: How do we know if it’s a joke and it’s not joke?
SEC. PANELO: We’re used to this President. In fact, the survey shows that this President, despite all those jokes that others consider not to be jokes, eh nandiyan pa rin iyong kaniyang rating. Ibig sabihin, kilala na nila ang Presidente.
JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: Alright. The statements on the bishops and harming them, is this a joke or not a joke?
SEC. PANELO: Iyong alin?
JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: Iyon pong dati niyang sinabi na, “‘Pag nakita ninyo iyong mga bishop…”
SEC. PANELO: Ah, joke lang iyon. Ano lang iyon… it was just an hyperbole.
JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: Hyperbole, okay game—
SEC. PANELO: But this one he says, “Do not harm them, kundi may problema kayo sa akin,” ‘yan ang serious talk. He’s talking as President enforcing the law.
JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: Uhum… Is that not an acknowledgment that his words carry consequences?
SEC. PANELO: An acknowledgement that the critics are making it bad by viewing it differently. In other words, a joke perceived to be jokes by many and yet the critics and the opposition would convert it into serious matter – iyon ang…
JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: Sir, paano tayo ulit napunta sa opposition? [laughs] Hindi, let’s focus on the cause and effect sir ‘no. Alright… So the President before said na you know, nagjo-joke siya hyperbole na, “‘Pag dumaan iyong mga bishop ninyo, nakawan ninyo…,” whatever. And then here comes a statement now ‘no, yesterday or two days ago na ang sabi niya is “huwag” – in effect huwag galawin, except for maybe those priests that are involved in crimes. But those that are not, sabi niya “Huwag galawin.” Question: Hindi ba siya sir acknowledgement na nakikinig sa kaniya talaga iyong tao?
SEC. PANELO: Hindi nga eh, kaya nga pinasok ko iyong mga critic kasi ang ginagawa nga ng critics, sinasabi sa mga tao na “Hindi, ‘tong taong ito totoo iyong mga sinasabi niya. Masamang tao ‘to dahil gusto niyang pasaktan ang mga pari at mga obispo.” So iyong mga naniniwala doon sa mga critic, o ‘di siyempre that will reinforce… “Ah, hindi pala nagbibiro ito. Gawin natin.” O kaya hindi ba sinasabi niya, “I will blame you ‘pag may nangyari sa kanila, kasi kayo kino-convert ninyo iyong sinabi ko na dapat na hindi.”
JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: Sige na nga… Sige sir, thank you.
ARJAY BALINBIN/BUSINESS WORLD: Sir, if the Church is the President’s—
SEC. PANELO: Uy, nandoon pa rin tayo? [laughs]
ARJAY BALINBIN/BUSINESS WORLD: If the Church, sir, is the President’s problem, then why can’t he just seek dialogue with them, discuss the matter?
SEC. PANELO: First, it’s not a problem. Number two, he’s always open naman, matagal na niyang sinasabi iyon.
ARJAY BALINBIN/BUSINESS WORLD: Pero, walang formal dialogue…
SEC. PANELO: Eh wala namang pumupu—wala rin naman nag-aano…
ARJAY BALINBIN/BUSINESS WORLD: But on the part of the Palace—
SEC. PANELO: Hindi ba nagkaroon na?
ARJAY BALINBIN/BUSINESS WORLD: Yes sir, that’s interesting. What happened to that?
SEC. PANELO: Eh mukhang pareho naman sila, naupo lang, after that wala nang nangyari. Alam mo ang mga Pilipino, ‘pag mayroong nangyari ngayon, mag-uusap; after that nakalimutan na uli. Ningas kugon tayo eh.
ARJAY BALINBIN/BUSINESS WORLD: And then the President continues with his rantings and—
SEC. PANELO: And the Church also continue with its rantings.
ARJAY BALINBIN/BUSINESS WORLD: And then we expect the remaining three years to be… you know, having—
SEC. PANELO: Well, it does not affect his work as President. He continues to fulfill his promise; he continues to be relentless in his war against drugs, against corrupt people; he continues with his socio-economic development for this country. So…
ARJAY BALINBIN/BUSINESS WORLD: Thank you, sir.
REYMUND TINAZA/BOMBO RADYO: Sir, doon sa sinabi ng Pangulo na his remaining three years in the presidency would be the most dangerous times for those involved in the illegal drugs trades. Hindi naman kasama dito iyong mga priests?
SEC. PANELO: Ah, hindi… unless na they’re involved.
REYMUND TINAZA/BOMBO RADYO: Okay. Ano iyong parang pinapatungkol dito ng Pangulo? Do we expect na aside from iyong mga street drug pushers ay mayroon nang, iyon talagang mga manufacturers, suppliers na… who will be scattering blood? Do we expect some killings or arrest of those manufacturers, the actual manufacturers and suppliers lalo ngayon sa eastern seaboard, parang binabaha yata ng bloke-blokeng cocaine?
SEC. PANELO: Hindi. Ganito ‘yan… uulitin natin iyong posisyon ni Presidente diyan. The President says “I declare war against drugs,” which means that the law enforcement agencies will have to do everything under the law to run after them. Now if in the process – and he keeps on saying this – “If in the process you commit abuses, there will be hell to pay. I will not allow it.” And he doesn’t allow it.
In fact, we have already conviction of one or two, three of the policemen. It only means that there will be more buy bust operations, more arrests and more intelligence works in order to dismantle completely the drug apparatus in this country.
REYMUND TINAZA/BOMBO RADYO: Sir, speaking of the intelligence fund, more intelligence works. Hindi ba by this time, sa laki ng budget for the intelligence tukoy na kung saan mina-manufacture actually iyong mga shabu at kung sino iyong mga drug lords na nagsu-supply down to the street drug pushers? Kasi iyong shabu usually hindi naman transported from overseas kung hindi dito mini-mix iyong shabu eh.
SEC. PANELO: Hindi nga ba ang daming nare-raid na mga factories ng shabu. In fact, nangyayari na nga iyon eh. Ang kagalingan naman ng mga kalaban, eh pag nabuwag sila, meron na namang susulpot. Eh kasi nga malaking pera eh; pag malaking pera people risk their lives.
REYMUND TINAZA/BOMBO RADYO: Last point, sir. Pero may mga nangyayaring raids, pero pagdating doon sa warehouse or drug den supposed to be, wala na iyong shabu, wala na rin iyong mga may-ari doon, iyong caretaker na lang at ang nakakasuhan puro na lang si John Doe saka si Jane Doe…
SEC. PANELO: Even assuming na wala na roon, the fact is nandoon iyong item; kung nandoon ang item, di naging successful ka rin.
VIRGIL LOPEZ/GMA NEWS ONLINE: Hi sir, good afternoon. Is the President already looking for the replacement of BSP Governor Nestor Espenilla?
SEC. PANELO: I think there is… one of the deputies who is OIC.
VIRGIL LOPEZ/GMA NEWS ONLINE: But a permanent replacement, sir?
SEC. PANELO: Most likely, siyempre he will look for a replacement. We do not know yet who will it be.
VIRGIL LOPEZ/GMA NEWS ONLINE: In an interview, sir. Sabi po ni former BSP Governor Jose Quisia, he said that ‘I personally think, it would be good if the President appoints an insider, there are very competent people there who can do a great job as BSP Governor.’ Is the President inclined to appoint an insider?
SEC. PANELO: If that’s the judgment call of the President, it’s his prerogative.
VIRGIL LOPEZ/GMA NEWS ONLINE: But how soon can the President appoint po a new BSP Governor?
SEC. PANELO: As of this time, I do not know. I will ask him.
VIRGIL LOPEZ/GMA NEWS ONLINE: Will he visit the wake, sir, of Governor Espenilla?
SEC. PANELO: From what I see in the schedule, there is a schedule to visit, tentative.
VIRGIL LOPEZ/GMA NEWS ONLINE: Kasi… I think March 2 iyong cremation, sir, so he has this week lang.
SEC. PANELO: Nakita ko sa schedule eh, meron.
VIRGIL LOPEZ/GMA NEWS ONLINE: So, within the week, he will be visiting.
SEC. PANELO: Most likely, yes.
BERNADETTE NICOLAS/BUSINESS MIRROR: Sir, what particular day po bibisita si Presidente doon sa wake?
SEC. PANELO: Hindi ko alam, hija.
BERNADETTE NICOLAS/BUSINESS MIRROR: Confirm ko lang po, sir, kung may na-submit na na shortlist for the possible successor nga ni late BSP Governor?
SEC. PANELO: None that I know of.
BERNADETTE NICOLAS/BUSINESS MIRROR: So, what are the qualifications that the President is looking for the next BSP Governor?
SEC. PANELO: Dalawa lang naman ang palagi niyang sinasabi – integrity and competence.
BERNADETTE NICOLAS/BUSINESS MIRROR: Okay. So how is the President planning to choose the next BSP Governor? Will he personally interview the candidates, sir?
SEC. PANELO: Hindi ko alam yung parteng iyon, I do not know.
ARJAY BALINBIN/BUSINESS WORLD: Sir, still on the BSP Governor. So what’s the Palace’s expectation from the next BSP leader or chief, sir?
SEC. PANELO: I suppose it’s the same—it’s the continuity of the work done by the previous governor.
ARJAY BALINBIN/BUSINESS WORLD: Sir, also, Secretary of State. US Secretary of State will be here on February 28 to March 1 and he will be meeting with the President. So, what can we expect from that meeting, sir?
SEC. PANELO: I’m sure there will be talks between their government and our government with respect to our relations.
ARJAY BALINBIN/BUSINESS WORLD: Particularly on?
SEC. PANELO: Whatever the State Secretary would like to open up.
CHRISTINE AVENDAÑO/PDI: Sir, last night, the President said—parang warned iyong Filipino’s abroad not to get involved in drugs and not to commit serious crimes. Because he said he can’t and he won’t help them. So won’t this go against iyong policy of the government to help Filipinos abroad who are in distress?
SEC. PANELO: What he means by that is he cannot be violating the laws of other countries, just like his position that you cannot violate our laws. Now, if Filipinos will be engaged in drug trafficking, he will not lift a hand in the sense that he would be traveling there and asking the President for a pardon. What we can do is just to provide lawyers from them.
CHRISTINE AVENDAÑO/PDI: So you mean, that’s just parang him personally, not the government helping out?
SEC. PANELO: Yes. Because when you provide lawyers, you are also helping.
CHRISTINE AVENDAÑO/PDI: So, it’s not really him not allowing the government to assist iyong mga Filipinos?
SEC. PANELO: No. Because, you know, it will be against our own policy too, that we are very strict on the enforcement of the drug laws pagkatapos pag sa ibang lugar, eh tayo hindi; parang magiging inconsistent tayo.
In the same way that—since I mentioned already the Chinese workers, the President wish to clarify that, that the immigration laws will be strictly enforced against anyone who violates it. He was actually referring to Chinese workers with working permits – they will be protected because they have been the green light to work here. Ang sinasabi niya lang, like for instance if there are hundreds of Chinese immigrants perceived to be working illegally here, we cannot be so rash and reckless as to just deport them kasi the Chinese government may also react, kasi there are 300,000 Filipinos—
In fact, the Chinese Ambassador hosted a dinner for me with some of my friends and he told me… he said, the same way that we will prosecute Filipinos or any foreign national in our country we expect that you also prosecute criminals who violate your laws, including Chinese. That’s the position of the Chinese government, which is a very correct position for all governments in the first place.
ARJAY BALINBIN/BUSINESS WORLD: Sir, that’s what the President explained to you exactly regarding the Chinese?
SEC. PANELO: Yes, we talked yesterday. That’s exactly what he told me.
ARJAY BALINBIN/BUSINESS WORLD: So you ask for a clarification right and that’s what his explanation is?
SEC. PANELO: Yeah, in a way yes, because I made a text and then we talked about it. He said I was referring not to Chinese who have working permits, I’m referring to those others. Basta we will enforce immigration laws strictly and with dispatch.
PIA GUTIERREZ/ABS CBN: Sir, I remember when the President asked the Kuwaiti government to initiate reforms on household service workers in the Philippines, parang there was no concern like this that his calls would affect Filipinos working in Kuwait. While right now his concerned about the actions of the government affecting Filipinos in China. What’s the difference, sir? Why is he concerned that the government will react and affect Filipino workers in China when iyong doon sa Kuwait he is willing to take back the Filipino workers there?
SEC. PANELO: In Kuwait? I remember—Ano ba iyong problema sa Kuwait? ‘Di ba na-resolve niya nga iyon?
PIA GUTIERREZ/ABS-CBN: Yes sir, oo. Yes, pero ano sir eh the thing is, why he is very concerned about what the Chinese government’s reaction will be with regards to the Filipino workers currently in China when he did not show the same concern for what the Kuwaiti government or parang for the effect of his call for reforms there in Kuwait.
SEC. PANELO: He did show concern.
PIA/ABS-CBN: Hindi, meaning sir, that he is willing to take back the Filipino workers in Kuwait.
SEC. PANELO: I don’t know think there is no problem with respect to taking them back. Ang gobyerno will always [be] willing to take all Filipinos back. Ang sinasabi ni Presidente iyong—marami tayong mga—about 300,000 Filipinos illegally working there. Eh kung bigla mong pinauwi iyon dito eh ‘di nagkaproblema iyong… hindi lamang sila pati pamilya nila, iyon ang sinasabi niya. Kaya we should tread it cautiously. Ganoon din ang sinasabi ng Chinese government eh, na kailangan in accordance with the law hindi lang basta itatapon ninyo sa amin.
PIA/ABS-CBN: Okay sir.
JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: Sir, ang China lang – for clarification ‘no. So we are willing… Is the Philippine government willing to deport illegal Chinese workers?
SEC. PANELO: Definitely. We will enforce immigration laws strictly against who violate them.
JOSEPH/GMA7: Alright. The fear of the President that China will retaliate just in case we deport a sizeable number of illegal Chinese workers—
SEC. PANELO: If not in accordance with law. If we do it recklessly without you know…
JOSEPH/GMA7: But what is the basis for this fear sir? What makes him think that China will do such an action?
SEC. PANELO: Of course that is natural for any government to respond in kind. If you do this to our countrymen in your country then we will do the same to you. That’s the law of cause and effect.
JOSEPH/GMA7: ‘Di ba siya sir petty?
SEC. PANELO: Ano?
SEC. PANELO: No, definitely not. In fact, that is what the Chinese ambassador told me during dinner.
SEC. PANELO: That if this government will just deport Chinese not in accordance with law then we will also do the same. That’s tit for tat.
JOSEPH/GMA7: That’s what he told you—
SEC. PANELO: That’s very natural.
JOSEPH/GMA7: That’s what he told you?
SEC. PANELO: That’s what he said and he said… of course he added, of course I know that the Philippine government will not do that. And I agree with him, because if you do that too, I’m sure the other governments will employ that same ‘tit for tat’ policy.
JOSEPH/GMA7: That’s quite a subtle threat, sir?
SEC. PANELO: No I don’t think so.
JOSEPH/GMA7: Okay. Sir, with regards to—
SEC. PANELO: In fact he said—in fact, the Chinese ambassador said the ‘Taho incident’ does not reflect our policy. In fact, he commended that Chinese—or that officer for being so professional and so restrained. And definitely he’s for the prosecution of all those Chinese violating the laws of the land. In the same way, he said that we will also prosecute Filipinos who violate our laws and any national for that matter.
JOSEPH/GMA7: Sir, just so I don’t misquote you. It’s Ambassador Zhao who told you that ‘no na it’s going to be maybe tit for tat, yes?
SEC. PANELO: No, we were discussing on a general term with respect to countries – how countries will react to certain actions made by a country. He was not actually referring to the Philippines. We were discussing certain movements of governments with respect to the nationals of other governments. And I agree with him that governments will be employing the same policy employed by another government relative to their nationals.
JOSEPH/GMA7: Anyway, sir, with regard to hiring Filipino workers ‘no. Iyon bang sinasabi ninyo po and then the President that we lack construction workers have basis in fact. For example, has the DPWH identified how many manpower will they need for the ‘build, build, build’ project?
SEC. PANELO: I think they are doing that now. They are making—
JOSEPH/GMA7: Counting na?
SEC. PANELO: They are counting, kasi that is one of the complaints eh. That is why na-delay sila, kulang ang trabahador. Again, as I said, personally it took me 6 months to get a carpenter.
JOSEPH/GMA7: Sir, may assurance ba? Talk to the jobless Filipino construction workers—kausapin po natin iyong mga—
SEC. PANELO: Filipino.
JOSEPH/GMA7: Filipino workers who might not have jobs today and looking for jobs—
SEC. PANELO: And they have to be skilled. And that’s why the TESDA will have to do something about it. Establish more centers and training schools.
JOSEPH/GMA7: Priority of course sila, right?
SEC. PANELO: What?
JOSEPH/GMA7: I mean Filipinos versus other nationality—
SEC. PANELO: Oo, siyempre Filipinos.
JOSEPH/GMA7: Sir, iyon pong impostor ninyo, sir, mukhang ipe-present ng… I don’t know, PNP or NBI. Can we just get a soundbyte, kasi you mentioned it last week ‘no?
SEC. PANELO: Yeah.
JOSEPH/GMA7: Iyon pong impostor ninyo nanghingi yata ng 400,000? Iyong binanggit ninyo?
SEC. PANELO: Ah iyong impostor?
SEC. PANELO: Yeah, he was arrested already and the last time I heard that he was going to be under inquest at the DOJ. Iyon ang alam ko.
JOSEPH/GMA7: Ipe-present yata sir today sa press conference.
SEC. PANELO: Today?
SEC. PANELO: Sa kanila?
JOSEPH/GMA7: Dito sir sa Maynila sa NBI.
SEC. PANELO: Hindi ko alam. I didn’t know that.
JOSEPH/GMA7: This is just only one na impostor?
SEC. PANELO: Isa lang, one impostor.
JOSEPH/GMA7: Can you issue again the warning or maybe statement on the arrests?
SEC. PANELO: Yes. The person who has been swindling people misrepresenting himself to be me has been arrested in Cebu City last week. And this should serve as a warning to all that the law will always catch up on you people who misrepresents and commit fraud. And of course also caution to those subject of deceit to be more careful and if you think that you are talking to somebody you thought you knew the best way is to call that person. Because when they communicate they use Facebook account so you don’t see the face or twitter or messenger. So the best way is to call.
JOSEPH/GMA7: Alright, sir. Thank you.
PIA GUTIERREZ/ABS-CBN: Sir, how exactly where they duped into giving money?
SEC. PANELO: Like in my case… for instance, in my case one of them said that I was asking for some donations. So they will call friends of mine who are wealthy people and will pretend that I am the person asking for donations, that’s one; another one naman iyong iba naman involved yata sa… nakakulong iyong kanilang spouse, relative or children and they will say na… kunwari ako daw iyong nagsasabi, ‘Oh gawan natin ng paraan, puwede nating ipa-release iyan with an amount involved.’ Oh eh ‘di iyon namang ano na gustong ma-release iyong kanilang… or ma-pardon, magbibigay, magde-deposit ng pera. And they always using the bank, they will never appear.
The last person who was subject of that was Jinggoy Estrada, he told me. I met him in a birthday party and he said, ‘Sec., hindi pala ikaw iyon? Akala ko ikaw iyon eh. Kaya lang nagduda ako noong… when I was asking for your personal number, hindi niya maibigay.’ So sabi ko… fraud.
PIA/ABS-CBN: So Jinggoy Estrada was victimized into giving how much, sir?
SEC. PANELO: Hindi, hindi na nga natuloy eh kasi nagduda na siya eh, hindi na niya… noong tinanong niya raw, ‘Can you give me your number?’ Hindi na raw ano, biglang pinutol na communication.\
PIA/ABS-CBN: Sir, were there other prominent people who were victimized by this scam?
SEC. PANELO: Hindi ko alam kung—Ang alam ko iyong isang kaibigan ng isang mayaman na nagbigay ng 200,000, iyong isa namang kaklase ko 100,000 daw ang dineposit niya.
PIA/ABS-CBN: Politician sir mayroon?
SEC. PANELO: Hindi, hindi iyon politician.
USEC. IGNACIO: Okay, thank you. Thank you, MPC. Thank you, Secretary Panelo.
SEC. PANELO: Thank you.
USEC. IGNACIO: Back to our main studio sa Radyo Pilipinas and People’s Television Network.
SOURCE: PCOO – NIB (News and Information Bureau)