Press Briefing

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

Event Press Briefing
Location New Executive Bldg., Malacanang

ALVIN BALTAZAR/RADYO PILIPINAS: …Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo. MPC, questions? 

SEC. PANELO:  A pleasant good noon to all of you.

VIRGIL LOPEZ/GMA NEWS ONLINE:  Sir, may we get your reaction doon sa SWS survey saying at least 51% of Filipinos agree that the proposal to—I mean, they agree with the proposal of PDEA to conduct mandatory drug testing for Grades IV and above.

SEC. PANELO:  51%? 

VIRGIL LOPEZ/GMA NEWS ONLINE:  51% of Filipinos apparently agree that they support PDEA’s proposal for a mandatory drug testing to be conducted among Grade IV students and above. 

SEC. PANELO:  I think that’s a good idea because at least the parents will know whether or not their children are addicted or being used in the drug industry.

VIRGIL LOPEZ/GMA NEWS ONLINE:  But currently kasi, sir, the law only allows mandatory—random drug testing for high school and tertiary students, so kailangan po ng amendment doon sa RA 9165. So with this survey result, will this push the Palace to actually support na i-amend iyong law to accommodate iyong ganoong change na gawing mandatory for Grade IV above iyong drug testing?

SEC. PANELO:  If there is a need for that; but I don’t think there is a need for that, because that is for the benefit of the family, I think all parents would welcome that. I will welcome it as a parent.

CELERINA MONTE/MANILA SHIMBUM:  So what could be the basis; although the families would welcome that, pero what would be the basis of conducting such drug test among the children?

SEC. PANELO:  There is a drug menace in this country – that would be the basis. Parens patriae doctrine is another—

CELERINA MONTE/MANILA SHIMBUM:  Or police power… 

SEC. PANELO:  —that the state is responsible for the safety of the citizens in a country.

RALPH VILLANUEVA/M. TIMES:  Sir, ano naman pong comment ninyo po doon sa same survey po? Sabi po doon na the satisfaction po ng Filipinos doon sa drug war ng administration remain very good po.

SEC. PANELO:  That is expected because at the inception the President believes that the majority of the Filipinos are – if not overwhelming majority – support his drive against drugs and criminality as well as corruption.

RALPH VILLANUEVA/M. TIMES:  Thank you, sir.

NESTOR CORRALES/INQUIRER.NET:  Good morning, sir. Sir, President Duterte previously said that he was disappointed with the slow Yolanda rehabilitation. You mentioned in your statement yesterday citing data from the National Housing Authority that only around 100,000 out of the 200,000 permanent housing projects were completed. Hindi po ba masyadong mabagal ito, sir, and what is the marching order of the President to concerned government agencies?

SEC. PANELO:  Not necessarily. In my statement I said that there are certain constraints like you have to look for titled lands to build the houses for them. You have to look at the place where the people may need certain services that are not there, so it takes a little time. But certainly, the government is doing its best.

NESTOR CORRALES/INQUIRER.NET:  So, when do we see these housing projects to be completed, sir, because it’s been 5 years since Yolanda devastated Visayas? Is the President or the government has a timeline for these housing projects to be completed?

SEC. PANELO:  It’s ongoing… it’s ongoing.

NESTOR CORRALES/INQUIRER.NET:  We don’t have a timeline, sir, when do we expect these to be fully completed?

SEC. PANELO:  Hopefully within the year or two years… depends on the situation as I pointed out in my statement.

NESTOR CORRALES/INQUIRER.NET:  Okay, sir.

Q:  Hello, sir. Sir, NDF Consultant Vic Ladlad has been arrested—

SEC. PANELO:  Yes…

Q:  Some groups have complained that this was an invalid—there was no arrest warrant and it was—it violated the JASIG agreement.

SEC. PANELO:  Hmm… I don’t think so. Because first, the JASIG is operative only if there are peace talks ongoing; but that has been terminated by the proclamation of the President on November 23, 2017. Secondly, the crime of rebellion is a continuing crime and therefore no warrant of arrest is needed for that.

Q:  Sir, so other consultants covered by JASIG can be arrested by the government since there is no more peace talks?

SEC. PANELO:  Yes.

Q:  So sir, regarding doon sa question ni Ate Jen… May update na ba regarding doon sa paghuli doon sa iba pang consultants na nag—as a result ng cancellation ng peace talks ay kailangan silang hulihin ulit? May update na po ba doon?

SEC. PANELO:  No. There is only one update with respect to Ladlad.

BERNADETTE NICOLAS/BUSINESS MIRROR:  Sir on the Q3 GDP po, it slowed down to 6.1% sir. So what is the Palace reaction to this? And the Q3 GDP growth at 6.1% is said to be the slowest since Q2 2015 po, sir. So, how does the Palace take this po?

SEC. PANELO:  Well as explained by the Department of Finance and other economic managers, the situation is improving, the inflation rate plateaued and there is no other way but down given the fact that the government has undertaken measures to neutralize inflation rate like flooding our country with food supplies, rice and others. And if you have noticed, prices have started to come down.

BERNADETTE NICOLAS/BUSINESS MIRROR:  Sir, iyong statement n’yo po na ‘there’s no way to go but down’ sa inflation po iyon, sir?

SEC. PANELO:  Yes.

BERNADETTE NICOLAS/BUSINESS MIRROR:  Okay, but sir on the Q3 GDP, although that we are still one of the fastest growing economies po, is the Palace disappointed about the Q3 GDP growth po sir at 6.1% po, or are satisfied about it po?

SEC. PANELO:  Well, apparently, the economic managers are—they have not made any statement regarding that. I’d rather let the economic managers make statement on that aspect.

CHRISTINE AVENDAÑO/PDI:  Sir, back to Vic Ladlad issue. Will his arrest… parang signal that the government now intends to arrest the other consultants?

SEC. PANELO:  I think there has been an announcement by the President even last year about the arrest of these people given the proclamation that the peacetalks had ended. 

CHRISTINE AVENDAÑO/PDI:  So, it’s just like a matter of acting on that statement made last year?

SEC. PANELO:  Yes, Ma’am.

CHRISTINE AVENDAÑO/PDI:  On the issue of the PDEA proposal to—the mandatory testing. Wala bang bina-violate na anything in the law by subjecting these children to—mga drug testing?

SEC. PANELO:  I don’t think there is.

CHRISTINE  AVENDAÑO/PDI:  Like privacy or?

SEC. PANELO:  As I said, I don’t think a parent will disagree or opposes that such an idea. As a parent, I will want it. Because we will never know our children in schools would be influenced or used by persons outside of the family.

CHRISTINE AVENDAÑO/PDI:  Sir, like iyong sa Baguio, there’s this school that parang—there should be pregnancy testing for the students. Is this something na—so what do you think of this, sir?

SEC. PANELO:   I think the reason behind is that, from what I gathered, the schools are alarmed that certain laboratory equipment might affect pregnant students. So, it’s more of a healthcare concern.

CHRISTINE AVENDAÑO/PDI:  So, it doesn’t violate any law, sir?

SEC. PANELO:  I do not think so either. If it is precisely for your health, why should it be violative.

CEDRIC CASTILLO/GMA7:  Good afternoon, sir. Sir, you have said that this supposed weather stations in the three contested territories, it needs verification pa. But, Senate President Sotto said that there was in fact—he believes that there  is coordination between China and  the Philippines with regard to the construction of  the supposed weather station, sir. Why do you think, of the two different statements, sir?

SEC. PANELO:  I do not know the basis of Senator Sotto’s statement. But I would defer to the Secretary of Foreign Affairs. As far as I know, coming from him, he is validating that  news story coming from abroad regarding this particular claim by the Chinese government  on these weather stations.

CEDRIC CASTILLO/GMA7:  So, would you say sir, that there is no truth to what the Senate President said that there was coordination between the two countries?  

SEC. PANELO:  I don’t know about that, I have no personal knowledge. As I said, I do not know what is the basis of Senator Sotto’s statement. He may have some information that I do not know. 

CEDRIC CASTILLO/GMA7:  Sir, let me just get your reaction also. Senator Sotto said that there were high-level talks between China and Philippines where apparently China recognized or top leaders of China said that it recognizes that some of the disputed areas are in fact—they in fact belong to the Philippines, sir. Can I get your reaction on this?

SEC. PANELO: Again as I said, I would defer to the Secretary of Foreign Affairs – it’s his turf. He knows better than I do on that aspect. We’ll have to wait for an official statement coming from his department.

HENRY URI:  I understand the President will have a meeting later with the IPs (Indigenous People)?

SEC. PANELO:  Yes.

HENRY URI:  May we get the agenda, sir; anong pag-uusapan, if we may, please?

SEC. PANELO:  All I know is that they will be there this afternoon and I am going there too. It could be a courtesy call.  In the advisory, there is no mention of any purpose. 

HENRY URI/DZRH: Any immediate or emergency concern regarding the problem of IPs that the President needs, say, the attention?

SEC. PANELO: Well, there has been a continuing problem on the Lumads as we all know. Perhaps, one of them could be taken during the courtesy call.

 HENRY URI/DZRH: And also, on the meeting, nandoon din ho iyong mga miyembro ng security cluster like the DND, AFP, PNP and DILG, right?

SEC. PANELO: I’m not sure about that. There’s for instance, DILG Secretary Año has flown to Boracay already. And the DND Chief is in Indonesia for an official meeting with his counterpart.

HENRY URI/DZRH: Iyong problema sa NPA sa mga Lumad, isa ba ito sa pag-uusapan mamaya?

SEC. PANELO: Perhaps, it could be one of them. As I said, there is continuing problems with respect to them so anything that concerns them should be appropriately and properly discussed during the meeting; especially if they raise it with the President.

HENRY URI/DZRH: Anong mabigat na problema ng mga Lumads, IPs sa mga NPA nowadays at kailangan na ang Pangulo ang humarap sa kanila?

SEC. PANELO: Well, for one, what I know is that the Lumads are being dislocated and the NPAs are taking advantage of the situation, trying to recruit them against the government. That is what I know.

HENRY URI/DZRH: Any directives from the President to PNP, AFP, DND tungkol dito sa problema ng Lumads with the NPA?

SEC. PANELO: I’ll have it checked with the AFP Chief of Staff, as well as the PNP Chief on that.

NESTOR CORRALES/INQUIRER.NETSir, just related to the question of Cedric. It was the Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Lu Kang who confirmed that there are weather stations in Spratlys which were built by China. Is Malacañang concerned about this because maritime law experts have been saying that this could beef up the military capability of China when in fact ASEAN, including the Philippines, has made a commitment to have restraint in the disputed sea?

SEC. PANELO: Until such time as we have validated the claim, I don’t think we can make any response to that. We will wait for the official finding of the DFA.

NESTOR CORRALES/INQUIRER.NETIs the pronouncement of the Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson not an enough validation that there are indeed weather stations in the disputed sea?

SEC. PANELO: It is in our own interest to validate any claim, whether it’s for or against this government, or for or against their own government.

NESTOR CORRALES/INQUIRER.NETSo what kind of validation is the government doing?

SEC. PANELO: We have to look whether it’s true or not, and then we will make our move – diplomatically.

NESTOR CORRALES/INQUIRER.NETLook in terms of … do we have the satellite capability, sir, or are we sending our Navy there to see if there are indeed weather stations?

SEC. PANELO: That’s for the DND to explore what kind of method they will undertake in order to validate such claim.

NESTOR CORRALES/INQUIRER.NETBut once the government validates this, what will the Duterte administration do, sir? If indeed we have validated that there are indeed weather stations, what will the government do?

SEC. PANELO: As I said earlier, we will file a diplomatic protest.

NESTOR CORRALES/INQUIRER.NETLast na lang, sir, related to that. Since you had the Cabinet meeting last Tuesday, and this is the last Cabinet meeting before the visit of President Xi Jinping, did the President discuss any issues or concerns that the Philippines might raise during the visit of the Chinese President?

SEC. PANELO: No, it was not part of the agenda.

NESTOR CORRALES/INQUIRER.NETSo aside from drugs, what were the other agendas discussed during the Cabinet meeting, sir?

SEC. PANELO: We talked about national security. We talked about the Build, Build, Build, and other matters but not that one.

ROSALIE COZ/UNTV:  Secretary, on the provisional major telco player po. Senator Pangilinan is questioning why there is only one qualified bidder. And he said, bakit po si Dennis Uy. He is questioning the expertise of Dennis Uy sa telco industry. And dapat daw po ay maingat ang pamahalaan sa pakikipagkontrata sa Chinese firm dahil po mayroong possibility na magaya sa ZTE NBN deal na may irregularities.

SEC. PANELO: There are legal requirements for the entry of a third player. In the preliminary screening of that particular corporation or the person you mentioned, Dennis Uy, has passed it. From what I gathered, the other bidders lacked certain requirements that is why that particular corporation won over them.

But there is a provision that says, those bidders who are not satisfied can appeal to the committee. 

ROSALIE COZ/UNTV:  So iyong government po mismo is vouching for the integrity and credibility of the qualified bidder, lone qualified bidder?

SEC. PANELO: For as long as they follow the legal requirements, then the assumption is that they are qualified.

ROSALIE COZ/UNTV: Doon po sa natitira kasi ‘di ba nagbigay ng ultimatum si President na November dapat mayroon ng third major telco player. So hindi ba na-sacrifice po iyong integridad noong iyon pong quality noong pagpili ng mga bidders?

SEC. PANELO: Not really because precisely there is bidding process and all the bidders have to go through it. If one or two of them have not satisfied the requirements, this early, one of them will have to win over them. And then again as I said, there is still a remedy for them, they can appeal and point out why they should be the ones chosen by the committee.

ALVIN BALTAZAR/RADYO PILIPINAS: Thank you. Ihahabol lang natin iyong ano ha, iyong in connection doon sa topic doon sa telco.

CEDRIC CASTILLO/GMA7: Sir, hingian ko lang kayo ng reaksiyon sir, kasi may mga komentaryo from some sectors na apparently iyon daw closeness ni businessman Dennis Uy kay Pangulong Duterte ay medyo suspicious daw kung bakit nakuha niya itong third telco slot. As I understand sir, malaki po iyong naging contribution or donation ni Mr. Dennis Uy during the campaign of then Mayor Duterte sir?

SEC. PANELO: I think it’s a baseless assumption because given the character of this President, it’s farfetched. As we all know, relationship, alliances, friendship do not matter with this President. What matter to him is you follow the law and I’ll be with you, you don’t follow it and I’ll be against you.

HENRY URI/DZRH: Yeah, telco. I was not able to hear iyong tanong ni Cedric. Pero iyong expectation ng Pangulo sa serbisyo nitong telco ni Dennis Uy or mayroon bang sinabi ang Pangulo kay Mr. Dennis Uy considering the fact na ayon sa mga report magkaibigan naman sila, malapit silang magkaibigan. Anong sinabi ng Pangulo kay Dennis Uy sa pag-aayos ng telco sa bansa?

SEC. PANELO: One, I do not know about the ‘malapit’ or ‘closeness,’ I know both of them are from Davao, but I do not know whether they’re close friends or not.

HENRY/DZRH: He is I think, is a supporter of the President.

SEC. PANELO: Well, it doesn’t make you close to the President if you support the President. Number two, the President’s policy is not to interfere with his departments as well as the committees created by those departments. So the President has nothing to do with any of those bidding, any of those negotiations or contracts. That’s the policy of the President and it holds until the end of his term.

HENRY/DZRH: Iyong pagpapabilis ng internet connections, wala po bang sinabi ang Pangulo na ayusin, pabilisin?

SEC. PANELO: No, the general directive of the President during the tete-a-tete, as well as in his other pronouncements, is that we need a third player so that services will be efficient, there will be improvement and it will benefit the users – the end users.

CELERINA MONTE/MANILA SHIMBUN: Sir, regarding this ordinance, the anti-profanity ordinance in Baguio, do you welcome that, do you think that should be replicated in the country or do you think it’s a violation of the freedom of expression?

SEC. PANELO: I haven’t—this is the first time I’ve heard of that, I have to see that. Is that an ordinance, ordinance in Baguio? Exactly what profane words are they prohibiting?

CELERINA/MANILA SHIMBUN: Sa school iyong mga pagmumura.

SEC. PANELO: I will not oppose that kind of prohibition in school.

CELERINA/MANILA SHIMBUN: But outside the school or do you think other LGUs should follow that?

SEC. PANELO: But you know profane words are uttered in a moment of anger – so all of us does it. I don’t think I have not heard of anyone not cursing when one is angry.

CELERINA/MANILA SHIMBUN: So, do you think that’s a violation of the freedom of expression?

SEC. PANELO: I think even cursing is part of freedom of speech. For as long as you do not injure the person, that is the subject of your curse.

CELERINA/MANILA SHIMBUN: So kumbaga—

SEC. PANELO: It’s just an expression, I don’t think it is—or it should be prohibited.

CELERINA/MANILA SHIMBUN: Or any ordinance like that should—there should be no ordinance na ganoon na nag—parang nagku-curtail ng freedom of expression?

SEC. PANELO: Yeah, definitely, it may not pass the constitutional test when it is raised before the courts.

ALVIN BALTAZAR/RADYO PILIPINAS: Okay, thank you, MPC. Maraming salamat, Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo. Back to our main studio sa PTV4 and Radyo Pilipinas.

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

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