Press Briefing

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

Event Press Briefing
Location Press Briefing Room, New Executive Bldg., Malacanang

USEC. IGNACIO:  Good noon Malacañang Press Corps, happy Monday. Let’s now have Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo.

SEC. PANELO: Good afternoon. Let me give you some info on the visit of the Prime Minister.

Upon the invitation of the President, the honorable Prime Minister Dr. Mahathir Bin Mohamad will undertake an official visit to the Philippines from March 6 to 7. The official visit of the Prime Minister reciprocates President Duterte’s visit to Malaysia – if you remember – last July of 2018. The President will welcome officially the Prime Minister at ceremonies to be held in Malacañang Palace on March 7. The two leaders will hold bilateral meeting and discuss cooperation in the political, economic and people-to-people sphere and exchange views on topics of mutual importance.

This is the first that the Prime Minister will visit the Philippines since he assumed his position again as the Prime Minister of Malaysia in 2018. During his previous term as Prime Minister, he undertook bilateral official visits in 1987 and 1994.

I am ready for your questions.

ROSE NOVENARIO/HATAW: Good afternoon, sir. Sir, sabi ni Presidente nung unang taon ng kanyang ng termino, 3 to 4 million lang iyong drug addict sa Pilipinas; tapos ngayon naging 7 million. Bakit dumami pa, ano failure ba iyong drug war, ano ba iyong dahilan nito at patuloy po iyong pagpasok ng illegal drug sa bansa, hindi naman po nasasawata. Halimbawa, po iyong 6.8 billion shabu sa Customs, tapos iyong mga naglulutangan na bricks of cocaine. Ano ho iyong hakbang ng gobyerno rito?

SEC. PANELO:  First thing, the President has already clarified that particular number from 3 to 7 million. He said that the 3 million then was only confined to Metro Manila and if you total it with the numbers in Visayas and Mindanao, it will be 7 million drug addicts.

Now, with respect to the entry of certain prohibited drugs – you must remember that the Philippines is composed of hundreds of islands and it’s really difficult to stop the entries of all drugs. And it’s not even sure whether the Philippines was just made a transshipment point or it was really intended for the Philippines. What is important is we were able to know and to get this items that gained entry to the Philippines.

ROSE NOVENARIO/HATAW:  Sir, another topic. Sir, bakit ine-encourage ng Palasyo iyong paglalabas ng listahan ng narco-politicians? Sa halip po na sampahan sila ng kaso kung vetted naman iyong information, may mga sapat na ebidensiya, bakit po hindi sampahan ng kaso sa halip na ibulgar sa publiko? Dahil iyong mga nakalipas pong pagbubulgar sa narco-politicians parang naman pong naging matinding epekto sa kanilang political career, eh diretso pa rin ho iyong kanilang pag-upo sa puwesto.

SEC. PANELO:   Well for one, filing a case is not that easy, you need documentary and testimonial evidence. Now, the idea of presenting a list by the DILG and PDEA is to tell the electorate on the kind of candidates that they will choose from and I think it will help them. Now the fear that it may destroy the presumption of innocence, to my mind there is a judicial remedy for that: If you feel that you’ve been libeled, you can always go to the courts.

ROSE NOVENARIO/HATAW:  So, itutuloy po iyong paglalabas narco-list?

SEC. PANELO:  That’s the judgment call of the DILG Chief and the PDEA.

ROSE NOVENARIO/HATAW:  Pero sabi po kasi ni Secretary Año magpapaalam siya kay Presidente.

SEC. PANELO:  Well, the President if you recall had already released that list. So logically, he will not oppose that.

MARICEL HALILI/TV5:  Sir, just a clarification. Does it mean that you don’t see any legal implications doon sa… just in case matuloy iyong release ng narco-list, because as you said earlier, there is always the presumption of innocence, hindi ba naba-violate iyon?

SEC. PANELO:    As I said, if you feel you are libeled, if you feel that your rights are violated, then you can go to the courts.

MARICEL HALILI/TV5:  But don’t you find it unfair, sir, considering na hindi pa naman nahahatulan iyong mga nandoon sa list and yet masasapubliko agad iyong mga pangalan nila?

SEC. PANELO:   From the point of view of the voters, it will also be unfair if you do not tell them exactly your investigation relative to those involved in the drug industry. And if they are elected and then suddenly their place is contaminated with drugs, they will blame the government, ‘why didn’t you tell us this, you have known this pala all the time.’ So, ibalanse natin.

MARICEL HALILI/TV5:  But what if matapos iyong election and then lumabas na iyong mga pangalan or some of the names included in the narco-list turned out to be innocent?

SEC. PANELO:  Oh, then they can file a case, if they feel they have been libeled. Kaya nga tayo may batas eh.

ROSE NOVENARIO/HATAW:  Sir, ano iyon, parang shame campaign na lang iyong mas pabor iyong Malacañang sa ganoon, kaysa iyong legal move?

SEC. PANELO:  Hindi. Me, as a lawyer, mas gusto ko iyong ilabas ninyo iyong pangalan ng kliyente ko para I can immediately respond to it at magawan ko ng paglilinis kung inosente man at the same time idemanda kita.

ROSE NOVENARIO/HATAW:  Kasi po, iyong mga may pamilya po iyong mga tao. Halimbawa, pong hindi naman po pala positive, nasira na iyong reputasyon nila.

SEC. PANELO: Kaya nga merong recourse sa courts eh, para iyong paninirang puri sa iyo ay ma-compensate.

Kasi you really have to balance iyong duty ng gobyerno na ipaalam sa taumbayan iyong kailangang malaman nila. Because under the Constitution, the right to information is enshrined, tungkulin ng gobyerno din iyon. At the same time, we have also the presumption of innocence.

CHRISTINE AVEDAÑO/PDI:  But sir, can the Palace or the DILG give assurance that the narco- list has been verified at the very least, before you release it, sir?

SEC. PANELO:   Definitely, the Palace will make it a point that the list submitted to it has been validated by the agencies submitting the same. If you recall, iyong mga listahan na binasa ni Presidente, isa lang ang nagreklamo na mali. Kung hindi ako nagkakamali, si ano ba ‘yun… Governor something. The rest hindi naman eh, and the rest napatunayan na totoo pala.

JOYCE BALANCIO/DZMM:  Sir,  can Malacañang guarantee that this list will not be used against or in favor of any particular candidates? Kasi I think and of worry ng candidates ngayon, it will be used, let say for example by those who are… kalaban nila sa candidacy and iyon nga negative campaigning against them.

SEC. PANELO:   Alam mo, sabi ko nga, there are judicial remedies. If I were their lawyer and you are threatening to release the name of my client, I can file a case in court to stop you from so doing. Maraming recourses eh.

JOYCE BALANCIO/DZMM:  But, sir, hindi ba the damage has been done already by merely  exposing the list, kahit sabihin mong meron silang legal remedy to counter the exposure nung  list na iyon, the damage has been done already.

SEC. PANELO:   Hindi pa nga—gaya nga ng sinabi ko, kung ako ang abogado nung mga ilalagay ninyo sa listahan, mag-file na ako ng case sa court to stop you from releasing the same. Kasi I’m sure iyong mga nandiyan sa listahan alam din nila iyan eh. One way or another, they will know that nandoon ang pangalan nila.       

JOYCE BALANCIO/DZMM: Paano sir nila malalaman na they are included in the list?

SEC. PANELO: Sa galing ng Pilipino maniwala ka sa akin. Kayo nga nauuna pa kayong makaalam kung ano ang nangyayari sa Palasyo eh kaysa sa akin eh, magaling tayo eh. There are many ways of knowing kung sino ang mga nandiyan. Nalalaman kaagad nila eh, in fact may tatawag sa akin, ‘Oh nasa listahan daw ako?’ Kung hindi ka naman involved ‘di anong kinakatakot mo?

JOYCE/DZMM: Paano sir iyong mga hindi naman nakakaalam na kasama sila sa listahan? Paano sila mabibigyan ng opportunity to file a case, sir, any documented—

SEC. PANELO: You can file either before or after naman eh. Again, the law allows us to file cases in case our rights have been violated.

VIRGIL LOPEZ/GMA NEWS ONLINE: Hi sir, follow up lang. Iyong mga ni-release ni Pangulo noong 2016, would you know kung—iyong narcolist noong 2016, would you know kung nakasuhan na ba sila…?

SEC. PANELO: I will have to ask the PNP and the DOJ on that.

VIRGIL/GMA NEWS ONLINE: How about the narco-general—

SEC. PANELO: Para masigurado—

VIRGIL/GMA NEWS ONLINE: Iyong mga narco-general sir? Kasi parang… ano na bang update sa kanila?

SEC. PANELO: ‘Di ba ang dami nang natanggal at saka alam ko may mga—

VIRGIL/GMA NEWS ONLINE: I mean, cases like criminal—

SEC. PANELO: Hindi ko exactly alam kung sino ang nademanda but alam kong mayroon. I will give you a list. I will ask the PNP and the DOJ.

REYMUND TINAZA/BOMBO RADYO: Sir, sabi ninyo unfair… mas unfair sa taong bayan o iyong mga constituents kung hindi sila masabihan na iyong kandidato sa kanilang lugar ay sangkot sa drugs. Eh ‘di ba mas alam nga ng mga constituents kung sino iyong drug lord sa kanilang lugar, kung iyong Mayor nila or Vice Mayor or barangay captain, alam nila pero ibinoboto pa rin nila – classic example iyong mga Espinosa, mga Parojinog, still they win every elections before. So ibig sabihin na the knowing of something against the candidate is not enough or assurance na hindi iboboto ng taong bayan?

SEC. PANELO: Eh ang taong bayan pa rin ang namimili whether kriminal ang binobotohan nila, sila pa rin ang namimili niyan. Ang punto ng DILG at saka PDEA basta tungkulin naming ipaalam sa inyo na ito ang aming imbestigasyon, ito ang nakuha namin, nasa sa inyo na iyan.

REYMUND/BOMBO RADYO: Iyon nga sir, so iyong—

SEC. PANELO: In other words, huwag ninyo kaming sisihin.

REYMUND/BOMBO RADYO: Balancing iyong essence and the risk or the danger, kasi ‘di ba dito nga sa Metro Manila, binoboto nga… convicted plunderer na nga binoboto pa rin. So ‘di ba… kumbaga the choice of the people remains… nasa kanila pa rin eh. So hindi effective iyong pagne-name names na sangkot sa ganito, ganiyan sa eleksiyon.

SEC. PANELO: Ganoon pa rin, iyan ang tungkulin nila; as far as they are concerned that this is their duty. Now with respect doon sa mga lumalabas na hindi kanaisnais na mga officials. Eh alam ninyo ever since sinasabi ko na kaya nangyayari iyan kasi most of our electorate are not really that educated. Kulang sila sa aral din eh, kulang sa formal education kaya ang mga kababayan natin they are subject to, one, intimidation; number two, maraming mahihirap sa atin, kailangan nila ng pera. Kaya may problema talaga tayo, kaya ever since sinasabi ko, siguro papag-aralin muna natin lahat ng mga Pilipino mula Prep hanggang College libre. Kasi kapag tayong mga edukado, I don’t think iboboto natin iyong alam nating either kapareho natin or mas magaling sa atin. Tayo ‘di ba pinipili natin iyong magaling—

REYMUND/BOMBO RADYO: Sir, last point—

SEC. PANELO: Kaya may problema tayo—talagang may problema tayo sa choice. We have to go to the basic. Meanwhile, eh wala ganiyan talaga ang kalagayan eh.

REYMUND/BOMBO RADYO: So iyong pagre-release ng DILG ng narcolist nila na mga candidates ay may basbas ng Pangulo?

SEC. PANELO: Let’s put it this way: The DILG and the PDEA thinks it is their duty, in fact, constitutional duty to inform the voters on their investigation relative to the drug industry.

REYMUND/BOMBO RADYO: Last point sir, sabi ninyo the result of their investigation and vetting ng DILG iyong results ng narcolist. Anong ginagawa nila? ‘Di ba moto propio puwede naman nilang i-suspend o sampahan muna ng kaso, within the powers of the DILG Secretary?

SEC. PANELO: ‘Di ba iyon ang ginagawa nila—iyon nga ang ginagawa ng DILG Chief, may mga na-suspinde na, mayroon ng mga dinemanda, iyong mga iba naman nangangalap pa sila ng ebidensiya para mas malakas ang ebidensiya kapag ito ay isinampa na sa hukuman.

MARICEL HALILI/TV5: Sir, you mentioned earlier na kaya hindi masampahan ng kaso iyong mga nasa list is because of lack of evidence. So if that’s the case isn’t this—

SEC. PANELO: Hindi naman lack kung hindi baka kulang pa, para mas malakas. Kasi kung probable cause lang, papasok. Kasi probable cause ibig nilang sabihin maaaring ikaw ang gumawa ng krimen, pero baka pagdating sa hukuman eh ma-dismiss.

MARICEL/TV5: So insufficient evidence kaya hindi sila masampahan ng kaso?

SEC. PANELO: Hindi, kulang ang ebidensiya maging proof beyond a reasonable doubt. Eh sayang lang kung magpa-file ka.

 MARICEL/TV5: But if that’s the case sir, isn’t it an admission na in a way it’s the… some of the names included in the narcolist are not yet verified kasi if there’s an insufficient evidence meaning to say hindi pa rin talaga proven—

SEC. PANELO: Verified nga kasi may probable cause; iba iyong proof beyond a reasonable doubt.

MARICEL/TV5: So kung hindi siya papasa na masampahan ng kaso before the—

SEC. PANELO: Hindi, puwede siyang pumasang pagsampahan mo ng kaso, baka ‘pagdating sa trial sa tunay na labanan eh maabsuwelto. Kaya ayaw nila ring mapahiya but—though alam mo mahalaga iyong sinasabi ko na mayroong judicial remedy – if you feel na your rights are violated maraming puwede kang gawin.

MARICEL/TV5: But if that’s the case sir, hindi ba iyon just a mere paninira of the names of the government officials involved or the candidates involved?

SEC. PANELO: Hindi naman siguro kasi nga the officials are risking also their liberties, kasi kapag napatunayan na siniraan lang nila eh makukulong din naman sila. So hindi mo rin sila masisisi, ang feeling nila duty nila iyon. So they’re risking their liberties also.

MARICEL/TV5: Thank you sir.

SEC. PANELO: Bilib nga ako sa kanila eh kasi given that presumption of innocence, given that puwede kang makulong, ilalabas pa rin nila. So ibig sabihin mayroon silang ano eh, they are steadfast in their conviction na itong mga taong ito involved, kaya I’m risking na may liberty, ‘di demanda ninyo ako kung gusto ninyo, parang ganoon ang dating sa akin eh.

ARJAY BALINBIN/BUSINESS WORLD: Sir, will the government also file charges against them since you claimed that all information about these individuals in the list are also validated?

SEC. PANELO: It’s not the government who will file charges against those who committed that mistake—

ARJAY/BUSINESS WORLD: But who sir?

SEC. PANELO: Eh ‘di siyempre iyong complainant, private citizens, kung sino iyong siniraan mo. Halimbawa ikaw Arjay, kung naisama ka sa listahan and you feel na hindi naman totoo, ikaw ang magdedemanda hindi ang gobyerno. Ang government will… on the base of your evidence will prosecute kung sino iyong nirereklamo mo.

ARJAY/BUSINESS WORLD: Alright, but it’s the government that will release the names of these individuals?

SEC. PANELO: Not the government, the particular officials involved.

Q: [off mic.]

SEC. PANELO: Kaya nga exactly ‘di ba ang official na… Sino pa ba? Alam mo ang crime is personal, it’s not the government. Personal doon—kaya nga sinasabi ko ang feeling nitong mga ito, kaya nga ako hanga sa kanila eh.

Q: [off mic.]

SEC. PANELO: Kung complainant iyong siniraan mo. You feel—

ARJAY/BUSINESS WORLD: No, sir. I mean, will the government since you knew that these individuals are involved in drugs, are you not going to file charges against them?

SEC. PANELO: Of course we will, ‘di ba sabi ko na nga may mga finile-an na, iyong iba naman hindi pa ma-i-file kasi nangangalap pa ng ebidensiya.

ARJAY/BUSINESS WORLD: Sir, another topic.

ARJAY BALINBIN/BUSINESS WORLD:  Sir, more details on the visit of Mr. Mahathir Mohamad, sir. Will the issue on Sabah be tackled as well?

SEC. PANELO:  Hindi ko pa alam kung ano ang agenda, ang alam ko lang may state dinner sa Thursday.

ARJAY BALINBIN/BUSINESS WORLD:  But is that possible for the President to discuss our claims on Sabah?

SEC. PANELO:  Oh, everything is possible naman. When you meet a head of state, every issue is—

ARJAY BALINBIN/BUSINESS WORLD:  And do you think it’s necessary this time, since we have  not been talking about this for so long?

SEC. PANELO:  Kaya nga, everything is possible.

ACE ROMERO/PHIL. STAR:  Secretary, in one of the President’s speeches last night he mentioned about calling the courts to guarantee that Misuari would return to the country and face his charges. Can you elaborate?

SEC. PANELO:  Calling the Courts?

ACE ROMERO/PHIL. STAR:  Yes.

SEC. PANELO:  From what I gather, there has been condition for his return. What I know is, ang in-impose sa kanya na bail yata P950,000, almost a million.

ACE ROMERO/PHIL. STAR:  Parang it appears that… parang gina-guarantee niyang payagan n’yo na siyang lumabas, kasi I assure you babalik siya and then sinabi niya tinawagan niya iyong Courts to assure them na babalik siya kapag pinayagan siyang lumabas.

SEC. PANELO:  He assured the Courts?

ACE ROMERO/PHIL. STAR:  Yes, sabi niya sa speech niya sa first event niya kagabi.

SEC. PANELO:  It means na he is confident like me, I’m confident that my  former client  Nur Misuari will return, hindi naman tatakas iyan eh. Talagang gusto niyang maayos ang problema ng Mindanao.

ACE ROMERO/PHIL. STAR:  Pero, puwede bang gawin ng isang Presidente iyong tawagan iyong judiciary, hindi ba parang kakaiba iyon, di ba interference iyon?

SEC. PANELO:  Papano ba iyong sinabi niya, baka hindi lang—

ACE ROMERO/PHIL. STAR:  ‘I talked to the police, I talked to the military and the Court to allow him to go out, to leave the country.’ Iyon yung quotes niya kagabi. He called the Courts, he talked to the Court, hindi ba interference iyon ng executive sa judiciary?

SEC. PANELO:  Pero di ba naka ano na… di ba Misuari was already allowed.

ACE ROMERO/PHIL. STAR:  Ito iyong quote niya, Sec, babasahin ko, “Kinausap ko ang pulis, pati ang military, pati ang Korte na palabasin muna siya, ako ang nag-guarantee that he will come back.”

SEC. PANELO:  Ah, alam po ninyo…

ACE ROMERO/PHIL. STAR:  So, paano iyon, Sec.

SEC. PANELO:  Ganito iyon, ‘no. The President as head of state is mandated to preserve and protect and to serve the people. Kung ang problema doon sa Mindanao ay nakasalalay sa isang tao kagaya ni Misuari na napakalaki ng impluwensiya at malaking grupo na maaring magkaroon ng sigalot, tungkulin ng Presidente na gawin ang lahat ng kanyang makakaya persuasive persuasion na tulungan na kung iyong pagbibigay ng laya temporarily kay Misuari ay makakatulong, palagay ko tungkulin ng Presidente na ipaalam sa hukuman na makakatulong itong taong ito.

ACE ROMERO/PHIL. STAR:  But, don’t you think it’s inconsistent with separation of powers?

SEC. PANELO:  Ay hindi naman. You know why, ang tinatawag na interference, eh kung sinabing palabasin mo iyan. Kumbaga inuutos mo, minamanduhan mo, ibang usapan na. Pero kung kakausapin mo, sabihin mo, alam ninyo kailangan natin itong taong ito, baka—alam n’yo na, bahala na kayo basta as far as I am concerned, I need this man to help us preserve peace in Mindanao. That is a different story, para kang nag-a-argue sa Court kung anong pros and cons kung palalabasin iyan o hindi.

ACE ROMERO/PHIL. STAR:  Hindi ba ito’y against or inconsistent sa sinabi niya na he never called anybody to interfere with the work of other agencies?

SEC. PANELO:  Baka hindi siya mismo ang tumawag, baka ang ibig niyang sabihin eh—

ACE ROMERO/PHIL. STAR:  ‘Ako’ ang sabi niya, Sec.

SEC. PANELO:  Ah, hindi. Kung minsan pag sinabing mong ako, puwede namang ibang tao eh. What he is saying is ang position niya diyan, mas gusto niya na makalabas si Misuari para pagbalik maayos na ang problema sa Mindanao.

ACE ROMERO/PHIL. STAR:  So nothing irregular with that?

SEC. PANELO:  I don’t think so, kung persuasion lang naman eh—at saka isa pa, I don’t think the Courts will allow itself to be coerced or intimidated by any person in this country. As a practicing lawyer, hindi pumapayag, masyadong ano iyang Courts.

NESTOR CORRALES/INQ. NET:  Sir, just a follow up on the question. May I just quote the President in his speech in Basilan, sinabi niya, sir: “Tinawagan ko iyong mga well of course the authorities at sinabi ko, payagan mo na lang.” That was the exact quote from the President. The meeting with Misuari happened on Monday night, the decision of the Sandiganbayan Third Division happened a day after the meeting of the President and Misuari. How will you explain this, sir?

SEC. PANELO:  Siguro, kapag sinabi niyang tinawagan ko iyong Courts, baka he is referring to, tinawagan niya iyong somebody na will relay the message to the Courts iyong kanyang posisyon. I don’t see anything wrong with that. Kung kailangan ng isang Presidente na makiusap sa bawat sangay—and after all, itong tatlong sangay na ito ay dapat magtulungan para sa bansa natin. Hindi naman pupuwede iyong inflexible ang isang branch kung ang magiging consequence ng inflexibility ay kasiraan ng ating lahi – siyempre kailangan magtulungan din kayo.

But it’s a different story kung mamanduhan mo ang isang sangay, ibang usapan na iyon. That’s interference.

NESTOR CORRALES/INQ. NET:  So Secretary, the President will do this is some other cases if he believes or he thinks that national interest is at stake?

SEC. PANELO:  Kung persuasion lang wala namang problema doon, kung national interest. Parang ano iyan eh, there are many ways naman kasi of presenting your position – you can express it verbally nationwide; you can express it privately to other people para makarating sa dapat paratingan. There are many ways eh, ang importante – it’s his duty to preserve this country.

ARJAY BALINBIN/BUSINESS WORLD:  Sir, if the President can arrange for Mr. Misuari—

SEC. PANELO:  He did not arrange for that, let me correct you there.

ARJAY BALINBIN/BUSINESS WORLD:  He said that.

SEC. PANELO:  No. Sinasabi—gaya na nga, pinapaliwanag ko na sa inyo na sinabi niya iyong posisyon niya para makarating sa kinauukulan, para mapag-aralan nila ang wisdom ng kanyang sinasabi na makakatulong sa bansa, but he did not arrange.

ARJAY BALINBIN/BUSINESS WORLD:  Is that your opinion sir or…?

SEC. PANELO:  No, I’m telling you, iyan ang reyalidad – the Courts will not allow themselves to be intimidated, coerced or commanded or directed by any branch of this government. You can only tell us your position and then we will evaluate. Iyan ang mga sangay.

ARJAY BALINBIN/BUSINESS WORLD:  But you have not even talked to the President yet, sir, to clarify his statement?

SEC. PANELO:  I did, I already did.

ARJAY BALINBIN/BUSINESS WORLD:  When sir?

SEC. PANELO:  Noong isang araw pa kami nag-uusap tungkol diyan. Pinag-usapan na namin iyan.

ARJAY BALINBIN/BUSINESS WORLD:  What did he say, what was his explanation?

SEC. PANELO:  Ang posisyon niya is makakatulong sa atin kung si Misuari eh makalabas, kasi babalik naman iyan.

ARJAY BALINBIN/BUSINESS WORLD: All right, sir. Sir, does the Palace still believe Mr. Misuari still have authority or influence in Mindanao?

SEC. PANELO:  Oh definitely.

ARJAY BALINBIN/BUSINESS WORLD:  To what extent?

SEC. PANELO:  Alam mo si Misuari is the MNLF, MNLF is a huge organization. I’ve seen myself how big the MNLF is. When I was the lawyer for Misuari, I went to the hills of Sulu, Jolo, nakita ko kung gaano kalaki ang puwersa talaga nila. In fact, I delivered a speech – I remember kung how many years ago in Davao – 15,000 people armed, ang laki nila, malaki ang puwersa iyon at saka if you talk to the Muslims in Mindanao, talagang kinikilala nila si Misuari as the head.

ACE ROMERO/PHIL. STAR:  Sec, ito na lang, clarification. So ano iyong mga instances na gagawin uli ng Pangulo iyong ganoon, na nabanggit ninyo iyong isa iyong preserving and protecting the people. So, ano pa iyong ibang instances?

SEC PANELO:   Iyon lang, iyon ang pinaka—kasi tungkulin ng Presidente iyon eh, iyon lang.

ACE ROMERO/PHIL. STAR:  So, iyon lang ang magiging condition na gagawin niya iyon ulit, to call the Courts, kung it would mean securing or protecting iyong Filipino?

SEC. PANELO: Gaya ng sinabi ko, iyong to call the courts parang to call the attention of the court of his position on the matter so that it can be evaluated by the courts. Kasi if it means the survival of this country then the President should do everything in his persuasive power to convince other branches na ito ang mas magandang lakad diyan. But still ultimately, it’s the other branches that will decide for themselves.

ACE/PHIL.STAR: But can’t it be done for… halimbawa, mag-file ka ng petition or—

SEC. PANELO: That is to be done by the lawyers, not the President or the other branch. Nasa ano iyon—what the lawyer can do is to petition the Court and to argue that even the President is favoring this position for his release, you can use the position of the President. It may be persuasive to the Courts.

ACE/PHIL.STAR: So kung puwede namang formal pala, anong value added ng the President using his persuasion?

SEC. PANELO: Hindi… gagamitin…Kasi ‘pag iyong—Halimbawa ‘pag iyong si Misuari nalaman niya ang position ng Presidente then his lawyer can use that in the formal petition.

ACE/PHIL.STAR: Okay, thank you, Sec.

NESTOR CORRALES/INQUIRER.NET: Sir, just to clarify because you mentioned that the President did not make some arrangement. But taking from his words during the ‘Convention of League of Municipalities’ in Manila last week, he mentioned and I quote, “He was not allowed by the Court to go out because he has pending charges when he was armed, so I had to make some arrangements.” It was from the President himself who said that he made some arrangement.

SEC. PANELO: Gaya nga ng sinabi ko, iyong arrangement na iyon, iyon ang tinatawag na in-express niya iyong position niya on the validity or rather on the… mas magandang pagkakataon na si Misuari makalabas.

NESTOR/INQUIRER.NET: So the President made some arrangements?

SEC. PANELO: Iyong arrangement na sinasabi niya, sinabi niya iyong posisyon niya to other people and other people will let the Courts know his position. And the lawyers—kasi kung ako iyong lawyer ni Misuari at narinig ko ang posisyon ng Presidente na pabor sa kliyente ko, gagamitin ko iyon and I will use that because kapag tinanong si Presidente halimbawa—kasi alam mo tayong mga Pilipino kahit iyong mga Courts, they will not call the President himself but there are ways by which you will know, ano ba ang thinking ni Presidente dito, pakitanong mo nga. Totoo ba iyong sinasabi nitong abogadong ito? Pabor ba ito sa atin? Ano ba ang—ganoon tayo mag-operate dito sa bansa eh, hindi frontal.

NESTOR/INQUIRER.NET: So parang—

SEC. PANELO: Ang mahalaga sa kabutihan ng interes ng bansa at hindi mo talaga diretsang pinakikialaman ang desisyon ng isang hukuman. Pinapabayaan mo sila, you provide them with info/inputs then let them evaluate. And I think given that consideration kaya nila inaano si Nur Misuari, pinalabas. Pero babalik iyon, walang kaduda-duda sa akin babalik iyon.

NESTOR/INQUIRER.NET: So para malinaw lang sir, hindi niya tinawagan ang judge or ang Sandiganbayan?

SEC. PANELO: Oo definitely hindi niya… hindi nga kami tinatawagan eh. Hindi nga tinatawagan ang mga branches niya eh, iyon pang ibang sangay lalo na.

ARJAY BALINBIN/BUSINESS WORLD: So sir, suppose we would take your statement that the President did not make any arrangements for Mr. Misuari. Do you agree sir that it’s wrong suppose that we would take your statement that it’s true that he did not make any arrangements for Mr. Misuari—

SEC. PANELO: No.

ARJAY/BUSINESS WORLD: Do you agree that it’s wrong for a President to make arrangements with the Court?

SEC. PANELO: What do you mean of arrangement, iyong mag-uusap sila ng Court, mag-decide sila?

ARJAY/BUSINESS WORLD: Asking the Court palabasin ninyo iyan, puwede siyang magbiyahe although he has pending charges.

SEC. PANELO: Unang-una, the President will not do that. Pangalawa, kung magiging ganiyan ang senaryo mo, that is interference.

 ARJAY/BUSINESS WORLD: So it’s wrong.

SEC. PANELO: Eh kung interference eh hindi na tama iyon. Pero sinasabi ko nga walang arrangement na ganoon eh. Hindi niya kinausap kahit na sino diyan sa Sandiganbayan.

ARJAY/BUSINESS WORLD: But you agree that interference is wrong, it’s a illegal, it’s inappropriate for a President to do that.

SEC. PANELO: The President says so himself, he will not interfere because that is not a style.

ARJAY/BUSINESS WORLD: And you deny that the President said that he made arrangements for Mr. Misuari?

SEC. PANELO: No, ine-explain ko sa inyo iyong arrangement puwedeng nasabihan niya iyong ibang tao, nakarating sa hukuman at iyong hukuman naman in-evaluate iyong narinig nila. But I think your question should be directed to the Sandiganbayan justices kasi sila ang makakasagot sa inyo kung tinawagan sila ni Presidente, minanduhan ba sila ni Presidente.

ARJAY/BUSINESS WORLD: Thank you very much, sir.

JOYCE BALANCIO/DZMM: Sir, with regard to the members of the Bangsamoro Transition Authority. There is a report saying that there are some who already took oath as members of the BTA but were not included in the final list at least of the appointees that was—

SEC. PANELO: Alam ko isa lang.

JOYCE/DZMM: Si Professor Sevilla?

SEC. PANELO: Ms. Arlyn, di ba.

JOYCE/DZMM: She expressed disappointment and confusion that her name was not included. So papaano po ba pumili si President Duterte ng members of the BTA?

SEC. PANELO: From—I gathered from General Galvez, mukhang nagkaroon lang ng mistake, parang nagkamali lang yata ng… nagkaroon ng mix up.

JOYCE/DZMM: Bakit sir nagkaroon pa ng ganoon, I mean why was there—

SEC. PANELO: I think you will have to direct your question to General Galvez kasi siya ang head ng—

JOYCE/DZMM: Paano na lang pinili ni President Duterte iyong members of the BTA kasi he himself mentioned that there were last minute changes that’s why he was late. So papaano po ba pinili ni President Duterte? Bakit may mga nasama sa oath taking pero hindi naman pala sila kasama sa final list?

SEC. PANELO: Eh kasi nga iyong nagkaroon ng mix up yata, mayroong initial na sinubmit ng ganitong—so many in the list, pagkatapos mayroong tinanggal sa listahan, apparently iyong tinanggal hindi natanggal doon sa final listing kaya nga nagkaroon ng mix up.

JOYCE/DZMM: You think sir iyong apology—kasi sabi ni Secretary Galvez, they will issue an apology to the professor. Is it enough to remedy?

SEC. PANELO: Na kay Ms. Sevilla iyon, kasi siya ang subject eh.

JOYCE/DZMM: Pero the Malacañang sir, will you not issue a separate apology given na si President Duterte ang… you know, namili?

SEC. PANELO: Hindi naman, dahil—depende kasi iyan, si General Galvez nga ang nagsasabi na I will assume responsibility for this, this mixed up. Kausap ko siya kahapon, iyon ang sabi niya sa akin.

JOYCE/DZMM: Since sir inamin niya na there was a mixed up, hindi po ba minadali iyong process of choosing those who will be part of the BTA?

SEC. PANELO: Hindi naman, eh matagal na yata iyang mga listahan na iyan eh. Alam mo ‘pag nag-a-apply iyong mga tao, matagal pa iyang nag-a-apply, maraming vetting, may… pinag-aaralan din nila iyan. Walumpu yata ang… 80 yata, 80 so marami, maraming ang nag-apply. Matagal din ang vetting eh, I don’t think na within a week lang ginawa nila iyon, matagal na iyon.

JOYCE/DZMM: So sir, sino dapat ang managot or—

SEC. PANELO: Well, he already assumed the responsibility – General Galvez. Sabi niya, I assume responsibility for the mixed up.

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: Sir, there’s a report, I think from the Inquirer ‘no, na some of our fishermen are being turned away from some of the sand bars near PAGASA Island. First question: Is this correct that China or the Chinese vessels are turning away our fishermen from our own area that is within our EEZ?

SEC. PANELO: I will need to validate that from the Secretary of National Defense.

JOSEPH/GMA7: But sir, to articulate, that is verified, do you think that is correct?

SEC. PANELO: Driving away our fishermen?

JOSEPH/GMA7: Yes.

SEC. PANELO: Certainly it’s not correct.

JOSEPH/GMA7: Because?

SEC. PANELO: Because that is our area. We—from the very start we said that that’s ours and we have been… and our fishermen have been doing that.

JOSEPH/GMA7: Po?

SEC. PANELO: Our fishermen have been fishing there. So they have—nobody has the right to drive our fishermen away. But we’ll have to validate that, hindi pa natin alam iyon.

JOSEPH/GMA7: There have been reports on the past sir that there’s an increased—remember we discussed this before ‘no, iyong mga Chinese vessels in the area but they may not be fishing but you know stationary lang diyan and these are paramilitary forces and in fact there’s a study, there’s a report ‘no from the CSIS that – can I quote? – ‘A different kind of fishing fleet, one engaged in paramilitary work on behalf of the state, meaning China, rather than the commercial enterprise that fishing has emerged as the largest force in the Spratlys.’ What do you think of those vessels, sir? Are they really just honest to goodness fishermen?

SEC. PANELO:  I will have to validate that particular info from the Secretary of National Defense, hindi ko alam iyon.

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7:  But is it not a cause for concern, sir, that there are alleged, you know—I mean, fishermen but they are working for the government as a paramilitary forces?

SEC. PANELO:  If the Secretary of National Defense says it should be a cause of concern, then it is a cause of concern. I haven’t heard him say that.

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7:  All right. Sir, no need to protest if it’s true?

SEC. PANELO:  I will leave it to the Secretary of Foreign Affairs, that’s his turf.

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7:  Okay. Sir, shift tayo ng topic, okay lang? Sir, kahapon si Presidente for the first time, medyo kriniti-cize (criticized) niya ‘no—well not medyo, but kriniti-cize (criticized) niya iyong Otso Diretso. And he said, Otso Diretso sa impyerno. That’s how he—

SEC. PANELO:  Baka naman nagpapatawa lang iyong mama.

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7:  You think, nagpapatawa lang siya, sir?

SEC. PANELO:  Oh, eh alam mo naman iyon, palagi naman nagpapatawa iyon pagdating diyan sa mga ganyan eh.

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7:  Sir, iyong criticism, hindi talaga siya dapat seryosohin, ganoon ba iyon? I’ll give you example based on—

SEC. PANELO:  Kriniti-cize (criticized) niya, pero ibig sabihin iyong may impyerno, patawa lang iyon.

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7:  Okay, sir. I’ll cite examples ‘no, as written by Virgil Lopez. Sir, game. “Erin Tañada left and proud sila diyan sa left, they think it’s popular, kita mo kakapal ng mukha, naggawa pa ng ticket – Otso Diretso.” On … sino ba ito? Si Mar, ‘hambogero man ito, sabi ko tama ka na, Mar.’ Yaya… ano iyong yaya ka lang? ‘Ewan ko kung gawin ninyong senador, wala na ito, napakita na niya. Kung iyong kampanya ipinakita niya na the best siya…’ well, whatever.

Next si Diokno. Chel, you know him ‘no? “Kalayo niya sa Tatay niya, iyong si W. Diokno, iyon ang kuyaw, pero ito wala ito, tingnan mong magsalita, wala, wala ka.” This is the President counter-campaigning?

SEC. PANELO:  You must remember that the President has his own candidates. And under the law, he can endorse or campaign against. So there is nothing wrong, as far as I am concerned, he is doing his feel. Ang feel niya hindi karapat-dapat itong mga kalaban ng kandidato niya, ano namang masama doon, eh lahat naman, eh kung iyong mga senador sa kabila, binabanatan diyan siya, ganoon talaga ang eleksyon.

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7:  Hindi naman na-threaten iyong… ?

SEC. PANELO:  Threatened, sino?

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7:  Well, the admin. I mean, does he have to do that?

SEC. PANELO:  Which one?

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7:  The criticism, I mean…

SEC. PANELO:  Aba’y nangangampanya ka, di siyempre mangangatiyaw kayo sa kabila. Eh kung nangangampanya nga eh, kanya-kanyang kampanya naman iyan eh.

ACE ROMERO/PHIL. STAR:  Follow up lang. So, nakita namin si Presidente, may listahan eh, apparently, binigyan siya ng listahan nung Otso Diretso and then inisa-isa niya kagabi. Is this the new campaign strategy of the admin slate?

SEC. PANELO:   Wala namang strategy si Presidente. Si Presidente is very—hindi n’yo ba napapansin, he is a very frank person. Ano siya, hindi siya… hindi random, kung hindi ang personality niya ganoon eh, walang script, nothing.

ACE ROMERO/PHIL. STAR: So, puwedeng spur of the moment lang iyon—

SEC. PANELO:  Kung ano iyong nasa puso niya, ilalabas niya.

ACE ROMERO/PHIL. STAR:  May listahan eh.

SEC. PANELO:  Siguro iyong listahan para makita niya kung sino iyong—para maalala sino ang mga kalaban ng mga kandidato niya.

ACE ROMERO/PHIL. STAR:  Do you have any info if whether he was asked to do that?

SEC. PANELO:   Wala ako doon, eh.  Hindi ko alam.

USEC. IGNACIO:  Okay, thank you Chief Presidential Legal Counsel and Presidential Spokesperson Salvado Panelo.

SEC. PANELO:  Salamat.

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SOURCE: PCOO – NIB (News and Information Bureau)

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