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

ALVIN BALTAZAR/RADYO PILIPINAS: Good morning MPC. Welcome sa ating regular press briefing with Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo. Good morning, sir.

SEC. PANELO:  Good morning. I’m ready.

CHONA YU/RADYO INQUIRER:  Sir, what’s the basis of the President doon sa sinasabi niya na corruption against former PCSO General Manager Balutan?

SEC. PANELO:  Wala pang statement on that eh. We will be preparing a statement.

CHONA YU/RADYO INQUIRER:  Would you know, sir, kung ano ang sinasabi niya na hindi niya masikmura sa PCSO?

SEC. PANELO:  Hindi, hindi ko alam.

RALPH VILLANUEVA/THE MANILA TIMES:  Sir, over the weekend po ex-GM Balutan called for a full and impartial investigation doon po sa corruption allegations against him. Any response po, sir?

SEC. PANELO:  We will issue a statement on that.

RALPH VILLANUEVA/THE MANILA TIMES:  Sir, follow up po. Was he really fired or did he resign po? Kasi sinasabi nung Spokesman niya kahapon—

SEC. PANELO:  We will issue a statement on that. Just wait for the statement.

HENRY URI/DZRH:  Secretary, but based on your statement you have said that the Palace confirms that President Rodrigo Roa Duterte has terminated the services of Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office General Manager Alexander Balutan on his present post due to serious allegation of corruption. Can you elaborate on that, sir?

SEC. PANELO:  We will issue a statement on that I said. So just wait for an expansion of the statement.

HENRY URI/DZRH:  You mean to say you will issue additional statement on this?

SEC. PANELO:  We will make a statement.

INA ANDOLONG/CNN PHILIPPINES:  But you are sticking to your original position that he was fired—

SEC. PANELO:  I said we will make a statement, Ina.

INA ANDOLONG/CNN PHILIPPINES:  Sir, why can’t you say it na—

SEC. PANELO:  We will make a statement so that you will not misquote or… I may not be misunderstood. We will just make a statement on all the questions you have asked, later. Before 5 pm this afternoon.

INA ANDOLONG/CNN PHILIPPINES:  Sir, you already made—

SEC. PANELO: Anong earlier, 3 o’clock? Okay.

INA ANDOLONG/CNN PHILIPPINES:  Sir, you already made an initial statement—

SEC. PANELO: Dadagdagan pa natin, kasi may mga—

INA ANDOLONG/CNN PHILIPPINES:  But you still saying that—

SEC. PANELO:  We will respond to many questions you raised earlier.

INA ANDOLONG/CNN PHILIPPINES:  Okay. Sir. si Sandra Cam is saying that the reason why he was fired is that he was—his trusted people on the PCSO – General Balutan – was giving licenses to operate iyong STL at a price. Is that true?

SEC. PANELO:  I have no personal knowledge on that, that’s the allegation of—

PIA GUTIERREZ/ABS-CBN:  Hi, sir. Sir, over the weekend, GM Balutan also claimed on DZMM that ES Medialdea told him personally that several people wanted him out of the PCSO. Can you comment on this, sir?

SEC. PANELO:  I’ll ask ES. Hindi ko alam kung ano ang napag-usapan. I have to ask him para accurate tayo.

PIA GUTIERREZ/ABS-CBN:  But can you confirm, sir, that corruption allegations talaga and not politics was the reason behind his termination?

SEC. PANELO:  I will ask nga ES, kasi sila ang nag-uusap eh.

NESTOR CORRALES/INQ. NET:  Secretary, but where did you get your statement that he was fired due to serious corruption allegations? Because you are saying you don’t have any idea. But where did you get your statement, saying he was fired quote due to serious—

SEC. PANELO:  Basta, I will make a statement later before 3 pm. Oh, next issue naman, paulit-ulit lang tayo. Iba namang topic.

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7:  Sir, Friday pa iyong firing di ba? And then Saturday, Sunday, what are you waiting for?

SEC. PANELO:  Basta I will make a statement at 3 PM. Sabi ninyo 3 PM.

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7:  Or who are you waiting for?

SEC. PANELO:  Basta 3 pm nga. Letku mo eh.

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7:  Millennial ha. May replacement na siya, sir?

SEC. PANELO:  Hindi ko pa alam. Di antayin natin kung ano ang latest. Ibang topic naman.  Kala ko may nagtatanong about Rappler, ano ba iyong kay Rappler?

MARICEL HALILI/TV5:  No sir, kay Balutan muna, mamaya na iyon. Sir, confirmation lang. But is it true na nagpunta si GM Balutan sa Malacañang last Friday?

SEC. PANELO:  Hindi ko alam iyan, hija. I have to ask ES eh. I have no personal knowledge. I have to ask him.

MARICEL HALILI/TV5:  Pero in any case, si ES iyong possible na kausap ni GM?

SEC. PANELO:  Hindi ko alam kung possible o hindi. I have to ask, kailangan direct. I will ask. Text mo na nga ang ano…twelve na eh.

Q:  off mic.

SEC. PANELO:  3 PM.

MARICEL HALILI/TV5:  But will there be a change on your statement later, sir?

SEC. PANELO:  Hindi ko pa alam, basta I will issue a statement.

MARICEL HALILI/TV5:  Bakit hindi alam?

SEC. PANELO:  Surprise. Kasi maraming mga questions na tinanong, di lalagyan na natin ng sagot.

HENRY URI/DZRH:  But do you think it’s fair to General Balutan, kasi lumabas na ho sa… well, of course, sa lahat ng media platform na tinanggal siya dahil sa katiwalian pero meron pa palang additional statement. Ano iyong additional na iyan?

SEC. PANELO:  In response to your question: I will make a statement at 3PM.

HENRY URI/DZRH:  Paano Secretary kapag hindi pala siya tinanggal lang dahil sa katiwalian?

SEC. PANELO:  We will make a statement at 3 pm.

CHONA YU/RADYO INQUIRER:  How many were fired na under the Duterte administration – how many were charged, how many were jailed?

SEC. PANELO:  Ang alam ko 16 ang na-fire na high government officials.

CHONA YU/RADYO INQUIRER:  Corruption ito, sir?

SEC. PANELO:  Cris, ano iyan corruption lahat o wala sinabing… basta iyong number of—siguro we will make a ta—hindi para sigurado, we will make a tally on that and then issue— ah coming from the PACC pala iyon.

PIA GUTIERREZ/ABS-CBN:  Sir, other topic.  Sir, iyong sa Manila water crisis – may directive na po ba si President Duterte on how to address the situation?

SEC. PANELO:  I haven’t talked to him. I’m waiting for him. We will talk later.

PIA GUTIERREZ/ABS-CBN:  But is the government concerned?

SEC. PANELO:  Siyempre, we are always concerned with respect to any problem affecting the welfare of the people.

PIA GUTIERREZ/ABS-CBN:  Sir, can we expect swift action from the government, considering na marami na talaga dito sa Metro Manila ang nahihirapan?

SEC. PANELO:  Yes, we will respond to that. Pero ang problema yata eh ang tubig eh manggagaling sa langit; walang ulan, pag walang ulan papano, baka mag—mag-aantay tayo.

PIA GUTIERREZ/ABS CBN:  What about iyong possibility ng cloud seeding, sir. Will the President order that?

SEC. PANELO:  Oh yeah, that’s a possibility. In fact, iyon ang naiisip ko kung bakit hindi gumagawa ng cloud seeding. Di ba usually ganyan ang ginagawa noon?

PIA GUTIERREZ/ABS CBN:  So wala pang order, sir, from the Palace on this?

SEC. PANELO:  Kung meron man, hindi ko alam. But, I am sure meron nang ginawa.

PIA GUTIERREZ/ABS CBN:  Will the Palace also look into… iyong lack of preparation for this kind of scenario, sir? Considering na with all the technology that we have and the government should have prepared for this, sir.

SEC. PANELO:  We will look into that. We will look into that.

INA ANDOLONG/CNN PHILIPPINES:  Sir, because the water levels of La Mesa Dam hit its lowest in 12 years. Sabi ninyo sir ngayon lang—

SEC. PANELO:  ‘98 di ba?

INA ANDOLONG/CNN PHILIPPINES:  In 12 years. And now you are saying na, ‘I’m sure meron ng ginawa.’ That is why we are asking you, ano nga po – is there may be a task force to look into the situation to make sure that the problem does not—

SEC. PANELO:  Hindi ko pa alam nga iyong portion na iyan. I have to ask the President exactly what were the instructions if they were made.

INA ANDOLONG/CNN PHILIPPINES:  Is the Palace hoping, sir, that advisories on water interruptions are done much earlier than what we saw over the weekend? Because over the weekend marami pong nag-complain that the announcement was quite sudden and then for  instance there were times na meron dapat 2 hours na merong available water but then not a drop supposedly ang nakita in some areas.

SEC. PANELO:  Then we will improve on that, on the information and notices to the people so that they will be prepared.

NESTOR CORRALES/INQUIRER.NET: Secretary, why is now the President against the legalization of medical marijuana? He mentioned it during his speech last Friday in Negros—

SEC. PANELO: You know, I’m not sure exactly his statement, whether it was a general changed of mind or he’s only referring to specific—in fact, that’s one of my questions I have in mind to ask him later.

NESTOR CORRALES/INQUIRER.NET: Ito ang sinabi niya, sir, “I do not intend to legalize it. Ayaw ko. Gawin mo lang excuse iyan eh, tatanim ka ng iyo, sabihin mo medicinal man yan kaya ito. Kaya iyan ang sinabi ko, kinulong ko iyan sila.”

SEC. PANELO: Puwede rin naman na kaya niya sinabi iyon baka kailangan ng maraming safeguards. Kasi nga, as he said, baka gamitin ninyo lang iyan later on. Kung wala kang safeguards, talagang puputok iyan.

NESTOR CORRALES/INQUIRER.NET: Ang term kasi niya, sir, is, “I do not intend to legalize it.”

SEC. PANELO: And he said also that I do not—he has no knowledge on the medical findings on marijuana.

I was listening to Congressman Albano this morning, parang he was saying na baka because of that, dahil hindi alam ni Presidente iyong … by his own admission, baka kailangan mapaalam kay Presidente iyong importance ng legalization with respect to specific cases of sickness. Kumbaga, iyon lang, limited na limited ang use. Kasi noon, pabor siya sa limited use eh.  I’ll ask him exactly kung ayaw niya ng outright o ano lang … confine, na-confine o kung anong safeguards.

BERNADETTE NICOLAS/BUSINESS MIRROR: Hi, sir. On the budget, sir. Senator Sotto said in an interview that he had asked the help of Malacañang to stop the House from making changes in the ratified budget bill. So he said he talked to ES Medialdea, CabSec Nograles, former Budget Sec and now BSP Governor Diokno, and Finance Secretary Dominguez po. So may we know if the President is finally considering to talk to the House leadership about this issue, sir?

SEC. PANELO: I do not know exactly how he will respond to that. But from the very beginning we said that he will exercise his power to veto if he feels that indeed the budget to be given to him does not conform with the Constitution; otherwise, he will sign it into law.

BERNADETTE NICOLAS/BUSINESS MIRROR: But may we know, sir, when this talk happened po, sir?

SEC. PANELO: I have no personal knowledge in the talk. I only read it.

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: Sir, iyong pag-veto, medyo mahirap gawin as—kasi ganito, sir, iyong complication ‘di ba, so iyong context, as matter of context lang. So parang bicam, natapos sila and then, bumalik sa House – per the last discussion that we had—

SEC. PANELO: They itemized it. Iyon ang sinasabi nila.

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: Yes, itemized it after the fact, meaning, after the bicam ratification and then lumubo iyong ibang mga budgets. Kumbaga, may mga realignments – 95 billion he claimed, Senator Lacson ‘no.  So ang sinasabi niya is that he cannot just naman let SP Tito Sen sign it kasi parang it’s a violation of the Constitution.

Now, is Malacañang interested in—not naman [off mic] in solving this impasse because the DPWH – we had them last time ‘no – and it’s already affecting… the delay in the budget is already affecting some of the key infrastructure projects of the President. Now, question is: Is Malacañang or is the President interested in solving this impasse?

SEC. PANELO: According to Senator Sotto, he has talked with the President. So I don’t know what they talked about. We’ll wait for the President’s…

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: Well, according to him, the President said that they should do the right thing.

SEC. PANELO: Well, then, he will do it. He will examine the provisions of the budget. And if he feels it does not conform, he will do exactly what he has to do.

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: Sir, ang point, sir, is that they cannot forward to you or to the Palace an enrolled bill that is not faithful to the—

SEC. PANELO: Signed.

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: No. It’s not faithful to the version in the bicam, that’s the problem, because it’s potentially a constitutional violation. Now, question is: Would you request the House and the Senate, whoever kung sinuman iyong may binago after the bicam report, to just do away with those amendments so we can have the budget signed by the President?

SEC. PANELO: It’s the President’s call. But as far as I know, he’ll just wait for the enrolled bill to be submitted to him.

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: Can you wait—ang sabi ni Senator Sotto, can you wait until August after mawala si SP Arroyo—no, not SP—Speaker Arroyo.

SEC. PANELO: I’m sure they will agree – the House and the Senate – dahil nag-uusap naman sila na eh.

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: Apparently, no, sir. They cannot agree. They can talk but they do not agree.

SEC. PANELO: From what I hear, they’re talking to agree. Hindi ko lang alam kung kailan mangyayari iyon.

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: I’m sorry, I didn’t catch you.

SEC. PANELO: Nag-uusap naman sila eh.

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: You do not want to ask the House to do away with the amendments?

SEC. PANELO: Kay Presidente kasi iyan eh. He hasn’t told me anything about what he intends to do.

ACE ROMERO/PHIL. STAR: But, Secretary, this administration does not want to operate on a re-enacted budget until August?

SEC. PANELO: Yeah, that’s the ideal. Although, as we have said earlier on, panahon pa ni Ben Diokno, kung magkaroon man ng re-enacted budget eh we are prepared for that also. ‘Di ba, in-explain na niya iyan. Although maraming maapektuhan – made-delay ang mga projects, mayroong hindi maibibigay.

ACE ROMERO/PHIL. STAR: So how do you see this scenario by Senator Lacson that we may be forced to operate on a re-enacted budget until August?

SEC. PANELO: Ako, I’m sure they will be agreeing eventually kung ano iyong dapat nilang gawin. All of them naman are concerned about the welfare of the country.

ACE ROMERO/PHIL. STAR: So Secretary, you mentioned ayaw ninyo iyong re-enacted budget until August kasi nga sinabi ninyo made-delay iyong projects, iyong infrastructure. So ano iyong gagawin ngayon ng Malacañang para maiwasan itong scenario na ito?

SEC. PANELO: Siguro – kung I will have my educated guess – the President will persuade para matapos na iyang ano nila, kung anuman.

But knowing members of Congress, they always naman agree eventually, ‘di ba? Dati ayaw nila pero nag—

ACE ROMERO/PHIL. STAR: But you do hope, huwag naman sana iyong August?

SEC. PANELO: I hope so, yes.

ACE ROMERO/PHIL. STAR: Sec., what is your reaction to the CA decision upholding its previous ruling on Rappler?

SEC. PANELO: As we said, any case that has been filed before the courts, we will not interfere; we will let the law takes its course.

ACE ROMERO/PHIL. STAR: You will just let the court issue the ruling on Rappler and you still hold the view that it is not related to, you know, press freedom or—

SEC. PANELO: Well, definitely. It’s not related naman, ever since hindi naman talaga related.

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: Sir, iyong sa ICC, effective na iyong withdrawal natin on March 15, I think. So obviously, we’re not—

SEC. PANELO: Seventeen, yata.

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: Ah, 17. Obviously, we’re not taking it back ‘no because the President did not want the ICC?

SEC. PANELO: First, let me re-state our position on the matter. One, we said, we didn’t even withdraw. We said from the very beginning, we were not under its jurisdiction. That letter was only to inform them as a matter of courtesy that excuse us, we have not been under your jurisdiction from the very start.

Number two, we have been pointing out that the ICC itself has been violating their own provisions, because under the law you cannot proceed when… assuming that there is a withdrawal, because they are saying na we can proceed with the investigation even if there is withdrawal. But under the law it says that they can proceed only when there is a preliminary investigation prior to the withdrawal; but there was no preliminary investigation, there was only preliminary examination. So if they do that ‘di with more reason talagang hindi kana dapat na pumapasok diyan dahil it is violating its own laws.

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: Sir, clarification lang. So they should have—for them to acquire, for it to acquire jurisdiction even after our withdrawal there should has been a preliminary investigation?

SEC. PANELO: Prior—

JOSEPH/GMA7: Prior to the withdrawal?

SEC. PANELO: Prior to the filing of a letter of withdrawal.

JOSEPH/GMA7: So do you think on March 17, they should stop whatever they are doing with the—

SEC. PANELO: In the first place they should—from the very beginning they cannot be doing any investigation because as we pointed out to them, it never acquired jurisdiction over the Philippines from the very inception. As argued by the President, there is a requirement of publication and that was never published and hence there is no jurisdiction over his person and for that matter over any person in this country.

JOSEPH/GMA7: What are you going to do if they proceed with any kind of investigation?

SEC. PANELO: Sabi nga ni Presidente they can do their worst. How can they—they have to follow their own rules. First, they’ll have to determine during the preliminary examination whether or not, one, iyong mga grounds papasok; number two, willing ba—assuming na possible nga – willing ba iyong state to prosecute? Kung willing – is it capable of doing it? Iyong mga requirements na iyon puro ang sagot eh hindi puwede, puwede na silang pumasok. Pero hindi, puwede naman, our Courts are functioning. So paano sila papasok?

We are willing and we are capable. In fact, it shows we have a robust judicial system. We have been prosecuting people and we have convictions, as well as acquittals.

INA ANDOLONG/CNN PHILS.: Sir, si Attorney Jude Sabio – the lawyer who filed the communication po doon sa ICC – is floating the possibility, he is saying na posible daw po mag-announce iyong ICC ng decision or next move after the examination before March 17. He is saying that the investigation may be announced before 17 when the withdrawal is supposed to take effect. So what’s the Palace’s position on that? So what happens if that happened?

SEC. PANELO: Eh wala nga eh, wala nga silang jurisdiction, so what they can do? What they can do kung wala silang jurisdiction over us?

INA/CNN PHILS.: So even if such announcement is made before the 17th, it does not matter for the Palace? I mean, what will the Palace do?

SEC. PANELO: It does not matter to us because they have no jurisdiction over us. If they force itself to acquire jurisdiction, it only shows that from the very start talagang hindi dapat pumapasok diyan sa ICC because it’s violating its own provisions.

HENRY URI/DZRH: Secretary, on the narcolists mayroon na po bang—

SEC. PANELO: Ah, narco—

HENRY/DZRH: Mayroon na po bang specific day ngayong week na ito kung kailan ilalabas?

SEC. PANELO: Secretary Año, will do the… will be making the announcement.

HENRY/DZRH: Iyong mga reaksiyon specifically ng mga senators, para sa kanila hindi dapat, para magamit lang sa pulitika. Ano ang reaksiyon ho ng Pangulo roon?

SEC. PANELO: Hindi ba sinabi na natin iyon, na iyong reason for their list would be because of national security. The individual right cannot prevail over national security and interest, sinabi na natin iyon.

HENRY/DZRH: So as far as the Palace is concerned hindi na mapipigilan iyong pagre-release ng narcolist?

SEC. PANELO: Hindi na siguro—hindi nagbigay na siya ng instruction eh – nai-release.

HENRY/DZRH: Alright, thank you.

JOYCE BALANCIO/DZMM: Sir, labor groups slammed Special Envoy to China Ramon Tulfo for defending the influx of Chinese workers in the Philippines and for saying, I quote, ‘Mabagal daw at maingay ang mga Pilipino kaya hindi sila pinipili ng employers.’ They demanded an apology from Tulfo; but in a statement sa Twitter account niya, he refused to give an apology. First muna sir, tama ba na nagbibigay si Tulfo ng ganitong klaseng statements against Filipino workers?

SEC. PANELO: Well, that is freedom of expression, everyone is entitled to make his opinion on any matter concerning the country or the people or anybody. Freedom of expression ‘yan eh.

JOYCE/DZMM: Do you share the same view, sir, the Malacañang, does it share the same view?

SEC. PANELO: The Secretary of Labor already made a statement on that. He disagrees.

JOYCE/DZMM: So ano po ang stand dapat ng Palace given na may ganoong sinabi na iyong Labor Secretary natin?

SEC. PANELO: Eh mayroon ng—

JOYCE/DZMM: Should he apologize?

SEC. PANELO: That’s a call of Special Envoy Ramon Tulfo; and he said he will not.

JOYCE/DZMM: Are you not concerned sir that he is giving these statements given na he is an appointed official?

SEC. PANELO: Alam mo kasi according to him, iyon ang sabi sa kaniya ng mga developers. Kumbaga he is just restating it, kinukuwento niya lang iyong sabi sa kaniya. Get it? Hindi sa kaniyang opinyon eh. From what I gather from his statement, I asked the developers and the developer said this and that, oh eh ‘di… Actually, hindi niya nga… hindi personal opinion niya iyon eh, it’s the opinion of the developers who take these Chinese workers over them or they prefer them.

JOYCE/DZMM: But sir, ito na lang. Iyong Malacañang, do you agree or not to his statements?

SEC. PANELO: Again, that’s a personal statement of the special envoy.

JOYCE/DZMM: Hindi po ba siya dapat nag-i-ingat sa pagbibigay ng ganitong klaseng statements?

SEC. PANELO: I will repeat: I don’t think that is the opinion of Mr. Tulfo, I think he was just translaying, relaying what he heard or what was said to him by the developers. Pakinggan—tingnan ninyong maigi iyong statements niya, so hindi galing sa kaniya.

JOYCE/DZMM: But as far as the Malacañang is concerned, hindi ganoon ang tingin ninyo sa mga Pilipino?

SEC. PANELO: Oh definitely. Ang tingin natin siyempre, ang mga Pilipino talagang masisipag; in fact, ang impression sa abroad eh masisipag talaga. Pero depende rin eh, on a personal level like me for instance, ako may masipag na worker, mayroon namang tamad na worker, depende siguro. Pero ang general impression talaga masisipag tayo, we are preferred in other countries.

JOYCE/DZMM: So you disagree sir, kasi given na iyon ang pagtingin eh. Anyway, sir, would you advise him to avoid making such statements given na—

SEC. PANELO: No, he is special envoy and he’s a responsible man. He doesn’t need to be advised.

JOYCE/DZMM: Deserve pa po ba niya iyong posisyon given na Special Envoy to China and he is giving statements against Filipino workers?

SEC. PANELO: Hindi—uulitin ko na naman, eh mukha ngang hindi naman siya nagsasalita against eh, inuulit niya lang iyong sinabi sa kaniya. Bakit ba pinipilit ninyo naman kasing siya ang nagsalita noon. Sinasabi niya lang, ‘Oh sabi ng mga developers, iyong mga ano raw kaya ayaw nila palaging nagbe-break, pumupunta sa toilet’ – he is not saying that. Tingnan mong maigi iyong statement niya. Let’s not put in words into his mouth unless he restates it and say ‘hindi, that’s also my opinion.’ Oh eh—pero hindi naman iyong ang pagkabasa ko sa statement niya eh.

JOYCE/DZMM: For the record lang sir, sinabi niya iyon sa interview sa TV so the statements came from him directly. Thank you sir.

SEC. PANELO: Yes, I know. But I heard him also, sinasabi niya na galing sa mga developers, hindi galing sa kaniya. Nire-relay niya lang nga eh.

CHONA YU/RADIO INQUIRER: Sir, should Tulfo be disciplined po?

SEC. PANELO: Hmmm.

CHONA/RADIO INQUIRER: Should Tulfo should be disciplined po?

SEC. PANELO: Should?

CHONA/RADIO INQUIRER: Tulfo po, be disciplined.

SEC. PANELO: Bakit mo naman idi-discipline, relaying what he has been told by the developers, eh I think siguro iyong mga… kung totoo man iyong sinasabi ng mg developers, that should also give us – iyong kung tayo ang mga workers – na baguhin natin ang attitude natin with respect to our work ethics.

CHONA YU/RADYO INQUIRER:  Di ba iyon nakakasira, sir, sa image ng mga Filipino workers?

SEC. PANELO:  Eh from the point of view of developers, iyon ang kanilang sinasabi eh.

PIA GUTIERREZ/ABS-CBN:  Sir, did you confirm to Tulfo that he was basically relaying—

SEC. PANELO:  No, I haven’t talked to him. But I’m basing my statement from what I read. Iyong statement niya doon sa column niya.

PIA GUTIERREZ/ABS-CBN:  But if you read sir his tweeties… sorry, not sorry tweet. He said—parang basically lumalabas doon na he is not relaying the opinion of developers. Pero he is saying that, and I quote, “to the Filipino construction workers, why should I apologize to you for telling the truth that you’re basically lazy and a slowpoke. Does the truth hurt.” So parang it’s his truth, iyon yung pinaniniwalan niyang katotohanan.

SEC. PANELO:  Not necessarily. Kumbaga, for telling you the truth that this is what I received from them.

PIA GUTIERREZ/ABS-CBN:  Parang ang layo naman—

SEC. PANELO:  Palagay ko iyon pa rin ang kanyang punto.

PIA GUTIERREZ/ABS-CBN:  Sir, do you think that such statements are—

SEC. PANELO:  Siguro, I will invite him. Para you will ask him direct.

PIA GUTIERREZ/ABS-CBN: Sir parang, is the Palace concerned that such statement can affect the reputation and the employment of Filipinos abroad?

SEC. PANELO: No. Because you know why, because I said the general impression and reputation of Filipino workers abroad are very good – we are industrious, we are honest; ano tayo eh – maganda nga ang reputasyon.

PIA GUTIERREZ/ABS-CBN:  Sir, but when you have a special envoy or a government official telling basically the world that Chinese workers are better than Filipino workers—

SEC. PANELO:  Hindi. Again I will repeat, paulit-ulit tayo eh – nire-relay niya lang nga eh. From what I read from his column, I am relaying to you what the developers told me.

PIA GUTIERREZ/ABS-CBN: That’s your interpretation of what he said.

SEC. PANELO:  No, that’s not my interpretation. That is what he is saying in his column.

PIA GUTIERREZ/ABS-CBN:  Basically, sir in his tweets, he is practically saying that it his truth eh. It is the truth, iyon ang sinasabi niya.

Q: May kasunod pa sir.

SEC. PANELO:  O malay mo kung iyong kasunod niya eh he is—in reference to his previous statement.

PIA GUTIERREZ/ABS-CBN:  Does the Palace think that Filipino workers are inferior to Chinese workers?

SEC. PANELO:  Sinabi na nga natin hindi eh. Talagang magaling ang mga Pilipino. If we put our hearts into it, magagaling talaga ang mga Pilipino. Meron ding tamad, pero generally talagang masipag tayo, lalo na ang mga Ilokano. Oo, masisipag talaga ang mga Ilokano, napakasipag ng mga Ilokano.

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7:  Sir, do you think that Mon Tulfo agrees with the statements of the developers?

SEC. PANELO:  We have to ask him that. I’ll call him after this and ask him, ano ba talaga ang posisyon mo diyan?

ARJAY BALINBIN/BUSINESS WORLD:  Sir, aside from Tulfo, we have five more special envoys to China. Bakit parang dami nila, sir?

SEC. PANELO:  Eh malaki ang China eh. Maraming concerns sa—maraming areas eh, ilang bilyon ang China.

ARJAY BALINBIN/BUSINESS WORLD:  May Ambassador din tayo, sir. So, I think that’s—we have seven people working for the government to China.

SEC. PANELO:  Hindi ko alam ang sagot diyan, ang alam ko hindi lima. Baka apat na lang.

ARJAY BALINBIN/BUSINESS WORLD:  Lima, sir.

SEC. PANELO:  Sino?

ARJAY BALINBIN/BUSINESS WORLD:  We have Borja—

SEC. PANELO:  Ah si Borja hindi na, ang alam ko si Borja parang envoy to Japan na.

ARJAY BALINBIN/BUSINESS WORLD:  No sir, recently lang ito sir. Their terms were extended by the President.

SEC. PANELO:  Recent din iyong aking news diyan. Iyong si Borja—

ARJAY BALINBIN/BUSINESS WORLD:  That was on February 28, sir.

SEC. PANELO:  From what I remember, noong kausap ko iyong OP, si Borja prefers to be Special Envoy to Japan. Pero nailabas na raw iyong renewal kaya they have to recall the renewal bago siya gagawing special envoy to Japan.

ARJAY BALINBIN/BUSINESS WORLD:  Pero bakit kailangang marami tayong special envoy sa China, sir?

SEC. PANELO:  Eh siguro nga because of the number as well as the bigness of the country, eh marami tayong concerns noon eh.

ARJAY BALINBIN/BUSINESS WORLD: Pero halimbawa si Mr. Tulfo, sir, ano specifically iyong function niya, ano iyong ginagawa niya?

SEC. PANELO:  Hindi ko alam ang special envoy—ang alam ko sa mga special envoy, kung merong mga specific assignments, kung ano ang ibibigay ni Presidente.

ARJAY BALINBIN/BUSINESS WORLD:  So this is usual for a government to appoint more than five special envoys, sir?

JULIE AURELIO/PDI: Sir, I’d like to make reference to a tweet that Mr. Tulfo made today, after what Pia read. Five hours ago, he said, “Oh my, I kicked up a storm on my statement that Filipino workers in this country are lazy! TUCP wants me to apologize. Labor Secretary Bebot Bello, as can be expected [sic], takes exception to my comment.” Take note of the word ‘comment’. “Read my column at The Manila Times tomorrow on why I will not apologize.” So do you still insist that it is just relaying the statement of the Chinese developers—

SEC. PANELO: I’ll wait for his comment tomorrow, kung ano iyong bago niyang statement, iyon ang latest—Eh sabi niya eh, you wait for my comments

JULIE AURELIO/PDI: But since Mr. Tulfo is special envoy of the President, don’t you think that he might be endangering the position of the President?

SEC. PANELO:  I don’t think so naman.

JULIE AURELIO/PDI: Why, sir?

SEC. PANELO: Eh he’s expressing his opinion on a matter conveyed to him by a third person.

JULIE AURELIO/PDI: So it’s not just expressing the statement of developers now, sir? He is now expressing an opinion?

SEC. PANELO: Hindi ko pa alam nga kung talagang iyan ang opinyon niya. I’ll call him para mas sigurado. Mahirap iyong mag-i-educate tayo ng guess, mamaya magka-clarify tayo eh hindi naman pala. Let’s ask him direct.

DEO DE GUZMAN/RMN: Good morning, sir. Sir, given po na sinasabi ninyo na nag-express lang si Mon Tulfo ng ano, ng opinion ng developers, ano po ang gagawin ng government ngayon para po mapaganda naman iyong image ng mga Filipino workers?

SEC. PANELO: I think that statement from the developers is directed to the Filipinos doon sa lugar nilang pinagtatrabahuhan. So dapat ang mga Pilipinong natamaan noon ay mag-isip-isip din baka totoo ang sinasabi. Kung hindi naman, eh di magsalita sila, “Hindi totoo iyan.”

DEO DE GUZMAN/RMN: Sir, ano pong government action ang gagawin ninyo ngayon?

SEC. PANELO: Anong gagawin mo sa government action? Alangan namang pilitin mong magtrabaho iyon kung ayaw magtrabaho. That will be—

DEO DE GUZMAN/RMN: Hindi, mayroon po tayong trainings, mayroon po tayong … marami pong pupuwedeng pagdaanan to better the image of the country with regard to workers.

SEC. PANELO: Ah hindi iyon. Alam mo iyang katamaran, hindi na pinag-aano iyan, hindi tini-train iyan; ethics iyan eh. Iyong personal mo iyan eh. Kung talagang tamad ka, eh tamad ka. Kasi you’re expert on that field – you are a karpintero, you are a welder – pero kung ang ethics mo ay mas gusto mong nagpapahinga kaysa nagtatrabaho, eh personal mo na iyon. Wala nang magagawa ang gobyerno doon.

The government can do so much to train you. But with respect to your personal work ethic, hindi ka … unless na bigyan mo ng punishment iyan. Siguro iyong mga companies kasi na pinagtatrabahuhan nila, baka masyado rin silang lax. Kasi kung istrikto ka, lahat ng mga empleyado will work to the hilt.

Kumbaga, pareho rin iyang sabi sa Spanish, “la situación hace al ladrón” – the situation creates a thief. Mag-iwan ka ng malaking pera diyan at mayroong tao diyan, eh baka mawala iyan.

DEO DE GUZMAN/RMN: Hindi po ba—kasi po ang sinasabi po nila’y iyon pong mga workers na iyon ay those are the workers who supported the President and then sila iyong kinukutsa ba ng ating Special Envoy to China.

SEC. PANELO: Again, sinasabi ko na nga, hindi naman si Mon Tulfo ‘yan, unless he tells me after I call him up na siya. Pero kung sabihin naman niyang siya iyon, eh personal opinion niya iyon. Mahirap kasing mag—naghahaka-haka lang tayong lahat sa ngayon eh. I’ll call him later and I’ll tell you … anyway, may press briefing tayo tomorrow. I’ll tell you kung anong sinabi niya.

DEO DE GUZMAN/RMN: Iyong 3 o’clock, sir, hindi puwedeng isama doon?

SEC. PANELO: Alin, alin?

DEO DE GUZMAN/RMN: Hindi ninyo puwedeng isama doon sa 3 o’ clock?

SEC. PANELO: Statement lang naman iyong sa 3 o’ clock.

PRINCE GOLEZ/ABANTE: Sir, good afternoon. Sir, dapat bang taasan iyong suweldo ng construction workers sa Pilipinas so they won’t be forced to seek employment abroad at para sipagin naman sila, sir, sa pagtatrabaho?

SEC. PANELO: Sino ang mag-i-increase? Iyong mga developer, sila ang dapat mag-increase.

PRINCE GOLEZ/ABANTE: So okay ka doon, sir, na i-increase iyong salary ng mga construction workers—

SEC. PANELO: Siyempre dapat palaging okay tayo basta ikakabuti ng mga manggagawa.

JOYCE BALANCIO/DZMM: Sir, Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir cautioned the Philippine government to be careful with Chinese loans. And they have cited their government’s experience, saying that they have cancelled a number of unfair Chinese funded projects. So sa interview niya sa ANC, sabi po niya na, “If you borrow huge sums of money from China, you cannot pay. You know that when a person is a borrower, he is under the control of the lender so we should be careful about it.” How are we taking this caution from Prime Minister Mahathir?

SEC. PANELO: Of course, we will take his advice. And the economic managers are evaluating all kinds of loans that we are having with the Chinese government. With respect to the Chico Dam, I think the eco managers have already explained that we are not at the disadvantage.

ALVIN BALTAZAR: Maraming salamat, MPC. Maraming salamat, Presidential Spokesperson Secretary Sal Panelo.

SEC. PANELO: Thank you.

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SOURCE: PCOO – NIB (News and Information Bureau)

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