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 morning, Malacañang Press Corps. Kasama na natin si Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo.

SEC. PANELO:  Good morning to all of you. I’m ready if you are.

MARICEL HALILI/TV5: Hi, sir. Good morning.

SEC. PANELO:  Good morning.

MARICEL HALILI/TV5: Sir, how soon do we expect iyong issuance nung Executive Order with regards doon sa water shortage?

SEC. PANELO: With regard to that, it’s still being processed; it’s being finalized.

MARICEL HALILI/TV5:  But do we have a target considering na—

SEC. PANELO: It should be ready any time this week or the week after.

MARICEL HALILI/TV5:  But how will this help the issue on the water crisis?

SEC. PANELO: But right now it’s—the appropriate agency is responding to it, we have almost 90%; kumbaga, puwede naman pala eh. Iyon na nga ang sinasabi natin eh, mukhang wala naman talagang shortage. It’s pure inefficiency, mismanagement on the part of Manila Water. And also – I’ve been watching the hearing – it appears now that even the Chief Regulator, the regulator of these two concessionaires is guilty of mismanagement.

MARICEL HALILI/TV5: But, at least, are you satisfied with how Manila Water responded to the order of the President given na, according to them, 80% na daw iyong—

SEC. PANELO: Ninety percent na nga eh, ninety percent.

MARICEL HALILI/TV5:  Ninety percent water.

SEC. PANELO: Sa amin, wala na akong problema sa lugar namin; so in other words, talagang walang shortage.

MARICEL HALILI/TV5: Are you satisfied, sir, with how they responded to the order of the President?

SEC. PANELO: Well, the fact that it’s 90%, that means baka by tomorrow—they were saying that the only places where there is problem in the water supply are those areas na nasa taas – upper areas. They mentioned certain ano eh, Quezon City, Pasig, iyong mga areas lang doon, kaya parang 10% na lang.

MARICEL HALILI/TV5: Sir, on the Kaliwa Dam. Iyong Japanese company na nagpu-propose, I think it’s Global Utility Development Corp, has revived its proposal to build the Kaliwa Dam saying that it’s cost efficient as compared if it’s Chinese funded. Do you consider their proposal, sir?

SEC. PANELO: Well, I think, every proposal should be considered. The objective should always be the welfare of the people. The most beneficial, the most advantageous to the government and to the people should be the primordial consideration in any contracts involving the government and other private entities.

MARICEL HALILI/TV5: Sir, last. Is this being studied now?

SEC. PANELO: I think so, yes, those involved.

MARICEL HALILI/TV5: By whom, sir?

SEC. PANELO: By the appropriate agency, whoever is the one engaged.

With respect to… I think—I have a personal suggestion: I think we should really put reservoir in all cities of this country, as well as in provinces. It’s very easy to build reservoir. I cannot even understand why we’re not doing that. Or apart from these reservoir, we can – what do you call that? – exploit the deep-well. Because my personal experience in Marikina, I have a deep-well so I have no problem there. Put a generator, then you pump water, walang problema. Siguro naman, in many areas of this country eh maraming puwedeng pagkunan ng tubig; we cannot be relying on these two concessionaires. Kawawa sila kanina sa mga kongresista.

HENRY URI/DZRH: Secretary, may mga nagtutulak ng department of water, magkaroon daw tayo—

SEC. PANELO: Hindi kailangan iyan. I don’t think kailangan.

HENRY URI/DZRH: Hindi na kailangan?

SEC. PANELO: Hindi kailangan iyon.

HENRY URI/DZRH: Why do you think, sir?

SEC. PANELO: Eh iyong lang problema lang na iyon, nagawan kaagad nila ng paraan eh. Simpleng-simple lang ang problema. They created their own problem, and they provide the solution. It’s purely inefficiency, mismanagement.

INA ANDOLONG/CNN PHIL: Hi, sir. It appears congressmen have … or lawmakers, rather, have resolved supposedly iyong impasse on the budget. Some congressmen are saying that nag-agree na raw po sila na ibalik doon sa dating version of the budget prior the ratification by both chambers. Has Malacañang been informed of this, because earlier in the day, the House Speaker was saying a different thing?

SEC. PANELO: Different thing?

INA ANDOLONG/CNN PHIL: Ang sinasabi ni House Speaker earlier today, basically they’re still sticking to the realignment—

SEC. PANELO: Where did you get the other report that they’re okay na?

INA ANDOLONG/CNN PHIL: May pareho pong statements. Iyong isa po from Senator Ping, saying that Congressman Zamora relayed to him that they will be reverting back to the old version. And then, I think an hour before that, House Speaker Arroyo was saying that they’re sticking to the realignment. So which is which?

SEC. PANELO: Actually on my part, I have not received that kind of info. But if that’s true, that’s good. If the Speaker is saying the same thing, perhaps she has not been informed by her colleagues of the general plan of the majority of the House – baka hindi pa niya alam.

INA ANDOLONG/CNN PHIL: So as far as you’re concerned, it’s likely what Congressman Zamora is saying?

SEC. PANELO: Eh siguro, I don’t think they will be saying those things. But what is important is, they’re resolving whatever conflict they have.

CEDRIC CASTILLO/GMA7:  Good morning sir. On Friday’s Business Law Forum, the president of Law Asia said that the state of rule of law in the Philippines and the alleged EJKs affect foreign investor confidence, sir. Do you see any basis for such an observation, sir?

SEC. PANELO:  No, I think whoever said that should conduct more research of that. According to our economic managers, particularly Secretary Dominguez, Secretary Pernia and Secretary Lopez, they are one in saying that never that issue of human rights or extra judicial killings have been raised during meetings with investors and other conferences relative to the business investments to this country.

Number two, per Secretary Dominguez, we have—with respect to foreign investments, have increased. If you compare that to the previous administration, ang laki ng ating nakuhang investment from the foreign side. Ang laki nga ng investment natin na dumarating.

What are the principal considerations in investing in this country?  One would be the issue of bureaucracy – if there is so much red tape, they will be discouraged in coming here. That is precisely why we have the law on stopping such—what do you call that, yeah, ease on doing business in this country. That’s the reason why we have that kind of law, precisely to encourage the foreign investors.

And then, with respect to peace and order situation – and that is why there are so many foreign investors because they know that criminality has gone down considerably and there is war against illegal drugs and we are dismantling many factories producing shabu.

CEDRIC CASTILLO/GMA7:  Thank you, sir—Sir, in the same forum sir, Law Asia also took note of, and I quote, “one death every month of a lawyer, since November.” Does the government have the same data?

SEC. PANELO:  That’s an exaggeration. One death of a lawyer every month, palagay ko nangangarap siya ng gising. I don’t think so. And even assuming that to be true, it cannot be attributed to the government or whatever because those deaths maybe the result of the problems affecting that particular individuals subject of the killing – it could be personal motivations, it could be revenge, it could be a botched business deals or could be a client… disgruntled. There are many reasons for killing a particular individual.

ARJAY BALINBIN/BUSINESS WORLD:  Sir, a series of meetings between the Philippines and China on build, build, build program are scheduled this week in Beijing. Do you have—do you know any details, the agenda of the meeting, sir?

SEC. PANELO:  No, I haven’t heard of that yet. I will ask the economic managers involved on this. Who in particular, so that I can specifically ask?


SEC. PANELO:  Sige, I will issue a statement on that.

ARJAY BALINBIN/BUSINESS WORLD:  Sir, is it necessary to disclose to the public all our contracts with Chinese companies?

SEC. PANELO:  Well, that’s pursuant to transparency, yes. Why not?

ARJAY BALINBIN/BUSINESS WORLD:  Are we doing it already?

SEC. PANELO:  There is no ongoing contract involving—is there? This is precisely they are going there to discuss maybe.

JOYCE BALANCIO/DZMM:  Sir, elaboration lang what really happened with President Duterte last Friday. He wasn’t able to attend several events in Davao City and his former aide SAP Bong Go just mentioned he was indisposed. So, ano po ba ang nangyari?

SEC. PANELO:  He had a migraine. But after three hours of rest, he recovered and he went to work reading so many documents. He just stayed in the house.

JOYCE BALANCIO/DZMM:  And I believe, sir meron din siyang na-miss na another event the following day sa Saturday. So, during the entire weekend, kumusta po ba si President Duterte?

SEC. PANELO:  He is okay. As I said, he concentrated on his work – the paper work, there are so many things to read and to study.

JOYCE BALANCIO/DZMM:  So nothing serious sa condition ni President?

SEC. PANELO: Oh definitely not; the usual migraine that affects him every now and then.

JOYCE BALANCIO/DZMM:  Nasaan po siya ngayon, sir. Where is he now?

SEC. PANELO:  I suppose he is in Davao. I looked at his schedule and still in Davao.

JOYCE BALANCIO/DZMM:  So, he is in perfect shape naman, sir?

SEC. PANELO:  Oh, definitely.

CHRISTINE AVEDAÑO/INQUIRER:  Sir, Atty. Sabio said that the ICC case will continue despite the withdrawal of the Philippines.

SEC. PANELO:  That is what he says. Anyway, our position is very clear. The position of the President is unequivocal and inflexible. ICC never acquired jurisdiction over our country. For the reason that he has given us: the requirement of publication imposed by law is not observed. There has to be publication in a newspaper of general circulation or on Official Gazette. Even if there was a ratification by Congress or by the Senate on that particular subject, still a law cannot be enforced unless you comply with the requirement.

Number two, even assuming for the sake of argument that we have been under the jurisdiction of ICC and even assuming that we have withdrawn, because as far as we are concerned, the letter submitted to them was more of a courtesy telling them that we have never been under your jurisdiction.

But let us assume, all those facts I mentioned, still ICC cannot proceed with any proceeding that it has started specifically because it said that they conducted a preliminary examination and not a preliminary investigation. And under the Rome Statute clearly says that anypreliminary investigation or any proceeding relative there to it commenced prior to the withdrawal of state party, can’t continue and will continue. Therefore, if it does continue, it violates its own provision because there has been no preliminary investigation.

Preliminary examinations refers only to finding out, one, whether the crimes alleged fall within the jurisdiction of the ICC – like the genocide, the crimes against humanity and so forth.

Number two, assuming that the jurisdictional crimes are present, it must be established during the preliminary examination that the state party is unwilling to prosecute or even if willing it is incapable of doing so. So, it can never proceed to conduct any investigation.

Moreover, the fear that we have no more recourse with respect to abusive officials or heads of state, those fears are misplaced, it only demonstrates the ignorance of certain historical circumstances that occur in this country. One, the ouster of a President in 1986 perceived to be abusive, he was ousted by the people in a peaceful revolution.

Number two, another President was prosecuted, was convicted and was jailed and subsequently pardon.

Number three, another President was prosecuted, was jailed and subsequently acquitted.   In other words, we have a robust system. Our Constitution has provided many machineries, legal machineries by which we can prosecute any public official committing any wrongdoing. And another thing, I think they are also be forgetting – these critics and detractors of the President – that the crimes, the jurisdictional crimes of ICC are already part of our penal laws in this country. In other words, anybody can file a complaint with respect to the crimes mentioned earlier.

And the Courts or the administrative bodies where these cases are filed would be investigating, determine whether there is a probable cause, file it in Court and there will be trial. In other words, there is a remedy.

What is appalling is that the ICC has become a political tool of using its power to politically persecute heads of state, thereby intruding into the sovereignty of this country. It is no wonder that powerful countries of the world like US, Russia, China and Israel have withdrawn and/or did not join the ICC.

Moreover, if you read the newspaper yesterday, there was a message from… I think, the US State Department warning the personnel and staff of the ICC if they pursue their investigations of certain heads of state of other countries, they will not be given or will not be… their visas will not be renewed because as far as the US government is concerned, it is politically persecuting those subject of investigation.

INA ANDOLONG/CNN PHILS.: Sir, has Malacañang received any formal communication from the ICC regarding the official effectivity of the withdrawal—

SEC. PANELO: None that I know of.

INA/CNN PHILS.: It is something that you’re waiting for the ICC pa or since you are insisting that we were never under its jurisdiction?

SEC. PANELO: No, we are not interested.

INA/CNN PHILS.: It is not necessary as far as—

SEC. PANELO: As far as we are concerned we have never been under its jurisdiction.

INA/CNN PHILS.: Okay, thank you sir.

VIRGIL LOPEZ/GMA NEWS ONLINE: Hi sir, in relation lang doon sa warning ni Secretary Pompeo—


VIRGIL/GMA NEWS ONLINE: Iyong sa warning ni Secretary Pompeo doon sa ICC—

SEC. PANELO: Ah, yes!

VIRGIL/GMA NEWS ONLINE: So will the Philippines consider doing that also – revoking visas, baring entry of ICC—

SEC. PANELO: You don’t have to do that, if they cannot even get a visa getting out of the US.

VIRGIL/GMA NEWS ONLINE: I mean here po sa Philippines if—will the government also consider that, kasi if they will pursue with the investigation, they might… you know, come here.

SEC. PANELO: Certainly, we will not allow any attempt at interfering with the sovereignty of this country.

VIRGIL/GMA NEWS ONLINE: And that includes?

SEC. PANELO: That includes everything.


SEC. PANELO: To stop them from committing any acts that will be violative of our laws.

VIRGIL/GMA NEWS ONLINE: Sir, that includes not giving visas to this—

SEC. PANELO: Kasama lahat iyon siyempre basta anything na—why should we allow them to do it first before we do something.

VIRGIL/GMA NEWS ONLINE: Okay, sir. Thank you.

CEDRIC CASTILLO/GMA7: Sir, actually—similar din doon sa question ni ano po—previous question po.


CEDRIC/GMA7: Ano iyong—ano sir iyong mga nasa capacity ng Pilipino sir na puwedeng sanctions if at all should the ICC proceed with the case or the information—

SEC. PANELO: Wala eh, unang-una, how can they—alam mo they can do the worst, they can even—they cannot even enforce whatever they are doing. How will they enforce it in the first place? Sige nga? Sabi nga ni Presidente, sige nga; hambugero lang sila sabi ni Presidente.

CEDRIC/GMA7: So Philippines can just simply ignore?

SEC. PANELO: We have been ignoring them.

ARJAY BALINBIN/BUSINESS WORLD: Sir, linawin ko lang. So they cannot enter the Philippines – the prosecutors from the ICC?

SEC. PANELO: How they can enter if they do not have any visa.

Q: [off mic.]

SEC. PANELO: Bakit? Hindi ba siya—kailangan—siyempre kapag pupunta ka sa ibang bansa may visa, unless you are going to Hong Kong or…

ARJAY BALINBIN/BUSINESS WORLD: So the Philippine government is determined not to allow this personalities or prosecutors from the ICC to enter the country to conduct investigation?

SEC. PANELO: They cannot undertake anything in connection with jurisdictional exercise of what they have in mind because as we said that is in violation of our laws.


CEDRIC CASTILLO/GMA 7: Sir, ika-clarify ko lang yung sa visas. Kasi depende naman sa passport yun nung foreign national di ba, so pwede sila pumasok without visas. Pero should they be conducting investigations they will be blocked, they will be barred from entering the country, ganon po ba sinasabi ninyo sir?

SEC. PANELO: Well, they can come here as guests, visitors puwede yun; pero any move that will be deemed as a violation of our laws, eh may problema sila dun.

ARJAY/BUSINESS WORLD: Pero sir, nagbanta na si Presidente na sasampalin niya daw si Fatou Bensouda once pumasok siya sa Pilipinas.

SEC. PANELO: Eh alam mo naman si Presidente, di ba? Si Presidente naman eh mahilig talagang mag hyperbole – ‘hyperbole’ ang tawag.

ARJAY/BUSINESS WORLD: So wala pong sampalan na mangyayare?

SEC. PANELO: Wala… [laughs]. I don’t think nga—I don’t think even that lady would be coming here.

USEC. IGNACIO:  Okay. Thank you MPC, thank you Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo. Back to our main studio sa Radio Pilipinas and People’s Television Network.

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SOURCE: PCOO – NIB (News and Information Bureau)