Press Briefing

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

Event Press Briefing
Location New Executive Bldg., Malacanang

USEC. ROCKY IGNACIO:  Good morning Malacañang Press Corps, let’s now have Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo. Good morning, sir.

SEC. PANELO:  Good morning. MPC members, I’m ready if you are… with your questions. 

ROSE NOVENARIO/HATAW:  Sir, good morning. Sir, ano na po iyong update doon sa pagkaka—iyon ‘di ba may nilabas si Presidente na drug matrix—

SEC. PANELO:  Ay before that nga, before that… I might forget eh. I’d like to thank Governor Dodo Mandanas of Batangas for entertaining us; Happy Birthday again. I must commend the Batangas officials, I’ve never seen such a very clean city. Just like Davao City, napakalinis, hangang-hanga kami; pati mga sidewalks ubod nang linis, pati doon sa outskirts napakalinis. Ang galing mga opisyal diyan sa Batangas. And the Kapitolyo of Governor Dodo, imposing, beautiful, ang laki eh, maganda… kaya pala love ito ng mga tao diyan eh. Thank you.

ROSE NOVENARIO/HATAW:  Hi sir, good morning. So ano na po ang nangyari—

SEC. PANELO:  I was with—by the way, I was with Executive Secretary Bingbong Medialdea.

ROSE NOVENARIO/HATAW:  Game na, game na. Sir, ano na nangyari doon sa kasong—doon sa inimbestigahan ng NBI tungkol sa pagkakasangkot ni ex-Superintendent Eduardo Acierto sa drugs? ‘Di ba naglabas noong October last year si Presidente ng drug matrix na kasama si Acierto, si Fajardo, et al; ano po nangyari doon sa investigation after six months?

SEC. PANELO:  I think that should be addressed to the NBI Director, what happened to their investigation. I have not received any report on that.

ROSE NOVENARIO/HATAW:  Kasi after five months, siya pa ngayon iyong parang nasa propaganda offensive against the government. Eh samantalang noong October, siya iyong ibinulgar na sangkot sa drugs, tapos ngayon parang baligtad iyong sitwasyon – siya iyong nag-aakusa ngayon sa isang malapit sa Presidente.

SEC. PANELO:  But his accusation has been… I think, expressed earlier on. In fact, he did not attend a House probe, that is why PNP Chief said that if that is true, the report you’re saying, why didn’t you do something about it?

ROSE NOVENARIO/HATAW:  So may—ibig sabihin, sir—iyong sa kaniya, iyong pagkakasangkot niya sa drugs, iyong accusation sa kaniya ng Presidente, ano nangyari doon? Ngayon siya na iyong nag-aakusa eh.

SEC. PANELO:  Eh ‘di let’s ask the NBI kung ano nangyari sa kanilang imbestigasyon.

ROSE NOVENARIO/HATAW:  Hihilingin ninyo sa NBI sir na mag-submit ng investigation report?

SEC. PANELO:  I think the Director is listening, so we will await for his report on the matter.

ROSE NOVENARIO/HATAW:  Thank you.

PIA GUTIERREZ/ABS-CBN:  Sir, what was the basis of President Duterte in defending Michael Yang from the allegations that he is involved in drugs? Was it a result of any investigation, sir? Anong pinanghawakan ni President Duterte?

SEC. PANELO:  I suppose, President Duterte [will not be] saying anything without any basis. Also common sense will tell us that he is not involved, according to the President, Ambassador Zhao slept in the house of Michael Yang. And we all know that the Chinese government is against illegal drugs, and the Ambassador will never associate himself with anyone involved in drugs.

PIA GUTIERREZ/ABS-CBN:  Pero sir iyong friendship niya with the Ambassador, is that enough basis to clear him of any allegations?

SEC. PANELO:  Hindi lang friendship. The fact alone that you are an Ambassador of China, and your government is against illegal drug industry, how can you be associating yourself with somebody you know to be involved in drugs? Obviously, talagang hindi siya involved. Bakit naman siya makikisama doon?

PIA GUTIERREZ/ABS-CBN:  Pero sir, is the Palace aware of any investigation done on the allegations against Michael Yang na nangyari sir?

SEC. PANELO:  I suppose the President will not say anything without any basis.

PIA GUTIERREZ/ABS-CBN:  So he has his own information, sir?

SEC. PANELO:  Of course.

PIA GUTIERREZ/ABS-CBN:  Thank you, sir.

REYMUND TINAZA/BOMBO RADYO:  Sir, considering the seriousness of the allegation of Acierto, will you or won’t you challenge or urge him to present evidence or proof?

SEC. PANELO:  I already said yesterday that if indeed what he was saying is true, he should have filed it when he was still connected with the PDEA. In fact that is what the PNP Chief is also saying, why didn’t you do something about it if that’s true?

REYMUND TINAZA/BOMBO RADYO:  So the trust and confidence of the President to Mr. Michael Yang as Special Economic Adviser remains?

SEC. PANELO:  Unless you can show proof that he is involved, the trust and confidence remains.

REYMUND TINAZA/BOMBO RADYO:  Thank you, sir.

ROSALIE COZ/UNTV:  Secretary, ayon po kay Acierto mayroon po siyang sinubmit na report sa Malacañang, sa dating PNP Chief Dela Rosa, as well as the Senate. Can you confirm this po kung nakatanggap nga ng—

SEC. PANELO:  I have no personal knowledge on that, whether they have received that. You have to ask PNP Chief, the NBI, the PDEA.

ROSALIE COZ/UNTV:  Pero, kabilang po ang Palasyo sa sinasabing nakatanggap ng report galing kay Acierto na nagsasabi po na involved sa drugs itong si Michael Yang.

SEC. PANELO:  To whom did he give the report? When?

ROSALIE COZ/UNTV:  He said, it was given to the Palace—

SEC. PANELO:  Yeah, Palace… Who in the Palace received it?

ROSALIE COZ/UNTV:  ES. Executive Secretary Medialdea.

SEC. PANELO:  He said ES? I will ask the Executive Secretary if he did received one.

ROSALIE COZ/UNTV:  Pero sir, how about the allegation na kung may natanggap man ang Palasyo ay isinasantabi iyon ng Pangulo dahil nga po sa association kay Michael Yang ng Presidente?

SEC. PANELO:  Let me repeat what I have repeatedly said previously: This President will not tolerate anyone regardless of the stature or relationship with him if he is involved in drugs. He will never allow it. He is against it.

ROSALIE COZ/UNTV:  Sir, ang Malacañang po ba ay kilala rin nang mainam si Michael Yang?

SEC. PANELO:  Ano iyon? 

ROSALIE COZ/UNTV:  Kilala ninyo rin po ba nang mainam iyong background niya as Chinese businessman? 

SEC. PANELO:  Who? Sino? 

ROSALIE COZ/UNTV:  Si Michael Yang po.

SEC. PANELO:  Kung kilala nino?

ROSALIE COZ/UNTV:  Kayo po, ang Palace.

SEC. PANELO:  Ako no, I don’t know him personally. I just know him that he is from Davao and a businessman.

ROSALIE COZ/UNTV:  How about the President? How—iyon pong Pangulo natin, gaano kakilala si Michael Yang?

SEC. PANELO:  Again, I do not know also the… whether they’re friends, very good friends. I know that both of them are from Davao. 

ROSALIE COZ/UNTV:  So, kino-confirm ninyo po iyong pagiging malapit sa isa’t isa ni Pangulong Duterte at ni Michael Yang? 

SEC. PANELO:  I didn’t say that. I said, I know that they are both from Davao. I do not know the extent of their friendship if there is one or relationship if there is any.

ROSALIE COZ/UNTV:  Okay sir, thank you.

TINA MENDEZ/PHILIPPINE STAR:  Sir, iyong PDEA Director General Aquino and I think a Police Officer, si General Cascolan confirmed naman that they received a report from then Colonel Acierto about—

SEC. PANELO:  Then the next question is: after receiving the report, what did you do? Dapat sa—we have to direct that question to that… PDEA.

TINA MENDEZ/PHILIPPINE STAR:  To Acierto, or to Aquino and Cascolan?

SEC. PANELO:  To PDEA. Kung if he received a report about the involvement of a certain person involved in illegal drug activity then you should ask him, ‘what did you do?’ ‘di ba.

TINA MENDEZ/PHILIPPINE STAR:  Sir, as a lawyer, ang mere association ba with personalities by the President, does it mean he could be protecting—

SEC. PANELO:  What do you mean by association? If you see him with—taking pictures with him? Ganoon ba iyong association?

TINA MENDEZ/PHILIPPINE STAR:  Taking pictures, said to be close friends… Does it make anybody guilty of any wrongdoing also?

SEC. PANELO:  The President always accommodates anyone who wants to take picture with him. Kung iyon lang ang magiging basis niya, malabo iyon. Like me for instance, people also ask me to have photo opportunity, I don’t even know them, pagbibigyan mo na lang ‘di ba.

TINA MENDEZ/PHIL STAR: Sir, iyong perceived closeness kasi parang nakikitang napuproteksyunan sila Michael Yang and another …a certain Alan Lim sa mga alleged illegal activities.

SEC. PANELO: More apparent than real siguro. Perception lang. Perception can always be wrong, or usually it’s wrong.

TINA MENDEZ/PHIL STAR: Sir, what could be the basis or motive of Mr. Acierto to—

SEC. PANELO: Obviously, the motive is – since he has been accused of involvement in drugs, he wants to get back, that’s why he is pointing fingers at whoever.

JOYCE BALANCIO/DZMM: Sec., when you say that the President won’t tolerate anyone involved in drugs regardless of their relationship, if for example sir, dahil na-confirm na rin ng PNP and PDEA that they have received a report and mapatunayan later on na involved talaga sa drugs si Michael Yang, papaano dapat tratuhin ng gobyerno si Michael Yang?

SEC. PANELO: Then charges will be filed against him, if that is validated.

JOYCE BALANCIO/DZMM: How will the President treat him? Or how will it affect the alleged relationship with the President?

SEC. PANELO: Just like the way he treats other people involved in drugs, he will go to the ends of the earth to put them behind bars. If they resist, under the law, the police officers whose lives are in danger can use violence, lethal violence.

ARJAY BALINBIN/BUSINESS WORLD: On Michael Yang, sir.

SEC. PANELO: Michael Yang again.

ARJAY BALINBIN/BUSINESS WORLD: Yes. Why did the President choose Michael Yang to be his economic adviser?

SEC. PANELO: I will ask him.

ARJAY BALINBIN/BUSINESS WORLD: What qualifications does he have?

SEC. PANELO: I will ask him.

ARJAY BALINBIN/BUSINESS WORLD: Does not entail close relationship with the President?

SEC. PANELO: I will ask the President the basis of his appointment.

ARJAY BALINBIN/BUSINESS WORLD: Michael Yang has been there quite some time as his economic adviser—

SEC. PANELO: That’s why I will ask him nga.

ARJAY BALINBIN/BUSINESS WORLD: All right, so you have never—

SEC. PANELO: And then I will share it with you.

CHRISTINE AVENDAÑO/PDI: Sir, you said that probably Acierto wanted to get back because he was being linked to illegal drugs. So is the Palace taking his accusation seriously, sir?

SEC. PANELO: Against—I think, the burden would fall on the law enforcement agencies. If they received reports on alleged activities of a particular person, then they should do something about it.

CHRISTINE AVENDAÑO/PDI:  How is the Palace treating his allegation, sir?

SEC. PANELO: We’re waiting for the validation of any allegation of involvement.

ARJAY BALINBIN/BUSINESS WORLD: You are also an adviser for the President, right, sir?

SEC. PANELO: When my advice is sought, yes.

ARJAY BALINBIN/BUSINESS WORLD: Yes. And you were chosen as a Legal Adviser for the President?

SEC. PANELO: Intel? No.

ARJAY BALINBIN/BUSINESS WORLD: Yourself.

SEC. PANELO: As a Legal Adviser.

ARJAY BALINBIN/BUSINESS WORLD: Yeah, yeah. So how were you chosen by the President?

SEC. PANELO: Well, let’s ask him why. I do not know.

ARJAY BALINBIN/BUSINESS WORLD: Is it not because of friendship?

SEC. PANELO: No. I was his lawyer, that could be the reason. I lawyered for him and for his daughter.

PIA GUTIERREZ/ABS-CBN: Sir, the sister of the late Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago has issued a statement asking you to withdraw your pronouncement that her appointment to the ICC was valid. She said that you should apologize, and that your statement was irresponsible, offensive and full of malice. It is also immoral and extremely disrespectful as the late Senator cannot argue and defend her belief that the ICC was legitimate entity and that the Philippines is a valid member.

SEC. PANELO: I think … I will apologize for hurting her feelings, but I think she misunderstood what I said yesterday. What I said, ‘if the theory is that we never were under the jurisdiction of the ICC, it goes without saying, as logic, then any appointment to the International Court would be void – if that is theory.

Now, you ask, why was she appointed? Because the theory then was we were under the jurisdiction of the ICC. Then you ask me, why is Justice Pangalangan still there? I don’t know. The ICC may have allowed him to stay.

But if the theory is we never were under the jurisdiction of the ICC, then the logic will tell you that anything in connection with that will be void – any appointment to the body.

PIA GUTIERREZ/ABS-CBN: So in short, sir, you will not apologize and you will not retract your statement?

SEC. PANELO: That’s why I’m apologizing for hurting her, but I think the concern and the hurt is misplaced. I am an admirer and a friend of the late Miriam Defensor Santiago.

ACE ROMERO/PHIL STAR: Pero ‘di ba, Sec., ang stand ng Palace is the Philippines was never—

SEC. PANELO: Correct.

ACE ROMERO/PHIL STAR:—under the jurisdiction of the ICC.

SEC. PANELO: Yes.

ACE ROMERO/PHIL STAR: So given that, categorical, void po ba iyong appointment ni Miriam?

SEC. PANELO: That would be the logical consequence of the theory.

ACE ROMERO/PHIL STAR: So it’s yes?

SEC. PANELO: Ano po ba ang magiging result noon, eh kung walang jurisdiction from the very start, ‘di ba?

ACE ROMERO/PHIL STAR: So apparently hindi niya na-misunderstand iyong statement, kasi iyon naman ang kinagagalit ng kapatid nung late Senator?

SEC. PANELO: Kaya nga, that’s why we are saying na she misunderstood. But, let me say that she was very much qualified to be a justice. She had the credentials. But the problem is – prior to the assumption of the presidency of the President – nobody knew that we were never under the jurisdiction of the ICC. Everybody took for granted that since we signed a treaty, then we were under the jurisdiction of the ICC.

But the problem is the Constitution requires that a law, before it becomes enforceable, it has to be published in an Official Gazette, in a newspaper of general circulation. And the Rome Statute never was published in a newspaper of general circulation nor published in the Official Gazette. That is why the theory of the President: we were never under your jurisdiction.

ACE ROMERO/PHIL STAR: So there’s a claim that your statements were offensive and disrespectful. Do you agree?

SEC. PANELO: It’s not offensive. I think it was misunderstood.

ACE ROMERO/PHIL STAR: Misunderstood. Hindi rin disrespectful sa the late Senator?

SEC. PANELO: No, I do not think so. But I apologize because she was hurt, because she misunderstood my …

ACE ROMERO/PHIL STAR: But you stick to that view?

SEC. PANELO: Yes, because that is the logical consequence of a theory – that we had never been under the jurisdiction of the ICC.

And incidentally, she never assumed the position.

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: Sir, can I go back to Michael Yang?

SEC. PANELO: Baka maging old na iyan, kung ibabalik natin.

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: Anyway, so aside from the statement that Ambassador Zhao slept in his house, right? So therefore you’re saying that the Ambassador could not have been—

SEC. PANELO: The Ambassador said he will never associate with any person with involvement in drugs.

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: Okay. Aside from that, sir, what do you think is Michael Yang’s involvement in drugs? Does he have any?

SEC. PANELO: I do not know. I have no personal knowledge about his dealings with anyone.

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: But you are willing to accept the statement of the Chinese Ambassador that he is not involved in drugs?

SEC. PANELO: That’s what he said.

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: So therefore we believe?

SEC. PANELO: Not necessarily. This is what he said—I mean, I have no personal knowledge whether that is true or not. What I’m just saying – if Acierto is saying that he is involved, then he should have done something at the time he knew of his involvement.

Number two, if it’s true that he submitted the reports to law enforcement agencies, then they should have done something about it. If they have [done] something about it, what was the result? That’s why I’m now asking questions to the people in the law enforcement agencies.

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA 7: But right now we’re not making any determination, the Palace is not making any determination as to his involvement?

SEC. PANELO: No, we are precisely waiting for the report.

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA 7: You are not going to say that he is not involved, yes? You are not absolving him in short?

SEC. PANELO: There is an allegation and let the allegation be processed, investigated and then if there is a validation, then the Palace will make a move.

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA 7: Okay sir. Thank you.

HANNAH SANCHO/DZAR SONSHINE RADIO: Hi sir, good morning. Sir, sabi ng PDEA may 31 celebrities po daw na involved po sa illegal drugs. Yung list po ba na ito nakarating na sa Pangulo and kung may fresh directives po yung Pangulo regarding po dito sa issue?

SEC. PANELO: Hindi ko pa alam ‘yun, I haven’t been informed of that officially.

HANNAH SANCHO/DZAR SONSHINE RADIO: Sir, sakali po kasi may mga artista po na sumuporta kay Pangulong Duterte nung tumakbo siya. Ano po yung sa tingin ninyo magiging move ng Pangulo kung masasangkot po yung mga artista na sumuporta sa kanya nung nakaraang eleksyon po, kung meron silang involvement sa drugs o kasama sila sa talaan po?

SEC. PANELO: Ganoon pa rin. He will be thankful for the help, but he will not tolerate their involvement.

HANNAH SANCHO/DZAR SONSHINE RADIO: Sir, malapit na po yung birthday ng Pangulo. Ano po iyong plano ng Pangulong Duterte sa birthday po niya?

SEC. PANELO: The same celebration: he stays in the house and with the family.

By the way, by the way, who’s from ABS-CBN here? 

You know why? Because yung report ninyo sa DZMM, mali yata eh. Kasi they highlighted yung sinabi ko yung, “May magagawa ba tayo?” Hindi nila nilalagay yung—hindi nila isinunod yung, “What do you want, declare war? What we can do is to protest.” And my final statement is, “We will not allow fishermen to be harassed in that area.” Pero yung dalawang komentarista ninyo dun binabanatan ako’t sinabi ko raw na walang magagawa. Imagine…

… nag-aabogado daw ako sa… Kung hindi ba naman—Pero sa ANC, in fairness, ANC kumpleto. Sinabi lahat yung sinabi ko.

Q: Off mic.SEC. PANELO: Eh siguro ikaw yung nag-report, kaya yun ang ini-highlight. Baka na—Q: Off mic.

SEC. PANELO: Sino ang nagbigay? Hinay-light, yun ang—can you imagine. Kaya tinext ko yung dalawa. Sabi ko, “Your problem is you’re not reading the entire transcript.” Kasi nga klarong klaro yung transcript eh. 

Another thing pala, one more thing – the statement of Justice Carpio. According to him ‘if the Philippines defaults in payment then puwede makuha yung Reed Bank.’

Now, Reed Bank is public property, sa gobyerno yan ‘di ba; and under than the Constitution pag inalienable property – it is a public property – hindi puwedeng ibigay yun, hindi puwedeng ibenta. Puwede mo lang i-lease, kung patrimonial property. Magiging patrimonial property lang ang isang public property kung merong enabling law saying that puwede yan or may proclamation ang Presidente.

So hindi pupuwede yung sinasabi niya, kasi wala namang deklarasyon na yung Reed Bank is patrimonial property.

Number 2 – that is his ruling in Chavez vs Public States Authority and Amari. Under GR No. 133250 July 9 2002, siya mismo, it’s Justice Carpio saying na you cannot just convert a public property to a patrimonial property. So hindi mangyayari yun; apart from we never renege. As I said yesterday, ‘We owe, how much? 2.6 billion dollars sa Bataan Nuclear Plant – which we never used and yet we paid that for 26 years. 26 years ba or 30 years? Eh ito pa 62 million na gagamitin natin – Chico Dam.

So in either case, yung concern or yung apprehension of Justice Carpio may be – with due respect to him – misplaced on account of the constitutional prevision, as well as in lieu of his own ruling in that particular case I cited.

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA 7:  Can I pick up on your point, sir? Right now, there’s no law, there’s no presidential proclamation declaring that Reed Bank is patrimonial asset, yes?

SEC. PANELO: Yes.

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA 7: Alright. We have signed a deal with China this year… last year. Can we later on in the future declare what’s a presidential proclamation? Halimbawa, it’s just going to be easy, right? I mean, if need be; if kailangan siya.

SEC. PANELO: Unang una, we will not do that.

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA 7: Because?

SEC. PANELO: Bakit niya gagawin? What will be your purpose in declaring that?

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA 7: To satisfy the provision in the contract.

SEC. PANELO: What do you mean to satisfy? [laughs]

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA 7: Sir, for example—

SEC. PANELO: Unang-una, hindi tayo magde-default.

Another thing nga pala, before I forget. They are saying—critics are saying that arbitration di ba. Arbitration comes in and its one sided because two of them are members of China. But they’re forgetting that under the contract – I read the contract eh – before you go to arbitration, you have to go to the process of negotiation, mag-usap muna kayo, if that fails that’s the time you’ll go to arbitration; and assuming that China wins in the arbitration, it cannot be implemented. Under the contract, under the loan agreement, it has to pass through our courts first. Kailangan may validation ng court natin before that can be enforced.

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA 7: Sir, going back to my question. So for example, so na-signan na natin siya last year; and then can the President declare the Reed Bank as a patrimonial asset, maybe within the 3 years of his term?

SEC. PANELO: Sabi ko na nga, he will not do that.

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA 7: He will not.

SEC. PANELO: Why will he do that?

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA 7: If China asked for it?

SEC. PANELO: In the first place the loan agreement has been signed, there’s nothing more to add. Di ba?

ACE ROMERO/PHILIPPINE STAR: Balikan ko lang yung celebrities sa narcolist, Sec ‘no. So there are at least 31 celebrities in the list daw, so how is Malacanang taking these? 

SEC. PANELO: Sino? 

ACE ROMERO/PHILIPPINE STAR: Yung at least 31 celebrities daw na nasa narcolist, how is Malacanang taking these?

SEC. PANELO: Eh ganoon pa rin. ‘Di ba sinagot ko na yan kanina.

ACE ROMERO/PHILIPPINE STAR: No. No. Ano yung initial reaction ninyo considering that these celebrities are very popular—

SEC. PANELO: We’re saddened that these people are involved, but we will never tolerate it.

ACE ROMERO/PHILIPPINE STAR: Do we expect the filing of charges against these celebrities?

SEC. PANELO: If they have sufficient evidence to back them up in court, then they should.

ACE ROMERO/PHILIPPINE STAR: Okay, ngayon yung—

SEC. PANELO: And they must!

ACE ROMERO/PHILIPPINE STAR: The Duterte administration has been waging a shame campaign against personalities involved in drugs, do we expect the release of the names of these celebrities?

SEC. PANELO: I will ask the DILG—or is it the DILG or PDEA?

Q: PDEA.

SEC. PANELO:  I think PDEA will have to get permission from the President before they can do that.

ACE ROMERO/PHILIPPINE STAR: So is Malacanang in favor o pag-aralan muna? Yung release ng names.

SEC. PANELO: I will ask him his position, then I will issue a statement.

ACE ROMERO/PHILIPPINE STAR: Thank you, Sec.

USEC. ROCKY IGNACIO:  Okay. MPC, may tanong pa kayo? Okay, thank you MPC; Thank you Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo.

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

 

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