USEC. ROCKY IGNACIO: Good afternoon Malacañang Press Corps, kasama na natin si Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo. Good afternoon, sir.
SEC. PANELO: Good afternoon Malacañang Press Corps. I’m ready if you are.
REYMUND TINAZA/BOMBO RADYO: Sir, just your reaction on the arrest of Rappler CEO Maria Ressa early this morning because of the anti-dummy law alleged violation.
SEC. PANELO: She is complaining again that she’s being arrested. All are equal before the law. She wants to be treated differently – that cannot be done. All warrants of arrest issued by competent courts are to be served the way it was served to her this morning. And warrants of arrest are not issued unless the courts’ judges determine there is a probable cause – which means, due process has been observed.
So, she cannot be complaining that this is again a violation of press freedom. Press freedom has nothing to do with the charges against Ms. Ressa. She is charged of a crime, and there is a determination of probable cause, hence a warrant of arrest has been issued. She should concentrate on defending herself in court. She cannot be always using the freedom of the press as an excuse to attack the administration.
REYMUND TINAZA/BOMBO RADYO: Thank you, sir.
NESTOR CORRALES/INQUIRER.NET: Secretary, good morning. PNP Chief Albayalde said this morning that he is in favor of releasing the list of celebrities linked to illegal drugs, while PDEA Chief Aquino said he will do so if the President will order him to release the list of celebrities. What is now the position of President Rodrigo Duterte in as far as this issue is concerned?
SEC. PANELO: I haven’t talked to the President regarding this, but I suppose he will be deciding whether or not to release it. He will weigh the considerations.
REYMUND TINAZA/BOMBO RADYO: Pero malakas po kasi iyong public clamor, they want to know other than the narco-politicians, narco-judges and narco-prosecutors, they also want to know iyong… sinu-sino iyong mga, lalo mga influential figures ang mga ito eh, they want to know who are into the drugs. So once it is verified, iyong list na ito ng PDEA and PNP, so are you considering releasing also the names of those narco-showbiz personalities?
SEC. PANELO: Ano iyong sinasabi mong public clamor? Who’s clamor? Clamoring for what?
REYMUND TINAZA/BOMBO RADYO: Yeah, gusto nilang malaman sir sa mga comments ‘pag mga—sa programs saka sa social media, gusto rin nilang makita iyong ilabas din, to be fair din sa mga napangalanan na sa narco-list.
SEC. PANELO: Ahh… I guess the President will have to determine whether or not he will direct the release of the personalities named therein.
REYMUND TINAZA/BOMBO RADYO: What could be the reason of why—or possible not releasing the names?
SEC. PANELO: I do not know. I cannot read the mind of the President as of this time with respect to that. I have to ask him whether or not he will order the release or not.
REYMUND TINAZA/BOMBO RADYO: Pero from your end sir, aren’t you in favor of letting the public also know the showbiz personalities into drugs?
SEC. PANELO: I guess my personal opinion of the matter will not matter; it’s the President’s decision. What I can say is that the reason why the list of the so-called narco-politicians names were released is because the President doesn’t want them to hold power and strengthen the illegal drug industry in this country, apart from the Constitution gives the people the right to be informed of any matter that concerns them especially relative to their welfare and health.
REYMUND TINAZA/BOMBO RADYO: Ah… So if you are a private citizen, you are supposed—or you are excused of being named public.
SEC. PANELO: No. What I said was that was the reason. Whether or not it will apply to the new list involving personalities, I do not know – that will depend on the President.
REYMUND TINAZA/BOMBO RADYO: Thank you, sir.
HANNAH SANCHO/SONSHINE RADIO: Hi sir, good afternoon.
SEC. PANELO: Good afternoon.
HANNAH SANCHO/SONSHINE RADIO: Sir, do you think iko-consider ng Pangulo since iyong mga celebrities, sir, nilu-lookup ng maraming tao, especially ng mga youth today. Kung sila po involved sa illegal drugs, iko-consider ng Pangulo na pangalanan sila?
SEC. PANELO: All factors will be considered by the President, so we will have to await his decision on that matter.
HANNAH SANCHO/SONSHINE RADIO: Hindi naman dahil sa private citizen sila kaya sila medyo iba iyong pagtingin or pareho talaga iyong pagtingin ng Pangulo sa lahat po ng involved sa drugs whether politician ka or celebrity ka or ordinary citizen ka?
SEC. PANELO: Again, I’ll repeat: the President will weigh the pros and the cons, and decide.
JULIE AURELIO/PHILIPPINE DAILY INQUIRER: Sir, may I just get the Palace’s reaction to the report that some of the celebrities who were included in the drug list reportedly approached senatorial candidate Bato Dela Rosa for help or protection.
SEC. PANELO: Sought the help of Bato Dela Rosa?
JULIE AURELIO/PHILIPPINE DAILY INQUIRER: Yeah.
SEC. PANELO: Protection… what? Like what?
JULIE AURELIO/PHILIPPINE DAILY INQUIRER: They were afraid for their lives or for their reputation.
SEC. PANELO: I do not know of that, I have not received any info on that. That has to be validated.
JULIE AURELIO/PHILIPPINE DAILY INQUIRER: Okay, sir. On a related topic, what’s the Palace’s take on Senator Ping Lacson’s request or… urging for the Dangerous Drugs Board to conduct a survey on just how many drug addicts are in the country?
SEC. PANELO: I suppose we have, we have already a probe on that – that’s part of the job of the Dangerous Drugs Board. They’re supposed to receive information coming from PDEA, from PNP. I think it’s a matter of asking it to release whatever information they have with respect to what you referred to earlier.
JULIE AURELIO/PHILIPPINE DAILY INQUIRER: So, there’s already a survey conducted by the DDB on the drug situation in the country?
SEC. PANELO: I think that should come as a matter of course. I mean, if you are involved in the law enforcement with respect to drugs, then you must have some statistics as to how many are involved, how many are addicted, how many have been arrested, how may have been charged – that’s part of the territory of every law enforcement agency assigned to that.
JULIE AURELIO/PHILIPPINE DAILY INQUIRER: Will the Palace be telling the DDB to expedite their release of the statistics?
SEC. PANELO: I suppose if there is a request, then we will have to respond to the request.
JULIE AURELIO/PDI: Sir on another related issue. President Duterte earlier this week said that the drug situation in the Philippines has worsened, what’s the Palace’s take on this, do we have actual figures to back it up?
SEC. PANELO: Yes, what he means when he said that it worsened is because the number of entry of prohibited drugs. You recall that there were two huge confiscations of prohibited drugs that entered the country – 2.6 billion worth or was it 3 point something. In other words, that is why he said that, but, as correctly stated by PDEA Director General Aquino. It shows also that we are succeeding because we can stop that such big amount, equivalent amount that is coming to the Philippines.
JULIE AURELIO/PDI: To clarify sir, so the President, it was only referring to the entry of smuggled drugs into the country and not the number of drug addicts or drug users?
SEC. PANELO: I think so. Yes, because with respect to the dismantling of many factories, we have succeeded on that.
JULIE AURELIO/PDI: Does the Palace think sir that the President has an accurate picture of the drug situation?
SEC. PANELO: Does what?
JULIE AURELIO/PDI: Does the President have an accurate picture of the drug situation in the country?
SEC. PANELO: Oh, definitely, considering that he is the President of the country. He has unlimited sources coming from within and without.
REYMUND TINAZA/BOMBO RADYO: Sir, patanong lang ng kalaban kong network.
SEC. PANELO: Sino ba ang kalaban mong network?
REYMUND TINAZA/BOMBO RADYO: What advice will you give the President, as the Chief Presidential Legal Counsel?
SEC. PANELO: About what?
REYMUND TINAZA/BOMBO RADYO: On going back to the release of the narco-list on showbiz personalities?
SEC. PANELO: My advice has not been sought. I only give advise when it is asked for – walang unsolicited advice.
REYMUND TINAZA/BOMBO RADYO: What would be your possible advice once you are sought?
SEC. PANELO: When the advice is sought, then I will give you my potential response.
MARICEL HALILI/TV5: Sir, ano na lang, what’s your message to the celebrities involved in the drug list?
SEC. PANELO: You know, I’ll tell you something. You remember that a law professor that was here, the foreigner, he is actually an Indiana law professor. He wanted to see how they conduct our press briefing. And then after that, we had lunch and he told me, “you know those reporters ask the same question in twelve different ways, but it’s the same question – iyon ang ginagawa mo ngayon, Maricel. So I’m giving also the same response.
MARICEL HALILI/TV5: Hindi sir, what message can you give to the celebrities involved in the drug list, I mean should they be wary?
SEC. PANELO: The message is, of course, you should not be involved. The message you should not, you have to rehabilitate yourselves. You cannot be doing that, because you are destroying your own selves.
MARICEL HALILI/TV5: Will this serve as a warning to them, sir?
SEC. PANELO: Definitely, because if they will not warned themselves about their involvement, certainly, it will be destructive of their own health, destructive of their own family and certainly, they will be losing their adoring fans.
HANNAH SANCHO/SONSHINE RADIO: Sir, is there possibility na hindi mailabas iyong pangalan ng mga celebrities kung nagpa-rehab na po sila or any assurance mula sa side po nila na sila po ay users po ng illegal drugs, pero since hindi pa naman napapangalanan ng government, let say gumawa sila ng agreement with the government, ‘huwag kaming pangalanan, magbabago kami or something like that.’ Is it possible?
SEC. PANELO: Another way of asking whether we will release it or not.
HANNAH SANCHO/SONSHINE RADIO: Hindi sir, sa side nila, what if, kasi nagbigay kayo ng advise di ba na, submit yourself for a rehab. Kung ano, kasi some of them are iniisip siguro nila na, number one, mawalan sila ng fans, hanapbuhay, kapag pinangalanan sila.
SEC. PANELO: So, ano ngayon ang tanong.
HANNAH SANCHO/SONSHINE RADIO: Pag sila po ba nag nag-submit for rehab, hindi na sila papangalanan po?
SEC. PANELO: Ah, iyan ang hindi ko alam, kasi the decision to release.
HANNAH SANCHO/SONSHINE RADIO: Or open ba tayo?
SEC. PANELO: The decision will be dependent on the President again. He will be weighing all considerations.
JOYCE BALANCIO/DZMM: Sir, if they decide to surrender and ask government for help for rehabilitation. Will the government help them?
SEC. PANELO: Oh certainly, hindi ba mayroon tayong mga rehabilitation centers. Precisely there is a two-pronged approach to solving the drug industry in this country. One is to dismantle the apparatus and number two, to rehabilitate those who have been addicted to the same.
JOYCE BALANCIO/DZMM: To what extent sir, iyong ibibigay nating tulong sa kanila, would that cover not releasing the list anymore provided that they will undergo the rehabilitation program?
SEC. PANELO: Nandoon na naman tayo sa list ano. Well, the help would be extended to them if they ask for it, if they are willing to rehabilitate themselves.
Q: Sir, will the President likely release the names of celebrities.
SEC. PANELO: Likely, that’s the ninth way of asking the same question.
Q: But sir, just—will it not be viewed as special treatment to celebrities po, kasi parang it takes time to release the names nga po.
SEC. PANELO: We will wait for the President’s judgment to that.
Q: So, sir this is not a special treatment po?
SEC. PANELO: The President doesn’t give special treatment to anyone, if you have noticed.
ROSALIE COZ/UNTV: Good afternoon, sir. The Makabayan Bloc is planning to question the loan agreement of the Philippines with China as well as to stop the Chico River irrigation project. So, how does the Palace react to this po?
SEC. PANELO: Well, the Palace always welcomes any move to question its action if they feel it’s not within the law.
ROSALIE COZ/UNTV: Will this hamper the projects of the Duterte administration, sir? Are you confident po na magpu-push despite the plans to ask the Supreme Court to stop this certain projects?
SEC. PANELO: Well, if there is no order from the Supreme Court stopping it, then it’s a ‘go’.
ROSALIE COZ/UNTV: In relation din po diyan sa topic, kahapon po nabanggit po ni Senior Associate Justice Carpio na tsine-check po ng China iyong email – surveillance – against the Senior Associate Justice?
SEC. PANELO: No, I think he said that in jest. He was making us all there – laugh, kasi nagkaroon ng blackout. I was expecting that eh, sabi ko, kasi kung ako ang nandoon, iyon din ang sasabihin ko.
ROSALIE COZ/UNTV: Pero, sir, I think the joke was about iyon pong presentation at saka iyong sudden brownout, pero po iyong fact na mino-monitor po siya.
SEC. PANELO: Hindi, kasama iyon, kasama iyon sa joke.
ROSALIE COZ/UNTV: So, you are confident, sir na iyong mga officials, such as SCJ Carpio, is not monitored by the Chinese government?
SEC. PANELO: I have no personal knowledge of that. I do not know whether other countries are monitoring us. I do not even know whether they have the capability of monitoring every single high official in this country.
ROSALIE COZ/UNTV: But the President himself said before na siya man alam niya rin na minu-monitor po siya ng mga bansang may capability na i-surveillance siya.
SEC. PANELO: Siguro eh educated guess niya iyon, sa tingin ko. Actually, hindi natin malalaman iyan, unless biglang… mayroon tayong ginagawa, nailabas nila. But I suppose, foreign countries will be—countries do that, especially kung kalaban nila.
JOYCE BALANCIO/DZMM: Sir, yesterday, various environmental and indigenous groups convened in a press con in Quezon City and they urging the President to do a Mahathir and suspend agreements with China, particularly po iyong Kaliwa Dam. So sabi nila kasi, since hindi naman si President iyong main signatory doon sa agreement with China, he can call for the suspension just like what Malaysian President did with some of the projects with China.
SEC. PANELO: The President will consider all the suggestions, and then decide eventually whether he will respond favorably or not. The President is always open to that. He listens.
RALPH VILLANUEVA/MANILA TIMES: Sir, mabalik lang po kay Ressa. Sir, in a tweet, she said na iyong panibago pong arrest sa kaniya is a violation of the Bill of Rights and Philippine Constitution. Sir, any comment po?
SEC. PANELO: I already responded to that. How can it be a violation of the Bill of Rights? When she was charged, there was a preliminary investigation on that; and then probable cause was determined by the Office of the Prosecutor or the DOJ; and then an information has been filed; and prior to an issuance of a warrant of arrest, another determination by the judge handling the case will be made. And there is such a determination of probable cause. So due process has been observed.
TINA MARALIT/DAILY TRIBUNE: Sir, good afternoon po. Sir, has the President started his review on the national budget po?
SEC. PANELO: I suppose. He has gone back to work from his birthday yesterday.
TINA MARALIT/DAILY TRIBUNE: Sir, follow up lang po. Senate President Vicente Sotto po expressed confidence that the President will veto the 75 billion post ratification alignments daw po. Your reaction po.
SEC. PANELO: Well the President, as again, as we said, he will evaluate, review, analyze every provision of the national budget and decide for himself whether or not he will approve it in toto or exercise his veto power.
EARL ROQUE/PNA: Good afternoon. May we get the Palace’s reaction on NSA Esperon formally writing to the EU to immediately cease its funding being funneled to groups allegedly acting as legal fronts of CPP-NPA?
SEC. PANELO: He is what? He is asking the EU?
EARL ROQUE/PNA: He formally wrote to the EU to immediately cease its funding being funneled to groups allegedly acting as legal fronts of the CPP-NPA?
SEC. PANELO: He should—I mean, the EU should because the funding will be used in destabilizing the government. If these are legal fronts and their main purpose is to breakdown the government, then the EU, who’s funding it, should reconsider.
REYMUND TINAZA/BOMBO RADYO: Patanong: Sir, ano raw ang ginagawa ng gobyerno sa kaso ng 48 na Pinoy na nasa death row sa Malaysia. Thanks!
SEC. PANELO: I think the Secretary of Labor is doing something about that. We’re waiting in fact for his report… of the latest
REYMUND TINAZA/BOMBO RADYO: So assurance na hindi pababayaan ng gobyerno?
SEC. PANELO: Oh definitely we will not. We will always respond to the call of distress from any OFW.
ROSALIE COZ/UNTV: Sir, may resolusyon na po na inihain sa Senado para imbestigahan po iyong dating Economic Adviser Michael Yang. Nagkausap na po ba kayo ng Pangulo tungkol kay Michael Yang, sir?
SEC. PANELO: No. Hindi ba Michael Yang has already been cleared by PDEA and by the PNP. ‘Di ba sinasabi nga nila baka ibang Michael Yang yata iyong sinasabi nung Acierto.
ROSALIE COZ/UNTV: So enough na po iyong para po huwag na pong magsagawa ng ibang imbestigasyon patungkol kay Michael Yang?
SEC. PANELO: Hindi—you mean, Congress? Congress has the right to investigate.
ROSALIE COZ/UNTV: Pero po iyong nabanggit ninyo, iyong law enforcement agencies, no need since na-clear … klinir na ng PNP and PDEA?
SEC. PANELO: Eh kung iyon ang kanilang findings, bakit pa sila—in fact, kaya iyon ang findings nila kasi inimbestigahan na nila iyon.
ROSALIE COZ/UNTV: Do you know, sir, kung nandito pa po sa bansa si Michael Yang.
SEC. PANELO: Hindi ko alam.
VANZ FERNANDEZ/POLICE FILES: Sir, regarding kay Michael Yang. Sinabi raw po umano ng Davao Chamber of Commerce, they don’t know Michael Yang. And sinasabi naman na naka-register sa SEC iyong mga negosyo niya. Ano po ang masasabi ng Palasyo regarding this?
SEC. PANELO: Baka hindi siya member ng Davao Chamber of Commerce, eh hindi ba voluntary—
VANZ FERNANDEZ/POLICE FILES: Denying kasi na negosyante po siya ng Davao.
SEC. PANELO: Eh voluntary lang naman ang pagiging miyembro ng mga ganiyang organization.
Oh by the way, before I forget, I’d like to thank Atty. Antonio Pastor for entertaining us in Batangas City when we were there. We were ushered to his beautiful antique mansion. I’ve never seen such a beautiful antique mansion. Ano ha, parang mahigit nang hundred years pero na-maintain pa rin. Thank you, Atty. Tony Pastor.
Source: PCOO-NIB (News and Information Bureau-Data Processing Center)