USEC. ROCKY IGNACIO: Good afternoon Malacañang Press Corps, kasama na natin si Chief Presidential Legal Counsel and Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo.
SEC. PANELO: Good afternoon. I’m ready, if you are…
HENRY URI/DZRH: Secretary iyong latest lang, ipinakita na ni SAP Bong Go iyong kaniyang likod na walang tattoo. Now, what can the Palace say or what’s your reaction that you want to convey to the opposition?
SEC. PANELO: We’ve been saying all along that that was a black propaganda. There are people who believe it – hook line and sinker, and it’s now showing that it’s not true. It’s never been true.
HENRY URI/DZRH: Kung mayroon hong gusto kayong ilabas naman at ipakita ng oposisyon, ano naman ito Secretary?
SEC. PANELO: Anong ilalabas? Sinong…
HENRY URI/DZRH: Anything. Baka mayroon kayong gusto ring challenge or gustong sabihin na ilabas nila, mayroon ba?
SEC. PANELO: Ang ilalabas lang namin ay ang kasaganahan ng bansa, ang kasipagan ni Presidente sa kaniyang tungkulin bilang Presidente ng ating bayan. Ang kaniyang katapatan… ‘yan ang mga ilalabas natin.
HENRY URI/DZRH: Hindi. I mean your challenge—
SEC. PANELO: Iyong mga black propaganda—
HENRY URI/DZRH: Your challenge to the opposition, baka mayroon silang kailangang ilabas na gusto ninyo.
SEC. PANELO: Wala na. They can do their worst, we will do our best.
HENRY URI/DZRH: Okay. Thank you.
JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: But the truth or the veracity of the claim of Bikoy only refers to—kay SAP Bong Go. As far as that is concerned, do you think that is—
SEC. PANELO: You’re already assuming na truthful iyong ano, iyong video.
JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: Yeah. Question sir is, now that we have that video from SAP Bong Go, what does it say about the other allegations of Bikoy?
SEC. PANELO: One who alleges must prove. They have to prove what they are saying, that’s why we have been repeatedly saying it’s a black propaganda.
JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: Sa China sir, there is a report again, from the Inquirer that there are other areas where the Chinese militia is present. I think it’s in Kota Island which is Philippine-occupied. Would you know about this information, sir?
SEC. PANELO: No, not yet. The report came from where?
JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: The military sir… But aside from the Kalayaan, the Pag-asa Islands, they’re present also in some of other islands—
SEC. PANELO: Then we will object to their presence. We already filed a diplomatic protest, and that applies to everything, anything that concern Chinese vessels in our territory.
JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: So, we will file a new protest kasi it’s just—
SEC. PANELO: I’m sure the Secretary of Foreign Affairs will do that, after validating the report.
JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: And just for soundbyte purposes, we are filing because?
SEC. PANELO: Because they cannot be intruding our—in our territorial property.
JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: What will that diplomatic protest achieve, sir, as far as maybe the movement of the Chinese vessels?
SEC. PANELO: They will know that we are against it… that we will not allow it, that we will not tolerate such presence in our territory.
JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: Should they go away, sir?
SEC. PANELO: They should. They have no business being there.
JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: Very interesting strong statements now from the Palace huh?
SEC. PANELO: Oh, we’ve been saying that. We cannot—we—while we remain friendly with respect to trade relations, we will always assert sovereignty when it is being impaired or assaulted.
JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: And you see this as an assault?
SEC. PANELO: Oh, it is. If they continue to be present in our territory, then it is an assault to our sovereignty.
JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: Alright sir, iyon muna sa akin.
ROSALIE COZ/UNTV: Good afternoon. Sir, ano pong nakuha natin doon sa last na bilateral consultation mechanism? Kasi base sa mga reports, walang napag-usapan about doon sa presence ng Chinese militia or fishermen near the Pag-asa Island.
SEC. PANELO: I would suggest you address the question first to Usec. Manalo, because he was the one in charge in the bilateral relations. I haven’t received any report from him.
ROSALIE COZ/UNTV: What do we expect to get from the recent meeting?
SEC. PANELO: I do not know what we will expect to get. We have to wait for the report. We cannot be speculating.
CELERINA MONTE/MANILA SHIMBUN: Good afternoon, sir. Sir, do you think this is now the right time for the President to bring up this arbitration decision, since before the President mentioned that at the right time, he would mention this—he will bring up with the Chinese counterpart this decision of the PCA.
SEC. PANELO: That’s the President’s call.
CELERINA MONTE/MANILA SHIMBUN: So you don’t see—like if you will be asked since you are the Chief Presidential Legal Counsel, do you think this is now the right time?
SEC. PANELO: When he’ll ask me, I will respond. Until such time, I will keep quiet.
VIRGIL LOPEZ/GMA NEWS ONLINE: Sir, the President had a joint command conference with the AFP and PNP last Monday ba iyon? Would you know if the—iyong presence of Chinese boats in the West Philippine Sea was discussed?
SEC. PANELO: I was not present during the command conference. I have yet to receive a transcript of what transpired.
VIRGIL LOPEZ/GMA NEWS ONLINE: But, would you know if nasa agenda iyong West Philippine Sea?
SEC. PANELO: No, I do not know.
VIRGIL LOPEZ/GMA NEWS ONLINE: Okay sir, thank you.
INA ANDOLONG/CNN PHILS.: Sir, when the President last Friday said… referring to the presence of Chinese vessels in Pag-asa pa rin, sabi niya ‘let’s be friends, but do not touch Pag-asa Island and the rest. If you make moves there, that’s a different story. I would tell my soldiers prepare for suicide mission.’ Following that statement – a strongly worded statement from the President – ano ang—what did the Palace hope from China? I mean, what actions did you hope China would take following that?
SEC. PANELO: Well, positive response for them to leave the place.
INA ANDOLONG/CNN PHILS.: And since the President said that, has the Palace monitored any movement from Pag-asa, if indeed maybe it… umalis na po iyong mga Chinese vessels doon?
SEC. PANELO: I’ve not heard from the military establishment and I have not heard from the DFA whether it has already received a response from the Chinese government.
INA ANDOLONG/CNN PHILS.: At the same time, sir. The President is also suggesting a so-called… ‘a compromise,’ iyon yung ginamit niyang term with the China, still referring to Pag-asa. What type of compromise is the President—
SEC. PANELO: Perhaps what he is referring to is they leave the place. Then we maintain our trade relations. They leave the place. I mean, they cannot be staying there forever.
INA ANDOLONG/CNN PHILS.: And if they insist on staying there?
SEC. PANELO: Then, we will have to let the President decide what action he will undertake.
INA ANDOLONG/CNN PHILS.: How long, sir, do you think will the President wait?
SEC. PANELO: We will give them reasonable time to respond to our protest.
INA ANDOLONG/CNN PHILS.: Sir, again ha, trade relations iyong sabi ninyo?
SEC. PANELO: Yeah, di ba we are having trade relations.
INA ANDOLONG/CNN PHILS.: If they don’t leave, can you again say it, sir? What’s going to happen if they don’t leave?
SEC. PANELO: I said we will have to wait for the President’s decision on that.
CATHERINE VALENTE/MANILA TIMES: Sir, the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines has placed the Luzon grid on red alert today. Anu-ano na po iyong contingency measures ng gobyerno especially nalalapit na po iyong election? Is the government ready for a possible power shortage?
SEC. PANELO: First, I do not know about that. Second, we will have to ask the energy czar about that.
CATHERINE VALENTE/MANILA TIMES: Pero any assurance, sir, na ready ang government? Kasi lalo na ngayon magkakaroon ng El Niño.
SEC. PANELO: I’m sure the Energy department will have responses to whatever crisis we will have.
TUESDAY NIU/DZBB: Hi, sir. Balik lang ako, sir, sa China. Sir, na-obserbahan namin, sir, when it comes to China diyan sa Pag-asa Island, bakit parang bigla strong ang messages ninyo, unlike before. These past few days, sir, eh medyo pumapalag-palag na.
SEC. PANELO: You must remember that our responses were calibrated. We said let’s see first if it’s true; if it’s true, then we will undertake an action. Now, it’s true pala, oh eh di we complain, we protest.
TUESDAY NIU/DZBB: So na-verify na, sir?
SEC. PANELO: Eh obviously, may protest na nga eh.
TUESDAY NIU/DZBB: On another matter, sir. Iyong report, sir, ng MWSS at Manila Water na naisumite na ba kay Presidente, nabasa na niya ba at sabi niya magde-decide siya before April 15.
SEC. PANELO: Ano na ba ngayon?
TUESDAY NIU/DZBB: 10, pero ngayon iyong deadline, sir, na for submission.
SEC. PANELO: Deadline palang, wala pa. I have not received any report that they have submitted theirs.
TUESDAY NIU/DZBB: So, wala pa, hindi pa natin alam kung anong decision, okay.
PIA GUTIERREZ/ABS-CBN: Sir, may information na ba iyong Malacañang? Because apparently, the MWSS has imposed fines and sanctions sa Manila Water over the water shortage kasi sabi nila Malacañang daw po kasi iyong unang mag-a-announce.
SEC. PANELO: Which one?
PIA GUTIERREZ/ABS-CBN: Iyong mga fines and sanctions imposed by MWSS sa Manila Water.
SEC. PANELO: Wala pa.
TINA MENDEZ/PHIL STAR: Sir, sa news the other day, si Mr. Manny Pangilinan said Maynilad Water services is more than willing to drop the arbitration proceedings with the government as long as there is a way forward on the tariffs. Any comment from Malacañang?
SEC. PANELO: Anything that will settle the differences is always welcome.
TINA MARALIT/DAILY TRIBUNE: Sir, good afternoon po. Sir, earlier this week sinabi po ni CabSec Nograles that the President is already reviewing the budget and hopefully before the Holy Week break po ay mapirmahan na. Sir, any update po regarding that?
SEC. PANELO: Wala pa. Still kung ano iyong sinabi ni CabSec iyon na iyon. Kasi the budget is a huge document in terms of provision. Siyempre iisa-isahin naman, matagal na trabaho iyon.
TINA MARALIT/DAILY TRIBUNE: Pero, sir, soon kaya mapipirmahan?
SEC. PANELO: Tingnan natin, hopefully soon.
NESTOR CORRALES/INQ. NET: Sir, may we have the Palace reaction on the order of the Supreme Court for Malacañang to respond on the petition to nullify the loan agreement with China on the Chico River project?
SEC. PANELO: O, hindi ba sabi natin eh we will always respect whatever the other branches do or perform following the constitutional directives to each branch. So we will respond to the petition.
NESTOR CORRALES/INQ. NET: How confident is Malacañang that it would be able to respond properly to the petition in the loan agreement program?
SEC. PANELO: It will respond properly. The loan agreement has passed through many channels. There has been many reviews/evaluations. We feel that it’s not in violation of the Constitution as alleged by the petitioner.
TUESDAY NIU/DZBB: Sir, si Presidente tomorrow ay nasa Negros Occidental, and then sa Friday ay sa Lanao Del Sur, sa Marawi. Sir, diretso na ba si Presidente doon sa Mindanao hanggang bago mag-Mahal na Araw? O mayroon pa siyang schedule next week?
SEC. PANELO: Kapag Mahal na Araw siyempre nasa Davao siya.
TUESDAY NIU/DZBB: Mayroon pa tayong Monday to Wednesday, sir, bago magbakasyon ang gobyerno.
SEC. PANELO: Kung ano ang nakalagay sa schedule, he will follow that. But pagdating sa … siguro, Holy Thursday nasa Davao na iyon.
TUESDAY NIU/DZBB: So we expect by Monday until Wednesday ay mayroon pa siyang event, sir, dito?
SEC. PANELO: I haven’t seen the schedule.
JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: Sir, sa Marcos human rights victims. The United States Federal Court in New York directed the transfer of the 13.75 million settlement proceeds to class counsel for distribution to Philippine human rights. According to Attorney Swift, the distribution of the compensation will start next month – your comment first.
SEC. PANELO: I will leave that to the Solicitor General because he is in charge of that.
JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: That’s right. The SolGen is blocking that.
SEC. PANELO: Huh?
JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: The SolGen is blocking some compensation from …
SEC. PANELO: From what I read in the papers, yes.
JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: Do you think that’s right?
SEC. PANELO: I will have to ask him his reasoning for the oppositional blocking.
JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: So if he opposes that, you’re okay with it?
SEC. PANELO: It depends on what grounds.
JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: But in principle, sir, do you think that human rights victims should receive this compensation?
SEC. PANELO: Even in principle, I cannot speculate. I have to know the ‘whys’ and the ‘wherefores’ of SolGen.
JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: All right. The Attorney of the victims said that it is the judge of the New York District Court that has the power to bind the Philippines to commit to this order, sir?
SEC. PANELO: It is the Philippines that will decide – Philippine government.
JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: So we can disobey this order?
SEC. PANELO: In the first place, do they have jurisdiction over us?
JOYCE BALANCIO/DZMM: Sir, doon sa warning lang ni President Duterte on possible suspension of writ of habeas corpus. Sara Duterte in an ambush interview said, “If you go by it legally, the President cannot suspend the writ of habeas corpus; only the Congress can do that under the Constitution,” – any reaction, sir?
SEC. PANELO: The Constitution provides certain grounds for the suspension of the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus. So the President will follow what the Constitution directs.
JOYCE BALANCIO/DZMM: I believe, sir, if the President will eventually announce a possible suspension of habeas corpus, kailangan pa rin ng approval ng Congress. So are we confident that if in case he indeed suspends it, we have allies in Congress who will support it?
SEC. PANELO: Well, he has suspended the privilege of the writ in Mindanao. He declared martial law there, and Congress supported his moves, and the Supreme Court has validated all the actions of the President.
But then, as I said in my statement, the declaration of the President relative to that, as well as to that revolutionary government thing, was more of an expression of exasperation due to the series of acts which I mentioned in my statement. It was more of a warning to the enemies of the state and not to the people.
JOYCE BALANCIO/DZMM: But, sir, are we confident that if in case, Congress would support the President?
SEC. PANELO: I already answered that earlier.
JOYCE BALANCIO/DZMM: Sir, another. May issue, sir, doon sa … maraming mga commuters ang nagrereklamo, sir, sa removal of bus terminals along EDSA. And some of also lawmakers opposed it. Plano pa lang naman ito ng MMDA to remove it after the Holy Week. So ano po ang sentiment ng Malacañang given na maraming Pilipino po ang maaapektuhan?
SEC. PANELO: We will leave it to the MMDA, since they are the ones on the ground; they are the ones studying the feasibility of such plan.
JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: Sir, just a little bit on China. Given the stronger message from the Palace now as far as the Chinese President is concerned, do you think it is now ripe … the time is ripe for the President to make good his commitment in 2016 to jetski to Scarborough?
SEC. PANELO: I think he already responded to that about the jetski thing. He said, “Istorya lang iyon,” ‘di ba sabi niya noon.
JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: So that’s nothing, sir?
SEC. PANELO: Drama lang naman iyong pagpupunta doon. The more – better action would be to file a diplomatic protest, and then raise that as an issue with bilateral meetings between the two countries.
Source: PCOO-NIB (News and Information Bureau-Data Processing Center)