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; kasama na natin si Presidential Spokesperson and Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo.

SEC. PANELO: Good morning.

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: Sir, maybe you want to express a message of solidarity to the people of France, sir.

SEC. PANELO: We’ll just issue a statement.

INA ANDOLONG/CNN PHILIPPINES: Hi, sir. Sir, can you give us details of the vetoed funds, iyong more than 95 billion pesos?

SEC. PANELO: Those are the so-called insertions/riders. They are not part of the program by the DPWH, hence it violates the Constitution. It’s violative of the Constitution, because they are not—remember the decision of the Supreme Court, the decision of the Supreme Court was that if they are unprogrammed, then it violates the Constitution.

INA ANDOLONG/CNN PHILIPPINES: Sir, can we just be clear about this? Are these funds pertaining to the so-called last-minute insertions made in the House of Representatives?

SEC. PANELO: Yes. Correct, it is.

INA ANDOLONG/CNN PHILIPPINES: Okay. Sir, I know it was already mentioned that they were placed under the DPWH. Can you give us more details on what types of projects, and if—baka maliban po sa DPWH mayroon pa?

SEC. PANELO: I have no knowledge on that.

INA ANDOLONG/CNN PHILIPPINES: Since clearly, the President is taking the position that reallocations or the alleged insertions were unconstitutional. Can you give us his—what he said about it when he actually vetoed it? Was he disappointed that those insertions were made? Can you tell us what his thoughts about it?

SEC. PANELO: As I have said in my statement, those vetoed provisions are in violation of the Constitution or it is against certain statutes; that was also the statement made by the President.

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: Sir in short, we’re calling it pork sir ‘no?


JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: We’re calling it pork, the 95.


JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: Pork barrel.

SEC. PANELO: If you classify it that way.

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: No, sir you? Because the Supreme Court decision on the pork barrel is unprogrammed, tapos iyong mga discretionary funds, lump sum appropriations… So, the assessment of the President and ES is that it’s pork.

SEC. PANELO: They are in violation of the Constitution, whether you call it pork or beef or meat, or fish… those provisions are violative of the basic charter.

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: Sir, by vetoing these 95 billion pesos, is the President sending a message with regard to corruption? Because prior to this, he had abolished the Road Board which is also a source of corruption for many.

SEC. PANELO: The message is always, you follow the Constitution. Any deviation from the Constitution will not be approved by the President or will not be tolerated.

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: Thank you, sir.

INA ANDOLONG/CNN PHILIPPINES: Quick lang, sir. Na-validate po ba ninyo iyong report since the budget was studied before some parts were vetoed? Iyong sinasabing the funds were given to allies of the House Speaker, itong questionable.

SEC. PANELO: Hindi ko alam iyon. I’m not part of the study of the budget.


JOYCE BALANCIO/DZMM: Sir iyong 95 billion, kasi mas malaki siya doon sa 75B na napansin ng senators; and according to Senator Ping Lacson, iyong 95B it could also include the 20 billion plus insertions made by some senators. So iyong 95B, House and some senators insertions po ba iyon, sir?

SEC. PANELO: It could be. I don’t know of the exact figures. Basta 95.3 billion ang total.

JOYCE BALANCIO/DZMM: But definitely sir, doon sa 95.3, iyong buong 75 billion being questioned by senators alleged insertions ng House kasama iyon?

SEC. PANELO: Kasama iyon.

JOYCE BALANCIO/DZMM: Iyong remaining 20, we have no information yet if…

SEC. PANELO: Hindi ko alam.

JOYCE BALANCIO/DZMM: Thank you, sir.

MARICEL HALILI/TV5: Sir, good morning. Sir I understand, doon sa budget na pinirmahan ni Presidente, mayroon ding mga conditional implementation. Why is that? That includes kasi even the allowance and benefits of teachers, right?

SEC. PANELO: I think the President will issue a statement on that. We’ll wait for that. We’ll give you copies of that.

MARICEL HALILI/TV5: Okay. And when we say conditional implementation, what does it mean? What particular conditions, sir?

SEC. PANELO: Eh siguro, we have to comply certain requirements, baka may audit, baka mayroong protocol…

MARICEL HALILI/TV5: What’s the logic behind this, sir? If you can just give us a… parang—

SEC. PANELO: I think I’ll have to wait for the statement of the President. Kasi he said last night, he will issue a statement.

MARICEL HALILI/TV5: Oo. And sir, last na lang po. Yesterday, supposedly iyong ceremonial signing of the budget which was initially included doon sa tentative schedule pero hindi na natuloy iyong ceremony. Why is that, sir?

SEC. PANELO: Ah, hindi ko alam. Basta alam ko, pinirmahan mga past 6, 6:10 in the evening.

MARICEL HALILI/TV5: Because I’m wondering if you’re actually trying to prevent iyong possible clash between the Senate and Congress.

SEC. PANELO: Ah, no. Ang daming—sunud-sunod iyong ano kagabi eh. Ang dami siyang appointments pati iyong sa Communist-something. Wala nang oras.

MARICEL HALILI/TV5: Okay. Thank you, sir.

BERNADETTE NICOLAS/BUSINESS MIRROR: Sir, just to clarify po. Iyong veto po ba ni President ay direct or conditional po, iyong sa 95.3? Because according to Andaya po, he still needs to see the veto message because he surmised that baka nga daw po conditional iyong veto.

SEC. PANELO: Hindi, hindi conditional. Wala doon iyong condition.

BERNADETTE NICOLAS/BUSINESS MIRROR: Okay, outright. Okay. Thank you, sir.

GENALYN KABILING/MANILA BULLETIN: Sir, the President met with the tricycle operators and drivers yesterday.

SEC. PANELO: I was not part of that. I left na before they met. Hindi ko alam iyon.

GENALYN KABILING/MANILA BULLETIN: How about the meeting with the task force versus national communist insurgency?

SEC. PANELO: Yeah, I was there.

GENALYN KABILING/MANILA BULLETIN: Sir, may we know what are the latest directives?

SEC. PANELO: They issued a statement. Maybe I can share this to you:

President Rodrigo Roa Duterte today rallied all instrumentalities of government, the private sector and the entire Filipino nation to actively work together in a whole of the nation movement to address violent conflicts as well as build a culture of peace and development throughout the country.

At the first meeting of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict held in Malacañang, President Duterte approved a national plan that would integrate and harmonize the various efforts of the whole of government and of all sectors of society in delivering goods and services as well as in providing for peace and security especially in conflict affected communities.

The members of the Cabinet and other heads of agencies who were present at the meeting agreed that the Whole-of-Nation Movement is not directed at defeating the communist insurgency, rather to demonstrate genuine good governance for the betterment of the lives of the people.

To effectively manage the Whole-of-Nation Movement, the President will assign each of his Cabinet members to oversee the peace and development efforts in all regions of the country. The designated Cabinet officer for the region will be supported by a unified, an integrated Regional Development Council or RDC and Regional Peace and Order Council or RPOC.

Also to be pursued is the fast track implementation of the national WiFi and 911 projects in all barangays nationwide.

By effectively managing barriers and challenges to peace and development, the Whole-Of-Nation Movement envisions to build resilient and robust communities that promote the welfare and the well-being of the Filipino people.

The NTFELCAC [National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict] was created by virtue of Executive Order 70, December 4, 2018 quote – “to provide an efficient mechanism and structure for the implementation of the Whole-of-Nation Approach to aid in the realization of the collective aspirations for inclusive and sustainable peace.”

It is chaired by the President and constituted by the heads of 19 concerned departments and agencies of the government including two representatives from the private sector.

GENALYN KABILING/MANILA BULLETIN: Sir, did they also talk about the planned new peace panel during the meeting?


JOYCE BALANCIO/DZMM: Sir, there were Filipino fishermen in Scarborough Shoal who said that Chinese vessels present in the Scarborough Shoal are indeed harvesting giant clams or iyong taklobo na tinatawag nila. And sabi nila, this is the reason why kaunti iyong harvest nila sa Scarborough Shoal. Is this is a cause for concern sa Malacañang?

SEC. PANELO: I think the Secretary of Foreign Affairs already made a tweet on that. He said he will take legal action. He had already filed a note verbale or diplomatic protest.

JOYCE BALANCIO/DZMM: Is it something, sir, that the President can bring up when he—in case matuloy or dumating sila sa bilateral talks sa China?

SEC. PANELO: Again, that’s always the President’s call.

NESTOR CORRALES/INQ.NET: Sir, in an interview this morning Foreign Affair Secretary Locsin has said that the Philippines has filed several note verbales against China in the West Philippine Sea.

SEC. PANELO: A salvo of as he describes it.

NESTOR CORRALES/INQ.NET: Yes sir. And he also mentioned that China has not responded to any of our protest. He suggested that the Philippines could turn to our only military ally, the United States. So, what does the Philippine government wants now from the United States since the President has mentioned in his previous speeches that the United States has been there in the South China Sea but has done nothing to stop Chinese aggression in the disputed sea. What does the Philippine government wants of the United States since we also have the Mutual Defense Treaty, sir?

SEC. PANELO: Well, we will wait for the President’s decision on that. We will wait for him.

JOYCE BALANCIO/DZMM: Sir, but are we hoping that eventually the Chinese vessels would stop from what they are doing – iyong harvesting mass giant clams – in Scarborough Shoal. At the end of the diplomatic protest, iyon yung inaasahan natin, sir.

SEC. PANELO: So, your question is what will we do?

JOYCE BALANCIO/DZMM: What are we hoping doon sa pinayl natin na note verbale?

SEC. PANELO: Well, we’ll wait for their official response. And then act on it one way or the other.

JOYCE BALANCIO/DZMM: But in essence, sir, the Philippine government is sending a message sa China to stop whatever they are doing sa Scarborough Shoal.

SEC. PANELO: Well the fact that we have already issued a diplomatic protest or note verbale is already statement of the position of this government.

INA ANDOLONG/CNN PHIL.: In relation to Nestor’s question, sir. What would prompt us to actually tap only military ally, as the Secretary said?

SEC. PANELO: As I have said, we will wait for the President’s decision on that. It has to be studied.

INA ANDOLONG/CNN PHIL: Sir, is China’s continued presence in Pag-asa Shoal could that … prolonged presence, rather, near Pag-asa Island, rather, prompt us to seek US assistance?

SEC. PANELO: We’ll wait for the President’s decision on that. These are very serious matters, and require serious study.

INA ANDOLONG/CNN PHIL: Sir, how does the Palace feel with China not responding to the salvo of notes verbale we’ve—

SEC. PANELO: We’re still waiting. I’m sure they will respond in time.

INA ANDOLONG/CNN PHIL: Sir, never nga raw po sa dami, ang sabi.

SEC. PANELO: Wala pa eh. Baka next week, pagdating namin doon ay mayroon na, ‘di ba.

INA ANDOLONG/CNN PHIL: So you’re hoping that China will still …

SEC. PANELO: Yeah, they should.

INA ANDOLONG/CNN PHIL: Are you willing to just—yesterday kasi, sir, ang sinasabi ninyo ay welcome iyong bilateral negotiations in settling territorial dispute.


INA ANDOLONG/CNN PHIL: Are you always going to be okay with settling with that… negotiations? Because it seems that’s always the response, sir.

SEC. PANELO: Eh kasi wala namang iba sa ngayon na pupuwede. In the meanwhile, negotiations tayo.

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: Sir, si Secretary Locsin said that he wants the Chinese vessels out. That sounds like a policy, right?

SEC. PANELO: I also said that, ‘di ba. Sabi ko, move away.

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: Correct. And do you think the President will probably heed that recommendation?

SEC. PANELO: Well, the President said, “Don’t touch our people there.” Eh ano pa ba iyon, di ganoon din iyon.

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: Your reaction first, sir, doon sa pag-harvest ng mga taklobo. First off, that’s within our EEZ. It’s like your neighbor going in and getting your plants, right?

SEC. PANELO: That’s why I share the sentiment of Secretary Locsin when he filed the diplomatic protests and said he will institute legal action.

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: How would you describe that action, sir?

SEC. PANELO: Legal action, I don’t know—

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: No, no, the Chinese action of harvesting giant clams in our territory.

SEC. PANELO: Well, as I said—if you recall, yesterday I said, China, as far as it is concerned, it owns the vast South China Sea. Hence, logically, it will be performing acts of ownership or sovereignty over those areas. In other words, they are just being consistent with themselves. Eh tayo rin, we have to be consistent with ours. As far as we are concerned, that is ours so we will be objecting to any intrusion into our own territory.

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: Again, going to my question, sir: How would you describe that Chinese action of harvesting giant clams that is in our area?

SEC. PANELO: Iyon na nga ang sagot ko doon. As far as they are concerned, sa kanila iyon. So they are performing acts of ownership. Eh sa atin, “Hindi, sa amin iyan eh.” Madali’t sabi—

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: Is this a violation of our sovereign rights?

SEC. PANELO: Siyempre, natural because if it’s our territory, therefore it is an affront to our territory and to our sovereignty.

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: Sir, aside from diplomatic protest and note verbale that the Chinese have been ignoring, what do you think are our other avenues to maybe advance our claim?

SEC. PANELO: I will have to defer that to the Secretary of Foreign Affairs because that is his territory. I will not preempt.

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: Yes, but we’re the Palace, right? So we have a little—

SEC. PANELO: Even then, as you see, the stand of the President is he leaves it to the departments.

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: But do you think that includes turning to our military allies, like the United States, considering that he has pivoted away from the US and towards China?

SEC. PANELO: Again, as I said, this will require a serious study.

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: Dahil? Because [of] serious implications and all that?

SEC. PANELO: Because there may be repercussions on both sides.

MARICEL HALILI/TV5: Sir, may we have an update if may binigay ng decision si Presidente about doon sa MWSS, iyong report ng mga concessionaires?

SEC. PANELO: Wala pa eh. Wala pa siyang sinabi kagabi.

MARICEL HALILI/TV5: But, sir, kanina kasi lumabas iyong news na nag-resign na raw iyong COO ng Manila Water. Does it have something to do with the recommendation of the President?

SEC. PANELO: I don’t know. Wala pa, wala pang feedback sa akin.

JOYCE BALANCIO/DZMM: Sir, anong plano ni President Duterte this entire Holy Week?

SEC. PANELO: Holy Week? Bahay. Bahay, as far as I know, bahay lang.

JOYCE BALANCIO/DZMM: Wala siyang any lakad with the family outside, sir?

SEC. PANELO: Wala pa akong alam. He can always change his mind.

USEC. IGNACIO: Okay. Thank you, Secretary Panelo.

SEC. PANELO: Thank you.


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