USEC. ROCKY IGNACIO: Good morning Malacañang Press Corps, let’s now have Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo.
SEC. PANELO: Good morning to all of you.
CHRISTINE AVENDAÑO/PHILIPPINE DAILY INQUIRER: Sir, just on the budget. There are fears now that the 2019 proposed budget won’t be passed and it will be a reenacted budget next year. Is Malacañang doing anything to maybe prod its allies sa House to at least make sure na the budget is passed?
SEC. PANELO: We’re only speculating that it will not be passed. We have submitted a budget proposal, so it’s the House’ call.
CHRISTINE AVENDAÑO/PHILIPPINE DAILY INQUIRER: But you are not—the Palace is not doing anything to at least talk to them para ma-pass iyong budget?
SEC. PANELO: Well certainly, certainly.
CHRISTINE AVENDAÑO/PHILIPPINE DAILY INQUIRER: Who is talking with them, sir?
SEC. PANELO: Oh, the liaison officer. There is a liaison office between Malacañang and Congress.
CHRISTINE AVENDAÑO/PHILIPPINE DAILY INQUIRER: So, what’s the message of the Palace to Congress right now?
SEC. PANELO: Is what, again?
CHRISTINE AVENDAÑO/PHILIPPINE DAILY INQUIRER: So, any message from the Palace to Congress in the passage of this budget?
SEC. PANELO: Well, the House knows that this is the budget proposal of the Palace. And so, they will have to do their job. If there are questions on the budget, they will raise them and we will respond to them.
CHRISTINE AVENDAÑO/PHILIPPINE DAILY INQUIRER: So on the end of the Palace, you’re convinced—parang it’s convinced that we’re gonna pass this budget?
SEC. PANELO: Oh, of course.
HENRY URI/DZRH: Secretary, follow up sa budget. Sabi ni Congressman Andaya, House Majority Leader Rolando Andaya, kaya nadi-delay iyong budget sa Congress is because mayroon daw pong—sabi niya: “A number of very unusual belated request by President Rodrigo Duterte and certain Cabinet members, not for insertions by member of the House Representatives.” Hindi daw ho dahil sa pork barrel kundi iyong budget request mismo. Ang sabi niya: “Very unusual belated request by President Duterte.” May ganito ho bang request ang Pangulo sa Kongreso?
SEC. PANELO: That is the perception of Congressman Andaya. But any question regarding that, if raised, will be responded to by Budget Secretary Ben Diokno
HENRY URI/DZRH: So wala hong request ang Pangulo mismo sa Kongreso na budget? May binabanggit siya, para daw po ito sa mga… specifically pabahay sa mga sundalo.
SEC. PANELO: I think budget Secretary Diokno will be more knowledgeable on that.
HENRY URI/DZRH: Pero as far as the President is concerned, mayroon ba siya?
SEC. PANELO: If the President has instruction to Secretary Diokno as contained in the budget proposal, then that is the situation.
HENRY URI/DZRH: Do you think President Duterte will do that?
SEC. PANELO: [Laughs] You know, I cannot be reading his mind. If he has that, then Secretary Diokno would know that.
HENRY URI/DZRH: Alright, thank you.
CNN PHILIPPINES: Hi sir, good afternoon. It’s going to be the anniversary of Maguindanao Massacre; it’s been 9 years since it happened. What is the reaction of the government or what do you think of the pace of the trial given that until now, after 9 years there’s still no conviction?
SEC. PANELO: We’re not surprised that the wheels of justice in this country grind so slow. Many cases take so long, but what is important to us is justice will prevail – rule of law will have to be observed regardless of who are the persons are involved in any particular case.
CNN PHILIPPINES: Sir, but is Malacañang doing anything to… I don’t know, to speak to the Judiciary to follow up on this case?
SEC. PANELO: The DOJ is the one responsible for prosecuting the case and so it is doing its job; it’s level best to speedy up the prosecution of the case.
CNN PHILIPPINES: But with the talks within the officials, sir, do we expect any resolution anytime soon?
SEC. PANELO: It depends on the stage of the case, it depends; and it depends on the prosecutors.
CNN PHILIPPINES: Thank you.
CHONA YU/RADIO INQUIRER: Sir, as a former lawyer of the Ampatuans, tingin ninyo mako-convict ba sila?
SEC. PANELO: We can always speculate. It’s—you know the courts will always rule on the basis of evidence – that has been the rule and that has been the training of all lawyers.
JOYCE BALANCIO/DZMM: Sir, marami po iyong nakapuna or nagsasabi na there could be a breach of protocol during the state visit of Chinese President Xi Jinping, particularly some netizens pointed out the placing of flags. An example would be, sir, iyong honor guard daw po during the trooping is carrying the flag of China and not the Presidential flag. Former Presidential Communications Undersecretary Manuel Quezon said, “The President of course can break any tradition but there could be a dramatic statement.” Was there a dramatic statement to the placing of the flags or—?
SEC. PANELO: The head of protocol, I was talking to him and he said he would be issuing an official statement on the matter – Robert Borje.
JOYCE BALANCIO/DZMM: But sir sa part po ng President, mayroon ba siyang order, mayroon ba siyang… any meaning to that?
SEC. PANELO: None that I know of. What I know is, it’s the protocol who will be explaining whether there is breach or none. And if there is breach, why.
JOYCE BALANCIO/DZMM: But as of this point, we cannot categorically say that there is no breach of protocol?
SEC. PANELO: I am not the protocol officer, it has to be Robert Borje who would be issuing an official statement on the matter.
JOYCE BALANCIO/DZMM: Within this day sir, they will—
SEC. PANELO: I think so, because I was talking to him yesterday and he said he would be issuing a statement.
JOYCE BALANCIO/DZMM: Noong nakausap ninyo siya sir, hindi niya sinabi na—
SEC. PANELO: Yeah, I talked to him on the phone. Talked to him…
JOYCE BALANCIO/DZMM: Hindi niya po sinabi sa inyo sir na there is no breach of protocol?
SEC. PANELO: He didn’t—I was asking any comment, because you were asking so I forwarded to him – “Please give any comment on this.” And his response is, “We are investigating and we’ll be issuing a statement.”
DAHREL PLACIDO/ABS-CBN: Hi sir, good morning. Sir, the Palace released today the nomination paper of Senator Honasan as the next DICT—
SEC. PANELO: Yes.
DAHREL PLACIDO/ABS-CBN: May we know sir the primary consideration of the President for appointing him?
SEC. PANELO: Again, always the basis of the President is trust and confidence, and integrity… his competence.
DAHREL PLACIDO/ABS-CBN: So does the Palace believes that he is capable for—
SEC. PANELO: Oh definitely. Definitely!
DAHREL PLACIDO/ABS-CBN: Sir, because the law that created DICT has specific qualifications for the Department Secretary, Undersecretary and Assistant Secretary – one of which is 7 years of competence and expertise in information and communications technology, information technology service management, information security management, cyber security, data privacy, e-commerce or human capital development in the ICT sector. Do you think that Senator Honasan is capable in any of these fields?
SEC. PANELO: It is not for us to decide on that – it will be the Commission on Appointments. There will be vetting there; there will be shearing, and you will have to respond to questions on his competence.
Q: So, sir, you are open to the possibility of him not being confirmed despite his stature as a senator, sir?
SEC. PANELO: Well, when the President nominates, it’s for the Commission on Appointments to approve the nomination.
Q: Sir, regarding the JVE draft—
SEC. PANELO: The what?
Q: The JVE draft, oil exploration – joint venture (exploration) draft, sir. There are news reports and a lot of people are asking bakit parang medyo illusive, sir, iyong paglalabas ng JVE? Because yesterday, there were reports na nagpi-pingpong – DOE saying to get it from DFA, then DFA says we should get it from DOE. So why is the document very illusive and not readily available to the public?
SEC. PANELO: What I know is that yesterday was the last day and they must have been very busy attending to the last day events. But as I said, we will be issuing that. In fact, I made the request already from the DFA.
Q: Sir, how soon can we expect the final and official document to be seen or to be released to the public?
SEC. PANELO: I suppose it’s the DFA Secretary who will be releasing that. So we’ll have to ask him.
SANDRA AGUINALDO/GMA7: Hi, Sec. Sir, reaction lang because DFA Secretary Teddy Boy Locsin wasn’t happy with your statement na parang it’s no big deal whether China drafted the MOU. What can you say about that sir – what is your reaction?
SEC. PANELO: I’m not sure whether Secretary Locsin read the transcript of what happened in this news briefing. I also am not sure whether or not the writer of that story gave an accurate reporting of what I said.
What I said and I will quote the transcript; it was asked by Ina Andolong. You said, “There are concerns or some sectors, sir, are implying that it was China that drafted whatever deal or agreement will be signed.” And my response was, “Oh it doesn’t matter who drafted it.” I don’t know if this is the only the sentence that was reported by the news writer, and if this is only the portion that Secretary Locsin read. But I went beyond that: I said, “As far as we’re concerned, you give us the draft and we will go over it. We have to see whether this is legal or not; whether it’s beneficial to us or not.” And then Ina Andolong said, “So we’re okay with China dictating whatever will be the contents of the deal?” I said, “No.” I said, “Even if China drafts it, it has to go over us. We have to review that in the same manner that if we draft it, it will have to pass through them too.”
This is the situation, when there is a contract negotiation, there are two parties. The standard practice is: ‘you will have to agree first on the terms and conditions of that agreement. And when you already decided with the terms, then somebody will draft it – it’s either any of the parties. And after that draft, it has to go over the other party, and will look over whether or not the contents of your agreement are incorporated therein. Otherwise, the party will object to that or will revise it until they reach an agreement on what exactly will be the final draft.’
ACE ROMERO/PHIL. STAR: Secretary, tungkol doon sa isang China project. ‘The UNESCO has warned that San Agustin Church and three other baroque churches around the country may be delisted from the World Heritage list because of the Binondo-Intramuros Bridge across Pasig River.’ What do you say to those concerns, because it might intrude into the so-called buffer zone daw?
SEC. PANELO: As you said, it may encroach. But I was listening in the news story yesterday that the contractor is saying that it will not. So we don’t know exactly whether or not it will, because if it will, then certainly it is right to object.
ACE ROMERO/PHIL. STAR: So it is safe to say that you would object or you would no longer push through with it, if it is discovered that it would indeed intrude?
SEC. PANELO: Not necessarily ‘not push through’, because you may remove the locations to maybe a hundred meters away. I don’t think that will be a problem.
ACE ROMERO/PHIL. STAR: So definitely, Malacañang will not allow iyong intrusion?
SEC. PANELO: Oh, definitely, because that is a World Heritage. It’s part of our history.
DHAREL PLACIDO/ABS-CBNnews.com: Sir, may I know the President’s comment on the traffic that was created because of the visit of Chinese President Xi Jinping? Does he have any comment on the traffic – the heavy traffic that was experienced in the …
SEC. PANELO: None that I know of. But you know, I think that should be understandable given the fact that the Manila area, the work was suspended. Hence, all the motorists would be not passing here because of the security, so they had to converge in the Makati area and other places; and there will be traffic – all of us, me too.
DHAREL PLACIDO/ABS-CBNnews.com: But, sir, there were unannounced road closure. And the PSG and MMDA seem to point fingers at each other because of several motorists and passengers were caught unprepared by the road closures?
SEC. PANELO: Well, you have to live with that because the concern of the state would be the security of a visiting head of state.
DHAREL PLACIDO/ABS-CBNnews.com: Okay, sir, because the President seemed to be irked by the traffic that was caused during the visit of Pope Francis so..?
SEC. PANELO: But I guess if you compared the traffic the other day as against the Pope’s visit, there is a whale of a difference. That time really took us six, seven, eight, nine, ten hours; not this one. This one, over two hours only – it took me about that in coming here.
CHRISTINE AVENDAÑO/PDI: Let’s get back to the budget. Senator Lacson is also saying na mayroon daw pork insertion that’s why na-delay sa House iyong budget. Is the Palace aware of this? And will you allow iyong ganitong pork insertion sa budget?
SEC. PANELO: Of course, the stand of the President is, from the very start, he will never allow anything like of that sort. But precisely, the proposal is being submitted to Congress, and it is the duty of Congress to go over it, examine it. And then, raise objections and it will not approve.
CHRISTINE AVENDAÑO/PDI: So, there are no pork insertions, sir, as far as the Palace is concerned?
SEC. PANELO: As far as I know.
USEC. IGNACIO: MPC? No more? Okay. Thank you, Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo. Thank you, MPC.
Source: PCOO-NIB (News and Information Bureau-Data Processing Center)