ALVIN BALTAZAR/RADYO PILIPINAS: Good afternoon, MPC. Magandang tanghali, Chief Presidential Legal Counsel and Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo.
SEC. PANELO: Good afternoon, MPC.
While the results of the elections are unofficial, there appears to be an unstoppable trend towards a resounding victory of the administration’s favored candidates; undoubtedly, the Duterte magic spelled the difference.
The overwhelming majority of the electorate have responded to the call of the President to support those whom he said would help pass the laws supportive of his goal to uplift the masses of our people and give them comfortable lives they richly deserve.
The voters, if you will notice, rejected the negative propaganda unleashed by the opposition, by the critics, by the detractors against the President and his administration; some of which were the issues of extrajudicial killings, the war on drugs, the South China Sea among others.
The victory of the administration’s candidates and the shutout of the Otso Diretso candidates send a strong message that our people yearn for stability and continuity of the genuine reforms that this administration started. They yearn for a constructive and not obstructionist Senate which will help in crafting the President’s legislative agenda.
We therefore laud the Filipino electorate for expressing their will in the strongest and unequivocal manner, they have sent a message and we hope that the opposition and the rest of the country will receive that strong and resonant voice with acceptance.
With the successful holding of the elections, we have demonstrated to the world that we have a great order for democracy that can rise above the loud political noise.
To the Otso Diretso candidates and their supporters, we thank you for giving your best shot and fighting a good battle. As we have said repeatedly, we respect dissent as it vitalizes the democracy of our nation. In the end however, it is the will of the people that prevails and we must respect the same.
While we expect dissent to continue, we hope that the same be demonstrated with fairness and within the bounds of the law, as well as with deference to the leaders duly chosen by us, electorate.
We have only one government, one nation, one flag; together, let us support it for the betterment of the Philippines that we all love.
I’m ready for your questions.
ACE ROMERO/PHILIPPINE STAR: Secretary, some analysts are concerned about the results of the elections; some are saying it could affect the checks and balance in the government given that majority of the administration allies are the winners of the midterm polls. What do you say to those concerns?
SEC. PANELO: Not really, because if you will notice the history of the Senate shows members of that chamber independent ever since. No Senate has ever been under any president, they always rise above parties and considerations when issues involve national interest, national security and the interest of the Filipino people.
ACE ROMERO/PHILIPPINE STAR: So, you expect even the closest allies of the President to be independent and you know, to express dissent doon sa mga policies ng administration even if, iyon nga, malapit sila sa Pangulo?
SEC. PANELO: Oh certainly. We expect them to be fealty to the duties imposed to them by the Constitution and the laws. They have to support the President when the agenda of the President is for the good of the people and they will have to oppose it if they feel in their conscience that it ran counter to the interest of the nation.
ACE ROMERO/PHILIPPINE STAR: The President won’t take it against them if they oppose his policies?
SEC. PANELO: No. If you noticed during the campaign, he keeps on saying about Senator Angara that “I like this man who keeps criticizing me and yet he has reasons, valid reasons for that.”
ACE ROMERO/PHILIPPINE STAR: Thank you, Sec.
GENALYN KABILING/MANILA BULLETIN: Hello, sir. Sir, can you assess the performance of the Commission on Elections in the past midterm elections? Some have criticized—
SEC. PANELO: Eh mukha namang okay, except for the malfunctioning of certain machines. But you know, I understand the malfunctioning machines amount to how many? 300 to 400, which is an increase in number compared to the previous years. But, they were saying that they have 2,000 reserves and then how many ba, ten thousand machines? Nine thousand machines? Eh, so how many percent lang iyong 300. So, it will not affect the results of the elections.
Moreover, as I was saying in my interview and responses to the questions asked of me yesterday by some media personnel – if the machine does not function, you have a remedy for that. All you have to do is make a manual counting of the ballots, because the ballots—nandoon pa rin namang iyong balota hindi ba, may nilalagyan ng box. So, all you have to do is to count them.
GENALYN KABILING/MANILA BULLETIN: Do you think Comelec should review the contract or the machines and check if—
SEC. PANELO: Oh they should, kasi that should teach them a lesson. There must be something wrong. And—but although, I was listening to some experts saying that alam mo ‘yung makina, kung three years mong hindi ginagamit, eh most likely magkakaroon ng diperensiya ‘yan. Eh puwede nga, eh parang kotse din ‘yan; tatlong taon mong hindi gamitin ang kotse, baka hindi na mag-start iyon.
GENALYN KABILING/MANILA BULLETIN: Sir, do you think somebody should be held accountable for these glitches that somehow undermined the people’s trust in the system?
SEC. PANELO: Depende kasi, pero kung iyong paliwanag eh talagang magkakaroon ng glitches sa makina because… by the very nature of a machine. Siguro what they should do is always to make a test dito sa mga machine, dapat ginagamit nila, kahit na for test purposes they should be using that, para gumagana.
But let me congratulate Comelec, kasi ngayon lang tayo nagkaroon ng… within hours nakita na natin ang mga nanalo eh. Eh samantalang previous years ang tagal, weeks pa eh, kahit doon sa senatorial. Sa senatorial, ilang percent na ba, 92%? Oh 94, biro mo within hours, samantalang—di ba last three years ago parang isang linggo, ang laki ng improvement.
NESTOR CORRALES/INQ.NET: Secretary, Senate President Sotto wants to stop the use of Smartmatic in Philippine elections; while administration Senator Koko Pimentel wants a congressional probe on the VCM glitches. Is Malacañang supportive of this, sir?
SEC. PANELO: Well, anything that will be for the betterment of this country, we always support. Siguro marami nang nagrereklamo sa Smartmatic, di let’s have the probe then by the Senate or by the House of Reps.
CNN: Sir, do you think iyong paglalabas natin nung matrix, dalawang beses, nakatulong siya doon sa defeat ng opposition?
SEC. PANELO: You must remember na iyong black propaganda against the President, the administration, naunang lumabas iyon ‘no and then nailabas ni Presidente iyong matrix; palagay ko napag-aralan ng mga tao kung sino ang nagsasabi ng totoo o hindi.
I recall three years ago, di ba si renegade military na naging senador eh naglabas din ng ganyang black propaganda kay Presidente doon sa BPI, a few days before the election. Ayon, wala ring nangyari, hindi rin naniwala ang tao sa kanya; ganun na naman ang nangyari ngayon.
Teka muna, happy birthday Arjay. Why don’t we sing, ‘happy birthday to you.’ Dapat. Palaging present iyan eh.
ARJAY BALINBIN/BUSINESS WORLD: Sir, one of the main issues during the elections ay iyong vote-buying. So what policy do you think this government should come up with in order to address this, para maiwasan na in the upcoming next elections?
SEC. PANELO: Eh gaya nga ng paliwanag ni Presidente hangga’t merong mahihirap, di mawawala iyong vote-buying, kasi kailangan nila ng pera.
Ako ang iniisip ko, alam ninyo kung ano, para walang gastos ang mga kandidato, the government should spend for the expenses of the candidates just like in America. Ang mga Amerikano galing sa gobyerno ang gastos nila eh, mga kandidato.
ARJAY BALINBIN/BUSINESS WORLD: The government should spend, is that also the stand of the President?
SEC. PANELO: No, personal ko lang, iyon matagal ko nang iniisip, sabi ko bakit hindi natin gayahin ang US.
ARJAY BALINBIN/BUSINESS WORLD: But as for the President, sir, ano iyong nakikita niyang reform, sir?
SEC. PANELO: We will ask him. I will ask him kung ano ang kanyang iniisip about this.
ARJAY BALINBIN/BUSINESS WORLD: And also, sir another, may isyu din sa pagpili ng kandidato, regarding sa background nila na may corruption records sila. So sir, paano iyon?
SEC. PANELO: Eh ang problema palaging ang Pilipino, palagi ang—will ultimately decide whether naniniwala sila o hindi, nasa kanila iyon.
ARJAY BALINBIN/BUSINESS WORLD: May panukala ang PACC, sir, na kailangan daw—
SEC. PANELO: Ano ba ang PACC?
ARJAY BALINBIN/BUSINESS WORLD: Presidential Anti-Corruption Commission. Na kailangan daw iyong mga tumatakbo or iyong mga pulitiko na na-involve sa corruption, na naging guilty of corruption or plunder ay patawan ng death penalty.
SEC. PANELO: Nasa Congress iyon, if they are amenable to that suggestion.
ARJAY BALINBIN/BUSINESS WORLD: Is the President open to that still, death penalty?
SEC. PANELO: I’ll ask him. I haven’t heard him make a stand on this.
CNN: Sir, given that mas malaki na iyong force natin sa Senate, you are expecting reforms to be passed faster?
SEC. PANELO: Eh siguro hopefully wala nang stalemate sa budget. Di ba doon sila nagkagulo.
CNN: And sir, so given na mas umonte iyong opposition bloc, are you like—do you want to invite them to join the majority bloc?
SEC. PANELO: No, mas maganda may opposition. That makes a vibrant democracy if there is opposition.
ALEXIS ROMERO/PHIL. STAR: Na-mention ni Presidente, Sec., as long as may poverty at may feudal system sa Pilipinas there will be vote-buying. Realistically can the administration put an end to vote-buying?
SEC. PANELO: Well, we have to make our country progressive so that everybody will have comfortable lives; kailangan mabigyan natin ng lahat ng trabaho ang Pilipino. But before that we have to educate muna, kasi pag kulang sa edukasyon tayo talagang magkakaroon pa rin tayo ng problema eh.
ALEXIS ROMERO/PHIL. STAR: Pero kakayanin bang matapos iyong vote-buying or at least ma-reduce substantially within the term of the President?
SEC. PANELO: We can always try, and the solution would be to uplift the masses of our people from the poverty that they are suffering from.
Ako naman magtanong sa inyo: nanalo ba iyong mga senatorial candidates n’yo? Oh yes, administration pala ang mga binoto ninyo, congratulations.
VIRGIL LOPEZ/GMA NEWS ONLINE:R: Hindi, sir. Iyon nga, with Duterte administration having a majority in the Senate in the 18th Congress, ano pa ba iyong mga measures, sir, na dapat ma-push na by the three remaining years?
SEC. PANELO: We will leave that to the winning senatorial candidates. Sila lang ang nakaka-alam noon kung ano ang agenda nila.
VIRGIL LOPEZ/GMA NEWS ONLINE:R: Pero iyong Palace allies, ano ang puwedeng i-push? Federalism? Death penalty? Ano ba iyong urgent?
SEC. PANELO: Siguro iyong dati pa ring pinu-push ng administrasyon na pending.
VIRGIL LOPEZ/GMA NEWS ONLINE:R: Ano iyon, sir?
SEC. PANELO: Oh ‘di ba, iyong federalism is one of them.
NESTOR CORRALES/INQUIRER.NET: So, sir, what is now Malacañang’s call to these allies of the President who won in the Senate race since midway through his 6-year presidency parang hindi pa nagmu-move forward iyong federalism, iyong restoration ng death penalty which has been a campaign promise of the President? So since we will be seeing a pro-Duterte-dominated Senate, does Malacañang have any message or call for these soon-to-be legislators?
SEC. PANELO: Well, as I said in my statement, those winning candidates should be fealty to their oaths, to the laws, as well as to the Constitution. They should always introduce legislation that will benefit the masses of our people.
TINA: Sir, paano ninyo i-interpret iyong expected victory of Mayor Sara Duterte, Paolo and Baste vis-à-vis the loss of the likes of Mayor Erap and Eusebio in Metro Manila, and Binay and—
SEC. PANELO: Local elections have different dynamics. Sila lang ang nakakaalam doon with respect doon sa mga tinatawag na may dynasty, kung okay sa kanila iyong kanilang pamumuno sa panahon ng kanilang pamumuno eh siguradong ibuboto sila uli – ibabalik. Pero kung hindi na sila naniniwala sa kanila ay talagang tatanggihan sila sa halalan. Iyon ang nangyari.
TINA: Sir, is there a need also for the admin to push for anti-dynasty measure in Congress, in the next Congress?
SEC. PANELO: We will leave it to the members of Congress, to their good conscience, to whatever they think is good for this country.
Teka muna, Ina, Joseph and Pia, if you’re listening, you can text your questions even if you’re not here. We will respond to them.
ARJAY BALINBIN/BUSINESS WORLD: Sir, uulitin ko lang: Sir, ano po iyong official stand ng Palasyo sa dynasties?
SEC. PANELO: Ano bang sinabi ni Presidente? Mayroon siyang sinabi doon ah. Ang sinasabi niya yata roon, Pilipino pa rin ang magdi-decide. Kasi mayroong dynasty na maganda, mayroon ding dynasty na masama. And we have seen how the Filipinos or the Filipino electorate has rejected dynasties which they feel and believe to be no longer fruitful sa kanila; hindi beneficial sa kanila kaya ni-reject nila.
ARJAY BALINBIN/BUSINESS WORLD: Pero tingin ninyo po ba, sir, iyong draft federal constitution natin ay kailangan may anti-dynasty provisions?
SEC. PANELO: Mahirap kasing sabihin kasi hindi naman tayo nag-draft noon. Nasa sakanila—‘Di ba mayroon na nga? Mayroon yata eh, in their draft? Again, the Filipino people will eventually agree or disagree during the referendum.
ARJAY BALINBIN/BUSINESS WORLD: Sir, the President is always mentioning Sara Duterte running for 2022 presidential elections, warning her—
SEC. PANELO: Yes, not to run.
ARJAY BALINBIN/BUSINESS WORLD: Bakit po ganoon? Did she ever mention to the President that she wants to run that’s why she gets that warning?
SEC. PANELO: Siguro the President—hindi, kasi ‘di ba marami ang gustong magpatakbo sa kanila. The President feels na… siya eh, ang experience niya ‘di ba sabi niya, ‘mahirap maging Presidente; lalaitin ka ng tao kahit anong magandang ginawa mo.’ Since he is a father to a daughter ayaw niya sigurong maranasan ng anak niya iyong nararanasan niya ngayon.
ARJAY BALINBIN/BUSINESS WORLD: And why does he have to mention that over and over again in public speeches?
SEC. PANELO: Siguro para to send the message strongly to her. But we know Mayor Sara has her own independent mind.
ARJAY BALINBIN/BUSINESS WORLD: Is that not a style or a technique, strategy to just let the people know that Sara might be running for 2022?
SEC. PANELO: He doesn’t have to say that because everybody wants her to run. I mean, a lot of people are egging her to run. Ano lang iyon, I think that’s a genuine concern for this President. He loves his children; he doesn’t want them to suffer.
ARJAY BALINBIN/BUSINESS WORLD: But for sure, Ms. Sara never mentioned to him that she wants to run?
SEC. PANELO: I don’t know about that.
JULIE AURELIO/PDI: Sir, have you spoken to the President about the almost landslide victory of—
SEC. PANELO: Wala pa. Hindi pa kami nagkakausap. We haven’t talked.
JULIE AURELIO/PDI: Do you feel that with the victory of most of the administration allies and with the victory of President Duterte’s children in Davao, do you think that Mayor Sara would be more emboldened than to seek the presidency in 2022?
SEC. PANELO: We do not know. We have to leave that to Mayor Sara herself.
BERNADETTE NICOLAS/BUSINESS MIRROR: Sir, doon sa bills lang, sir. Aside from federalism and iyong other measures na gustong ipasa ni President, pagdating naman po sa economic front, sir, anong po iyong mga bills na gustong ipasa ni Presidente po ng—
SEC. PANELO: Hindi ko alam iyong kaniyang—I think the economic managers would know better. Sila ang kausap-usap ni Presidente pagdating diyan.
BERNADETTE NICOLAS/BUSINESS MIRROR: How about iyong second package, sir, ng comprehensive tax reform program, sir, iyong Trabaho Bill po, do you think this has more chance na mapasa this coming Congress, sir, since marami na nga iyong administration—
SEC. PANELO: If the senatorial candidates who will be proclaimed believe that it’s for the benefit of the people, then they should.
BERNADETTE NICOLAS/BUSINESS MIRROR: Okay. But we are not confident, sir, na maipapasa iyong mga—
SEC. PANELO: It’s not a matter of confidence or not. As I said, we have to leave it to the conscience of this individual senator. They have their own minds. Alam nila ang tama; alam nila ang mali. Alam iyong makakabuti at alam nila ang hindi.
BERNADETTE NICOLAS/BUSINESS MIRROR: Tapos, sir, iyong sa trip po ni President papuntang Japan, sir, sa May 30 to 31, is that—
SEC. PANELO: 30 ba o May 28?
BERNADETTE NICOLAS/BUSINESS MIRROR: 30 to 31 ang alam ko, sir. Basta end of May po, sir. Tuloy po ba iyon, sir?
SEC. PANELO: As far as I know.
BERNADETTE NICOLAS/BUSINESS MIRROR: Okay. Two days lang siya, sir, or ilang days po?
SEC. PANELO: Actually, hindi ko po alam iyong exact dates. Akala ko nga May 28.
BERNADETTE NICOLAS/BUSINESS MIRROR: Pero sure na iyon, sir, hindi pa?
SEC. PANELO: Sure na pupunta siya roon.
BERNADETTE NICOLAS/BUSINESS MIRROR: Ah sure na. okay, okay.
SEC. PANELO: Tinext ko si Chief Protocol Robert Borje, wala pa siyang sagot kung kailan, exact dates.
ALVIN BALTAZAR: Maraming salamat, Chief Presidential Legal Counsel and Spokesperson Sal Panelo.
Source: PCOO-NIB (News and Information Bureau-Data Processing Center)