Press Briefing

Press Briefing of Presidential Spokesperson and Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Secretary Salvador S. Panelo

Event Press Briefing
Location New Executive Bldg., Malacanang

ALVIN BALTAZAR/RADYO PILIPINAS:  Good morning, MPC. Good morning, Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo.

SEC. PANELO:  Good morning to all of you. Shoot!

ROSE NOVENARIO/HATAW:  Sir, good morning. Sir, ano po iyong reaksiyon ng Palasyo doon sa guilty verdict na ibinaba ni Judge Azucena doon sa mga pulis na sangkot sa Kian Delos Santos murder?

SEC. PANELO:  Well, it is a triumph of justice. It shows that this country has a robust judicial system. It also shows that in the SONA speech of the President – the first time – he said when he declared war on drugs, those who will abuse their authority will have hell to pay. And in this particular case of Kian, if you recall it was the President who ordered immediately their relief, the arrest and the detention of the policemen involved immediately after he viewed the video showing that… obviously there was a salvage in that incident.

So from the very start, the administration’s policy was to be intolerant with any kind of abuse coming from the military as well as the police and for that matter, any abuse coming from any civilian; any violation of law. And it also demonstrates, by the way, the theory when the detractors of the President advocate the idea that the ICC has jurisdiction because this country does not have the capability of prosecuting criminals.

This is a walking testament that there is in this country as I said earlier a robust judicial system, a working judicial system. And we would like to laud—by the way, this is a six-month trial, and this is a record in heinous crimes like the case of Kian. It took them only six months to finish the case. It means that the prosecution as well as the defense really did their homework and finished the case on time.

ROSE NOVENARIO/HATAW:  Sir, magdudulot kaya ito ng pangamba doon sa mga pulis o military na masasangkot diyan sa mga ganiyang kriminalidad o paglabag sa karapatang-pantao? 

SEC. PANELO:  Certainly this is a deterrent of any commission or any crime involving men in uniform.

CELERINA MONTE/MANILA SHIMBUN:  Good morning, sir. Sir, just for the record ha, kasi the President previously said and he always said in his speeches before that he would pardon the police or military officers who would be convicted in connection with their work. So in this case, any assurance that the President would not later on pardon these convicted felons?   

SEC. PANELO:  Of course. You must remember that this is a murder, there is intention to kill; the President will never tolerate that. What he said was, “If you do it in accordance with your job, in the performance of your duty, then I will help you – not when you violate the law,” that is what he said.

CELERINA MONTE/MANILA SHIMBUN:  I asked that because if I remember it right, shortly after the President’s meeting with the parents of Kian Delos Santos, apparently parang mayroong flip-flopping sa pagsasalita niya noon na parang there’s somewhat really na—there’s really a need to kill Kian Delos Santos, so I’m just seeking for your assurance.

SEC. PANELO:  Yeah, we give the assurance that the President will never tolerate any intentional killing against civilians from the men in uniform.

HENRY URI/DZRH:  Secretary, ano ang eksaktong gustong ipagawa ng Pangulo kay Col. Espenido sa pagpapabalik sa kaniya sa Ozamiz?

SEC. PANELO:  Well if you recall, Espenido was successful in ridding that place of drug lords, those who push drugs. And apparently since his departure, the drug incidence there increased by leaps and bounds. So, the President needs men like Espenido to do the work.

HENRY URI/DZRH:  Is there any order na i-shoot-to-kill itong mga Parojinog kung magkakaroon ng resistance or whatever?

SEC. PANELO:  The President’s order is always when your life is in danger and at risk, then the law allows you to use violence to save your lives.

HENRY URI/DZRH:  So, meaning?

SEC. PANELO:  It is a justifying circumstance under the Revised Penal Code. There is no need for an order to shoot-to-kill. The instinct of self-preservation require you to do something about your own life.

CHONA YU/RADIO INQUIRER:  Sir, doon sa ‘Duterte Death Squad’, what are the mechanics? Sino iyong mga bubuo doon? Anong order ni Presidente?

SEC. PANELO:   First, I think the President was just bringing an idea, and if that idea becomes a reality… as Secretary of Defense Delfin Lorenzana said, the army will be in charge of that. There is also the idea that perhaps if you organize that composed of men in uniform, and you need those who surrendered coming from the NPAs to join so that these people know who the members of the Sparrow Units are, so they can easily point – mas mabuti iyong kilala mo kung sino iyong miyembro, kasi mga kasamahan nila iyon eh.

So you will minimize iyong sinasabi nilang baka kung sinu-sino lang ang… hindi naman pupuwede iyon eh – the President will not allow that. The reason why he’s doing that, kasi kung pinapatay iyong mga pulis natin nang walang kalaban-laban, then he’s duty-bound by the Constitution to protect them. Kasama iyon sa tungkulin niya, ang pangalagaan niya ang kaligtasan ng taumbayan at lalo na iyong mga nagpapairal ng batas.

CHONA YU/RADIO INQUIRER:  Sir, doon sa mga surrenderees, they will go on training sa AFP?

SEC. PANELO:  No. As I said, that is also an idea being floated, it’s an idea. So pag-aaralan pa ‘yan anong magandang pamamaraan. What is important to my mind is that the President is doing his job. The Constitution commands him to serve and to protect the Filipino people, and that includes the policemen. So anything that endangers the lives of civilians as well as men in uniform, then the President is mandated by the Constitution to undertake measures to prevent such occurrence.

CHONA YU/RADIO INQUIRER:  And the President said sir na, “‘Pag may nakita kayong tatlo or apat na nakatambay sa terminals, sa mga karinderya, patayin ninyo na agad.

SEC. PANELO:  No. Ang ibig niyang sabihin ay, kung iyong mga… mga Sparrow Units iyon. Kasi malalaman mo naman kung hindi; kung may mga kasama kang mga dating kasamahan nila, then you will know – iyon ang ibig niyang sabihin.

ROSE NOVENARIO/HATAW:  Sir, follow up. Hindi ba sir iyong idea ng paghihimok na magbalik-loob iyong mga rebelde para magkaroon sila ng tahimik na buhay. Papaano magkakaroon ng katahimikan iyong buhay nila kung gagawin silang asset ng military na taga-turo noong mga dati nilang kasamahan; ‘di magiging mapanganib iyong buhay nila sa pagbabalik sa mainstream?

SEC. PANELO:  Katotohanan niyan, nanganganib ang buhay nila noong sumurender sila. Target—sila ang unang ita-target noong mga Sparrow, kasi sumurender sila eh; and there is a risk of these people pointing at them, kaya sila ang unang target in fact.

ROSE NOVENARIO/HATAW:  So, hindi parang ino-open natin iyon sa mas mapanganib na sitwasyon, iyong isasama sila sa military operation? 

SEC. PANELO:  Hindi naman… Hindi, dapat nga… kung isama mo iyon, para malaman mo kung sinong papatay sa kanila, o eh ‘di makakabuti sa buhay nila – they will be saved. Kasi me, as far as I am concerned, kung ano ang nandoon sa kabila, sila ang una kong hahanapin, sila ang mga sumuko eh. Iyong mga nasa loob siyempre will feel endangered, ‘pag tinuro sila ‘di patay na sila.

ROSE NOVENARIO/HATAW:  Eh sir, baka maka-discourage po kayo ng mga posibleng rebel returnees kung ganoon, hindi kaya?

SEC. PANELO:  Hindi naman, kasi mga—they have to choose eh between life in the hills na nandoon din ang buhay nila, and alam naman nila namamatay din iyong kanilang mga kasama; and life dito sa isang side na mas malaki ang percentage of surviving.

CHRISTINE AVENDAÑO/PHILIPPINE DAILY INQUIRER:  Sir you said, parang the President has to protect the people kaya you know… because he said he wants to field mga assassination teams…

SEC. PANELO:  Yes, that explains why the Memorandum 32 has been issued by him…

CHRISTINE AVENDAÑO/PHILIPPINE DAILY INQUIRER:  Won’t you also violate iyong due process?

SEC. PANELO:  No… Why are you violating due process? You’re running after criminals. You’re running after people who will assassinate us, so how can that be—you will prevent it nga from happening eh.

CHRISTINE AVENDAÑO/PHILIPPINE DAILY INQUIRER:  So, they are not entitled to due process, sir? 

SEC. PANELO:  You mean to tell me, ‘pag pinapatay ka na… “Teka muna, bigyan muna kita ng due process.” [laughs] Hindi naman pupuwede iyon.

In other words, we have a situation here where there is a group of men who will kill with impunity. What do you want the state to do? Just sit idle and watch? We cannot do that. It’s the duty of the state to protect its citizens.

CHRISTINE AVENDAÑO/PHILIPPINE DAILY INQUIRER:  So, did the President parang get any report na mayroong ngang assassination case that’s why he said—?

SEC. PANELO:  I suppose… The President will never undertake any measure without basis. He has all the resources in the world to back him up.

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7:  Good morning, sir. Sir, how will the government recruit members of this Sparrow Unit? 

SEC. PANELO:  As I said, that’s just an idea. So, let’s wait for that idea to be realized. First, the idea of creating an anti-Sparrow Unit is just an idea as of now. He’s floating that idea, and some are responding; others for and others against. Let’s see how it develops. What is important to me is the President is doing something to protect us.

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7:  Alright. Sir, you just—kanina po, earlier in your statement that you mentioned the Memorandum 32 ‘no— 


JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7:  So you just made the connection between 32 and this idea of putting up a Sparrow Unit. Sir, is that why the President issued Memorandum 32 and is it the government intensifying its offensive against the communist insurgency? 

SEC. PANELO:  Well, that’s part of the intention. The foremost reason is to protect us from acts of terrorism, acts of criminality being committed in those areas pointed to by Memorandum No. 32.

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7:  So sir, testing the idea lang… the members of this Sparrow Units will be members of—former members of the CPP-NPA?

SEC. PANELO:  The Sparrow Units we have known are members of the NPA.

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7:  That’s in the past sir, ‘di ba? Pero now, the idea is that the government will be using former rebels against their former comrades? 

SEC. PANELO:  No. As I was saying, that’s an idea also; that’s an idea being floated also from other sources. That its a good siguro, it’s a good thing daw na mas maganda mga dating NPA members ang kasama ng mga men in uniform kasi maa-identify mo kaagad, hindi ka na maghihintay na babarilin ka. Naka-ready ka na kaagad, siyempre ‘pag tinuro mo… oh ‘yan… o eh ‘di siyempre may mga dalang baril ‘yan.

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7:  Sir, parang mga ‘Makapili’ ‘to? Parang ganoon, na former members being used for the…?

SEC. PANELO:  Hindi… that’s—again that’s an idea lang. Ideas lang—

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7:  Is there other ideas, sir? 

SEC. PANELO:  Sa ngayon, kumbaga niluluto pa lang natin iyong mga rekado kung anong mabubuo. Tingnan natin how it develops.

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7:  And, another idea could be recruiting volunteers, mga ordinary civilians? 

SEC. PANELO:  Another idea is, it’s a good idea not to proceed hindi ba? It’s just an idea—

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7:  Why did you say that? 

SEC. PANELO:  Wala, hindi nga natin alam eh…

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7:  Uhum… So it’s a trail balloon…

SEC. PANELO:  Basta ang—what is important to me is the President is doing everything to protect this nation.

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: Balik lang ako ng kaunti sa Parojinog. So, what does the President know about the Parojinog is that he made it a—I mean, he decided to bring back Espenido there?

SEC. PANELO: Eh kasi nga eh ‘di ba iyong incidence noon eh, noong umalis doon si Espenido eh lumala.

JOSEPH/GMA7: Lumala in what? What do you mean, sir?

SEC. PANELO: Lumala iyong incidence of drugs.

JOSEPH/GMA7: What else, sir?

SEC. PANELO: Kumalat—kumbaga hindi na maganda iyong sitwasyon doon kaya kailangan bumalik siya doon— 

JOSEPH/GMA7: And when the President said—

SEC. PANELO: Maganda iyong pamamaraan niya siguro noon.

JOSEPH/GMA7: Okay, when the President said, ‘Scrape this place clean,’ what did he mean by that?


JOSEPH/GMA7: Scrape this place clean, that’s the word—

SEC. PANELO: Eh ‘di ibig sabihin, gawin mong maging lawful iyong lugar na iyon, hindi lawless.

JOSEPH/GMA7: And that includes exterminating—

SEC. PANELO: Oh, that includes dismantling the drug apparatus. That means prosecuting the people involved, that means putting them in jail where they belong and rehabilitate those who had been addicted to drugs.

JOSEPH/GMA7: Alright, sir. Thank you.

HENRY URI/DZRH: Follow up lang, sir, doon sa creating the sparrow unit against the NPA. You keep on saying that’s just … idea lang ito. Kumbaga, idea lang ito ng Presidente. But is he serious?

SEC. PANELO: I suppose. I don’t think he is joking on this. This involves matter of life and death. You have here the situation of a group killing people. You cannot be joking on this kind of matter. So he floats this idea and then let that idea develops into something real—

HENRY/URI: Hindi naman ho ito iyong—

SEC. PANELO: But then of course, the mechanics of that will have to be worked out so that it will not endanger others in the course of the operation.

HENRY/DZRH: Hindi ito iyong strategy ng Pangulo na he is just floating the idea to know kung sino iyong mga kasama niya sa anti-insurgency campaign?

SEC. PANELO: Ohh, not really. He does it because he wants to solve criminality in this country.

HENRY/DZRH:  Pero trabaho po ng AFP at saka PNP ang habulin, hulihin at, well, kung lalaban eh magkaroon ng encounter. Hindi ba ibig sabihin nito, Secretary, tila kinakapos na ng kumpiyansa or hindi happy ang Pangulo sa resulta ng trabaho ng AFP at PNP na ginagawa laban sa NPA?

SEC. PANELO: Not necessarily. In fact, he is using them precisely to augment the forces stationed in those areas.

HENRY/DZRH: Opo, pero bakit kailangan—

SEC. PANELO: That means, you’re improving on a situation, otherwise you will create your own army, if you do not trust this present army.

HENRY/DZRH: So the Palace thinks that kapag wala itong mga sparrow na ito, walang magandang resultang makukuha dito sa anti-insurgency campaign?

SEC. PANELO: What do you mean kapag walang sparrow— 

HENRY/DZRH: ‘Pag hindi ginawa itong—

SEC. PANELO: Iyong sparrow palaging nandiyan eh, hindi naman nawawala iyan eh.

HENRY/DZRH: Hindi, I mean ‘pag hindi ginawa iyong idea ng Presidente. ‘Pag hindi nag-materialize, hindi rin matatapos o magkakaroon ng magandang resulta iyong insurgency campaign ng gobyerno?

SEC. PANELO: Not necessarily. Lahat ng mga ideas na puwedeng makatulong sa isang kampanya laban sa insurgency eh dapat subukan natin.

HENRY/DZRH: Alright. Thank you, sir.

ACE ROMERO/PHIL. STAR: Secretary, what’s the President’s legal basis for ordering the wipe out of the Parojinogs?

SEC. PANELO? Again, I will repeat what I said: All actions of the President are based on one constitutional command that is to serve and to protect the people. If that place there endangers the lives of the people there, then he is required, he’s directed, he’s commanded and ordered by the Constitution to do something about it. Otherwise, he is remiss of his Constitutional duty to protect and to serve the people.

ACE/PHIL. STAR: So when he said, wipe out—eh kasi sinabi niya kahapon, ubusin iyong pamilya. So what does he mean by that?

SEC. PANELO: He is actually referring to those who are involved in drugs. They should be prosecuted to the fullest. I already explained that, in responding to Joseph’s question.

ACE/PHIL. STAR: Hindi ibig sabihin patayin iyon?


ACE/PHIL. STAR: Kasi ang term niya—

SEC. PANELO: Killing will only come if they resist arrest, if they do violence to those who are enforcing the law. It is very clear, every time the President says that.

ACE/PHIL. STAR: So when he said, wipe out, from the face of the earth, ibig sabihin noon, they should be held accountable for their actions, you are saying that—

SEC. PANELO: Yes, it means he will pursue to the ends of the earth, these criminals until they are behind bars.

ACE/PHIL. STAR: So not necessarily patayin? Kasi ang tinawagan niya iyong police, okay.

SEC. PANELO: The law allows killing when their lives are endangered.

ACE/PHIL. STAR: Okay, thank you, Sec.

JOYCE BALANCIO/DZMM: Sir, sabi ninyo idea pa lang itong death squad. How do we expect it to be developed? Ibig po bang sabihin mayroon po bang—are we expecting succeeding meetings with the President, with Lorenzana, PNP. Babanggitin ba ito sa command conference? Paano po ide-develop iyong idea?

SEC. PANELO: Well, the Secretary of National Defense has already responded to it. They said they will create a task force and think about the plans how to do it. We will let you know as soon as it becomes a reality.

JOYCE/DZMM: Since, sir, sinasabi ninyo idea lang, is there a possibility na hindi rin ito matuloy?

SEC. PANELO: Of course, an idea can either come into fruition or not.

JOYCE/DZMM: Okay. Sir, sabi po ng CHR – ni Attorney Chito Gascon – under daw po sa international humanitarian law. Prohibited daw po ang any kind of death squad?

SEC. PANELO: You know if you say death squad, the intention of it is just to kill but not killing in self-defense, he is right. But this is different; precisely you are going to create that to prevent the killing of these people, of civilians; masyadong narrow ang kaniyang pananaw dito.

JOSEPH MORONG/DZMM: Sir, sorry. Iyong kaninang question ni Celerina. But you mentioned—iyong ‘whether the President will pardon you,’ you said that President does not tolerate murder but just to be very black and white about it. Will the President pardon these three policemen, assuming that if it’s decided by the Supreme Court and there’s a finality in the decision?

SEC. PANELO: The President, as I said earlier, will never tolerate policemen who intentionally kills, who have done it not in accordance with the performance of their duties.

JOSEPH/GMA7: So… therefore?

SEC. PANELO: So if the—obviously, if the conviction is murder which is intentional, then I don’t think the President will pardon.

JOSEPH/GMA7: Okay, thank you. 

CHRISTINE AVENDAÑO/PHILIPPINE DAILY INQUIRER: Sir, the President used the term assassination team last night, so di kapag assassination – to assassinate? So iyon based on the concern that was raised by Chito Gascon. I mean he used the term assassination team.

SEC. PANELO: Eh kasi nga mga assassins iyong hinahabol eh.

JOSEPH/GMA7: Why not murderer?

SEC. PANELO: Eh ganoon din iyon, it’s the same.

CHRISTINE/PHILIPPINE DAILY INQUIRER: So no reason to be concerned even if the President used iyong—because it means iyong objective is to kill rin, parang ganoon?

SEC. PANELO: I think, we should be in fact be relieved that we have a President doing everything in his power to stop all acts of violence, all acts of criminality, all acts of terrorism against the civilians.

JOYCE BALANCIO/DZMM: Sir, kahit idea pa lang naman ito, ide-develop pa naman. Can we guarantee na walang magiging human rights violations if this squad—

SEC. PANELO: Definitely. If you will recall in Memorandum 32, which apparently you did not notice, it states there that individual rights have to be respected.

JOYCE/DZMM: But, sir, this formulation of the squad is not part of the memo itself, that’s why I’m asking it.

SEC. PANELO: It goes without saying, the President is a lawyer and he always abides by the law. He’s trained in law.

VIRGIL LOPEZ/GMA NEWS ONLINE: Sir, regarding kay Secretary Dureza, naghahanap na ba si Pangulo ng replacement for him?

SEC. PANELO: Wala pa siyang sinabi. We’ll let you know as soon he appointed one.

VIRGIL/GMA NEWS ONLINE: Ano ba iyong specific po, sir, na corruption allegations doon sa dalawang nasibak? Kasi it was not clear eh kung ano ba iyong corruption allegations against them that led to their dismissal.

SEC. PANELO: What he said during the press conference is he is investigating the corruption, exactly how it happened.

VIRGIL/GMA NEWS ONLINE: And kung may findings na, sir, will the Palace file charges against—

SEC. PANELO: Oo siyempre, it goes without saying, palagi namang ganiyan.


ROSE NOVENARIO/HATAW: Sir, ang akusasyon ni Joma Sison ano daw, gusto lang i-militarize ni Presidente iyong OPAPP kaya niya tinanggap iyong resignation ni Dureza at saka sinibak iyong dalawang opisyal.

SEC. PANELO: I’m surprised even that you are giving credit to Joma Sison. Joma Sison I think is living in a different world. He has lost touch with his men. He started with the beautiful concept but 50 years hence, wala. Walang nangyayari, ni hindi na siya sinusunod ng mga tao niya. Otherwise kung sinusunod siya, sana walang mga violations ng ceasefire.

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: Sir, doon lang sa sparrow unit.

SEC. PANELO: Talagang hot na hot ka doon ha.



JOSEPH/GMA7: It’s an idea, we want to test the idea, right?

SEC. PANELO: Alright.

JOSEPH/GMA7: Remember Alsa Masa of several decades ago, mga ganoon na—

SEC. PANELO: Pinanganak ka na ba noon?

JOSEPH/GMA7: I read thing, sir. I read books naman.

SEC. PANELO: Okay, Alsa Masa sa Davao.

JOSEPH/GMA7: Hindi, may mga—

SEC. PANELO: Sa Davao iyon, iyong Alsa Masa.

JOSEPH/GMA7: So anyway, how do you prevent that kind of thing from happening? Meaning, encouraging na maybe not in the … iyong hindi authorize by the military or whoever to take the law into their own hands and just kill—

SEC. PANELO: Sino ba ang nagtapos ng Alsa Masa? ‘Di ba si Mayor then – (President) Duterte? Siya nga ang nakatapos noon eh, so—

JOSEPH/GMA7: So he is resurrecting it now?

SEC. PANELO: No. Ayaw niya nga eh; hindi ba tinapos niya nga iyon because he doesn’t want that, iyon ‘yung patayan, hindi ba? Kaya nga inayos niya iyong sitwasyon doon eh.

JOSEPH/GMA7: How do you prevent a wild, wild, west? I mean—

SEC. PANELO: He did it. He stops the wild, wild, west in Davao. That’s why he is loved by the Davaoeños. How he did it? I think—

JOSEPH/GMA7: I’ll rephrase that question, sir. Will it not encourage regular individuals from taking the law into their hands and just shoot, maybe their own personal enemies and not necessarily enemies of the state—

SEC. PANELO: No, I don’t think, I don’t think it will encourage. In fact, people will be relieved that there is such, if this idea becomes a reality na may mga nagbabantay pala sa amin na mga gustong pumatay sa amin. Eh kung ako ang civilian, matutuwa ako.

ALVIN BALTAZAR/RADYO PILIPINAS: Okay, MPC, maraming salamat. Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo, maraming salamat.

SEC. PANELO: Thank you, ladies and gentlemen.

ALVIN/RADYO PILIPINAS: Balik tayo sa Radyo Pilipinas and PTV.


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