USEC. ROCKY IGNACIO: Magandang tanghali, MPC. Kasama na natin si Chief Presidential Legal Counsel and Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo.
SEC. PANELO: First, we would like to express condolences to Tatay Rene Lumawag of Davao City. Nakikiramay po kami sa mga kamag-anak ni Tatay Rene. We are sad about his demise, kaya lang Tatay Rene nasaan na iyong mga pictures na pinangako mo sa akin [laughs]… ‘Di ba sana [laughs]… sana nagbilin ka. Hindi bale pupuntahan kita diyan sa iyong huling hantungan.
Anyway, let me read to you the statement. This is in response to the remarks of Senior Justice Antonio Carpio and other critics vis-à-vis the Exclusive Economic Zone. They are saying that the President has violated the provision, specifically Section 2 of Article 12 of the Constitution, reserving the exclusive use of marine wealth; some were even saying that it is an impeachable offense. This is our response to them:
The Constitution is a living instrument. It is not just a scrap of paper. It is not just a concept in law that requires law students to study to pass the BAR examinations; or for lawyers to invoke it with respect to litigation in court. The Constitution is not only a guide, but a rule in governance that lays the power of governance—or rather, that lays the power of governance to the governor as well as the duties and obligations of the governed. It defines the rights of the members of society vis-à-vis their fellow citizens.
The government is the creation of the people to serve and protect them from danger and extinction and this is precisely the reason why the framers of the Constitution has immortalized the raison d’être of a government which is its prime duty is to serve and protect the people. This is found in Section 4 of Article 2 of the Constitution.
The head of a government is the President, and necessarily by parity or force of logic, the duty to serve and protect the people is lodged upon him; and upon him lies the sacred burden of utilizing the powers, whether inherent to that position or granted by the people, to serve them for their welfare and to protect them from whatever mortal danger that lurks.
The provision of the Constitution protecting the natural resources and marine wealth which is found in Section 2 of Article 12 of the Constitution, while apparently at first glance bestow upon the Filipino people favorable preferences as regards to the nation’s wealth, it is actually designed to safeguard their very existence and survival because in the hierarchy of rights, the right to life takes precedence over the right to property. That is precisely why the Section 4 of Article 2 says, “The prime duty of the government is to serve and protect the ‘Filipino people’ in reference to the lives of the Filipinos.”
Hence in that article, the Constitution reserve the use and enjoyment of the nation’s marine wealth to Filipino citizens. And that provision should be and must be read in relation to the primordial duty of the President – to serve and to protect the people. It should be read in relation to the other provision of the Constitution, which is Section 4 of Article 2 of the Basic Charter.
If you will notice, if you go over the Constitution, most of the provisions, if not all, relative to the protection of the state and its people, in that Constitution emanate from that – that’s the basic premise. And jurisprudence is replete with pronouncements of the Supreme Court and we learned that also in the College of Law; that when you read a law or statute or the Constitution, you must read it… you must read every part of the statute. It must be considered together with the other provisions of the law or the statute and kept subservient to the general intent of the whole enactment.
A provision of the Constitution and for that matter any law cannot be read as I repeatedly said in isolation, but always in conjunction with the other provisions to give life and not to kill the very rationale of the Constitution.
And I’d like to address this, again, to the… those advocates of that theory of Justice Carpio: The framers of the Constitution in tasking the President to serve and to protect the Filipino people could never have intended to chain the President in performing his constitutional duty by placing provisions in the Constitution in derogation of such obligation. And being fixated in invoking a particular right – which they are doing – through actions which will cause destruction of the very holder of such right, apart from being a thoughtless and senseless thought is, to our mind, an exercise in self-destruction.
It is absolutely fallacious to argue that the President is surrendering our sovereignty by not aggressively pursuing the arbitral ruling in our favor rendered by the Permanent Court of Arbitration.
Let me remind the critics, the issue here is not about which country has a better claim based on its constitution or laws, nor it is the enforcement of our upheld rights which unfortunately until now, no entity or country is inclined to perform.
What is the issue? The issue is: How to go about getting the benefits without endangering the lives of our countrymen and bringing us to the precipice of war?
Now, the President as head of state with only the well being and security of the Filipino people in mind and in his heart, believes that aggressively enforcing the arbitral award will only precipitate or trigger an armed conflict that could escalate into continuing bloody encounters detrimental to the national interest. Hence, he has resorted to diplomatic negotiations that may reap the desired windfall from the arbitral ruling. If you remember before in the Scarborough, we could not fish; our fishermen were being driven away but after that agreement with the President they’re not being molested.
Now, the President’s measured tact – as I described it before as ‘calibrated responses’ – is consistent with the Section 2 Article 12 of the Constitution, stating… or rather, Article 2, stating that the Philippines renounces war as an instrument of national policy and adopts a generally accepted principles of law, of policy – peace, equality, justice, freedom, cooperation and amity with all nations as part of the law of the land.
Now, they claim – the detractors and critics – that they’re not suggesting a war or they’re not suggesting a war as a form of resolution. Either they do not realize or they ignore the fact that as far as China is concerned, it has sovereignty over the entire South China Sea and any aggressive move by any country contrary to its claim of ownership is seen an assault to its sovereignty and will be repelled by force; and they’ve shown that when Vietnam, Malaysia and other countries got into the area which they claim to be theirs, they were repelled by force.
Now, they argued that this administration should stand up for the country through other means. They haven’t told us what other means; but anyway, they say that as if we have not done anything. Let me remind them therefore, that this administration has been filing diplomatic protests against the activities of China and their elements. We’ve been raising specific issues and concerns through bilateral consultation mechanism. We have been fighting for and enjoining other countries in crafting a Code of Conduct that will be observed by all stakeholders in the disputed areas of water.
So, we reiterate we remain steadfast in maintaining our claims with respect to our territory and exclusive economic zones. This is based on the constitutional command of the Constitution on the President to serve and to protect the Filipino people. In doing so, we shall maintain amity and friendly relations with all nations as directed by the Constitution as well.
End of my statement.
ARJAY BALINBIN/BUSINESS WORLD: So sir, in short what we want is for the Philippines and China to fish or exploit the country’s EEZ peacefully as we want to protect the lives of Filipino fishermen?
SEC. PANELO: Yes, of course we want peace in that region. We don’t want our countrymen who are fishing there to be subject of any assault, [voice overlap] …of anything that is contrary to basic decency.
ARJAY BALINBIN/BUSINESS WORLD: And we should be fine with the Chinese presence in our EEZ in that respect?
SEC. PANELO: We should what?
ARJAY BALINBIN/BUSINESS WORLD: We should be fine with China—
SEC. PANELO: Define?
ARJAY BALINBIN/BUSINESS WORLD: We should be fine with Chinese fishermen exploiting our EEZ?
SEC. PANELO: Well, that’s part of the agreement of the President in order not to trigger any armed conflict between the two sides.
ARJAY BALINBIN/BUSINESS WORLD: Okay, that’s the whole point, sir. Thank you, sir.
SEC. PANELO: And by the way, with respect to the agreement, remember you were saying if there is a formal agreement and I said, it’s a verbal agreement ‘but’ don’t forget that bilateral meetings are recorded, so we have a record of that agreement. If you look at the transcript—and at the same time we said it is not also true that the President did not make known of that agreement because the Secretary of Foreign Affairs made certain announcements with respect to that, relative to the fishing in the Scarborough [Shoal]; and I remember also and I’d like to look at the transcript during our previous press briefings, I also mentioned about that, that there was talk between China and the Philippines with respect to that that is why we are not being disturbed anymore.
GENALYN KABILING/MANILA BULLETIN: Sir, please elaborate your earlier statement on the President wanting China’s assurance to guarantee the safety of Filipino fishermen in the South China Sea.
SEC. PANELO: Yes.
GENALYN KABILING/MANILA BULLETIN: Can you elaborate on that? How was that—
SEC. PANELO: Yes, because if you recall, our fishermen were not safe during when they were fishing at that time two years ago. That’s why he made sure that we got the assurance that they will not be touched. They have not touched them.
GENALYN KABILING/MANILA BULLETIN: Sir, the issue will be discussed in the next bilateral meeting. When will be the meeting?
SEC. PANELO: I think that’s a regular thing for the DFA.
GENALYN KABILING/MANILA BULLETIN: Sa BCM, sir or— BCM, Bilateral Consultative—
SEC. PANELO: Kasama ‘yun eh. I think they will discuss it there.
MPC: Sa BCM o Bilat?
SEC. PANELO: Whichever. Bahala sila doon. Si Secretary Locsin naman ang nagde-decide doon hindi naman ako. Either/or idi-discuss ‘yun.
GENALYN KABILING/MANILA BULLETIN: Sir, how about ‘yung Philippines commit— did we commit to also ensure the safety of the Chinese fishermen in our area? Are we committing that also?
SEC. PANELO: Eh unang-una, hindi naman sila pumapasok eh. What is there to commit? ‘Di ba they have respected us in the Reed Bank, they have not entered in that place. Doon naman sa Scarborough, hindi naman tayo pinapakialaman din.
GENALYN KABILING/MANILA BULLETIN: Sir, lastly, ‘yung sa Recto Bank issue was discussed in the Cabinet, was the results of the probe mentioned or tackled by the cabinet?
SEC. PANELO: Walang result sa probe, basta ang napag-usapan lang doon ‘yung… parang inulit lang ni Presidente ‘yung ikinukuwento niya sa atin how it came about.
REYMUND TINAZA/BOMBO RADYO: So, the President wants China to assure us that they will guarantee the rights and security or safety of our fishermen. So, that guarantee was not part of the agreement as supposedly agreed upon by Xi Jinping and the President before to protect and to guarantee the safety and the rights of our fishermen.
SEC. PANELO: The fact alone that they agreed that fishermen from our country can fish in that disputed area is already an assurance that they will not be touched. What the President wants is continuing assurance from them.
REYMUND TINAZA/BOMBO RADYO: Because?
SEC. PANELO: Huh?
REYMUND TINAZA/BOMBO RADYO: Because China forgets
SEC. PANELO: No. Because—hindi ba, there have been incidents where… kung minsan iyong coast guard nila ina-accost iyong ating fisherman. So, we are making sure na wag nilang uulitin iyon. Mukha naman after that, I think we filed a diplomatic protest with respect to them, hindi na naulit eh.
REYMUND TINAZA/BOMBO RADYO: Sir, simplehan lang para sa katulad ko na hindi abogado. So, understanding ninyo doon sa Constitution primordial iyong protection of the lives of the Filipino citizenry. So therefore, the government better not to do anything adversarial or what China doesn’t want in the South China Sea, because they claim the whole ocean?
SEC. PANELO: Yes.
REYMUND TINAZA/BOMBO RADYO: To avoid trouble with China.
SEC. PANELO: Yes. Because they have already repeatedly said that ‘this is ours. So any intrusion will be an assault to our sovereignty.’ And they will react; and they have been reacting nga, di ba sa ibang mga bansa.
REYMUND TINAZA/BOMBO RADYO: And that would be our guide in responding in the South China Sea issue?
SEC. PANELO: Our guide from the very beginning is: we will—whatever benefits derived from that arbitral ruling which we cannot get by way of enforcement, we will get it through diplomatic negotiations.
CELERINA MONTE/MANILA SHIMBUN: Sir, you have mentioned that this transcript of that meeting regarding the mutual agreement between the President and Mr. Xi. Is it possible to make it public, can we get a copy of that particular transcript?
SEC. PANELO: I will ask the Protocol who made the transcription. I’ll ask.
CELERINA MONTE/MANILA SHIMBUN: Regarding that policy now, since you are saying that we are really allowing the Chinese fishermen to… if ever to fish on our EEZ. Would that policy be applied also to other countries like Vietnamese and Taiwanese, if ever they would fish also in our EEZ? In the past, there were really instances.
SEC. PANELO: Wala namang agreement pagdating doon eh.
CELERINA MONTE/MANILA SHIMBUN: So, what if they would ask also for an agreement?
SEC. PANELO: Hindi, na kay Presidente na iyon… nasa atin na iyon kung we will allow it.
CELERINA MONTE/MANILA SHIMBUN: Regarding that your initial statement regarding the Constitution as a just piece of paper. Just for the record, it was the President who mentioned that if we are going to present it to China, they might think that it’s just piece of paper, like a toilet paper, which could be used whenever we want to use it.
SEC. PANELO: What he means is that, China will not listen to us saying that ‘but our Constitutions says so.’ They will tell us, ‘So what? As far as we are concerned, we own this, that doesn’t matter to us.’ Iyon ang ibig sabihin ni Presidente; not literally na ipapakita mo iyong papel, hindi iyon ang ibig sabihin niyon. That’s a metaphor.
CELERINA MONTE/MANILA SHIMBUN: So, just for the record, it was the President who first apparently belittled our Constitution?
SEC. PANELO: No, that’s not belittling, you’re putting a meaning to something that is not implied. The implication there is the Chinese government will never respect our Constitution with respect to their claim of sovereignty over their island or waters. Eh pareho din tayo. Kasi kung merong din tayo… if we have our own Constitution saying you cannot do that, you cannot do this, oh di wala rin kaming pakialam sa Constitution mo. Ganundin ang sasabihin natin sa kanila, it’s the same.
Ine-emphasize lang din ng Presidente na as far as China is concerned, sa kanila iyon; so, walang argument-argument. Kaya nga precisely, si Presidente nga napaka-pragmatic eh, hindi kita kayang labanan ng harap-harapan, oh di magkaibigan na lang tayo muna, baka naman sakaling makuha ko lahat ang gusto. Iyon ang kagalingan sa kanya, flexible siya.
CHONA YU/RADYO INQUIRER: Sir, what was the response of the President when China rejected the plan to have a third party investigation?
SEC. PANELO: Unang-una, hindi naman ni-reject eh. Nagtataka nga ako sa inyo bakit ang mga headlines reject. Ang sabi ko sa inyo—no, no, no, iba iyong rejection. Tandaan ninyo, the offer was coming from China, ‘joint’ di ba; tayo naman nag-counter-offer. Oh sabi natin, ‘oh sige, maglagay rin tayo ng third party.’ Oh ang sagot naman nila, ‘wag na ‘yon, andito na—
Hindi, they are also sugge—that’s another suggestion from them – ‘Tayo na lang dalawa’; not rejection. Kasi we are suggesting, they are also counter-suggesting.
CHONA YU/RADYO INQUIRER: So, sir what the response of the President?
SEC. PANELO: Although in fairness naman doon sa writers. Iyon lang ang inilagay rejection, pero pagdating doon sa sulat, eh kung ano ang sinabi ko naman na…
Ikaw ba nag sumulat noon, Arjay?
ARJAY BALINBIN/BUSINESS WORLD: Hindi.
SEC. PANELO: Hindi ba sabi ni Presidente okay lahat sa akin iyan, wala akong problema diyan. Basta ang kailangan, tapusin na natin iyong isyu kasi nasisira ang relasyon natin at ginagatasan ng mga kritiko at mga detractors. They are milking it, pinalalabas nilang masama tayo na hindi naman. Iyon ang punto ni Presidente.
CHONA YU/RADYO INQUIRER: So, the President okay na walang third party investigator?
SEC. PANELO: Eh okay na okay ang Presidente, basta tapusin na lang natin ito, magkasundo na tayo. Kasi simpleng-simple lang naman ang isyu nga. As I will repeat, this is very simple: Is it accidental/intentional?; Sino ba ang may kasalanan?; Bakit ninyo iniwan iyong mga ano?; Ano ngayon ang gagawin ninyo sa mga iniwan ninyo kung kasalanan n’yo? Oh di ba, ganun lang kasimple iyon eh.
CHONA YU/RADYO INQUIRER: So, sir kalian iyon makikita ng publiko iyong result?
SEC. PANELO: Siguro antayin na lang natin. We’ll just proceed with the suggestion after the final results, magmi-meet iyong working group with the other working group and then they will issue a joint statement kung ano ang napagkasunduan nila.
CHONA YU/RADYO INQUIRER: Sir, doon sa task force—
SEC. PANELO: The what? Working group you mean. Pareho rin iyon – task force, working group it’s the same.
CHONA YU/RADYO INQUIRER: Anong utos mi Presidente, what government agency—
SEC. PANELO: Palagay ko—I am not very sure, but I think it’s’ Ambassador Sta. Romana who will be with the working group.
CHONA YU/RADYO INQUIRER: And paano po iyong dynamics, sir?
SEC. PANELO: Hindi ko alam ang dynamics. But what is important is: pag meron na tayong final findings, meron na rin sila, they will meet and then they issue a joint statement to put closure to the incident.
ARIANNE MEREZ/ABS-CBN. NEWS. COM: Sir, what does the government plan to do if China doesn’t give a continuing assurance that Filipino fisherman will be safe in the West Philippine Sea?
SEC. PANELO: Ano ang gagawin natin? Unang-una, they have given that already, iyong assurance na iyon. So, parang inuulit lang natin.
ARIANNE MEREZ/ABS-CBN. NEWS. COM: Pag hindi, sir?
SEC. PANELO: Kahit na wala silang assurance, basta hindi nila ginagalaw iyong ating fisherman, wala tayong problema doon, di ba? May assurance man sila, tapos eh ginalaw iyong mga fisherman natin, di another problem. Wala naman silang assurance, hindi rin naman nila ginagalaw, di okay pa rin.
ARIANNE MEREZ/ABS-CBN. NEWS. COM: Sir, iyong 22 fishermen noong sa Recto Bank, originally kasi, sir, di ba iyong message nila kay President paalisin iyong Chinese fishermen doon sa EEZ. So ngayon sir, na puwede na sila, anong assurance po iyong ibibigay natin sa mga fishermen natin na safe sila mangisda doon sa lugar na iyon?
SEC. PANELO: Ah safe sila. Kasi unang-una, bakit naman hindi sila safe?
ARIANNE MEREZ/ABS-CBN. NEWS. COM: Kasi sir, iyong nangyari nga po—
SEC. PANELO: Kasi iyong feeling nila, ‘di ba initially ang feeling nila sinadya, pero later on lumalabas na hindi sinadya coming from them and then later on parang sinusuportahan na ng mga iba, kasi tulog naman sila.
ARIANNE MEREZ/ABS-CBN. NEWS. COM: Sir, ano pong message ninyo of assurance to them?
SEC. PANELO: I already responded to that. Iyong assurance hindi na kailangan iyon dahil dati na ngang assured, walang nangyayari doon eh. Ito namang insidenteng ito, mukhang lumalabas hindi naman talagang sinadya. So, safe ang ating mga fisherman; more over eh meron naman tayong mga Coast Guards doon to protect them.
JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: Sir, just a little bit on the Cabinet meeting.
SEC. PANELO: Ito ba si Joseph ang top notcher, sino ba ang nagsabi sa akin kahapon?
JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: Sa meeting po sa Cabinet meeting, the President of course said his sentiments ‘no. Is this his sentiment when you said that the critics are milking it, tapos pinapalabas iyong administration na wala silang ginagawa, is that his sentiment or…
SEC. PANELO: That’s my impression.
JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: What did he say ba yesterday?
SEC. PANELO: About what?
JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: The issue, sir. Kasi parang ang sinasabi—
SEC. PANELO: Hindi, ‘di ba sinabi ko na iyan. Inulit niya iyong kuwento niya. Sa akin, iyan ang impression ko – na mini-milk lang ng mga kalaban ni Presidente. Ginagatasan lang, parang ginagamit. Kaya that’s why we have to put closure to this; pinalalaki na hindi naman dapat palakihin.
JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: Sir, iyong ‘put closure’, kanino po iyan na desire?
SEC. PANELO: Both sides, kasi it’s affecting our relations eh. Kumbaga pinagsasabong tayo, wala naman dapat pagsabungan.
JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: Both sides, meaning Philippines and China?
SEC. PANELO: Yes. Chinese would want also to put closure to that. Kasi nga ang lumalabas parang…’di ba, didn’t I tell you already, the reason why nagkagulo ito kasi we always assumed the premise na iyong fishing vessel is Chinese republic; eh private vessel. Kaya binanatan natin ang China noon, dapat nga hindi. Ang babanatan mo ay iyong Chinese vessel at saka iyong crew, hindi iyong gobyerno. Iyon ang ginawa natin, bumira kaagad tayo eh.
JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: Sir, sino po iyong may sabi na China wants to put a closure to this?
SEC. PANELO: Sila. Ambassador Zhao.
JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: How did they say it, sir?
SEC. PANELO: Iyon nga, we have to put closure to this because our relations are being affected. Sa akin na lang iyong pinag-aaway tayo, actually pinag-aaway.
JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: When was the most recent that he told you this?
SEC. PANELO: Doon sa text. ‘Di ba nagte-text kaming dalawa. The other day yata, the other day.
JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: And also this is the President’s desire also?
SEC. PANELO: Lahat tayo. I’m sure all Filipinos want to put closure to this. We have to determine exactly who was at fault at the incident. We want to determine kaninong accountability iyan? Ano bang compensation diyan? Ano bang gagawin ninyo sa ginawa ninyo sa pag-abandona? Lahat tayo gusto nating tapusin ito. Hindi ito puwedeng nakabitin at nagtatapon lang ng sisi.
JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: I’d like to know the position of the President. He wants to an end also to this?
SEC. PANELO: Of course. Every president wants to put closure to any incident that affects the presidency and the Filipino people; and for that matter, any country. Basta may incident na ganiyan, ayaw nilang papahabain iyan kasi it affects the relation ng dalawang bansa. Maganda ang relasyon eh; nagkakaroon nang hindi magandang implikasyon.
JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: He is not at all concerned about maybe public acceptance or favorability to him?
SEC. PANELO: Which one?
JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: Iyon pong isyu ng China, is it already affecting the President’s – for lack of a better term – popularity?
SEC. PANELO: No. Eh di tingnan mo iyong popularidad niya sa next survey. Hindi naman naaapektuhan.
JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: Sir, you have emphasized that the President is implementing the spirit of the Constitution by saying—
SEC. PANELO: Not only the spirit; it’s the command of the Constitution.
JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: The command, of course, the command of the Constitution by protecting and serving the Filipino. By doing that, can he or is he implementing Section 2 Article 12? What is he doing to Section 2 Article 12 of the Constitution when you say that he is obeying the command of the Constitution, the higher command of the Constitution by protecting and serving the Filipino? What is he doing then to Section 2 Article 12?
SEC. PANELO: Oh di ganoon din, pinuprotektahan niya rin iyong … the same – the mineral… what do you call that, the marine wealth.
JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: Marine resources.
SEC. PANELO: Oo. Kasi halimbawa, nagkaroon ng digmaan, baka apart from baka ma-annihilate, eh baka pati iyong ating bansa nakuha na nila. Kuha mo? Iyon ang ina-avoid ni Presidente. Gusto niya peaceful tayo diyan. Mag-usap na lang tayo. Ang problema, pinipilit ninyo, gusto ninyo na aggressive, reckless – hindi pupuwede iyon. We are in a civilized country. Tapos na iyong mga world war something, hindi na tayo dapat na …
JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: There’s a specter of war…
SEC. PANELO: Ha? Oh anyway …
JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: Sir, but the logic is: By not going into war with China—
SEC. PANELO: Eh di you protect your marine wealth. Hindi ba?
JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: (Unclear) first. So we cannot … you protect—
SEC. PANELO: You protect the Filipino people, you protect everything in the country. Kasi when there is war, o eh di everyone is affected – lives, properties, everything. Just like during the Japanese occupation, we were invaded. Ang daming pinatay sa atin. Ang daming nasirang … the entire landscape ng Maynila nasira.
JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: He is protecting the Filipino by giving away their rights to fish?
SEC. PANELO: You are not giving away. You’re precisely saving it.
JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: How? By giving …by opening it to China.
SEC. PANELO: Hanggang ngayon hindi ninyo makita iyong … We are not giving it.
JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: Let’s test lang, iyong correlation. Is he not violating the Section 2 Article 12?
SEC. PANELO: Akala ko ba nagkaintindihan na tayo. When you read that provision, you relate that—
JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: Maybe not violating. Is he doing away with it?
SEC. PANELO: No, no, no. You relate that to Section 4 of Article 2. Iyon nga ang pinaka-premise eh, you have to protect and serve the Filipino people. Kasi kung doon ka lang magku-concentrate, eh you’re not protecting the Filipino people kasi gusto mo aggressive enforcement eh, oh di nag-trigger ng armed conflict. Oh ano ang prinuteksyunan mo? Baka pati iyong subject of your aggressive move ay mawala iyon sa’yo. Hindi ba, iyon ang ibig sabihin noon.
JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: So to your mind, sir, he is not disregarding, doing away with the constitutional provision of protection—
SEC. PANELO: Sini-save niya nga eh kasi nga iyon ang pinaka-premise eh.
ACE ROMERO/PHIL STAR: Secretary, na-mention dito sa statement iyong pag-protect sa fishermen pati iyong sa kanilang rights ‘di ba, na huwag silang gagalawin. Kasama rito iyong sa Panatag Shoal, di po ba? Kasama iyon ‘di ba, Sec? Kasama ba dito iyong pag-appeal sa China na hayaan ang mga fishermen na kunin iyong kanilang catch. Kasi ‘di ba may mga reports na hinaharang sila ng mga fishermen and then bibigyan sila ng bottled water and some noodles, and then kukunin na iyong catch nila. Kasama ba iyon sa ia-appeal ninyo na—
SEC. PANELO: Oo, kasama lahat iyon. Basta dapat huwag na nilang pakialaman iyong ating fishermen.
ACE ROMERO/PHIL STAR: Including iyong catch nila?
SEC. PANELO: Definitely.
ACE ROMERO/PHIL STAR: Huwag silang i-pressure na ipalit iyong kanilang catch for a few bottles of water and—
SEC. PANELO: Basta ang gusto ni Presidente, protective of them.
ACE ROMERO/PHIL STAR: Na makukuha pa rin nila iyong catch nila?
SEC. PANELO: Yes.
HANNAH SANCHO/SONSHINE RADIO: Hi, sir. Any comment doon sa press release from Davao po na Davao City Representative Paolo Duterte is now planning na tumakbo po sa Speakership race po?
SEC. PANELO: Plano pa lang naman iyon eh, so… hindi ko malaman kung itutuloy niya o hindi.
HANNAH SANCHO/SONSHINE RADIO: Pero sakaling itutuloy niya, sir, nag-mention po si President Duterte that he will resign from his post—
SEC. PANELO: Siguro we will wait for that to happen kung totoong mangyari. But you know, sabi nga eh, ‘di ba sabi ko sa inyo, you make a position, you make a stand on the basis of circumstances. When those circumstances change, you also change your stand. So puwede ring magbago.
HANNAH SANCHO/SONSHINE RADIO: So puwede ring magbago iyong isip ng Pangulo?
SEC. PANELO: Puwede ring magbago ang isip ng Presidente. Puwede ring magbago ang isip si Congressman Paolo Duterte. So tingnan natin. Let it evolve. Kasi ang ini-invoke ni—nabasa ko iyong statement niya ini-invoke niya country. Country din iyong ini-invoke nung isa. Tingnan natin.
CELERINA MONTE/MANILA SHIMBUN: Sir, going back lang doon sa China. If ever ba, if the President would make a statement na… stating a policy not allowing Chinese fishermen in our EEZ, specifically on the Reed Bank. Would you consider it as provocative or aggressive which could trigger war?
SEC. PANELO: First, he never issued a statement – and I don’t think he will. So, you’re speculating and I will not respond to any speculation.
CELERINA MONTE/MANILA SHIMBUN: But sir ‘di ba, iyon ‘yung issue… iyong if we are going to allow or not—
SEC. PANELO: Mayroon na nga siyang posisyon doon, klarong-klaro na ang posisyon niya ‘di ba? “Nag-usap na kami diyan, mag-fish kayo diyan, mag-fish kami dito…” ‘di ba, “Mag galangan tayo, magtulungan tayo…” ‘yun na ang posisyon niya eh. So hanggang Presidente ‘yan, hindi mo mababago; unless mayroong gagawin ang kabila na sisirain mo iyong pagtitiwala ni Presidente sa’yo – that’s a different story. Hindi ba sinabi niya, “Huwag ninyong saktan, dahil ‘pag may pinatay kayo diyan, ibang usapan na iyon. Magagalit ako.”
CELERINA MONTE/MANILA SHIMBUN: So ‘yun nga sir, kung magpi-fish itong mga Chinese dito sa ating EEZ, particularly nga sa Reed Bank—
SEC. PANELO: Na hindi naman ginagawa. [laughs]
CELERINA MONTE/MANILA SHIMBUN: Are you sure?
SEC. PANELO: Are you also sure? Sige, show me.
CELERINA MONTE/MANILA SHIMBUN: But you have the capability to check it, because you’re the government.
SEC. PANELO: Ah hindi, you’re speculating. Mahirap ‘yan, nag-i-speculate. Mahirap nang mag—huwag na tayong mag-speculate. Kasi ‘pag sumagot ako sa speculation mo, ‘yan ang headline. Eh hindi pupuwede, kaya tayo nagkakagulo palagi eh. Kailangan facts tayo palagi. I will respond only to facts. Oo, facts. ‘F-A-C-T-S’ [laugh]
CELERINA MONTE/MANILA SHIMBUN: Sir, you have mentioned we should stop speculating. Don’t you think that having or triggering a war is also speculation?
SEC. PANELO: Ah hindi, based on facts ‘yan. Based on common sense, hindi ‘yan ano… Kasi sinabi na nga sa’yo eh, sinasabi na sa’yo na magkakaroon tayo ng gulo diyan ‘pag pinuwersa mo ‘yan. Sinasabihan ka na nga, ano pa ba—that’s factual.
CELERINA MONTE/MANILA SHIMBUN: Pero sir, kayo rin iyong nagsabi na we’re living in a civilized world, civilized society.
SEC. PANELO: Oh, correct! But not all are civilized— depende kasi eh—
CELERINA MONTE/MANILA SHIMBUN: So, Chinese are not civilized?
SEC. PANELO: Hindi. Ang sinasabi ko—hindi ba sinabi nila, “This is ours.” Sinasabi nga nila “This is ours. ‘Pag pumasok kayo diyan, sinisira ninyo iyong sovereignty namin. Lalaban kami.” Hindi ba ‘yan ang punto diyan? Kaya nga precisely, that’s why we are in a civilized world, mag-usap na lang tayo. Kasi kahit na civilized world ka, hindi ba—bakit nga civilized world tayo, ba’t ang dami pa ring patayan? Bakit ang daming… may mga terorista, mga… So ano ‘yan eh…
CELERINA MONTE/MANILA SHIMBUN: Sir, another thing. You have mentioned that those critics have not raised any suggestion on how to address the issue. But I think there was one raised by former Secretary Del Rosario na to bring this case before the United—
SEC. PANELO: Na hindi niya ginawa noong nandoon siya sa poder.
CELERINA MONTE/MANILA SHIMBUN: But right now, United Nations—
SEC. PANELO: Kagaling niya magsalita ‘pag wala na siya sa poder [laughs].
CELERINA MONTE/MANILA SHIMBUN: But sir sa PCA nga they raised it, but since China did not respect that decision, so he suggested to bring the issue before the United Nations General Assembly. So, are we not going to do it right now?
SEC. PANELO: Eh alam mo, sabi ko nga huwag mo kaming turuan ng isang bagay na hindi mo naman ginawa. Wala kang karapatan. You don’t—the nerve and the gall to suggest something—in the first place, he lost Scarborough to the Chinese. Siya ang nag-umpisa niyan kaya nagka… Kung hindi siya umalis doon, ‘di sana wala tayong problema ngayon.
CELERINA MONTE/MANILA SHIMBUN: So iyon nga daw sir, the decision regarding the PCA came out during the Duterte administration already.
SEC. PANELO: Hmm…
JOYCE BALANCIO/DZMM: Sir, balik ko lang kay Congressman Paolo Duterte. So you mean sir that the President—hindi ganoon kaseryoso si President o hindi ganoon ka-solid iyong sinabi ni President Duterte that he is not going to support—
SEC. PANELO: Alam mo Joyce… ginagawan ninyo na naman ng kuwento. Ang isang tao… O alam mo iyong mga tanong ninyo—Anyway, ang isang tao ‘pag nagsalita ng isang bagay seryoso iyon – unless there are circumstances that will compel him to alter his stand. So hindi natin alam kung ano iyong mga kalakaran na maaring magpabago sa isip ni Presidente. Sa ngayon iyon ang sinabi niya, hindi pa natin alam kung ano ang kahihinatnan.
JOYCE BALANCIO/DZMM: Okay. Kasi sir iyong statement before ni President Duterte, ayaw niya na maging House Speaker pa si Pulong Duterte kasi there are so many Dutertes—
SEC. PANELO: Eh wala pa naman. Hindi pa naman nga nagiging Speaker eh, nag-announce pa lang eh.
JOYCE BALANCIO/DZMM: Oo nga…
SEC. PANELO: Kung siguro ‘pag Speaker na siya, o…
JOYCE BALANCIO/DZMM: Hindi sir, kasi ang sabi po ni President Duterte kailangan sabihin sa kaniya ni Pulong three days before announcing kung gusto niyang tumakbo for House Speakership at magre-resign si President Duterte. You mean sir, there’s a possibility the President would support?
SEC. PANELO: O, eh ‘di tanungin natin sa Presidente. Let’s ask him para maliwanag, para wala na tayong speculation, kasi puro speculation tayo. I’ll ask the person himself para sigurado.
TINA MENDEZ/PHILIPPINE STAR: So sir, there is nothing wrong kung si Congressman Pulong will become Speaker—
SEC. PANELO: Aba, hindi ba… Every person has the right to any position, if he is qualified and if he is elected.
TINA MENDEZ/PHILIPPINE STAR: So, he’s okay to run for speakership?
SEC. PANELO: You cannot prevent people naman from running eh. Now it’s between the father and the son, ibang usapan na iyon. Pero as a general principle, if you are qualified to run, then you can run.
TINA MENDEZ/PHILIPPINE STAR: Sir, may patanong lang iyong CNN kasi wala raw si Ina. Sir, bakit daw si—Did Senator Bong Go joined last night’s Cabinet meeting?
SEC. PANELO: Hindi siya nag-join. He was there in the periphery. Nasa adjoining—may kausap siya.
TINA MENDEZ/PHILIPPINE STAR: In what capacity daw po siya? Ba’t nandoon daw siya sa Malacañang, including po doon sa oath taking?
SEC. PANELO: Hindi ba sinabi niya, “I am a personal adviser to the President.” And he is a friend of the President.
TINA MENDEZ/PHILIPPINE STAR: Sir, regarding sa speakership. Whether in the Cabinet meeting or doon sa pagka nasa kitchen kayo minsan, napag-usap iyong speakership ni Pulong?
SEC. PANELO: Ah, hindi. Hindi… Wala, walang usapan doon. Kung ano lang iyong agenda.
JINKY BATICADOS/IBC: Hi, sir. Sir, sa DICT lang ako, sir ha. Yesterday, he [Honasan] joins the Cabinet already after he took oath about being the DICT Chief. Sir ano po—paano po tinitingnan ng Malacañang ang pagiging competent ng butihing senador kung ang background po niya is military and lawmaking at hindi po sa information and communications?
SEC. PANELO: Alam mo sagot ni Greg Honasan kagabi? Sabi niya, “I was appointed not on my expertise on this line. I was appointed as a manager, as an administrator.” And he has AIM degree for that. AIM graduate ito ng management. Eh ano ba ang departamento hindi ba? You have to have expertise in managing the department, iyon ‘yun.
JINKY BATICADOS/IBC: Sir, having said so po—
SEC. PANELO: Kasi iyong mga expert diyan, you can get them as consultants.
JINKY BATICADOS/IBC: Sir having said so po, mayroon po bang specific marching order ang Presidente sa bagong DICT Chief?
SEC. PANELO: Ah, hindi ko alam kung ano iyong marching order niya kay Presidente.
JINKY BATICADOS/IBC: Okay. Last na lang sir, one last lang… for soundbyte purposes. Sir, bakit kahapon lang siya pinag-take oath samantalang matagal din naman nating narinig na siya nga ang—
SEC. PANELO: Bakit ano?
JINKY BATICADOS/IBC: Bakit kahapon lang siya pinag-take oath, samantalang matagal naman nating naririnig na siya—
SEC. PANELO: Eh kasi kahapon—noong 30 hindi na siya senador eh. Eh senador pa kasi siya eh.
JINKY BATICADOS/IBC: Yes, sir.
SEC. PANELO: O, iyon ang reason. He had to finish his job as a senator. Marami siyang pending bills, tinapos niya pa iyon.
JINKY BATICADOS/IBC: Okay. Thank you, sir.
JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: Sir, iyong lang arrest nung isang Al Qaeda daw sa Zambales. Do you know about this already?
SEC. PANELO: No. Ano ba iyon? Hindi ko—
JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: Kenyan national and then the CIDG is saying that he is connected to Al Qaeda and may mga explosives na na-recover sa kaniya. Do you think this is related to whatever is happening in Sulu now?
SEC. PANELO: Ah, hindi ko alam iyon. I’ll ask ano… kung anong findings ng Secretary of National Defense on that. Hindi ko alam iyon.
JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: Wala namang napag-usapan yesterday that there’s a brewing—as the President use it, there’s a dark cloud looming again in the horizon?
SEC. PANELO: Wala. Wala, hindi namin napag-usapan iyon.
JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: Okay.
USEC. ROCKY IGNACIO: Okay. Thank you, MPC. Thank you, Secretary Panelo.
SEC. PANELO: Thank you.
SOURCE: PCOO-NIB (News and Information Bureau-Data Processing Center