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 afternoon, Malacañang Press Corps. Let’s now have Presidential Spokesperson and Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo. Good afternoon, sir.

SEC. PANELO: Magandang tanghali po sa inyong lahat.

INA ANDOLONG/CNN PHILIPPINES: Hi, sir. Can you share with us more about your discussion with the President about him considering cutting diplomatic ties with Iceland?

SEC. PANELO: Well according to him, he can’t even understand why Iceland is making that posturing. He has been—that Iceland has been doing that I think twice, last year ganoon din ang posisyon niya eh and the other year.

Until now, he is in wonderment why Iceland is doing that. He can only speculate… or the two of us can only speculate that maybe some activists either from this country or elsewhere are feeding Iceland with the wrong information. And Iceland naman is so naïve to accept everything that it hears or receives.

INA ANDOLONG/CNN PHILIPPINES: How serious sir iyong pag-consider? I mean, is there a study now on how could cutting ties with Iceland could affect us? How serious is that… iyong consideration?

SEC. PANELO: Well he mentioned last night that he is seriously considering cutting diplomatic ties with Iceland. There are only about two thousand Filipinos there and, as far as we know, there are no trade relations between these two countries – except maybe on fish. ‘Di ba, fish ang kanilang main doon ‘di ba? We are not—hindi ako familiar doon. Tatanungin ko pa nga iyong ano eh, si Sec. Lopez.

INA ANDOLONG/CNN PHILIPPINES: Is that to say sir that there will only be minimal effect to us if we do cut ties with Iceland?

SEC. PANELO: Yes, certainly. Not only that, we’ve been having trade relations with other countries so I don’t think cutting a relationship with one country would affect us.

INA ANDOLONG/CNN PHILIPPINES: Sir yesterday, you mentioned that maybe it’s also time to review our relationship with the other countries that supported the Iceland resolution. Was that also tackled yesterday with the President?


INA ANDOLONG/CNN PHILIPPINES: So, it’s just on Iceland?

SEC. PANELO: Yeah, Iceland.

INA ANDOLONG/CNN PHILIPPINES: How about pulling out from the UNCHR? Was that discussed?

SEC. PANELO: No, we did not discuss it.


JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: Sir, how does the President feel about the other countries who signed the resolution?

SEC. PANELO: He didn’t say anything about it. He was more concerned on Iceland.

Oh by the way, he said that… because I asked him about the SONA this morning. He said, “Oh it will be short.”

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: Are we speaking relatively, sir? [laughs]

SEC. PANELO: Maybe because there are pre-SONAs eh. So, there are three pre-SONAs already eh. Tomorrow, there will be another one. And most of—ordinarily, the President will be discussing achievements of his administration on a particular year and since the pre-SONAs are already doing that, so I do not think the President will have to repeat that.

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: Any particular messages that he would like to focus on? He did mention before China ‘no, the policy.


JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: Anything else, sir?

SEC. PANELO: Wala eh, iyon lang ang sinabi niya. He will ‘educate’ those critics that says… that say that he’s violating the Constitution.

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: So, iyong China po will take up most of the SONA time ‘no?

SEC. PANELO: Hindi naman niya sinabi. Basta sinabi niya short lang.

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: Any time that he gave? Like any amount of time—

SEC. PANELO: Usually ‘pag short, dalawang oras ‘yun eh. [laughs]

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: I think after three years, you know that already sir. Hindi nga, wala naman siya sir sinabi na…

SEC. PANELO: Iyon na nga exact words niya eh, “Ah, short lang.”

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: Sir, we will count on that sir ha.

SEC. PANELO: Yeah, you count from the two hours, 1-2-3… baka maging tatlo.

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: Alright, sir. Iyon pong sa Iceland, seriously considering lang?

SEC. PANELO: Yeah, seriously.

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: I mean, doesn’t sound like a decision yet ‘no?

SEC. PANELO: Wala pa. Exact words niya iyon, kagabi iyon.

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: What would push him over the edge, sir? I mean, cross the line.

SEC. PANELO: Ay… let’s see. Mamaya, we will be discussing it again siguro.

ROSE NOVENARIO/HATAW: Hi sir, good afternoon. Sabi ni PNP Chief General Albayalde, posible raw may kinalaman iyong CPP-NPA doon sa adoption ng UNHRC sa resolution po ng Iceland na imbestigahan iyong human rights violation sa Pilipinas.

SEC. PANELO: Bakit daw?

ROSE NOVENARIO/HATAW: Hindi, ano iyong reaksiyon ninyo doon?

SEC. PANELO: Hindi, bakit nga daw? Anong basis niya daw?

ROSE NOVENARIO/HATAW: Eh kasi raw may konek—may part daw po na parang propaganda ng international arm ng CPP… Kasi sabi ninyo rin kanina ‘di ba, posibleng may political activists na…

SEC. PANELO: Yeah. Alam mo kone-konektado iyon. Alam mo ngayon ang mga organization, maraming links eh. So, maybe that’s part of their program.

ROSE NOVENARIO/HATAW: So, may kautusan po ba o direktiba iyong Palasyo para palalimin iyong ganitong anggulo?

SEC. PANELO: Hindi… wala. That was not mentioned.

ROSE NOVENARIO/HATAW: So, hindi ninyo paiimbestigahan?

SEC. PANELO: Hindi. Pinapabayaan na nga namin, ‘di ba? Hayaan mo na sila, we’ll just do our best.

ROSE NOVENARIO/HATAW: Pabayaan na sir ang alin?

SEC. PANELO: Pabayaan mo iyong paninira nila, kasi iyong sambayanang Pilipino wala namang naniniwala. Kung may naniniwala man, siguro 1%, 2%, 3%… sila-sila lang yata rin iyon eh.

ROSE NOVENARIO/HATAW: So, hindi na lang iintindihin ng Pilipinas sir iyong resolution noong UNHRC?

SEC. PANELO: Ah, hindi. Unang-una, hindi naman minding iyon. Pangalawa, lalabingwalo lang, ni walang simple majority eh.

ROSE NOVENARIO/HATAW: Okay, thank you.

ARJAY BALINBIN/BUSINESS WORLD: Sir, when the President said that he is seriously considering cutting ties with Iceland, that means to say that there will be an official announcement whether there will—we will be cutting ties with Iceland?

SEC. PANELO: Oh yeah—-

ARJAY BALINBIN/BUSINESS WORLD: Are we waiting for that?

SEC. PANELO: As I said the words of the President is, “I’m seriously considering cutting ties with Iceland.” In other words, he’s mulling over it. So, let’s see how it develops.

ARJAY BALINBIN/BUSINESS WORLD: Did you ask sir what factors are being considered?

SEC. PANELO: No, because the factors are… confront use in the eyes. That’s why I describe it as—the resolution as being grotesquely one-sided, outrageously narrow and maliciously partisan. Simply because, it is based on false information and unverified facts and figures; and to our minds, it assaults the sovereignty of this country.


SEC. PANELO: Because you know, as we were discussing with the President, I think sovereign states should give due respect to each other. And if there is any concern on violation of human rights on the part of others vis-à-vis the others, they should at least give a formal communication to those subject of their concern, as a matter of courtesy and civility, so that we can properly respond.

MARICEL HALILI TV5: Sir, just a clarification. Sir, you mentioned earlier that the President is seriously considering the idea of cutting ties with Iceland. But in a tweet by Foreign Affairs Secretary Teddy Locsin earlier he mentioned that we are not severing diplomatic relations with any country. If we did, where is the conversation, how do you insult those who insulted us if you cut them off?

SEC. PANELO: Wala namang contradiction doon. Ang sinasabi niya, ‘we are not severing…,’ eh wala pa naman eh, mulling over pa nga eh. So, where’s the contradiction? Mulling pa lang nga eh, not mulling in Rob and Meg—Mulling – thinking over it.

MARICEL HALILI TV5: But it seems, sir, if we based it on the context of the text, of the tweet I mean of Secretary Locsin, parang final na iyong sinasabi niya na we are not cutting ties?

SEC. PANELO: Members of the Cabinets words can never be final. They are all subject to change without prior notice by the Chief Architect and the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces. In other words, he is the President.

We are just alter egos. My job is to just to express his thoughts in the manner he wants it – according to him – and the other alter egos is to convey to the people the messages of the President based on the policies of the President which he told us at the inception of his presidency. Because since he gives us carte blanche with respect to our turfs and territory, we are therefore entitled to express our opinion based on what we thought to be consistent with the policy of the President. But if the President says ‘this is the policy,’ then we have to toe the line.

MARICEL HALILI TV5: Sir, one more thing. Secretary Locsin also mentioned that UNHRC vote is a small land harmless matter, do you agree to this, sir. Is it really a harmless matter?

SEC. PANELO: With respect to what, did he mention anything?

MARICEL HALILI TV5: We are staying in UNHRC as a pedagogical duty to teach Europeans moral manners.

SEC. PANELO: Maybe with respect to the votes garnered, there is no significance. Only others are… specially the critics and detractors are giving importance to the adaption of the resolution. But if you analyze the 47 countries with more than half of them not joining the proponent, then it shows that’s insignificant.

MARICEL HALILI TV5: Meaning sir, you don’t see a big implication especially on the image of the Philippines?

SEC. PANELO: The image? No, definitely not. Because we have been saying it’s not even unanimous, it’s not even a simple majority. But, at the same time, we are reacting, because you cannot do that to a fellow sovereign state.

REYMUND TINAZA/BOMBO RADYO: Sir, with the Iceland resolution it’s what… siyempre adapted by UNHRC. Do you consider na reviewing iyong some cooperation between Iceland and the Philippines especially the areas of geothermal, mining, maritime. For example, the existing contract of the Biliran Geothermal Incorporated and other investments of Iceland in the Philippines?

SEC. PANELO: Ang pagkaka-alam nga namin, walang trade relations eh. Hindi ko alam iyong sinasabi mo. We will ask.

REYMUND TINAZA/BOMBO RADYO: There are, sir. The economic relations of the Philippines and Iceland has been reinforced since 1999 and it has been growing until now.

SEC. PANELO: Well, assuming that there is or there are. For as long as it’s beneficial to us, then we will proceed with it. And I’m sure the agreement would be beneficial to both countries; because no country will enter into an agreement that is not also beneficial to it.

REYMUND TINAZA/BOMBO RADYO: So, safe to assume that these investments or cooperation are safe as we speak and they will not be affected by the Iceland resolution?

SEC. PANELO: I think so. As I said, if it’s beneficial to both countries.

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: Sir, follow up. Based on our website, meron sir investment sa Philippines iyong Iceland, doon sa Biliran Geothermal and then also it employs our nurses, office and factory workers. Should we cut our ties with the Iceland, how is this going to affect iyong… at least, the mga nurses and the factory workers?

SEC. PANELO: I don’t think even if you cut ties with a particular country, if it benefits that country to be entering into a commercial agreement with one who cuts its ties, I don’t think they will sever that relationship. It’s only the diplomatic relations.

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: Meaning, they don’t have to deport our workers there ‘no?

SEC. PANELO: I don’t think they will.

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: Procedurally sir, magtatanggal lang tayo ng—what we have there is I think an honorary consul?

SEC. PANELO: Oo, wala naman tayong embassy doon eh.

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: So, tatanggalan lang sa consulate.

SEC. PANELO: Eh kung maka-abot tayo doon. Eh puro—wala pa naman iyon eh. He is mulling over it.

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: Pero sir, was the President—how would you describe him, I mean was he pissed, was he… when he was discussing it with you?

SEC. PANELO: Basta sinabi niya ‘I am seriously considering cutting ties.’

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: Galit ba, sir?

SEC. PANELO: Hindi, ordinaryong boses.

PIA GUTIERREZ/ABS-CBN: Sir, did you talk to President Duterte about PHISGOC? Did you discuss it with the President?

SEC. PANELO: Ah SEA Games. Yeah, he said that he doesn’t want the foundation, gusto niya gobyerno.

PIA GUTIERREZ/ABS-CBN: Did he say why, sir?

SEC. PANELO: Sabi niya maraming korapsyon diyan sa private. Kaya nasisira iyong diskarte nung mga nandiyan, kaya gusto niya gobyerno na lang.

PIA GUTIERREZ/ABS-CBN: Was the President able to talk to Congressman Cayetano about this?

SEC. PANELO: I’m supposed to talk to him nga, sabi ko kausapin ko nga. I’ll talk to him today.

PIA GUTIERREZ/ABS-CBN: So, will the President order the investigation of PHISGOC because of these allegations of corruptions?

SEC. PANELO: He didn’t mention that. But as a matter of standard procedure when there is corruption, supposed to be the agencies concerned in the investigation will have to delve into that without being asked by the President.

PIA GUTIERREZ/ABS-CBN: Has PHISGOC been informed about the decision of the President. Will there be an executive order on this, sir?

SEC. PANELO: I’ll ask him tonight about that.

PIA GUTIERREZ/ABS-CBN: Last na lang, sir. What government agency will handle the preparations for the SEA Games?

SEC. PANELO: I’ll ask him that too. Kasi ang alam ko si Cayetano eh… dati. Pero kung Speaker na siya, how can he do that.

PIA GUTIERREZ/ABS-CBN: Sir, is the President likely to involve pa rin is Congressman Cayetano on the preparations for the SEA Games?

SEC. PANELO: Baka mahirapan na si Congressman Cayetano kung siya ang magiging Speaker, how can he even have time for that.

PIA GUTIERREZ/ABS-CBN: So you said, sir, that the President is concerned about iyong allegations of corruption within PHISGOC. Is this diminishing his trust with Cayetano, sir?

SEC. PANELO: Hindi naman, kasi Cayetano just entered recently; kaya nga siya pinapasok, because of those allegations.

PIA GUTIERREZ/ABS-CBN: So, he does not think that Cayetano is involved?

SEC. PANELO: Ah definitely not, not this Cayetano.

INA ANDOLONG/CNN PHILS: Sorry. I am not sure if that already answered my question. When you said that the President wants—thinks na may corruption kasi kapag private sector—

SEC. PANELO: Saka ano, parang nabanggit niya ang daming pulitika kasi diyan, iyong pag private.

INA ANDOLONG/CNN PHILS: Are you speaking on general terms or is there a specific issue with the PHISGOC that was raised, which is the reason why he decided to take it out of PHISGOC—

SEC. PANELO: Iyon lang ang pagkabanggit niya, ‘marami diyang corruption, maraming pulitika kasi diyan, kaya mabuti pa gobyerno na lang.’

INA ANDOLONG/CNN PHILS: Generally speaking, sir?

SEC. PANELO: Generally, iyan ang pagkasabi niya.


SEC. PANELO: No, wala siyang binanggit na PHISGOC.

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: Sir, kanina po si former CJ Sereno was in the press conference—

SEC. PANELO: Oh, I didn’t know that. She’s back with a vengeance?

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: We don’t know yet.


JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: Here’s the question, sir. Sabi niya kanina, basically nananawagan for a mobilization—quote na lang sir para hindi na ma-misinterpret ‘no, “kung ano ang gusto mong—ang alam ko lang makikiisa ako doon sa mga lumalaban sa demokrasya. Maaaring dati hindi ako nakikita ngunit hindi ibig sabihin na hindi ako magpapakita. Kaya iyong mga hindi natin nakikita sa ganitong larangan ng pagkilos, magpakita na ho kayo.” How do you interpret that statement, sir?

SEC. PANELO: Aba eh sama ako sa kanya kung lumalaban sa demokrasya, dahil dapat talaga ipagtanggol natin ang demokrasya. But if she refers to those who are critics and detractors of the administration, meaning that she has not joined them for the last few months, well, I think the opposition will welcome her. While we will be amused watching her.

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: You’re not—I mean, hindi naman threatened, sir, iyong—maybe a tip of the iceberg of a bigger…

SEC. PANELO: If she will join the opposition to exercise her freedom of expression, then by all means, we will egg her to do that.

TINA MENDEZ/PHIL/ STAR: So sir, iyong si CJ Sereno statement you don’t see it as possible inciting to sedition?

SEC. PANELO: No naman.

TINA MENDEZ/PHIL/ STAR: She is encouraging others to join and she will be joining in light of talks of—

SEC. PANELO: Baka naman she wants to join the rallies. Okay lang naman sa amin ang mga rallies against this government. In fact, it’s the President who encourages that. You, because under the Constitution: legitimate grievances against the government can be freely expressed. Ang problema pag ano na, you perform acts which are seditious as defined by law.

TINA MENDEZ/PHIL STAR: Which are, sir?

SEC. PANELO: Like for instance, when you incite people to hate a particular public official like the President, that’s seditious; you incite them to not to follow the laws, that’s seditious.

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: Sir, iyong safe spaces bill; in layman’s term, iyong anti-bastos bill ‘no. How do you think—is that going to be beneficial to the public, first?

SEC. PANELO: I think so. You know, remarks—sexist remarks kasi somehow, sometimes, although not all the time, trigger reaction from the subject and it will lead to conflict that might even lead to violence. So this law should benefit all so that everyone should be cautious to make some sexist remarks that maybe offensive to those who are more sensitive.

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: Everyone, sir?

Q: [OFF MIC] Including the President, sir?

SEC. PANELO: I think so, yes.


SEC. PANELO: Pinirmahan niya, the fact na pinirmahan niya iyan eh di ibig sabihin he agrees with that.

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: And therefore… we will hear less of ano…?

SEC. PANELO: Let’s see. He’s a man of surprises. Meaning, he can surprise us when suddenly he doesn’t make any jokes.

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: I sabihin sir, si Presidente hindi safe din doon sa penalties doon sa safe spaces?

SEC. PANELO: Since the President signed that law, it means that he recognizes the need of that law. And since he is the chief enforcer of all laws of the Philippines, he will be the first one to obey the law.

REYMUND TINAZA/BOMBO RADYO: Just to set the record, iyong signing of the law, iyong bawal bastos bill, hindi naman siya antedated kasi April 17 signed—

SEC. PANELO: Teka muna, teka muna. Unang-una kasi, you’ve assumed that the President is bastos, naging bastos. He never was bastos. When he cracks jokes, it was intended to make people laugh, never to offend. If you will just listen to the jokes of the President talagang matatawa ka eh, matatawa ka. Audience … ‘di ba, they give a hearty laughter. Hindi naman bastos.

Iba kasi iyong pambabastos. You women should know that. Iba ang dating ng bastos at saka iyong nagpapatawa lang.

REYMUND TINAZA/BOMBO RADYO: Sir, kasi parang may lumabas na noon na that lapsed into law kasi hindi inaksyunan daw ng Pangulo. Tapos eventually, lumabas na April 17 signed. So hindi naman siya antedated na parang ipinalabas lang na signed on April 17? Dahil ang tagal eh, ano na ngayon, July 16 na.

SEC. PANELO: Basta sa akin, what is important is, he signed that into law. Otherwise, eh di sana vineto niya kung ayaw niya iyon.

You will be surprised ha, this President reacts violently, or negatively rather, to people who offend women. Maano ito sa babae, mahal na mahal niya ang nanay niya; magalang sa mga girls. Magalang siya. Nag-po-po nga iyan sa lahat ng ladies eh, puro “Ma’am,” “Yes, ma’am,” “No, ma’am.”

INA ANDOLONG/CNN PHILS: Sir, when you’re saying that … on the President gives out those sort of jokes, you say it’s not meant to offend, people laugh at it. Obviously that’s not the case for all. You know, I mean, some women really take offense in such remarks; it’s not a laughable issue for them. These statements that you’re saying, don’t you think that runs contrary to this new law? Kaka-sign lang natin and yet you’re saying that there are times that it’s okay.

SEC. PANELO: Teka muna ha, that particular in nature is penal in nature, meaning, criminal in nature. In other words, the subject offended party must be offended personally by an offender. Pero kung general ang nagkukuwento, ma-o-offend ka, paano mo sasabihin na ikaw ang tinutukoy noon. May problema ka doon. How can you even charge him with what, how did I offend you? Did I refer to you? O papaano ka na, dismiss kaagad iyon. Kailangan personal iyon eh. Crime is personal to the offender.

INA ANDOLONG/CNN PHILS: Okay. So what you are saying is, the President could still—I mean, we shouldn’t be surprised if the President continues sa … making those remarks in speeches?

SEC. PANELO: Yeah. Kasi naman when the President delivers his speech and then he shares stories about that, mayroon siyang intensyon – either to make you laugh or to make a situation more pronounced to convey a message in relation to that anecdote.

JULIE: Sir, assuming—sir, you said na the President is not bastos, na he’s just making jokes to make people laugh kahit na medyo off hand iyong remarks niya. Assuming na hindi nga po siya bastos at bilang siya iyong chief enforcer of the law, how does he plan to make an example of himself, especially while in public, para ipakita sa mga tao na ‘Oh, kailangan ninyong sundin itong safe spaces act na ito.’ Does he plan to, say, tone down para lang ipakita sa mga tao na, ‘Ako nga sumusunod eh, kayo pa kaya,’ ‘di ba?

SEC. PANELO: Kagaya ng sinabi ko kanina, the crime is personal to the offender and the offended party. Hindi naman niya ginagawa iyon. Never siyang nambastos ng isang partikular na tao, kaya it does not apply to him.

JULIE: What will you say to people who might use him as palusot?

SEC. PANELO: Kaya nga ini-educate na natin ang tao ngayon. The crime is always personal. You have to be personally offended by the offender. And you have to prove na you are the subject of that offensive demeanor by the offender.

TINA MENDEZ/PHIL STAR: Sir, publicly the President has criticized and sometimes insulted Senator Leila De Lima. Is that a case of anti-bastos law?


TINA MENDEZ/PHIL STAR: Oo, threatening to release supposed video of…

SEC. PANELO: I don’t think that’s a crime.

TINA MENDEZ/PHIL STAR: Sir, if in the future, sa public speeches ng Pangulo, he will continue to attack the Senator using not so pleasant words, will it be a case po—

SEC. PANELO: Ganito na lang, if the President commits any violation of any law, then any person can sue him for that violation. If you argue that, ‘Well, he is immune,’ well you can always sue him after the presidency. No one is above the law, including this President, and he always tells us that.

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

SEC. PANELO: Thank you.


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