ALVIN BALTAZAR/RADYO PILIPINAS: Magandang tanghali MPC; Magandang tanghali, Chief Presidential Legal Counsel and Spokesperson Secretary Salvador Panelo.
SEC. PANELO: Good noon, MPC.
NESTOR CORRALES/INQUIRER.NET: Secretary, good morning. Supreme Court Senior Associate Justice Carpio is urging you to retract your statement when you said that China is, “in legal possession” of the South China Sea because by saying so, you abandon the 2016 Hague ruling.
SEC. PANELO: No. What I meant was in constructive possession. I was making an analogy doon sa ten—hindi ba sabi ko, when have 10 hectares, you don’t have to be in the entire 10 hectares. You can still occupy one place and you have legal possession. Analogy lang iyon, what I meant was constructive possession.
The way Secretary Esperon and Secretary Delfin explained that they are in positional advantage, which means actually they are in constructive possession by reason of the installation of military—what do you call that, camps… airport… installation… whatever. In other words, they can do something to protect what they claim to be their territory.
He was not listening. I was not referring to the entire—to the particular… that was an analogy.
Siya nga pala, that reminds me – Nasaan si Joyce ng ABS-CBN, wala ‘no? Hindi mo ginamit iyong aking statement sa… iyong sa Bikoy; nilabas ninyo lahat iyon except the statement of the Palace. O alam mo itong si Joyce hindi malaman kung ano isasagot[laughs]. Paulit-ulit sa ANC pero wala iyong statement ng Palace.
Q: [off mic]
SEC. PANELO: No—Yeah, on the Bikoy… ‘Di ba sinabi ko, wala… sinabi lang doon iyong SolGen, saka iyong…
JOYCE BALANCIO/DZMM: [off mic] ni-report ko po sa TV Patrol…
SEC. PANELO: Hmm… hindi lumabas sa ANC, paulit-ulit sa ANC. ABS-CBN din iyon eh.
JOYCE BALANCIO/DZMM: Sir for the record, I already reported your statement on that. I reported it on TV Patrol…
SEC. PANELO: I was referring to ANC. Eh since that’s ABS-CBN—
JOYCE BALANCIO/DZMM: Sir, you mentioned my name sir. You were looking for me. You particularly mentioned my name, that’s why I’m—
SEC. PANELO: Kaya nga. Yeah, because—
JOYCE BALANCIO/DZMM: —responding sir, I already reported it.
SEC. PANELO: Yes, because it was you who was present during the ambush interview.
JOYCE BALANCIO/DZMM: Yes…
SEC. PANELO: So it was your duty to tell ANC about that report. But it didn’t carry it so, I think you neglected it or perhaps ANC totally ignored your report. Anyway… basta we repeat: The President has nothing to do with it. It’s the duty of the SolGen to review cases brought to it for consultation. And the President does not interfere with the function of any departments, offices or agency unless there is a charge of corruption – that’s the only time he comes in to the picture.
NESTOR CORRALES/INQUIRER.NET: Clarify ko lang doon sa ‘they get possession’ because your statement the other day or yesterday was: “There’s such thing as legal possession; as far as China is concerned sa kanila iyon. And they are in possession kasi they can enforce it, iyon ang punto.”
SEC. PANELO: Hindi. Ang ibig sabihin noon, apart from iyong sinabi ko na kanina – as far as they’re concerned, it’s theirs. It’s theirs… bakit ba hindi natin maintindihan iyon? Paulit-ulit nang sinasabi ni Presidente. According to them, they own it. As far as they are concerned, legally, it’s theirs. Eh tayo naman, as far as we are concerned it’s also legally ours. Kaya nga nagkakaroon ng conflict, kasi both of us are claiming. Ang problema lang, as the President repeatedly said and as stated also by the two security defense officials, they are in positional advantage. Kami ni Presidente, they’re in possession – constructive possession because of their military hardware situated there, iyon ang ibig sabihin noon.
NESTOR CORRALES/INQUIRER.NET: So what we are saying now sir, is China believes they are in legal possession of the South China Sea?
SEC. PANELO: O hindi ba, they’ve been saying that. Kasi by historical right daw, they’ve been there all the while. Kaya hindi ba sinasabi nila…in fact, ‘yan nga ang argument nila, “That’s ours.”
NESTOR CORRALES/INQUIRER.NET: But are we recognizing it, sir?
SEC. PANELO: Of course not! We’re not. As far as we’re concerned, we’ve been ruled to be, owning, that portion of territory or we have exclusive right to particular territories. The problem there is, gaya na nga ng sinabi na natin… iyong Scarborough Shoal ay dineclare na traditional fishing ground. Eh pinagpipilitan naman ni Justice Carpio, “Hindi pupuwede ‘yan dahil atin ‘yan by reason of the provision in the Constitution.”
Ang sinasabi naman namin, “Correct, But then…” sabi na nga natin, “Sublimated iyon doon sa unang provision to serve and to protect,” because it might trigger hostilities that will endanger the lives of our people. In addition as we said, the Constitution also provides that international law is part of the law of the land. So kung iyong arbitral ruling sinasabi na puwede doon sa Scarborough Shoal which is within the 200 nautical miles… o eh ‘di nire-recognize din natin. Bakit nila pinagpipilitan sabihing, “Ah, hindi… hindi natin nire-recognize kasi ‘yan ang constitution.” Eh iyon din ang constitution, nire-recognize natin eh.
ARJAY BALINBIN/BUSINESS WORLD: Sir, the President in his SONA said that PAGCOR Chief Andrea Domingo should push gambling some more and he said that after he commended her agency’s high revenues. Does that mean sir that he will now lift his moratorium on new casinos?
SEC. PANELO: I think he was referring to online gambling that is legitimate. He was against noon, iyong mga illegal gambling – hindi ba ang daming pumasok noon kaya pinatigil niya.
ARJAY BALINBIN/BUSINESS WORLD: Of course he’s against that sir, but we have moratorium on new casinos, licensing new casinos. Are we open to—
SEC. PANELO: That would be the logical consequence of what he said.
ARJAY BALINBIN/BUSINESS WORLD: Alright sir, thank you sir.
TINA MENDEZ/PHILIPPINE STAR: Sir, si Congressman Rodriquez filed the concurrent resolution—
SEC. PANELO: Who’s Congressman Rodriguez? Marami yatang Rodriguez na…
TINA MENDEZ/PHILIPPINE STAR: Cagayan De Oro City—
SEC. PANELO: Ah, si Congressman Rufus. Yes, Rufus…
TINA MENDEZ/PHILIPPINE STAR: Sir, Concurrent Resolution No. 1 which seeks to change the economic and political provisions of the Constitution. Although the President did not mention some of the key economic bills—
SEC. PANELO: How will he amend the Constitutional provision – Congress? Eh kailangan constituent assembly muna or ConCon.
TINA MENDEZ/PHILIPPINE STAR: So, tina-thumb down ninyo sir iyong proposal?
SEC. PANELO: Hindi. Ang sinasabi ko, how can we make that proposal; as member of Congress? Baka sinasabi niya lang na, “We want to…” Pero kasi sinasabi niya, he will introduce amendment to the Constitution?
TINA MENDEZ/PHILIPPINE STAR: Yes, sir…
SEC. PANELO: Himself? He cannot do that.
TINA MENDEZ/PHILIPPINE STAR: Under his proposal, iyong phrase na—
SEC. PANELO: No. What I’m saying is, as member of Congress he cannot do that alone. It’s House of Representatives and the Senate convening itself to a constituent assembly to amend the constitution – that’s the puwede niya ipasok iyon. Kasi ang dating sa akin parang, “I will introduce a law that will amend…” ganoon ang dating sa akin noong statement niya.
TINA MENDEZ/PHIL. STAR: So kailangan magkaroon muna ng constituent assembly.
SEC. PANELO: Correct.
TINA MENDEZ/PHIL. STAR: Even, if it’s a concurrent resolution number.
SEC. PANELO: Oh, kahit ako ang concurrent, there is no such thing as concurrent lang, eh di resolution lang iyon. You do not amend the Constitution by concurrent resolution. You amend it by way of a constituent assembly introducing amendments to the Constitution and ratified by the people or by a constitutional convention or by the initiative of the people. That’s the only way or three ways to amend it.
If that is just a proposal by him, then it’s a proposal. Pero he cannot do it by way of passing a law, amending the provision of the Constitution. But anything that will benefit the Filipinos by way of amending certain provision of the Constitution, we will always be in support of that.
GREG GREGORIO/TV5: Sir one of his proposals is to—one of Congressman Rodriguez’ proposal is to alter or amend the term for senators and congressmen. For senators he want it to be 27 senators, 3 senators per region, 4 year-term and up to three consecutive terms and for congressman, 4 year-term up to three consecutive terms?
SEC. PANELO: We will leave it to the judgment of the people in a plebiscite. When such proposed amendment is submitted to them for ratification.
GREG GREGORIO/TV5: Sir, sabi n’yo last time, pinapaubaya nga po natin sa mga mambabatas iyong talks for charter change. But after this House bill concurrent resolution pumalag daw po agad si Senate President Tito Sotto saying na hindi nila papayagan iyong ganitong proposals from Congress, eh mukhang hindi po agad nagkakasundo – your comment on that?
SEC. PANELO: Eh kung hindi sila nagkakasundo, ano ang magagawa natin doon. Pero kung magkasundo man sila, iyong taumbayan pa rin ang magde-decide whether or not they will extend the term or limit the term of senators and members of Congress.
ACE ROMERO/PHIL. STAR: Secretary, si Atty. Gadon just said na he is planning daw to file impeachment against Vice President Leni Robredo.
SEC. PANELO: Di, bahala siya sa sarili niya. Sa kanyang diskarte iyon, hayaan mo siya. Every citizen has the right to do anything legal under the Constitution. But whether it will succeed or not, it will prosper or not is another thing.
ACE ROMERO/PHIL. STAR: So, hindi makikialam iyong Palasyo sa..?
SEC. PANELO: Never naman kaming nakialam eh. Palace never interferes, intrudes in other branches.
ACE ROMERO/PHIL. STAR: Pati daw si Justice Carpio gusto daw niyang i-impeach for supposedly encroaching iyong presidential authority with regards to the South China Sea.
SEC. PANELO: Oh di magsama silang dalawa. Basta kami, we will not. Hayaan na lang namin sila, let Congress decides – trabaho nila iyon eh.
ACE ROMERO/PHIL. STAR: So, wala kayong position on that.
SEC. PANELO: Wala, wala kami doon. We will just watch in amusement.
ACE ROMERO/PHIL. STAR: You will just watch in amusement.
SEC. PANELO: In other words, we will not interfere, let them do their thing. If they want, they can do everything not illegal.
JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: Sir, have you seen the draft complaint?
SEC. PANELO: Complaint of?
JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: The draft complaint of Gadon against the Vice, sir?
SEC. PANELO: No, I have not. Di ba sabi niya plano pa lang, di wala pang draft.
JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: But you wanna see the draft?
SEC. PANELO: No. Not interested.
JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: Iyon pong kay Justice Carpio, and also si Secretary Lorenzana; meron pong reports na may dumaan or dumadaan doon iyong Chinese warships, I think four times.
SEC. PANELO: Saan?
JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: Sa may Sibutu Strait, somewhere in Tawi-Tawi. Technically, that’s our territorial sea. Do you find anything objectionable to the passage of a Chinese warship?
SEC. PANELO: I will leave that to the Secretary of Foreign Affairs. That’s his turf.
JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: Bakit? Charing?
SEC. PANELO: Siya ang Secretary of Foreign Affairs eh.
JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: So, no opinion whether that is objectionable or not?
SEC. PANELO: I will leave it to him.
JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: Not concern daw, sir?
SEC. PANELO: No, I’ll leave it to him nga eh. I don’t want to preempt his statement on that. That is courtesy to a fellow cabinet member.
JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: Or fear.
SEC. PANELO: Hmm?
.JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: Nothing. Okay, sir iyon na muna iyong naalala ko.
ARJAY BALINBIN/BUSINESS WORLD: Sir, is the President dropping his promise to double the salaries of teachers, after he said it will just be a little bit bigger?
SEC. PANELO: No, hindi he touched that in his SONA, sabi niya, kasama doon sa standardization.
ARJAY BALINBIN/BUSINESS WORLD: But what he said was just it will just be a little bit bigger – that’s far from doubling the salary?
SEC. PANELO: Hindi, ang ibig sabihin ni Presidente, habang wala pa iyong budget, iyan muna, pupunta tayo doon. Di ba, ilang beses niya na ring sinabi doon, hinahanapan nga ng source, pati nga iyong DBM naghahanap eh.
ARJAY BALINBIN/BUSINESS WORLD: All right, the point is he is not dropping.
SEC. PANELO: Oh, definitely. Love niya ang mga teachers eh.
JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: Sound byte purposes lang – iyon pong 51% na rating?
SEC, PANELO: We are pleased to note that the rating for the first time, the cabinet improved by from good to very good. That should propel us, members of the cabinet to be inspired to work harder and help the President achieved his goal of uplifting the status of the Filipino people: Give them comfortable lives; Give them peace and security.
GENALYN KABILING/MANILA BULLETIN: Hi sir. Sir is the President satisfied with the performance of the cabinet. Will he still pursue the minor revamp of the team?
SEC. PANELO: Hindi, I already respond to that. I said maybe he was referring to one, the transfer of Secretary Piñol and the creation of three departments. Which mean, he will be naming three new secretaries, so in that way that’s a revamp, parang ganoon –reorganization di ba? Wala naman siyang binabanggit eh, saka hindi naman nanggaling sa Palasyo iyong revamp di ba?
Q: Kay Secretary Andanar.
SEC. PANELO: Oh eh galing sa kanya, baka meron siyang— I don’t know ano ang naging basis niya? Hindi ko narinig si Presidente.
GENALYN KABILING/MANILA BULLETIN: Sir, but the President is satisfied with the performance of the cabinet as of now?
SEC. PANELO: Oh, haven’t you heard him praised and commended members of cabinet heading line departments, hindi ba? That’s means he is satisfied, he commended them publicly.
GREG GREGORIO/TV5: Sir, doon lang po ulit sa salary standardization. Sabi po ni Secretary Dominguez, the government can afford to implement pay hike. Do we have a specific figures na po ba and possible source for the SSL5?
SEC. PANELO: Ang sinasabi niya, cannot afford as of this time. Kaya nga exactly naghahanap tayo kung saan natin kukunin ang pera that’s why ini-increase nga natin iyong tax ‘di ba? Kaya nga gusto ni Presidente na dagdagan mo pa iyong online gambling, legal casino para marami tayong makuha. That is why he urged also the Bureau of Customs to improve on their collection; napuri niya pa nga dahil graft-ridden, nakakuha pa ng 365 billion something.
GREG GREGORIO/TV5: Sir, pero ang sabi po ni Secretary Dominguez, the government can afford – so kaya raw po.
SEC. PANELO: Can or cannot?
GREG GREGORIO/TV5: Can.
SEC. PANELO: Lalong magaling kung can afford. Can afford pala, ang intindi ko sa iyo cannot. Eh bakit mo pa tinatanong kung can afford? What’s the basis of your question then?
GREG GREGORIO/TV5: Sir, I’m asking if we have a specific figure already?
SEC. PANELO: Sinabi na nga ng Secretary of Finance na “can”, oh di mayroon; ikaw talaga.
Q: He mentioned before, iyong budget for teachers ‘di ba.
SEC. PANELO: Oo nga.
Q: How much was it?
SEC. PANELO: Hindi, iyong sa teachers, sinasabi kasi ni Secretary Abuel noon, kung idu-doble mo kaagad, mahihirapan tayo kaya kailangan parang staggered. So kapag sinabi ni Secretary Dominguez na “can afford”, he refers doon sa mga sinasabi rin ni Secretary Abuel.
GREG GREGORIO/TV5: But no figures still, sir? But no estimate kung magkano?
SEC. PANELO: Hindi ko alam iyong estimate; Si Secretary Abuel siguro alam niya iyon.
JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: Sir, two pending enrolled bills; you only have two days before it lapses into law, iyong isa, iyong Security of Tenure, any direction from the President if he’s going to sign it?
SEC. PANELO: Doon sa Security of Tenure Bill, mayroong suggestion si NEDA Secretary Pernia. Baka iku-consider ni Presidente iyon.
JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: How? Anong magiging process sir, he has an enrolled bill that he’s studying—?
SEC. PANELO: Kaya nga, baka certain provisions will be vetoed consistent with the proposal, bakit naman hindi. Kung mayroon doong provision na niri-react-an ni NEDA Secretary Pernia, baka hindi niya palusutin. But na kay Presidente pa rin iyon, hindi natin alam.
JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: No, sir. Ang sa line item vetoing is allowed only in the budget. Sa law is either you like it or you don’t, right. So given that—
SEC. PANELO: Hindi, puwede rin; pag-veto?
JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: Line veto sa … magbabawas ka sa law. It’s either yes or no lang. Line lang, sir, sa budget is allowed.
SEC. PANELO: Ah yes, yes, oo.
JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: Kapag sa law, either you like it or you don’t ‘di ba?
SEC. PANELO: Kaya nga, if the President feels that the observation of Secretary Pernia is a good reason to vetoing the bill, he will. After all, if you veto the bill, members of Congress can always introduce amendments or pass another bill for the signature of the President – so depende. It’s the President’s call kung iyong suggestion ni Secretary Pernia, he will heed.
JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: Sir, is it true that there are people lobbying sa Palasyo not to sign it? Because I think, I don’t know, si Senator Joel is saying na may mga nagla-lobby sa Palasyo for the President not to sign the Security of Tenure Bill.
SEC. PANELO: Ang alam ko, may nababasa ako sa diyaryo na mga opposing it, mga business sector. Siguro they will be affected by it.
JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: Kasi sir, this is a campaign promise. Or is it one of the key projects of the President? How is he going to then balance his own words, promise, versus the interest of the businesses?
SEC. PANELO: In other words, hahanap ka ng win-win solution. Kung ano iyong opposition ng business sector, puwede namang hanapan ng … compromise iyon eh. So if you will veto the bill, then a member of Congress can introduce another one with the win-win compromise solution. Oh di ba, everybody happy.
INA ANDOLONG/CNN PHILS: Sir, just to be clear. Are you saying that the President is inclined to listen to the advice of the NEDA Secretary?
SEC. PANELO: No, what I’m saying is that the President is always open to suggestion. He rationalizes. If he feels that signing the law will create not beneficial effects to the major players, he might consider vetoing it. But if he doesn’t feel that way, he will sign that into law – ganoon naman si Presidente eh.
INA ANDOLONG/CNN PHILS: So hindi pa pala certain, because there’s just two days left.
SEC. PANELO: No, hindi pa natin alam kung … He’s just open to all. But the buck stops in his table.
NESTOR CORRALES/INQUIRER.NET: Sir, the President previously mentioned that the freedom of information is one of his priority legislative agenda. Why did he not include it in his 4th State of the Nation Address considering that FOI Executive Director Kris Ablan said, Malacañang asked that it be included in the President’s speech?
SEC. PANELO: Siguro hindi na kailangan dahil mayroon nang nagpu-push doon sa Congress. Last – ano pa iyan ‘di ba, last three years ago pa iyan eh.
NESTOR CORRALES/INQUIRER.NET: The President still supports the—
SEC. PANELO: Yes, of course. The fact is, he issued an executive order on freedom of information precisely to show Congress that it takes only political will to do that and he showed it by example.
BERNADETTE NICOLAS/BUSINESS MIRROR: Secretary, mayroon na po bang kapalit si Agriculture Secretary Manny Piñol?
SEC. PANELO: Wala pang nababanggit si Presidente.
JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: Sir, iyong tobacco excise. Sabi ng DOF kahapon, parang nag-commit na before it lapses on the 27th, the President would be able to sign it.
SEC. PANELO: Baka nakausap niya si Presidente.
JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: We don’t know … is that from your level, sir, na—
SEC. PANELO: No, wala pang nababanggit.
Q: [OFF MIC]
SEC.PANELO: Hindi ko alam kung nagkausap na silang dalawa. Kasi kahapon, wala naman siya doon sa … no, the other day, parang wala naman siya doon sa local officials’ meeting.
Source: PCOO-NIB (News and Information Bureau-Data Processing Center)