ALVIN BALTAZAR/RADYO PILIPINAS: Good afternoon MPC, magandang hapon Chief Presidential Legal Counsel and Spokesperson Attorney Sal Panelo, good afternoon sir.
SEC. PANELO: Good afternoon to all of you.
JINKY BATICADOS/IBC: Hi sir, good afternoon. Sir, kukuha lang ako ng reaction ng Palasyo with regards to the PSA report na parang bumagal daw ang paglago ng ekonomiya ng bansa natin for the second quarter. Anong take natin, sir?
SEC. PANELO: Well, according to our economic managers temporary lang naman iyan eh; gaya ng mga nakaraan, ginagawan natin ng paraan iyon.
JINKY BATICADOS/IBC: Isang specific lang sir, what are those particular steps that we would like to do para po masagot itong—
SEC. PANELO: I will leave it to the Economic Managers para mas maganda ang sagot. Secretary Pernia will be issuing a statement on that.
PIA GUTIERREZ/ABS-CBN: Hi, sir. Sir, recently there have been two Chinese survey ships spotted in Ilocos and Samar. May we get your reaction on that, sir? Is the Palace aware of the presence of these survey ships at pinayagan po ba natin silang mag-operate dito sa bansa?
SEC. PANELO: I’m still waiting for the response of Secretary Delfin on my text whether that’s a validated report and what is the reaction of the National Defense as well as the National Security Adviser.
INA ANDOLONG/CNN PHILIPPINES: Hi, sir. The Sandiganbayan junked the 102-billion peso forfeiture case against the Marcoses and the Sandiganbayan is blaming weak evidence presented by PCGG – do you see this—
SEC. PANELO: Is it weak evidence or there has been a delay and there has no submission of proof.
INA ANDOLONG/CNN PHILIPPINES: Both?
SEC. PANELO: That is what I have read.
INA ANDOLONG/CNN PHILIPPINES: Okay. Do you see this case having better chances at the Supreme Court if it reaches there?
SEC. PANELO: It was the Supreme Court that decided it.
INA ANDOLONG/CNN PHILIPPINES: Sandigan, sir.
SEC. PANELO: Oh yeah. Sandiganbayan when it dismissed the case must be—or it has most likely based its decision on the evidence presented before it since it has says that there is no proof, maybe there’s no other recourse but to dismiss the case.
INA ANDOLONG/CNN PHILIPPINES: So if it reaches the Supreme Court—if it’s raised in the Supreme Court, do you think there’s still a good chance or still a chance for that decision to be overturned?
SEC. PANELO: We’ll leave it to the Supreme Court to decide on the matter.
INA ANDOLONG/CNN PHILIPPINES: Uhum. Sir, can the Solicitor General’s office assist in that case?
SEC. PANELO: It’s the Department of Justice that prosecuted the case.
INA ANDOLONG/CNN PHILIPPINES: Thank you, sir.
ACE ROMERO/PHILIPPINE STAR: Secretary, what’s Malacañang’s take on the PAGCOR’s plan to place iyong POGOs sa self-contained hubs?
SEC. PANELO: We haven’t received any official communication from PAGCOR regarding its decision to isolate certain Chinese because of—according to—
ACE ROMERO/PHILIPPINE STAR: Hindi, POGOs lang Sec. Iyong POGO operation.
SEC. PANELO: Ahh yeah, I mean POGOs, because of its—of the Chinese nationals rude behavior?
ACE ROMERO/PHILIPPINE STAR: Oo…
SEC. PANELO: We’ll wait for its official communication to us.
ACE ROMERO/PHILIPPINE STAR: But how do you find iyong—at least iyong konsepto noon?
SEC. PANELO: Well, the issue is only ‘rudeness’ and there is—we have laws. If their rudeness falls within violation of the Revised Penal Code, then you can prosecute them.
ACE ROMERO/PHILIPPINE STAR: So for now, wala pa tayong take doon sa kanilang plan na iyon na ilagay—
SEC. PANELO: We’ll wait for the communication from PAGCOR.
ACE ROMERO/PHILIPPINE STAR: Kasi sa ngayon, iyong Chinese Embassy mayroon nang reaction eh – they are expressing concern kasi daw it might violate iyong rights noong Chinese workers doon sa POGOs kapag nilagay sila sa isang self-contained hub.
SEC. PANELO: If you will restrict their liberties, then there might be a violation, because if your only reason is rudeness, you can always subject them to violation of the Revised Penal Code. Exactly, what kind of—it’s still vague. What kind of—are they saying that they going to isolate them in one particular community?
ACE ROMERO/PHILIPPINE STAR: Iyon iyong proposal ng PAGCOR.
SEC. PANELO: I want to see first the exact dimension of that plan.
ACE ROMERO/PHILIPPINE STAR: Okay Sec., salamat po.
ARIANNE MEREZ/ABS-CBN NEWS.COM: Sir, your reaction po doon—in follow up to that sir, sabi po kasi ng Chinese Embassy, many of the Chinese citizens working illegally in Philippine casinos or POGOs—
SEC. PANELO: Were what?
ARIANNE MEREZ/ABS-CBN NEWS.COM: Working illegally. Illegal workers sir daw or subjected to what media described as ‘modern slavery’ due to severe limitation of their personal freedom. Tapos sir, they’re alleging that passports of illegal Chinese workers are taken away or confiscated by Philippine employers and then they are subject to extortion, physical abuse, and torture as well as other ill-treatments tapos… your reaction to this, sir?
SEC. PANELO: Well, we will not allow any violation of their rights as visitors or working nationals in this country. We certainly have the Constitution to guide government authorities in dealing with them. We will not allow any abuse on any foreign visitor or worker in this country from our own countrymen – we have laws. We have always to enforce the law.
ARIANNE MEREZ/ABS CBN NEWS.COM: And sir, they are calling on the Philippine government to pay more attention to China’s position and concerns and ano daw, punish Philippine Casinos, POGOs and other form of gambling entities for illegal employment of Chinese citizen.
SEC. PANELO: My suggestion then is they should file formal complaint, so that this particular concern will be raised in the appropriate agencies of the government. So we can properly respond.
ARIANNE MEREZ/ABS CBN NEWS.COM: Okay, sir. But has China or any represent—the Chinese Embassy reached out to Malacañang or the government regarding this? Kasi the statement was posted on their embassy—
SEC. PANELO: That is precisely why I am urging them to file formal complaint on any perceived abuses committed against the Chinese nationals.
ARIANNE MEREZ/ABS CBN NEWS.COM: But so far, sir, wala pa po kayong nare-receive na formal communication?
SEC. PANELO: None that I know.
PIA GUTIERREZ/ABS-CBN: Sir, even before the statement of the Chinese Embassy, itong isyu na ito, the problem of illegal employment and the abused of Chinese workers here in the Philippines has already known. So, may nagawa na po ba ang Malacañang/government in cracking down sa mga employers na ito?
SEC. PANELO: But unless there is an official complaint in reference to this, the government cannot do anything. You have to file a formal complaint on particular instances of violations of their rights.
PIA GUTIERREZ/ABS-CBN: So, who would be filing?
SEC. PANELO: Of course the victims.
PIA GUTIERREZ/ABS-CBN: The problem, sir kasi iyong mga victims are scared to go to the authorities, kasi number one, nakuha iyong kanilang mga passports and number two, because illegal iyong working in a Casino in China, parang may takot sila na baka kasuhan din sila.
SEC. PANELO: Yes, but the government has to have a foundation for that. How can you respond to something you do not even know of? There has to be complaint. That’s why we are urging them to do it.
PIA GUTIERREZ/ABS-CBN: Wala pa po bang action dito sir, ang Bureau of Immigration or the Labor department kung hawak ba nila itong mga POGOs na ito?
SEC. PANELO: Well, if there is no complaint reaching them, how can they react to that?
PIA GUTIERREZ/ABS-CBN: But now that the Chinese Embassy has called on the Philippine government, may gagawin po ba ang Philippine government?
SEC. PANELO: Still the same, they have to file formal complaint: Cite specific instances, particular names, identities, dates, situations so that we can properly respond.
PIA GUTIERREZ/ABS-CBN: And who would take action in this sir, kapag may na-file na complaint?
SEC. PANELO: Oh eh kung nagreklamo ka, halimbawa sa immigration, then they will refer that to the proper authorities – sa DOJ – kailangan talaga mayroong reklamo.
PIA GUTIERREZ/ABS-CBN: Sir, can you give assurance din sa mga Chinese workers who want to step out pero natatakot sila?
SEC. PANELO: That is why we are telling them now: Please institute a complaint against these employers that are violating your rights, because this government will not allow any abuses committed against them.
JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: Sir, clarification: Because okay, iyon pong Chinese position, iyong Chinese Embassy based on their statements, they do not want iyong self-contained, mga POGO hubs – right? Because they said that it’s probably an infringement of their legal rights. Do we agree?
SEC. PANELO: That why, I said I want to see the dimension of that memo or circular or whatever.
JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: Ng PAGCOR. PAGCOR kasi sir, para maiwasan iyong mga unruly interactions, eh i-limit na lang sila in POGO communities.
SEC. PANELO: That is why we want to get the official communication from PAGCOR.
JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: But if our government does proceed with containing these mga POGO in certain communities lang – restricted, you said earlier that it may really violate the rights of the Chinese workers?
SEC. PANELO: Yes, because if you – in the same way that if you contained any group of Filipino citizens in one place – that’s a violation.
JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: We don’t mind naman the Chinese suggesting to our government things that we should do?
SEC. PANELO: It doesn’t have to suggest, if we see any violation of human rights, whether for or against our countrymen or outside of this country – we will respond.
TINA MENDEZ/PHIL STAR: Sir, mayroon naman kasi dating mga – offshore ba ang tawag doon? – gaming operations in Cagayan and even in Subic or Clark. How different ba iyong operations ng POGO ngayon?
SEC. PANELO: Hindi ko alam iyong portion na iyon, kung anong klaseng operation. I don’t know how it goes.
TINA MENDEZ/PHIL. STAR: Kasi kung medyo alam natin iyong parameters noong even sa Cagayan, baka ganoon lang iyong ia-adopt ng gobyerno or ng PAGCOR.
SEC. PANELO: We will look into it.
INA NADOLONG/CNN PHILS: Sir is there any update or any recent directives of the President, regarding the Pogo workers who don’t pay taxes, the DOF or Secretary Sonny Dominguez says majority of the 138,000 POGO workers who don’t pay taxes are Chinese.
SEC. PANELO: I’m sure the Department of finance is doing something about that especially the Bureau of Internal Revenue.
INA ANDOLONG/CNN PHILS: No remarks or opinions from the President regarding that? Has he said anything about that recently?
SEC. PANELO: Doesn’t have to because the Secretary of Finance, as well as the BIR commissioner, is doing his job.
ARJAY BALINBIN/BUSINESS WORLD: Sir, the problem really is the behavior of Chinese and that is why there is a recommendation to isolate them, correct? Sir, will the Palace recommend instead that Chinese workers should undergo an orientation program regarding our culture and laws; kasi that’s what OFWs going through before they are deployed.
SEC. PANELO: First, we would like to know exactly what are these Chinese nationals or workers doing vis-à-vis their relationship with our Filipino citizens.
ARJAY BALINBIN/BUSINESS WORLD: You heard already, sir: They are being rude.
SEC. PANELO: Yeah, but it’s a general statement.
ARJAY BALINBIN/BUSINESS WORLD: Yes, correct.
SEC. PANELO: What kind of rudeness? Iniisnab sila, nang-iisnab? Kasi when you ignore another person, that’s also rudeness.
ARJAY BALINBIN/BUSINESS WORLD: So what’s right mechanism for this, sir, when we welcome workers?
SEC. PANELO: We want to know exactly the specific behaviors committed by the Chinese workers para alam natin kung … baka naman hindi rude.
ARJAY BALINBIN/BUSINESS WORLD: Okay, thank you.
SEC. PANELO: Basta what is important is we will not violate their rights. We will not allow them.
ROSE: Sir, Palace statement po regarding sa nararanasan pong perwisyo ng mga commuters sa southbound ng EDSA dahil sa mahigpit na pagpapatupad ng yellow lane policy ng MMDA? Kung ano po ang mensahe ng Malacañang, kasi tinutuligsa po ang MMDA ng mga commuters ngayon dahil po sa severe traffic na nararanasan since Monday po?
SEC. PANELO: I agree. I agree on the traffic situation. It took me two hours from one place in Makati going to the celebration in that Singapore embassy. But you know, even the… I think the rainy season has contributed to the density of traffic. MMDA is doing its level best to do something about it.
ROSE: May apila po ba tayo sa public, sir, kasi ang sinasabi nga po ng MMDA, kapag wala silang ginagawang paraan ay tinutuligsa sila; pero kapag nagpapatupad sila ng polisiya, tinutuligsa rin sila.
SEC. PANELO: Sala sa lamig, sala sa init. Well, we have to ask the commuters to be patient. I’m sure the MMDA is doing enough. But actually, you know, the problem in EDSA, I think, we need skyways for that. If you have a lot of skyways, I don’t think there will be traffic. We need infrastructure.
HENRY URI/DZRH: Secretary, may direktiba ho ba ang Pangulo sa lahat ng mga government agencies tungkol doon sa deklarasyon ng DOH na may national epidemic na sa dengue?
SEC. PANELO: The Department of Health is doing its job. They are performing what is to be done. Of course, the cure of a national epidemic is to treat the patients.
HENRY URI/DZRH: Wala hong partikular na utos ang Pangulo dahil sa bagay na ito?
SEC. PANELO: That is the direction – we have to treat the patients because there is an epidemic. If you’re sick of dengue, you have to be treated. Our problem might be that there might be not enough doctors and hospitals if they’re deluged with patients suffering from the same.
HENRY URI/DZRH: Wala pong utos like iyong pagpapalabas ng special funds para po sa mga biktima?
SEC. PANELO: The DOH has enough funds for that.
JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: Sir, shift nang konti. Sir, sa budget po. Are you aware that the DBM solicited the list of projects from Congress for inclusion doon sa National Expenditure Program? Would you know if the DBM—
SEC. PANELO: No, I do not know about that.
JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: Because, sir, ang sabi is that mayroon ding lump sum allocation – 200 for senators and 100 million for each congressmen. And doon sa congressmen, for example, 100; of the 100, 70 will go to hard projects – meaning, mga infrastructure – and 30% goes to soft – mga medical assistance. For the senators, 200, 100, 100 for soft and hard projects—
SEC. PANELO: You’re saying that there is pork barrel?
JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: Yes, sir. May ganoon daw pong nangyaring paghingi ng list, pre-enactment, before the submission of the President’s budget to Congress. So kumbaga, they are kinda skirting iyong Supreme Court ruling kasi post-enactment. Okay, first, on the figure, sir, do we find it objectionable that we are giving 200 million for senators, for each senator, and 100 for each congressman? As a matter of principle, sir, do we agree or do we not agree?
SEC. PANELO: First, we will have to validate that. We’ll have to ask DBM on that.
JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: Do you see this, sir, as a contravention of the Supreme Court ruling on the pork barrel, if ever?
SEC. PANELO: Well, the policy of the government is whatever the Supreme Court says, we abide by it.
JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: Kasi, sir, puwedeng lumusot sa pre-enactment. Kasi ang sinasabi ng Supreme Court in 2013 is that pork is, number one, post enactment intervention; number two, is lump sum allocation. Baka doon sa number two, sir, do you think paglabag iyon sa Constitution if senators would have 200 million each and congressmen would have 100 million each?
SEC. PANELO: Number one, as I said, we will have to validate that report. Number two, it will now depend on the Supreme Court if someone files a case before it questioning such kind of as you call it circumvention, if it does fall within the prohibition as stated by the Supreme Court.
JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: So we will until somebody files a complaint? Meaning, we will just allow it, if ever?
SEC. PANELO: Hindi pa natin alam kung violation nga o hindi.
JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: So meaning, sir, kung halimbawa may 200, 100 iyong mga cong, okay lang? I mean, we will let them be? We will let them proceed with the proposal?
SEC. PANELO: Hindi pa natin… we will be speculating. Baka naman hindi totoo iyon. I will have to validate it first, and then we will ask the President his position on the matter.
JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: Kasi ang last time na iyong budget ‘di ba tinanggal niya iyong mga pork insertions?
SEC. PANELO: Exactly. In other words, he doesn’t want any pork barrel insertions.
ROSE: Other topic, sir. Formalized na po ng council ng Davao City iyon pong request nila na i-exempt ang Davao sa extension po ng martial law sa Mindanao. Ano po ang take ng Palace doon, sir?
SEC. PANELO: We have not seen the resolution.
ROSE: Pero, sir, do you think the President will approve that request na i-exempt po ang Davao City?
SEC. PANELO: I will ask him his position on the matter.
ROSE: What if the other local government units as well request the President to exempt their cities from the—
SEC. PANELO: As I said, I will ask him first on the position on this particular resolution from Davao.
TINA: Sir, kung may declaration po ng martial law sa Mindanao tapos one province ask to be exempted, puwede bang i-exempt or altogether ay i-scrap iyong declaration—
SEC. PANELO: Pero ang problema doon sa ganoon, kasi when you declare martial law, kailangan iyong buong lugar. Dahil kung you are trying to suppress violence or rebellion, eh baka lilipat lang iyon doon sa kabila, eh di ganoon pa rin iyon. Baka may problema ka rin doon.
TINA: Sir, kung sakali ang choice doon, i-retain lang o i-extend o i-refine?
SEC. PANELO: But exactly, what is the reason ba? I haven’t seen the resolution. Kailangan may reason kung bakit.
TINA: Business, ang investments daw ay naapektuhan, sir.
SEC. PANELO: Is it?
TINA: In Davao.
SEC. PANELO: Akala ko ba iyong mga negosyante doon sa Mindanao gusto nila iyon dahil okay sa negosyo nila.
TINA: Sir, baka iyong mga peaceful cities naman mas gusto nilang walang martial law?
SEC. PANELO: Siguro there will be study on that.
JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: [off mic] Sir ano lang, formal declaration for those who… the President has…
SEC. PANELO: Oh yes, the President signed Proclamation 79 declaring August 12 as a holiday.
MPC: [off mic]
SEC. PANELO: Nasa statement ko na ‘yan, gusto ninyo pa paulit-ulit. Nasa statement na iyon ha…
MPC: [off mic]
SEC. PANELO: They want to hear it? ‘Di basahin na lang natin.
So, pursuant to Republic Act No. 9849 and the recommendation of the National Commission on Muslim Filipinos, the President has declared – to the delight of Joseph Morong and others – Monday, August 12, 2019 as a regular holiday throughout the country in observance of Eid’l Adha.
MPC: Sir, paki-take 2, wala hong pangalan ni Joseph.
SEC. PANELO: Pursuant to Republic Act No. 9849 and the recommendation of the National Commission on Muslim Filipinos, the President has declared Monday, August 12, 2019 as a regular holiday throughout the country in observance of Eid’l Adha.
NESTOR CORRALES/INQUIRER.NET: Sir, Minority Senator Risa Hontiveros has filed a resolution seeking an investigation into the plan of Chinese investors to develop the three strategic Philippine islands. The Senator said she is puzzled why the Duterte government allowed this to happen despite our maritime dispute with China in the South China Sea.
SEC. PANELO: Masyado naman yatang premature, allowed na kaagad, eh hindi pa nga eh. ‘Di ba proposal pa lang, gusto nilang mag-invest.
NESTOR CORRALES/INQUIRER.NET: Yes, sir. May signed agreement kasi sir during the second Belt and Road Forum—
SEC. PANELO: Eh agreement lang iyon, pero wala pang ano… wala pa iyon.
NESTOR CORRALES/INQUIRER.NET: It was a signed agreement sir, part of the 19 business deals—
SEC. PANELO: Oo nga, the agreement to invest. O hindi pa naman…
NESTOR CORRALES/INQUIRER.NET: To develop sir the—
SEC. PANELO: O, to develop. So wala pa, kumbaga—
NESTOR CORRALES/INQUIRER.NET: But your comment on the planned investigation—
SEC. PANELO: Well, according to Secretary of National Defense Delfin Lorenzana, this may raise security concerns, so pag-aaralan.
NESTOR CORRALES/INQUIRER.NET: Do you welcome the Senate investigation, sir?
SEC. PANELO: Eh trabaho naman nila iyon eh. The Senate has its duty to investigate in aid of legislation any matter that it feels it has to undergo scrutiny.
NESTOR CORRALES/INQUIRER.NET: Sir, if the Defense Department finds out na security threat nga iyong paglalagay ng investment—
SEC. PANELO: O, eh ‘di hindi tayo papayag. Eh kung security threat eh…
NESTOR CORRALES/INQUIRER.NET: Meaning, what will happen to the agreement, sir?
SEC. PANELO: Eh iyon namang agreement, agreement to agree pa lang iyon na magkakatuluyan sila.
Q: We can rescind?
SEC. PANELO: Of course we can.
PIA GUTIERREZ/ABS-CBN: Sir, reaction lang. Sinabi ni Sandra Cam kahapon that there are several Small Town Lottery operators who are friends of President Duterte who do not remit STL collections. Your comment on this, sir.
SEC. PANELO: Our position always is: if you have any complaint against any particular employee or any person relative to the commission of any crime, violation of laws… then file! Make a formal complaint.
PIA GUTIERREZ/ABS-CBN: Sir, iyong scope sir ng ongoing investigation, does it include STL operators?
SEC. PANELO: Oh, yes! ‘Di ba sinabi ko na noon ‘yan. It does.
PIA GUTIERREZ/ABS-CBN: So possible sir that these STL operators are in cahoots with PCSO officials?
SEC. PANELO: Well, we have to wait for the findings of the investigation.
PIA GUTIERREZ/ABS-CBN: Would we expect a fair investigation lalo na sinabi friends daw po ni President?
SEC. PANELO: Investigation of this government is always fair and impartial.
PIA GUTIERREZ/ABS-CBN: Thank you, sir.
JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: Sir theoretically speaking, ‘pag dadaan iyong isang foreign ship or halimbawa Chinese ship sa territory natin—territorial waters natin, they have to seek permission from us?
SEC. PANELO: Yes.
JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: Yes? Because po?
SEC. PANELO: Eh that’s part of security measure.
JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: And if they don’t, sir?
SEC. PANELO: O ‘di may violation, then we will file a diplomatic protest.
JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: Kasi sir may mga reports—may mga activities ang mga Chinese vessels ‘no. Of course sinabi ninyo subject to verification from the SND. But, hindi ba sir tayo nag-aalala na parang medyo maraming mga Chinese vessels in our territory, territorial waters?
SEC. PANELO: No, that is why—in fact I texted the National Security Adviser if these reports are validated. I’m still waiting for their response.
JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: Hindi ba tayo nag-aalala nga sir na parang ang dami naman masyado…
SEC. PANELO: Well, it is always a concern of this government if the security of the state is threatened or endangered.
JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: Do you think it is threatened by those activities?
SEC. PANELO: We do not know. First, we have to validate whether that’s true or not.
JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: Okay, sir.
ALVIN BALTAZAR/RADYO PILIPINAS: Maraming salamat, MPC. Maraming salamat, Chief Presidential Legal Counsel and Spokesperson Sal Panelo.
Source: PCOO-NIB (News and Information Bureau-Data Processing Center)