Press Briefing

Press Briefing of Presidential Spokesperson and Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Secretary Salvador Panelo with Presidential Task Force on Media Security (PTFOMS) Executive Director Undersecretary Joel Sy Egco

Event Press Briefing
Location Malacañang Press Briefing Room, New Executive Building, Malacanang, Manila

ALVIN BALTAZAR/RADYO PILIPINAS:  Good morning, MPC; good morning Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo and Presidential Task Force on Media Security, Undersecretary Joel Egco. Good morning, sirs…

SEC. PANELO:  Good morning. A pleasant morning to members of the Malacañang Press Corps. Today we have, as our guest, PCOO Undersecretary Joel Sy Egco – he’s the Executive Director of the Presidential Task Force on Media Security. Let’s welcome him.

USEC. EGCO:  Thank you Secretary Sal Panelo and good morning to the ladies and gentlemen of the Malacañang Press Corps. I missed you [laughs]…

I have prepared a brief statement/opening statement concerning the latest CPJ [Committee to Protect Journalists] report ‘no on the Global Impunity Index and the second part of my presentation will be in Power Point.

First, I’d like to read this brief opening statement: On 29 October 2018, the Committee to Protect Journalists released its 2018 Global Impunity Index. In an interesting development, we note with optimism that the Philippines, while remaining at its 2017 ranking as fifth, was noted to have improved its status. But before we jump into the wrong conclusions, we must read the report in its entirety and consider the methodology used by the CPJ in arriving at its findings.

Well number one, the result was expected and it covered a 10 year coverage, from September 2008 to 2018. And it includes the 32 media workers killed in the Maguindanao Massacre. Please take note that the CPJ reported 40; so 32 of those 40 are victims of the Maguindanao Massacre. And then unsolved cases are defined by CPJ as cases where no convictions are obtained, contrary to the definition of unsolved cases in many jurisdictions around the world including us.

And their survey include at least 5 unsolved cases in each country, automatically includes it in the list. For instance, Afghanistan was delisted last year, but that unfortunate incident in Kabul where terrorists blew up I think 8 journalists ‘no, caused the reentry of Afghanistan into the list. Okay… And then the termination of the Maguindanao Massacre case will totally change the number of unsolved cases ‘no for PH.

And the number—the 40 unsolved cases indicated by CPJ need to be clarified and reconciled with the PTFOMS records. So the PTFOMS or the Presidential Task Force on Media Security is committed to continually fight for the protection of press freedom and calls on all stakeholders to reach out and foster an atmosphere of inclusiveness and cooperation to fulfill our mandate to protect the life, liberty and security of media workers – because for us, failure is not an option.

So, we’ll proceed to the Power Point presentation. Let’s start… okay.

So today, we are going to turnover to Secretary Panelo our second year accomplishment report dated October 11, 2018. And of course, accompanying that report is our latest contribution to press freedom which is the handbook on Personal Security Measures for Media Practitioners. This is a product our very long discussions ‘no among our media member-agencies and media partners in the Task Force ‘no—member-agencies of the government I mean.

So, what I’m going to present to you now is almost the same report that I presented to the Senate Committee on Public Information led by Senator Grace Poe last August 8. Of course the Duterte administration recognizes media’s vital role for sustained developmental communications towards continued economic development and social progress.

This government also recognizes that a free press is an absolute necessity in attaining the peace and prosperity we are all aspiring for. That is why on October 11, 2016, President Rodrigo Duterte signed Administrative Order No. 1, his very first administrative order, which created the Presidential Task Force on Violence Against Media Workers, also known today as the Presidential Task Force on Media Security, the first task force in Asia and possibly the world with the mandate to protect the life, liberty and security of all media workers.

So, what are the types of risks faced by media workers based on our investigations and observations? Number one is duty. So the performance of the main functions of a journalist in the practice itself is risky. In fact, I myself was targeted for assassination in 2009 when I wrote something that hurt somebody in our province ‘no. So—but we were able to prepare and the gunmen surrendered to us – that’s the first level of risk.

The second is advocacy. It is the relentless criticisms by a journalist/reporter against the subject. It doubles the risk on the part of the media workers.

And the last and the most—and the highest level of risk is when one goes into a crusade. We defined crusade as the crossing over to being another such as becoming a politician, a businessman and others. It’s no longer about words against words, but swords against swords. It’s no longer reporting, but actually filing of cases against subjects of reports which puts the lives of crusading journalists at very high risks. And we have a number of cases in our hand that proved to that ‘no.

So, what are the acts of violence against media workers and what are the actions taken and updates ‘no on our records? So the question remains, why are journalists being killed? And these are our observations: Well for one, I’d like to point out to you that since we were created, we were able to map ‘no the incidents of killings in the Philippines. Actually since 1986 ito up to present, but for easier reference and following the formula of CPJ, ginawa nating from 2008 to 2018; dati wala po niyan, smorgasbord lang. When you say media killings in the Philippines, they give you a list without telling where the incident happened ‘no.

So if you’d observed… so the most vulnerable regions – we call ‘most vulnerable’ not most dangerous, please take note of that. Because even journalists in areas where incidents happened, they don’t want ‘no their regions to be called as such, as ‘most dangerous’, kasi napaka-regressive. So ‘most vulnerable’, meaning we can address those vulnerabilities. And the top one, two, three, four, five up to six… you’ll notice that the regions in Mindanao ‘no are on the top, really doon talaga pinakamarami.

That’s why last week, I had that Media Security Summit; I attended the Media Security Summit hosted by the Mindanao Independent Press Council – it’s a newly organized region-wide organization of journalists in Mindanao. And we have invited them formally to sit among the media observers and resource persons in the task force. So we’re giving Mindanao region, journalists in the region, you know allow their voice in the task force so to speak. So ito iyong top ten…

Observation. Ano po ang ating observation? That media killing is actually a by-product of the hostile violent—or violent geopolitical environment, and we realized this when we went around the country when we held our seminar in the Cordilleras ‘no. Sabi noong mga media doon, ng mga local officials doon, “Dito sir, wala naman kaming ganiyang problema. Wala naman kaming mga warring politicians dito.” But when you go to places where politicians are really fighting head on, ‘andoon iyong mga incidents ‘no – harassment, threats, even killings. So ito iyong mga vulnerabilities na sinasabi natin.

So what are the three major contributors to the problem? Of course as I said, there’s dirty politics; it’s politics basically. And we noted that many of those killed were actually politicians also – as high as I think Board Member of the province ‘no, iyong iba local – barangay council, barangay chairman, something like that ‘no. And number two, of course crime and corruption in all forms… in all forms.

And number three, iyong vulnerability of the sector of media. When we say vulnerable, it means ito iyong mga usual problems na—especially economic vulnerability. So whenever and wherever we go, we went, the same things they cropped up. That’s basically the same factors in all areas that we have been through.

So these are the lists of people, of journalists we helped, they are more than 30. So in various ano po, may online, may physical; meron diyan kaibigan natin na kilala sa media, sinakal ng sariling kapatid.

So, we have our pro-active measures, kasama na po ito, iyong Media Security Handbook natin na pinamimigay po natin sa lahat. We have a campaign against online threat and harassment.

Ang latest po dito iyong the case of Julie Alipala and we managed to ask Facebook to take down the post of the ano. So, meron tayong red flagging and Facebook promised that we are going to effectively coordinate with each other.

So, we have our protocols, our handbook, we continue to conduct our regional seminars. We’re going to Iloilo in December, ito iyong 7th, if I am not mistaken or 6th leg, the 6th leg of our regional seminars. Where we introduced AO1 and PTFOMS to all stakeholders there – media, police AFP, NBI, DOJ.

Okay, let’s continue, red flag, when I say red flag, I write somebody who threatened media practitioner na ikaw ang managot kapag kuwan, kasi merong reklamo sa amin.

Iyan po iyong mga sample ng ating mga regional seminars. Okay, we partner with international organization also through diplomatic channels, especially the DFA.

Recommendations and proposals. We have that Vision 202o action plan, meron iyong mga UNESCO suggested formula kasi and we are following that up. In fact, on November 7, we are going to attend, actively attend the creation of the national action plan for media safety by the Asian Institute of Journalism and Communications.

So, we have strategy, presence, collaboration, influence, etc.

Thank you. So that ends my presentation ladies and gentlemen. Thank you, Secretary Panelo.

PIA GUTIERREZ/ABS-CBN:  Sir, how many media killings have we recorded in the past ten years?

USEC. EGCO:   past ten years, we have recorded—ang interesting po dito, ang sinasabi po ng CPJ 40, alright; but in our list, we have 102. But not all of those—but those 102, includes cases that have already been resolved, prescribed. So ganoon iyon.

So nobody is left behind, iyon po ang ating kasing policy.  So, we continue to monitor each case. So, madami talaga sa amin.

 PIA GUTIERREZ/ABS-CBN:  So, not all are work-related?

USEC. EGCO:  Yes, yes. And marami doon, wala na. I mean prescribed na, hindi mo na—aah hindi not prescribed, may conviction pa iyan ano. Ano iyan eh, merong classifications kami.

PIA GUTIERREZ/ABS-CBN:  Sir, may project ba tayo about for that 2019 midterm elections to ensure the safety and security for our media workers?

USEC. EGCO:  Yeah, we are going around now. Iyon nga, iyong nakikipag-coordinate tayo. Remember that sa Task Force kasi, very active diyan ang KBP, NUJP, NPC, the Philippine Press Institute, the Publishers Association of the Philippines and AIJ (Asian Institute of Journalism) and also the CMFR.

So, we regularly meet and we assess. That is why sa Mindanao, nagpunta kami agad doon, miniting namin sila agad, sineminar na dito, ‘na dito, grabe dito kapag eleksyon, so ito iyong mga gagawin ninyo.’

So, they get to meet there and discuss among themselves ano iyong security measures. I went to Maguindanao and I asked the media there headed by John Unson of the Philippine Star, siya ang Presidente doon. Sabi ko, ‘pare how are you here now after the Maguindanao Massacre.’ Sabi niya, ‘you write me an official letter. I reply to you on official letter that we are okay. Wala namang na-threaten na sa amin ngayon dito, walang napatay after that.’ So, we go around, really.    

PIA GUTIERREZ/ABS-CBN:  Sir, what about projects or measures to address iyong expected nating surge ng online harassment of media workers during the 2019 elections?

USEC. EGCO:  Thank you for asking that. We had a meeting with Facebook officials, from their public policy division. You know the problem is this, Facebook has a dilemma. You know what their dilemma is? Because there are true accounts that behave like trolls and there are troll accounts that behave like real people.

So they have certain community standards that they have to follow. For instance, pag minura ako, tine-threaten ako, pinagmumura ako. I cannot just tell Facebook take that down, because eventually I may be able to use that as evidence against that person if I am going to file a case. So medyo hirap sila doon.

So, we cannot—we can only coordinate with Facebook, we clarify that. We cannot tell them what to do, they cannot tell us what to do. So we are crafting now… we are going to actively engaged with each other. They will accompany us in future seminars. Because Facebook also has their own safety seminar on line, umiikot sila. So ia-ano lang natin. We are going to marry our efforts, coordinate and then we go together.

TINA MENDEZ/PHIL. STAR:  Usec, na-identify n’yo ba, categorized iyong killings – media workers killed because of their expose’ on corruption.

USEC. EGCO:  Yes.

TINA MENDEZ/PHIL. STAR:  Vis-a-vis because they are corrupt and some members of other agencies are going after them, because of corruption issues?

USEC. EGCO:  Like for instance?

TINA MENDEZ/PHIL. STAR:  Like ACDC journalist?

USEC. EGCO:  Naging isyu iyan. The most interesting issue, when we go around iyan. So, journalist, they asked about it. So, “Usec, are you going to protect also ACDC or hao shao?” Sabi ko, ang lagi kong reply diyan, may mandate is to protect media workers, not extortionists. So if there are cases like that in your area, kayo po ng magpo-police diyan, not me. Kasi kapag—for example, meron akong sinabihan, “alam mo ikaw may isyu sa iyo, corruption”

But to answer you bluntly, yes, I have sent messages to some practitioners who were subjects of intelligence reports to me na gumagawa ng kalokohan. So sinasabi ko sa kanila, I got this information, in fact, ako mismo ang nagtanong, ganito ka daw, etcetera, etcetera, Bro, tigilan mo iyan kasi baka mapahamak tayo, mas malaking problema natin. So nakikita po natin iyan. But of course it’s taboo, if we are going to discuss that dati, ngayon buti na lang, openly we can discuss that.

And yes. Nase-segregate naman natin, nalalaman natin, through the help of our media colleagues also.

TINA MENDEZ/PHIL. STAR:  Sir, just another follow up. So sa mga seminars n’yo po nabibigay ninyo iyong message na ganyan sa mga—even sa probinsya.

USEC. EGCO:  Yes.

TINA MENDEZ/PHIL. STAR:  And also, if there are reports of corruption, how are you coordinating with offices nung iyong mga agencies involving reporters or some media personnel who are using the power of the press to do illegal activities?

USEC. EGCO:  Iyan, oo. It’s a concern mostly we place on the shoulders of our media partners. For instance, kung member siya ng National Press Club, ina-alert namin agad; kung KBP sinasabi natin agad na may ganitong problema si kuwan, si ganyan, may ganitong report. Because we cannot police them—although I am a journalist by heart, up to now I was a former editor of a newspaper.

Pero ngayon kasi iba na. Nag-crossover na rin kasi, iyon yung sinasabi kong crossover. I cannot act now as a journalist ‘no. So, I cannot wear two hats at the same time. So laging pagka kinausap, ito na naman si Usec. Egco, nakikialam ang gobyerno, I cannot do that. So I leave it up with the media partners.

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7:  Sir, let’s just fine tune your 102 na figure. So, ano ito na-segregate n’yo na iyan na when you say 102 talagang media workers iyon?

USEC. EGCO:  Not really.

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7:  Can we subtract the non-media workers?

USEC. EGCO:  Based on—tingnan natin iyong sa ano, iyong CPJ, 40 iyong sinasabi nila.

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7:  What are you saying now, 102 figure.

USEC. EGCO:  102 ang figures because our policy is that nobody is left behind. Kumbaga kahit iyong hinoldap na napatay kinukuha namin, kasi baka mamaya pinag-aaralan namin, baka kunwaring hold-up lang. So, eventually—

Like in the case of Alexie Bolongaita, the Cebu DJ, I was there when she was killed the night before eh. So inimbestigahan namin, she was able to shoot the perpetrator, nabaril niya sa pisngi and then naagaw sa kaniya, nabaril siya sa dibdib, then she died. Pero nakuha natin iyong suspect sa ospital, dala-dala iyong cellphone etc. So iyong case ni Alexie nasa atin din.

So, everything, everybody included tinitingnan natin talaga isa-isa. But I would agree with CPJ when they say nasa 40 lang iyan… iyong media related. Like iyong Maguindanao Massacre talaga namang nagko-cover sila iyong 32. So, ang hindi namin ma-account ngayon iyon 8. So, 40 minus 32, may 8 pa, that is why we are going to write CPJ and clarify what are those other 8 cases. Baka kasi may conviction na doon eh. So, iyon ang kuwan natin.

Our ano is… ang context kasi, hindi iyong agad-agad pag may namatay sinasabi, dine-declare media worker killing, media killing because blocktimer, etc. Kino-contextualize natin, pumupunta tayo sa baba, kinakausap lahat to establish really kung talaga bang work related and sa most cases hindi eh.

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7:  The one o two, you cannot parang separate the data na talagang work-related?

USEC. EGCO: Marami kasi iyan, meron nang on trial, merong under investigation, merong for reinvestigation. My point is, talagang lahat sila iniisa-isa natin. I think may conviction, right?

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7:  When you say conviction, established na it’s work-related iyon ba iyon?

USEC. EGCO: Like in the case of Doc. Jerry Ortega.

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7:  Okay. So may mga ganoon na kailangan may determination of what really happened in the case.

USEC. EGCO: Yes. Ang mahirap kasi po sa CPJ ang bigat ng definition nila ng ‘solved.’ That it should be the court di ba na magsabi na solved iyan, solved. Alam mo naman dito sa atin. When I was in a meeting with UNESCO official before and there was a Pinoy lawyer with me. So I told him, ‘you ask Attorney ano…’ Sabi ko, ‘how long it takes for the Philippines to litigate a simple theft case.’ Sabi niya 5 years. So, na-shock iyong UNESCO. So, imagine this murder ang pinag-uusapan natin. So, ang hirap talagang ma-attain iyon na kailangan court daw, court. So maybe nahihirapan tayo doon.

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7:  So right now, your data is 102 media men who were killed, but as to the intension, you cannot yet establish, whether it’s work related—

USEC. EGCO: We were able to establish already, but iyong pinaka-kuwan na—maybe after this, I will email to you the…

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7:  Because you have a higher figure than the CPJ?

USEC. EGCO: No. The CPJ figure kasi, again, iyong kanila sinasabi ‘in relation to their work.’

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7:  That is why I am asking your data in relation to their work.

USEC. EGCO:  In relation to their work, let’s follow the CPJ report.

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7:  So, you are adopting it.

USEC. EGCO:  No, not really adopting—

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7:  You said follow?

USEC. EGCO: I mean—it’s not really following or adopting it, but we agree with that data. Okay. So andoon na iyong 32 Maguindanao Massacre plus iyong other 8 that may be—definitely, it’s probably—definitely, definitely. I mean, it’s in our lists already. But it doesn’t—iyon nga, yung we should not jump into wrong conclusions na kasi ganoon kagrabe, etc. When in fact, iyon nga, kahit iyong sinakal ng asawa nasa records din namin.

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7:  What is the agency’s attitude towards online harassment?

USEC. EGCO:  Agencies, what?

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7:  Your agency’s attitude about online harassments on media workers?

SEC. EGCO:  Yeah, of course, we give that focus really, like di ba iyong nangyari sa iyo. But there are a thousand ways to skin a cat, like iyong kay Joseph dati, I did something there to avoid anything untoward from happening. Pero ang mahalaga kasi dito, iyong partnership for instance with Facebook. So, nag-usap na kami, puwedeng i-report sa kanila and then they check their community standards kung pareho, ite-take down nila, if not, meron pala silang law enforcement division.

TINA MENDEZ/PHIL. STAR:  Sir, on the militarization of BOC. Your statement on the militarization of BOC?

SEC. PANELO:  Oh, I have already made a statement. There are certain quarters raising the issue on unconstitutionality. But then again, as we said earlier, the provisions of the Constitutions are very clear. One, it says, civilian authority is supreme over the military and the President precisely is the head of government, Head of State and so when he makes those orders it’s constitutional. Though there is a provision in the Constitutions which says, specifically Article 16 – if I am not mistaken – Section 5, that no Armed Forces of the Philippines member can be appointed or designated; but the President is not appointing or designating any particular member of the Armed Forces.

As we said earlier, these people will be there, first, to make their presence felt. To create the military presence na hopefully will intimidate those corrupt people there; Number two, to assist them. Now, we must not forget that under Article 2, Section 2 and 3 of the Constitution, it says that the primary duty of the government is to serve and to protect the people, the head of that government is the President.

So in protecting and serving the people the President has to consider that, one, there should be peace and order. Number two, he should consider the general welfare of the people.

And let us not also forget that earlier on, the President has declared a state of lawlessness and the provision of the Constitution says when there is lawless violence, then the President can call up the Armed Forces of the Philippines. Now, the lawless violence certainly would refer to what is happening in BOC. There is a state of lawlessness. If you can bring in hundreds of kilos of drugs, then there must be some grave wrong in that area. And there is state of lawlessness there. It violates the law, it violates the Constitution.

Now, it endangers the security of our countrymen, certainly the President will have to do something about it.

So what are the problem indicators? We observed that in anywhere that media killing occurred, ito iyong mga indicators natin. Number one, rivalries and infighting among various media groups and practitioners. That’s why we observed kapag ka bumababa po kami, when we investigate laging iyon ang sinasabi eh, ‘Iyong namang si ganito eh, kasi may problemang ganiyan.’ So on and so forth ‘no, mayroon talagang girian and I’ll explain it later briefly.

Number two, iyong binanggit ko kanina, economic vulnerabilities. When I was asked one time about the salary range of media workers in the Philippines, all throughout ha, ang sabi ko, ‘It’s from zero to 25,000 pesos.’ So they were shocked, ‘Zero?’ ‘Yeah!’ Many of them don’t even receive compensation, they’re not even compensated.

So number three indicator, there’s a correlation between media ownership and politics. When we went around, we realized and we got information that many local stations for instance or local newspapers, they are actually owned by local politicians.

Number four, blocktimer are prone to violence as shown by our records. There are 21 blocktimers who were killed based on our records ‘no. So there is something wrong, something amiss probably with the system of block timing. So we need to address the vulnerabilities of blocktimers. But there are also opinions that blocktimers will not be considered as media workers daw eh. Sabi ko, ‘We cannot do that, because based on the definition under AO1, they are considered media workers also.

Number five, small entities are usually financed by politicians. And number six, media violence spikes around election season; and it started already. So we are actually doubling our efforts ‘no to go around the country and to ensure the security and safety of our colleagues in the media.

So what are the cases of killings and actions taken? You’ll be surprised – in the same manner that the Senate Committee on Public Information was surprised when they found out – that we actually have the Task Force, we have the highest number of monitored killings involving media workers. Some groups are saying there are 9, 12; but we monitored 18. But not all of those 18 are work related. So on our records, based on our investigations, we have at least 3 to 4 related media worker killings.

Recently, the chairman of the Task Force, Secretary Menardo Guevarra issued the Department Order dated 28 August 2018. And he appointed prosecutors presently assigned to handle Administrative Order Number 35 as concurrent AO1 prosecutors. So there are 353 DOJ prosecutors who have been assigned, who have been appointed as AO1 prosecutor. So kung may mangyari doon sa lugar nila, automatically they assumed that role and they investigate and then we coordinate with them.

Okay. So Maguindanao Massacre update. This is very important because as I said earlier, the CPJ report greatly, you know, factored in the Maguindanao Massacre because it happened 9 years ago; and we’re going to commemorate the 9th year anniversary of the massacre next month and we have prepared a number of—a series of activities to that effect. So as of October 2018, the prosecution as so far presented 191 witnesses including the private complainants and those who have been recalled, while the accused have already presented 104 witnesses for defense/evidence in chief.

And I’d like to add that one of the updates in the Maguindanao Massacre case, medyo may kaunting problema diyan because there are Andal Ampatuan Jr., ‘no one of the principal accused, was supposed to present two witnesses ‘no, government witnesses who recanted. That’s why last September, I went to Maguindanao and talked to the camp of Governor Mangudadatu to find out what’s really happening there and it turned out that iyon na nga during the trial, they manifested that they have two government witnesses that recanted.

Okay. But according to the CPJ, we have very low conviction rate ‘no. But as we went around, we discovered that during the same period 2008 to present, there are already 11 convictions in cases of media killings. So iyong iba nasa tatlo pa lang eh, ang namo-monitor nila.

The more important thing we do here is that we really go down to the grassroots. In fact, we went to the barangays ‘no, iyong mga forgotten, almost forgotten cases, pinupuntahan po namin iyan, iyong mga lulutang-lutang dati noon sa Liguasan Marsh na sinabing media worker daw iyon. We reinvestigated but ang nakakalungkot, walang record sa barangay, walang record sa pulis, in fact we went to the supposed radio station were the victim reportedly used to work and when I personally interviewed officials of the station, sabi nila, ‘Wala yata kaming ganoon.’ But sabi ko, ‘It was reported in 2012 that the victim was a block timer in your station.’ ‘Sir, wala pong ganoon. Mayroon kami dito iyong treasure hunter na ganoon who was a former councilor in a barangay…’ And I think in Sultan Kudarat, something like that.

However, we continue to gather all those pieces of information so that we can finally come up with a clear inventory of all cases that we have. Like for instance we have received yesterday, report from a Mindanao city also na ayaw na ng pamilya. So iniisa-isa po talaga namin. So these are—actually 11 iyong convictions but kung mapapansin po ninyo 12 iyong victims; kasi iyong number 8 kay Bonifacio Loreto at Richard Kho considered one case.

So work related killings, briefly, iyong kay Larry Que and then kay Chris Lozada. I presented the case of Chris Lozada here in February. Kay Kuyang Dennis Denora, I met his wife last week and iyong kay Joey Llana of Albay.

So the non-work related killings. So we have 14 eh, sige please continue, Apolinario is one, was a former Bokal ‘no. He was former politician, iyong nagko-crossover. So karaniwan talagang nangyayari, problema natin diyan once na nag-crossover na into somebody else, talagang nagkakaroon doon ng problema. But when somebody is killed, ang report is media worker. Like iyong kay Carlos Matas, I’ll show you later.

Si Mario Cantawi was a former—two years ng retired siya bago siya napatay. Si Marlon Mujico—Okay, kay June Briones. Sige ituloy na lang natin iyong sa Marasigan brothers, please continue, Leo Diaz, Rodel Ikaway, kay Alexi iyong DJ and kay Mon Sistoso. Iyong kay Carlos Matas when he was killed, I was interviewed by some of our friends and sabi ko, we are going to act on that case and then ito po iyong resulta noong operations na nag-follow up, napatay iyong tatlong suspects. But then again, after the successful operation, nakuha lahat iyong apat, nahuli at patay iyong tatlo, iyon na, wala ng follow up story but it’s okay. Okay, Manny Laxamana, he was my friend but he was not killed for being a journalist.

Doon tayo sa—iyong pinaka-last. Okay ito iyong kay—iyong huling-huling pumasok sa amin na case, ang person of interest dito ay iyong kaniyang sariling asawa.

Okay that’s again the live, liberty and security of media workers.

Now if people, those critics will insist on Article 16 Section 5 saying that no member of the Armed Forces can be appointed or designated. You know, this provision has to be considered in relation to the previous provisions that I have already cited. You cannot let or you cannot make this President hostage to a particular provision without relating to previous provisions that grant him the authority, as well as the obligation and the duty to serve and to protect this nation.

TINA MENDEZ/PHIL STAR: So, sir, iyong prevalent corruption in the BOC, sakop iyon ng provision on lawlessness interpretation?

SEC. PANELO: Definitely, because when you say lawless violence, it’s not just physical violence; you do violence to the Constitution. You do violence of the law, that’s a state of lawlessness.

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: Sir, clarification: Lawlessness is not equivalent to lawless violence, or in your opinion, they’re equivalent?

SEC. PANELO: State of lawlessness would include state of lawless violence.

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: Okay. So violence not as we understand it in layman speak ‘no, but you’re saying violence against the Constitution.

SEC. PANELO: Not as we understand in the limited sense.

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: Okay. So there is a need to suppress?

SEC. PANELO: Yes. Precisely the Constitution says “to prevent,” one is to prevent. If there is none yet and there is one coming, then the President can prevent it.

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: Okay. Assuming that they can, we can—that you can do it, operationally, what should we see at the BOC?

SEC. PANELO: Well as I said yesterday, initially they would be there, making their presence felt, and they will assist. You know, I think, the mere presence of these people there would, I think, do something right.

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: When you say assist, in what kind of form, sir?

SEC. PANELO: Being there would be assisting them in that sense.

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: Kumbaga, naglagay ka ng guwardiya?

SEC. PANELO: Yah, effectively ganoon ang mangyayari. Siyempre kumbaga, inu-audit mo sila, tinitingnan mo. Siyempre, before you can audit, you have to know their procedure also.

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: Will they take over the functions of the agents there?

SEC. PANELO Sa ngayon, hindi. But if it comes to a point na kailangan, the Constitution allows it. I will disagree with those who say that you cannot do it.

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: Okay. Pero kailan sila magti-take over ng mga functions? We’re talking about them, physically doing what the Customs agents are doing.

SEC. PANELO: Then that would depend on the assessment of Customs Commissioner-designate.

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: So as of now, the order of the President is just – in your interpretation, nandoon lang for display, for presence?

SEC. PANELO: Well, the order of the President is to – Customs Commissioner Guerrero – do what is needed to be done there.

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: Meaning?

SEC. PANELO: Meaning—

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: Up to what point?

SEC. PANELO: Guerrero will have to assess what is required, and he will do it.

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: So, sir, parang ano lang, deployment lang na parang checkpoint?

SEC. PANELO: Siguro. I do not know exactly what Commissioner Guerrero would do. But he has the blanket authority from the President to do what is required under the law.

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: As far as puwede rin silang take-over physical functions of the people there? Meaning, they’re going to do the auditing and the screening and everything.

SEC. PANELO: Right now, yes. Ganiyan ang mangyayari. But depende nga kay Commissioner Guerrero; hindi pa natin alam eh. He has not said anything about how he will do it. We have to give him the chance, the leeway, the opportunity to assess the situation. And then, I’m sure he will be reporting to the President and to the nation what is to be done.

ALVIN BALTAZAR: Kay Julie Aurelio from PDI: Does Malacañang consider this to still be in effect? If so, how does Malacañang plan to work around EO 292 to support the legality of the AFP’s takeover of the BOC temporarily?

SEC. PANELO: Ano iyong 292? What provision is that?

ALVIN BALTAZAR: EO 292, sir.

TINA MENDEZ/PHIL STAR: It’s Section 17, General Provisions that do not allow the detail of AFP personnel to civilian position.

SEC. PANELO: That is preceded by… as I said, that’s only a circular; this is a constitutional provision I’m citing.

TINA MENDEZ/PHIL STAR: Nonetheless, sir, what happens to the chain of command of the military, the Armed Forces?

SEC. PANELO: The chain of command, the President is the supreme, top. So they will be following the chain of command. In fact, General Galvez has already issued that he will follow the instructions of the President.

TINA MENDEZ/PHIL STAR: Nonetheless, can the active personnel follow retired General Guerrero in orders? Can active soldiers or military officers follow retired General Leon Guerrero bilang civilian leader in the BOC—

SEC. PANELO: They’re following General Galvez. The instruction of General Galvez is to go there and assist.

TINA MENDEZ/PHIL STAR: Do we expect them carrying their firearms, short or long, within the BOC compound?

SEC. PANELO: I’m not sure about that. I do not know. It depends on General Galvez. It is his call.

REYMUND TINAZA/BOMBO RADYO: Sir, just to clarify. In the first place, seryoso ba ang Pangulo?

SEC. PANELO: He’s never been not serious in any of his undertaking as President of this country.

REYMUND TINAZA/BOMBO RADYO:  So he really meant to deploy military…?

SEC. PANELO: Well, certainly, of course. He has directed the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the AFP [sic] through … its Chief of Staff has issued a directive that it will follow the instructions of the President.

REYMUND TINAZA/BOMBO RADYO: Sir, you’ve mentioned the word kanina, “They will be there to intimidate.” Can you expound?

SEC. PANELO: What I mean, you know, we Filipino—look at the traffic. If the policeman is not there, most commuters or drivers violate the law. You put a policeman there, and suddenly they’re all in line. That’s what I meant.

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: Sir, talk to the Customs employees now, given what the President had said, ano bang dapat nilang gawin? Do they stay in their position or are they in floating status because of what the President said that the military will take over the BOC?

SEC. PANELO: I think they should wait for the official memorandum coming from the head of the BOC.

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: From the BOC. And wala pang forthcoming?

SEC. PANELO: We have to ask the designate BOC Commissioner. Meanwhile, I think the services continues. There is no complaint that something has gone awry there with respect to paper work, paper processing.

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: So absent that memorandum, sir, we status quo?

SEC. PANELO: What do you mean status quo?

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: Absent that memorandum—

SEC. PANELO: Well, right now they’re still operating.

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: Iyong military, when do we start seeing the deployment of our guards there?

SEC. PANELO: We will have to wait for the Commissioner-designate, as well as the instruction of the AFP Chief of Staff following the instruction of the Commander-in-Chief.

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: Would you say, sir, that directive of the President is clear as far as what he wants to do with the BOC?

SEC. PANELO: Certainly, because the AFP Chief of Staff has already issued a directive; which means it is clear to him what he will do.

ALVIN BALTAZAR: Sir, patanong lang po ni Ms. Tina Maralit: May nabanggit si SOJ Guevarra about Representative Nograles being appointed as Cabinet Secretary. Any truth to this and for which department, sir?

SEC. PANELO: He is one of those being considered. The announcement will be made by the President himself as to the other members of the Cabinet who will replace those who filed their certificates of candidacy.

ALVIN BALTAZAR: Sir, in connection with that, from Pia Rañada: Can you confirm what DOJ Secretary Guevarra said that military personnel will be detailed or seconded to the BOC? There’s no appointment to speak of who will use these detail orders. Is this enough to fulfill the constitutional requirement that military cannot be designated in a civilian position in any capacity?

SEC. PANELO: I think that question has already been addressed on earlier.

MARICEL HALILI/TV5: Good morning. Sir, just to follow up on the Cabinet Secretary. You mentioned that Congressman Nograles as one of those being considered in the position.

SEC. PANELO: Yes.

MARICEL HALILI/TV5: Who are the other people being considered, sir?

SEC. PANELO: I don’t know the others. But I know, I’ve heard of him as one of those leading—

MARICEL HALILI/TV5: So ibig sabihin, sir, hindi pa sigurado na siya iyong magiging next Cabinet Secretary despite the announcement of Secretary Guevarra?

SEC. PANELO: Let’s just wait for the President to announce. It’s the President’s call.

MARICEL HALILI/TV5: Sir, aside from the Cabinet Secretary, mayroon pa ring other positions na vacant. Sinu-sino na po iyong magpi-fill up ng positions na iyon because, I understand, you mentioned last week that Malacañang will announce it this week?

SEC. PANELO: Yah, that’s what the President told me. So let’s just wait for the announcement. It is forthcoming, mostly like after Undas.

PIA GUTIERREZ/ABS-CBN: Sir, what about reports that Senator Gringo Honasan will be the DICT head?

SEC. PANELO: No confirmation yet.

Si Rico Puno nga pala namatay na ha. Kaibigan ko iyon. Si Rico J—

ALVIN BALTAZAR:  Sir, statement.

SEC. PANELO: Well, we express our condolences to a legend that is Rico J. Puno. He has contributed a lot in the music industry. And personally, I feel sad. We had a duet, I think, must be four years ago in my show. He is a personal friend.

ALVIN BALTAZAR: Thank you.

SEC. PANELO: Thank you.

ALVIN BALTAZAR: Thank you Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo.

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SOURCE: PCOO – NIB (News and Information Bureau)

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