Press Briefing

Press Briefing of Presidential Spokesperson and Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Secretary Salvador Panelo

Event Press Briefing
Location New Executive Bldg., Malacanang

ROCKY IGNACIO/PTV4: Magandang umaga, Malacañang Press Corps. Nandito na po si Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo.

SEC. PANELO: Good morning ladies and gentlemen. Let’s start the questions.

JOYCE BALANCIO/DZMM: Good morning Secretary, from DZMM sir.

SEC. PANELO: Good morning.

JOYCE BALANCIO/DZMM: Sir, can you tell us more about the President’s events yesterday after iyong I believe he had at least three meetings in the afternoon that were not… the information were not given to the members of the press. Ano po iyong mga meetings na iyon, and ano iyong naging resulta sir?

SEC. PANELO: There was a courtesy call by—let me check my… [Chris, nasaan iyong binigay mo?]

ROCKY IGNACIO/PTV4: O sige, habang ano… Nestor, may tanong ka muna? Sige, Nestor muna.

NESTOR CORRALES/INQUIRER.NET: Good morning, Secretary. Yesterday the President with Energy Secretary Cusi signed an oil exploration deal with Israel—


NESTOR CORRALES/INQUIRER.NET: Can you tell us more about this, sir?

SEC. PANELO: Iyon nga, iyon ‘yung—because there is a statement from Secretary Cusi that there is now an agreement for oil and resource exploration… and a particular—I’ll check the name of the company. [Nakuha mo na, Chris?]

CHONA YU/RADIO INQUIRER: Sir, PDEA Director General Aaron Aquino is saying na Commissioner Lapeña should be held liable doon sa 6.8 billion pesos na shabu shipment. Any statement from the Palace on that?

SEC. PANELO: Well, the Department of Justice has ordered an investigation. The NBI is presently conducting on the subject matter. So hopefully after their findings, we will undertake positive action regarding the matter. Under investigation pa.

CHONA YU/RADIO INQUIRER: So si General Lapeña po ba, does he still enjoy the trust and confidence of the President?

SEC. PANELO: Well the President has not said anything about losing trust and confidence, so my presumption is he has the full trust and confidence of the President.

JOYCE BALANCIO/DZMM: Secretary, do you confirm that the President offered the DICT post to Senator Gringo Honasan? And if yes, may update na po ba tayo if he already accepted the post?

SEC. PANELO: I was with the President, he has not told me anything about it.

JOYCE BALANCIO/DZMM: So, wala pang confirmation sir—?

SEC. PANELO: Wala pa.

JOYCE BALANCIO/DZMM: If he indeed offered? If the President offered, wala pa pong—?

SEC. PANELO: Wala siyang sinasabing nag-offer na. Parang it’s just circulating.

JOYCE BALANCIO/DZMM: Okay. Sir, how about the other Cabinet posts that are now vacated after some Cabinet secretaries—?

SEC. PANELO: I think the President will soon announce the replacement of Cabinet members who have filed their Certificate of Candidacies.

Now with respect to the question earlier on the oil exploration: Secretary Cusi attended the Ceremonial Signing of the Petroleum Service Contract for Area 4 (East Palawan Basin) of the Fifth Philippine Energy Contracting Round, (PECR5). And the President signed the PSC on behalf of the Philippine government and Secretary Cusi was witness; while the company President Raphael Tabibzada was also there and he signed for the Israeli firm.

The Energy Chief said that the event bodes well for the Philippine-Israel economic relations as well as the country’s upstream petroleum industry. If you remember, the President made statements that our country needs to attain energy security and sustainability at the soonest possible time. Ang nagiging problema natin kasi, wala naman tayong oil kaya hirap na hirap tayo if we are compared to other countries na mayroon. We’ve been dependent on oil-producing countries for our oil; so we need to boost the exploration and development of our own energy resources.

Another thing, the Ratio Petroleum, the Russia [Israeli] petroleum company will be able to explore an area of 416 hectares across East Palawan Basin for potential oil and gas resources. And the projected minimum expenditure would be 34,350,000 US dollars. This will of course be derived from studies, data gathering and drilling activities over an initial 7-year contract duration. So hopefully magkakaroon tayo ng oil, makakakita tayo ng oil – and it will definitely help our country.

PIA GUTIERREZ/ABS-CBN: Sir, may background po ba kayo dito sa Ratio Petroleum and can you confirm that this deal was finalized during President Duterte’s recent trip to Israel?

SEC. PANELO: Yes, it was indeed—the contract was signed; and with respect to Ratio Petroleum, it was established in 1992 and it has a number of large scale operations at the Levant Basin in the Eastern Mediterranean Sea, off the Coast of Israel, as well sa offshore operations in the Republic of Malta and the Cooperative Republic of Guyana. And this is the first petroleum service contract signed by the President under his administration.

PIA GUTIERREZ/ABS-CBN: Sir, are there other oil exploration deals in the pipeline for the Duterte administration?

SEC. PANELO: For now?


SEC. PANELO: For now, none yet.

LLANESCA PANTI/MANILA TIMES: Good morning, sir. Sir, is this deal unprecedented or mayroon nang ibang administration—?

SEC. PANELO: There was one in 2013, the PXP Energy Corporation, the operator of PSC Number 75 in Northwestern Palawan under the fourth PECR. It was signed on December 27, 2013. So actually, this will be the second.

LLANESCA PANTI/MANILA TIMES: Sir iyong 2013, this is between the Philippines and anong country po or a private company?

SEC. PANELO: I think it’s a private company.

LLANESCA PANTI/MANILA TIMES: Pero hindi po foreign government?

SEC. PANELO: The information given to us by the Department of Energy does not say so.

LLANESCA PANTI/MANILA TIMES: Okay sir, follow up lang po. Sir kasi there’s a… iyong joint marine seismic undertaking noong panahon ni former President Arroyo, 2005 to 2008, it was with China and Vietnam. Its legality was questioned before the Supreme Court; but the Supreme Court is yet to rule if it is legal or not. Sir, itong bagong deal with Israel, would you say that this will—this is within our Constitution po?

SEC. PANELO: I think so. We feel that the Constitution does not prohibit this particular kind of agreement. Of course there will be others who would be questioning that again in the Supreme Court.

LLANESCA PANTI: Iyon nga sir, I understand kasi sir, the Constitution provides that puwede iyong joint exploration; but with a foreign entity pero dapat 60% Filipino owned, 40% lang iyong foreign. Itong sa Israel, is that the case po or not?

SEC. PANELO: I will look into that particular contract, this is the only information provided by the Department of Energy.

HENRY URI/DZRH: Secretary, nag-file na si Secretary Evasco, Secretary Tolentino and the rest na miyembro ng gabinete. Wala pa rin po bang kapalit sila, kahit mga acting capacity hanggang ngayon?

SEC. PANELO: I think there is an OIC and its best functioning.

HENRY URI/DZRH: May mga pangalan na po ba tayo?

SEC. PANELO: No, I have not been given their names. And obviously it’s operating because there is no stoppage in the continuity of the service.

NESTOR CORALES/INQ.NET: Sir, what was the marching order of the President to newly appointed Foreign Affairs Secretary Teddy Boy Locsin. Did they discuss joint exploration agreement with China since Malacañang earlier said that this would be ready for signing when President Xi visits Manila in November?

SEC. PANELO: I was there at the oath taking yesterday and the conversation was like this: “I’m honored with your appearance today and there is only one message I would like to give you and that is – be truthful, nothing more.” He said, he appoints members of the Cabinet on the basis of truth and competence. That was the only message, because after that, we hear the new DFA attended the courtesy call of the various foreign officials. And he was supposed to leave yesterday for Belgium to represent the President. So, there was no time to have any discussion on the subject you want to respond to.

NESTOR CORALES/INQ.NET: No marching order on the government’s independent foreign policy?

SEC. PANELO: Well, with respect to the foreign policy, I think the new DFA knows exactly the marching orders of the President. There has been no change from the time that Secretaries has been appointed to the Department of Foreign Affairs from former Secretary Yasay to former Secretary Alan and to him.

ROSALIE COZ/UNTV: What can Malacañang say about the timeliness nung pagtataas ng pamasahe sa jeep saka sa bus na mag-start na siya ng November, eh nung September pumalo po sa 6.7 iyong inflation, so malamang dahil sa pagtaas ng pamasahe, maapektuhan na naman po iyong inflation rate. So, ano po ang mensahe ng Malacañang sa mga maapektuhan na naman pong public?

SEC. PANELO: Well, the message is always: “this is just temporary.” So, hopefully, when everything settles down, babalik tayo sa dati.

ROSALIE COZ/UNTV: So, sir sa tingin n’yo po wala itong masyadong impact?

SEC. PANELO: The increase is only P10.

ROSALIE COZ/UNTV: Yes po, minimum is P10 and sa bus po is P13. Pero mas marami po kasi ang commuters.

SEC. PANELO: Eh, we really have to take the brunt sa ngayon. But if you noticed, there have been changes in the prices in the market, they’re slowly tapering. So, palagay ko tama ang sinasabi ng mga economic managers, ‘hindi naman ito permanente.’

ROSALIE COZ/UNTV: In connection to that, sir, kasi kahapon may statement po ang DOF na parang hindi po matutuloy iyong $80 per barrel sa susunod na tatlong buwan, pero they will still proceed with the suspension of the second tranche. So, ano po ba iyong final talaga, sir?

SEC. PANELO: Hindi naman, di ba we said that, under the law there are certain conditions that has to be complied with. We cannot do without complying with those conditions.

ROSALIE COZ/UNTV: Meaning sir, so it depends, pa rin.

SEC. PANELO: Yes, of course, yeah.

ROSALIE COZ/UNTV: So until now, talagang wala pa pong order to suspend the second tranche.

SEC. PANELO: The order to suspend is nandoon na, provided iyong conditions na iyon will exist during that period.

BERNADETTE NICOLAS/BUSINESS MIRROR: Sir, doon sa oil exploration deal with Israel po, kailan po kaya mag-start iyong oil exploration, sir? Because you said, it’s an initial 7-year contract po. So, can we expect it to start within the month po sir, or before the year ends po?

SEC. PANELO: They haven’t sent me the copy of the contract. Are you part of the chat group so that I can just—those questions unanswered now, I can just —are you, all of you? Officers lang? Anyway kapag pinadala ko naman sa isa, di ba nakakarating naman sa inyong lahat.

JOYCE BALANCIO/DZMM: Sir, on a different topic, the Communist Party of the Philippines admitted that rebels are incapable of unseating President Duterte in the face of, you know, obsession of AFP.., always tagging them na sila iyong namumuno sa ouster plot against the President, what’s the Palace view on this?

SEC. PANELO: They are incapable? They are incapable because of their resources, but once the Communist Party ally with forces that would want to topple the government, they may be able to have the capability.

GEN KABILING.MLA BULLETIN: Sir, has the administration finalized its senatorial slate for next year’s elections?

SEC. PANELO: It’s being finalized now. The PDP-Laban, allied with Hugpong. We will make the official announcement. Of course the announcement will be coming from the PDP-Laban and Hugpong.

GEN KABILING.MLA BULLETIN: Sir, pending that finalization. What do you think are the chances of the administration slate beating the opposition (eight?), that includes Mar Roxas and others?

SEC. PANELO: Well, given the popularity of the President, the chances of these senatorial candidates of the administration certainly are very good. But we will not discount the fact that there may be some opposition candidates who will win. However, our feeling is that whoever is elected, the message of the electorate would be – we trust this administration. And therefore those who have been elected will have to cooperate with the administration in terms of services that will be beneficial to the electorate and the rest of the nation.

In other words, what I’m saying is, not because you are an opposition and you won, it means that they are – the electorates who voted for you – are against the Duterte administration.

Q: Sir, can you say that the administration candidates will not just rely on popularity or an endorsement of the President, they’re actually competent enough to beat—

SEC. PANELO: Definitely, they have their own credentials to speak of. I think they will meet the standards.

LLANESCA PANTI/MANILA TIMES: Sir, good morning po. Follow up lang po doon sa question niya. Sir, considering that PDP Laban is … its Secretary General is former Speaker Alvarez, tapos iyong Hugpong naman po ay led by Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte. It’s no secret that they are not in good terms to say the least. So would that, kumbaga, ano na… strained relationship between Mayor Sara and former Speaker Alvarez affect the chances of the administration candidates? Kasi you mentioned, iyong administration slate PDP and Hugpong. Parang how can you combine them when the leaders do not necessarily agree on certain policies?

SEC. PANELO: If I’m not mistaken, the chairman now of PDP Laban is Secretary Cusi.

LLANESCA PANTI/MANILA TIMES: Campaign manager siya, sir.

SEC. PANELO: Siya ang chairman ng ano—and even assuming that there has been strained relations between the Mayor of Davao City and former Speaker Bebot Alvarez, I don’t think that will affect the support given by PDP Laban to this administration. After all, the Speaker is an ally of the President, even on a personal basis.

IAN CRUZ/GMA7: Secretary, going back doon sa oil exploration. May hatian na po ba ng percentage sa Philippines and Israel… kung papaano po ang magiging hatian nito?

SEC. PANELO: As I’ve said, I have not seen a contract yet. We’re requesting for a copy. We’ll message you the response immediately after this.

IAN CRUZ/GMA7: Opo Secretary, ang dami pong nag-a-apply sa exploration sa Philippines, particularly doon sa Palawan. Bakit po Israel ang napili ng Pilipinas?

SEC. PANELO: Perhaps they passed certain conditions. The Department of Energy would have provided some conditions that will make them win the contract.

HANNAH SANCHO/SONSHINE RADIO: Hi, sir. Sir, is the Palace amenable doon sa panukalang batas na gustong i-push ni Senator Gatchalian, for nuisance candidate na kasuhan po sila dahil po sa makailang beses po silang mag-file ng kanilang candidacy at wala naman talaga silang kakayahan para tumakbo sa national post? Pero sabi naman po ng Comelec, wala po raw silang karapatan para pagbawalan kahit sinuman na mag-file o maghain po ng kanilang certificate of candidacy po.

SEC. PANELO: I agree with the Comelec. You cannot just disqualify people on the basis of just because they are not rich or they are not known. There has to be a basis. And the basis is, whether or not they’re using the electoral process to make a mockery of it or to destroy the chances of other candidates – having the same names, for instance, just to confuse the electorate.

Anyway, the Comelec has the power to disqualify any and all candidates that will not pass through the standards they have set on the candidates and imposed by law.

INA ANDOLONG/CNN PHIL: Sec., this is you’re being the new spokesman. Former Secretary Harry Roque basically complained about his lack of direct access to the President, specifically, more recently iyong sa schedule. Do you feel that you have enough access to the President’s daily activities? Or did you request that you’ll be given more access than your predecessor?

SEC. PANELO: I have the access. I know the schedule of the President every day. They send me in my e-mail.

INA ANDOLONG/CNN PHIL: Did you make any request about how your communication… I mean, getting the President’s reactions or thoughts? Because Secretary Harry would sometimes, you know, join the President’s meetings to personally get the President’s statement on certain matters. Are you going to do the same thing?

SEC. PANELO: Yes, we always meet anyway. We’re always seeing each other.

INA ANDOLONG/CNN PHIL: Sir, doon sa statement ninyo kanina that … regarding the CPP’s capability to unseat the President. You said, “Though they are incapable, if they ally with other forces, they may have the capability.” This sounds opposite to how your predecessor would describe the CPP’s capabilities. He would always say na hindi nila magagawa iyon. Does this mean that Malacañang taking a different position on the strength of the CPP?

SEC. PANELO: Not really, because during the 50-year period, they have tried and they have failed. What I’m saying is, they may have the capability to launch, but they will fail just the same. The reason there is because, overwhelming majority of Filipinos are in favor of this administration. And you have to get the support of the people in order to oust the present dispensation or any dispensation for that matter.

INA ANDOLONG/CNN PHIL: Last, sir. Sir, what’s your position on transparency on the President’s activities? Will you be suggesting that events for close in coverage—just like what happened yesterday, he had the signings of that contract. Dapat po ba ina-announce at least sa media iyong schedule na ganoon?

SEC. PANELO: It is the Protocol, and the PMS would decide on that. But I am for transparency.

INA ANDOLONG/CNN PHIL: We’re just wondering because those activities were not included at all, even as a private coverage, doon sa official schedule given to us.

SEC. PANELO: You can be sure I will make some special request with respect to any courtesy calls by any particular official, whether here or abroad.

JOPEL PELENIO/DWIZ: Sir, good afternoon. Sir, ngayon na nalagdaan na po ang joint exploration with Israel; despite sa maraming kritisismo, malalagdaan po kaya or may assurance po kayo na malalagdaan din iyong joint exploration with China? Is there any assurance na walang magiging balakid?

SEC. PANELO: Well, everything will be dependent on the study being conducted presently on those agreements.

GENALYN KABILING/MANILA BULETTIN: Sir, sa schedule na rin kahapon, may we get details about the President’s meeting with Japan’s Liberal Democratic Party Adviser Kawai – with the President yesterday? Were there agreements—

SEC. PANELO: It was a courtesy call; an exchange of pleasantries and usual commitments on the mutual benefit that the countries will derive from their relationships?

GENALYN/MANILA BULETTIN: Will the President visit Japan anytime soon?

SEC. PANELO: Wala pa, wala pang anunsiyo diyan—

GENALYN/MANILA BULETTIN: Sir, on another meeting—

SEC. PANELO: Iyong alam ko, iyong Singapore.

GENALYN/MANILA BULETTIN: Sir, another meeting with the UAE Federal Authority Al Shamsi sir, ano naman ang napag-usapan—

SEC. PANELO: Iyong sa Emirates?


SEC. PANELO: Ganoon din, courtesy lang eh. Wala mang—kasi few minutes lang eh.

GENALYN/MANILA BULETTIN: Will he visit UAE next month, sir?

SEC. PANELO: Wala pang sinasabi sa akin ang protocol, kung mayroon na.

CELERINA MONTE/MANILA SHIMBUN: Sir, follow up ko lang regarding doon sa courtesy call of the Japanese official. I believed the comfort women—the statue of the comfort woman was discussed. Was there any like—kinonvey ba ni Mr. Kawai to the President the appreciation of the Prime Minister Abe regarding the removal of that comfort woman statue?

SEC. PANELO: I was not there and we asked the Department of Foreign Affairs to give us briefing on that. So we will give you—after this, we’ll respond to you. Yeah, we will just message it. Hindi pa dumarating eh, nag-request na kami eh.

PIA GUTIERREZ/ABS-CBN: Sir, it has been one year since the liberation of Marawi. How do you assess the administration’s efforts to ensure that Marawi will get back to normal again?

SEC. PANELO: Well, we—the groundbreaking will start at the end of the month. And meanwhile the company tasked to do it, has started mobilizing their employees. Also, we will receive another windfall from the US to rehabilitate Marawi. We have somewhere I think 3.5 billion dollars to help us rehabilitate Marawi.

PIA/ABS-CBN: Sir, kasi marami din po ang nakakapansin na—it has been one year pero marami pa rin pong mga displaced residents ang hindi pa nakakabalik and even the recovery efforts sunod-sunod pong nagkaroon ng mga delay sa pag-i-start. Is the President happy or satisfied with what is happening in Marawi sir?

SEC. PANELO: Well, we cannot avoid delays. But the fact is, as I said earlier, the groundbreaking will start at the end of the month. So palagay ko, bibilis na ngayon.

PIA/ABS-CBN: When is the groundbreaking, sir?

SEC. PANELO: End of the month.

PIA/ABS-CBN: Thank you, sir.

LLANESCA PANTI/MANILA TIMES: Follow up lang. Iyong groundbreaking po has been postponed for 8 times na po, bago itong October. I mean, bakit po ganoon na 8 times na siyang napo-postpone. Saan po galing—ano po iyong cause noong bottleneck?

SEC. PANELO: As I said, sometimes you cannot also avoid delays. Eh masyadong malaki ang problema natin sa Marawi. What is important is it will start at the end of the month and mabilis na iyan.



GENALYN/MANILA BULLETIN: How safe is Mindanao? How’s the security situation there and is the government ready to lift martial law or you’re going to extend it again next year?

SEC. PANELO: Well, according to the military, the martial law has helped in the peace and order situation and it has dissuaded the terrorist from inflicting or the usual violence against the population.

GENALYN/MANILA BULLETIN: So, will you lift—will you now lift the martial law proclamation?

SEC. PANELO: As I said, if it is helping the population – the population is not even opposing it, so to my mind, there is a need to extend it.

GENALYN/MANILA BULLETIN: Extend it until next year? Because sir until the end of the year na lang siya—

SEC. PANELO: But according to the President that will depend on the advice, the recommendation of the military because they are the ones on the ground.

INA ANDOLONG/CNN PHILS.: Sir, last May there was a sort of a confusion on the President, akala pupunta po siya ng Marawi to visit dahil doon sa—that’s when the siege started and then we were told that hindi daw po totoo iyon na pumunta si Pangulo doon because he instead, plans to go the anniversary of the liberation which was yesterday. I was wondering why that didn’t push through, why the President didn’t go there?

SEC. PANELO: Yeah, because it conflicted with the certain schedules that occurred yesterday or the other day.

INA/CNN PHILS.: No, I was just wondering because Marawi is an issue very obviously close to the President’s—I mean part of the President’s priorities and he didn’t show up during the liberation?

SEC. PANELO: Oo but his non-attendance doesn’t mean that he was not interested. In fact, he has been doing a lot of things for the rehabilitation of that place.

INA/CNN PHILS.: Has he told you anything about Marawi recently?


INA/CNN PHILS.: Thank you, sir.

NESTOR CORRALES/INQUIRER.NET: Sir, clarification lang, you mentioned that there’s a need to extend martial law because it has been helping in the security in Mindanao. Is this the official stand of Malacañang?

SEC. PANELO: Again as I said, that will depend on the recommendation of the military. The President always heeds the advice or recommendation of the military and other police forces there, because they are the ones who are knowledgeable on the conditions existing there.

NESTOR/INQUIRER.NET: But you mentioned there is a need to extend. So meaning—

SEC. PANELO: What I’m saying, there is a need to extend if that particular martial law would be helpful in maintaining peace and order. Because if it does not, then why do you have to maintain it?

ACE ROMERO/PHIL. STAR: But, Secretary, are there proposals in the Cabinet or at least in the security cluster to extend martial law? May mga ganoong suggestion…wala pa?

SEC. PANELO: No, there is no suggestion. The President always waits for the recommendation of the military.

ACE/PHIL. STAR: Okay, thank you, Sec.

PIA GUTIERREZ/ABS-CBN: Sir, the former Aquino administration has been criticized by the way it handled the rehabilitation or recovery of Tacloban after typhoon Yolanda. Do you think that this would not happen in the Duterte administration pagdating naman po sa Marawi?

SEC. PANELO: Hopefully not, because the President hates bureaucratic red tape. That is precisely why he said, he appoints military man because they don’t ask questions – they just follow orders. Unlike civilians who are prone to meetings before they can act.

PIA/ABS-CBN: But iyong recovery pa rin po, it hasn’t gone the way that the Duterte administration had planned it. Nabanggit na nga po, there had been so many delays with the start of the recovery pa lang. So like what I said kanina sir, is the President—I’m repeating my question, is the President satisfied with how things are going in Marawi?

SEC. PANELO: Well, he has ordered the full movement that will immediately rehabilitate the place and as I said earlier, the groundbreaking will start at the end of the month. So hopefully, dire-diretso na tayo.

JULIE AURELIO/PHILIPPINE DAILY INQUIRER: Sir, you mentioned that the President hates bureaucratic red tape dahil nga maraming pasikot-sikot. Iyong sa Marawi kasi, the groundbreaking was postponed because of glitches in the negotiation process, that’s what Secretary Del Rosario said, given that it’s also form of bureaucratic red tape. What’s the President takes on this? Is he getting exasperated that it has been delayed for like what, three or four times already?

SEC. PANELO: Yes, he was exasperated but then again, tapos na iyong red tape na iyon, eh mag-uumpisa na eh.

GENALYN/MANILA BULLETIN: Can you expound on the—

SEC. PANELO: Eh natural lang naman iyan, kasi kapag nagkaroon ng negotiation talagang—

GENALYN/MANILA BULLETIN: Can you expound on his sentiments na exasperated siya. Did he mention any names or—

SEC. PANELO: No naman, no. He just wants the full implementation of the rehabilitation.


ROCKY IGNACIO/PTV4: Okay, no more questions? Okay, thank you, Presidential Spokesperson—

SEC. PANELO: Thank you.

ROCKY/PTV4: Salvador Panelo. Thank you, Malacañang Press Corps. Back to our main studio sa Radyo Pilipinas and Peoples Television Network.


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