Press Briefing

Press Briefing of Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque

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

ALVIN BALTAZAR/RADYO PILIPINAS: Good morning, MPC. Good morning, Presidential Spokesperson Atty. Harry Roque. Before we start, we would like to welcome our visitors from Los Angeles, California, good morning po. Spox…

SEC. ROQUE: As well as from Bacolod. Okay, magandang umaga Pilipinas and good morning to the ladies and gentlemen of the Malacañang Press Corps.

Good news Thursday – The President po will inaugurate the new airport terminal in Mactan, Cebu this afternoon. The Mactan-Cebu International Airport Terminal 2 has a span of around 65,500 square meters and is designed to decongest air traffic in Cebu. Mabuting balita po iyan para sa ating mga kababayang Cebuano at lahat po ng ating mga kababayan diyan sa Visayas region.

More good news – Sang-ayon po sa Philippine Statistics Authority, ang employment rate ng bansa po natin as of April this year is at 94.5% or 40.9 million Filipinos po ngayon ang mayroon pong mga hanapbuhay at trabaho. Ang unemployment po ay bumaba na to 5.5% – this is good news. This is the lowest to recorded rate for all the April rounds of the labor force survey in the past decade.

A third good news – the Nikkei Philippine Manufacturing Purchasing Manager’s Index reported the growth of 53.7 for the month of May which is higher compared to 52.7 in April. This makes the country the second best performer in the ASEAN region next only to Vietnam and fourth among the eighteen Asian countries measured. The report noted the improved demand conditions, new business expansions and increased purchasing activity.

Questions, Malacañang Press Corps?

CECIL LARRAZABAL/CNN PHILS.: Good morning, sir. Sir the President mentioned yesterday that there will be ‘radical changes’ happening in the government. Could you tell us more about what these ‘radical changes’ about and how soon will it happen?

SEC. ROQUE: I have no idea what the ‘radical changes’ as of yet are. However as I mentioned in a radio interview earlier, the President reiterated that while we have been combating crime and prohibited drugs since day 1 of his administration, apparently we can do more.

So iyong kaniyang sinabi po na abangan ang mga reporma, iyan po ay dahil nais pa niyang paigtingin ang giyera laban sa kriminalidad at pinagbabawal na droga. Siguro po, kaya nga na-frustrate ang Presidente, dalawang prosecutors po ang napatay; isa po buntis pa at may mga balita-balita rin po na pag-increase ng mga holdapan sa Metro Manila. So asahan po ninyo na lalong paiigtingin pa ang laban natin dito sa mga krimen na ito at sa pinagbabawal na droga.

CHONA YU/RADYO INQUIRER: Sir, what particular offices po iyong—that the President is eyeing na i-under sa Office of the President?

SEC. ROQUE: Wala pa po akong impormasyon diyan. Naghiwalay na po kami ng Presidente as of, parang 1:30 in the morning na kami naghiwalay ‘no. So, ngayong hapon pa lang po kami magkikita sa inagurasyon ng Cebu, but I intend to follow up. But I have been in contact with General Albayalde of the PNP this morning, and iyon nga po; we are gearing up, we are doing better in the fight against criminality.

CHONA YU/RADYO INQUIRER: Sir, ito ba iyong Bureau of Customs and Bureau of Internal Revenue? Kasi before, the President referred this to government offices as ‘purgatoryo’ – iyon iyong term niya.

SEC. ROQUE: I will verify po. As I said, I have no information yet.

DEXTER GANIBE/DZMM: Hi Sec., good morning. Follow up lang doon sa naunang tanong kanina na—kasi nabanggit ng Pangulo na magde-declare siya ng national state of emergency. Napawalang-bisa na po ba iyong Proclamation No. 55 noong 2016, declaring national state of emergency?

SEC. ROQUE: Well Dexter, I think the President just wants to emphasize that there will really be serious efforts to deal with the recent spate of criminality. Pero we’re still under Martial Law, and under the powers of the President as Commander-in-Chief, tatlo po iyan; calling outs especially with the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus and declaration of Martial Law, he has exercised already the most intrusive of all powers of the president as Commander-in-Chief which is still in place.

DEXTER GANIBE/DZMM: But Martial Law is in Mindanao lang po.


DEXTER GANIBE/DZMM: Ang Martial Law ay sa Mindanao lang po, sir.

SEC. ROQUE: I don’t think so… Hindi. I mean ano bang sinasabi mo, hindi ko maintindihan.

DEXTER GANIBE/DZMM: September 2016 nag-declare si Pangulong Duterte ng state of national emergency sa whole country, and then it was followed by declaring Martial Law in Mindanao.

SEC. ROQUE: No, but what I’m saying nga is the… the President has already said that he will intensify the fight against crime. So, what is your question?

DEXTER GANIBE/DZMM: Kasi you mentioned na we are still under the Martial Law, sinabi ninyo po kanina. So ibig ba sabihin, magma-martial law sa buong Pilipinas?

SEC. ROQUE: No, no, no… Let me clarify. Okay, let me clarify now. The state of national emergency…

DEXTER GANIBE/DZMM: After the Davao bombing sir, September 4.

SEC. ROQUE: Alam mo, naguguluhan ako diyan. Let me be clear. I will issue a statement on that. Let me check the dates muna ha. Let me be clear, okay, baka magkamali. Okay?

DEXTER GANIBE/DZMM: So clarification lang sir, you mentioned kasi na we are still under the Martial Law. Ang ibig ba sabihin—

SEC. ROQUE: There’s still Martial Law sa Mindanao, hindi ba?

DEXTER GANIBE/DZMM: Mindanao, not the whole country.

SEC. ROQUE: Oo. There’s still martial law in Mindanao, I don’t know why there is an issue actually. What is the issue? [laughs]

DEXTER GANIBE/DZMM: You just said sir kasi we are—that the country is still under the martial law…

SEC. ROQUE: Ah okay, in Mindanao… No, there’s still Martial Law in Mindanao, ano ka ba? Hindi ba? Hindi ko maintindihan, what’s the controversy there? Okay.

DEXTER GANIBE/DZMM: Hindi, kasi noong tinanong ko sir na—kasi iyong tanong ko kanina is—

SEC. ROQUE: Okay. Wala nang misunderstanding in the case in Mindanao, correct?

DEXTER GANIBE/DZMM: Yeah. Doon sa speech kasi ng Pangulo noong pagdating niya, sinabi niya—

SEC. ROQUE: Iyong state of national emergency – that’s why I will clarify the status of the 2016 proclamation, okay? I will issue a statement; let’s issue a statement this afternoon. Okay?

ACE ROMERO/PHILIPPINE STAR: Secretary, what did the President mean when he said there’s no difference between the national emergency and Martial Law?

SEC. ROQUE: I do not know. I’ll have to check with him, because perhaps he was referring to the fact that these are both powers of the President as Commander-in-Chief. And that they both entail the military taking on active role in what is purely civilian. Because the calling out power is when you call out the Armed Forces of the Philippines and not just rely on civilian institutions, such as the Philippine National Police.

ACE ROMERO/PHILIPPINE STAR: He described the state of emergency as ‘meager’. What did he mean by that? Is he seeking more powers, because he described it as ‘meager’?

SEC. ROQUE: Well, I do not know actually what he meant by ‘meager’. But as I said earlier, as far as the powers of the President are concerned as Commander-in-Chief, the least intrusive is a state of national emergency – that could be what he meant by ‘meager’ in terms of exercise of extraordinary powers; it is the least of the three powers that the President can exercise.


CECIL/CNN PHILS.: Sir, mayroong 2018 Global Peace Index showing that the Philippines is among the least peaceful in Asia. What can you say about this? What do you think were the lapses, and what are the things that we should work on?

SEC. ROQUE: I haven’t seen that study. Maybe I would like to see that study first before I could comment on it. But it seems to me that the President recognizes the room for improvement as far as fight against criminality is concerned, and hence, his latest pronouncement two nights ago—or the night before.

MARICEL HALILI/TV5: Hi sir, good morning. Sir, Senator Bam Aquino is saying that the President is giving mixed signals in terms of the anti-corruption drive of the administration because of some recycled Cabinet appointees. Like some of them were already fired and reappointed, like Peter Laviña and other officials. What’s the explanation of Malacañang?

SEC. ROQUE: In the first place, it’s political season obviously. Expect more statements like these from those seeking re-election ‘no. But as far as the President is concerned, he has fired more than 20, all of whom are very close to him. We’ll let the people be the judge on this regard.

Malinaw na malinaw po ang kampanya ni Presidente laban sa katiwalian; mahigit dalawangpu na po ang nasisante, lahat po napakalapit sa kaniya. Totoo po, may ilan na mga na-reappoint pero sa aking bilang po, tatlo lang po iyan, sa mahigit na dalawangpu.

So sa akin po, hindi naman po tama iyan, pero dahil siyempre po eleksiyon na, eh asahan natin iyong mga re-eleksiyonista na magbibigay ng ganitong mga pananalita. Alam ninyo naman, kinakailangan mapalagay sa isipan ng taongbayan.

MARICEL HALILI/TV5: Pero sir, ito pong mga na-fire and na-reappoint, these are the appointees na na-clear na iyong name? Is that it?

SEC. ROQUE: Hindi ko po alam. Appointment is an executive prerogative, so as far as Pompi Laviña is concerned, eh nasa Presidente po iyan. Ang naisip ko lang naman talaga actually ngayon dalawa eh – si Faeldon at saka si Pompi Laviña. So—si Faeldon naman po hindi malinaw kung talaga siya ay sinisante; there was just a clamor for him to be removed, but the President never lost trust and confidence in Mr. Faeldon – that’s what I know. As far as Mr. Laviña is concerned, that is really his prerogative. There was an investigation, he was removed, but the President saw it—made the decision to reappoint him, so be it.

MARICEL HALILI/TV5: And, included din sir si Ms. Melissa Avanceña-Aradanas. She used to be one of the Commissioners of—

SEC. ROQUE: That’s true. So my count is wrong, I should make it three.

MARICEL HALILI/TV5: Okay. And I understand sir that you mentioned before na bahala na iyong Ombudsman in terms of filing cases doon sa mga na-fire na officials…


MARICEL HALILI/TV5: But on the part of Malacañang, are there any efforts to run after iyong mga nasisante na, na officials to look into their liabilities?

SEC. ROQUE: Well, mayroon pong PACC, Presidential Anti-Corruption Commission – at inaasahan po namin sila na, bukod pa po doon sa caseload na namana nila dito sa Deputy Executive Secretary for Legal Affairs na mga reklamo laban sa mga executive agencies – that they will also take steps to make sure that the process in the Ombudsman should move.

Lilinawin ko lang po, kasi iyong mga ranggo na mga tinanggal ni Presidente, dahil sila po ay mga presidential appointees, nasa hurisdiksyon po talaga iyan ng Sandiganbayan. And that is why the preliminary investigation must be conducted in the Ombudsman. Pupuwede po na mag-imbestiga ang ordinaryong pulis, pero madodoble po ang effort dahil talaga pong hindi naman tatanggapin iyan ng Sandiganbayan kung ordinaryong piskal lang ang nag-preliminary investigation. Kinakailangan po talaga Ombudsman.

Q: Regarding lang po kay Sir Lavina, alam n’yo po ba iyong rason kung bakit nilipat from Tourism to Agriculture?

SEC. ROQUE: That is an executive prerogative po.

Q: Pero may kinalaman po ba ito sa binigay na power kay—

SEC. ROQUE: Hindi siya nilipat from Agriculture, galing po siya sa SSS.

Q: No, iyon pong appointment papers today, na-release lang po today—

SEC. ROQUE: May bago, sino ito? From Tourism… he was transferred from Tourism to Agriculture.

Q: And why?

SEC. ROQUE: Hindi ko po alam—ni hindi ko nga alam na meron eh. Bakit wala sa [unclear] iyan.

Q: Pero, sir, hindi po a to give—bigyan po nang pagkakataon si Tourism Secretary na mamili nung mga USec, ASec, iyon po ba ang dahilan?

SEC. ROQUE: That is part of it, dahil hiningi rin in Secretary Puyat iyong resignation ng lahat ng Usec ‘no.

Q: Sir, paano po ninyo maipapaliwanag sa taumbayan paano babalansehin iyong policy ni Presidente na small whiff of corruption; tapos panay naman ang reappoint doon sa mga natatanggal. Paano po ninyo ipapaliwanag sa taumbayan?

SEC. ROQUE: Tatlo naman iyan, hindi naman panay iyan, 20 cases, tatlo.

Q: So, paano po ninyo iyon, sir, ipapaliwag sa taumbayan?

SEC. ROQUE: Wala, exception more than—it is not the rule, it is exception to the rule.

Q: Sir, regarding iyong sa statement ni President Duterte noong last Tuesday night. He said that he was not aware na may harassment doon sa resupply mission nung Philippine Navy sa Ayungin. Whereas sabi ni SFA na-brief niya si Presidente about sa incident. Paano pong mare-reconcile iyon, was he briefed or not; aware ba siya o hindi?

SEC. ROQUE: I will have to go by what the President says. You heard what he said. I’m the Spokesperson, I can’t say anything else other than what the President has said.

Q: Pero are you aware, sir, if SFA did brief him?

SEC. ROQUE: I go by what the President says, please.

Q: Sir, ibig sabihin the President has not been cleared about this, because he doesn’t know about this?

SEC. ROQUE: You heard what he said. I can’t contradict the President’s statement being his Spokesperson.

Although what I will do is, I will also talk to him, kasi medyo nahihirapan siyang makadinig noong gabing iyon ‘no. I have to translate all the questions and I think itong Ayungin, na-translate ko ba? A bit, pero baka hindi malinaw, so I will clarify this afternoon in the inauguration of the Cebu airport.

Q: Which brings me, sir. How is the President, ano po ang status noong health niya? I understand he threw up while in the plane?

SEC. ROQUE: This has been a recurring problem of the President, nagkakaroon siya ng matinding migraine from time to time. He says this is related to an earlier motorcycle accident that he suffered. But it comes and goes. And I know many people with problems with migraine, talagang iyan daw po ang nature ng problema sa migraine. But of the many trips I have been with the President, this is the first time he had a migraine attack in the plane. Which is why if I need to share you this information, he even asked me to ask… to formally apologize to the passengers on the commercial flight na hindi makakaikot si Presidente, kasi gusto kustumbre niya iyon na umiikot siya, kumakamay-kamay sa mga pasahero sa eroplano na hindi niya nagawa dahil nga doon sa migraine.

But I think it’s the first time I saw him suffered from this migraine ‘no. And yes, sinabi naman niya na he was sick on the flight because of the migraine. Otherwise his health is good. It’s the first time I saw him suffered from a migraine and I’ve gone on an at least 6 or 7 trips with him.

Q: Sir, since the health of the President is very important. In the past ‘no, na experience ko iyong ibang Presidente, they would have annual executive check up and it would be made public ‘no, the results. Siya po ba nakapag-undergo na po ba and anything that the public should know about the President kung meron po ba siyang iba pang iniindang sakit?

SEC. ROQUE: Well, I’ll inquire if he has had an annual check up and I’ll let you know.

Q: Sir, may announcement kayo na sinibak na si PhilHealth interim president Celestina Dela Serna; pero nanatili pa rin po siyang Board Member ng PhilHealth. Kung under investigation po siya, bakit po nakapuwesto pa rin siya doon sa ahensiyang diumano’y kinasangkutan niya sa mga anomalya. Ano po iyong wisdom dito ng Pangulo?

SEC. ROQUE: Ika-clarify ko po iyan, dahil—actually, pati si Executive Secretary—of course we have a vetting system. And he has had to clarify later on that she remains a member of the board.

However, as you know, GOCC has a policy that all appointees to GOCCs term expire on the 30th of June automatically, unless reappointed. So, let’s see what happens in the 30th of June.

Q: So hihintayin pa po natin; kasi kung fired, di ba automatic iyon lahat ng puwesto fired?

SEC. ROQUE: I will seek clarification, pero iyon nga po ‘no the paper was to replace her as OIC. But I am clarifying this po and I am just, you know, restating the rule that as of—the policy is every June 30 all GOCCs re: appointees are deemed terminated.

Q: Pero tuloy po iyong investigation sa kanya?

SEC. ROQUE: Ang alam ko po at ito po talaga as a matter fact naman, there was an investigation and there was a recommendation made.

Q: Sir, magandang tanghali na po sa inyo. Kaklaruhin ko lang po. Iyong tungkol sa martial law, ang martial law ay sa buong Mindanao lang?

SEC. ROQUE: Yes, in Mindanao.

Q: Okay. At napag-uusapan ho ba sa Palasyo, sa Executive Department, sa inyo ng Pangulo ang pagdedeklara ng Martial Law sa buong bansa?

SEC. ROQUE: Ay hindi po. Martial Law po is Mindanao, if at all—iyon nga po ang ika-clarify ko, iyong state of national emergency kung ito ay nasuspinde na at kinakailangan pang magdeklara for the whole Philippines. Kaya nga po sabi ko po, bago kayo dumating mag-i-isyu ako ng statement just to check on the state of national emergency.

Q: So wala pong plano ang Pangulo na magdeklara ng Martial Law sa buong bansa?

SEC. ROQUE: Ang sabi po niya, possibly state of national emergency. Sinabi po niya sa speech niya. Pero ang ite-check ko nga lang po kasi meron ng earlier at titingnan ko po kung kinakailangan pong mag-impose ng bago. That is why I will issue a statement this afternoon.

Q: So, ang possible lang ay national emergency, not Martial Law.

SEC. ROQUE: Iyon po ang sinabi ni Mr. President. Pero of course, if there are legal and factual basis, that’s in the Constitution. Pero doon sa konteksto ng speech po niya, eh ang binanggit niya ay state of national emergency, which is the least intrusive of the three powers of the President as commander-in-chief.

Q: Ano po iyong kasalukuyang sitwasyon sa bansa para po magbigay-daan sa pahayag na iyon ng Presidente, dahil pati po human rights advocates kanyang binabalaan eh.

SEC. ROQUE: Nasagot ko na iyan, bago kayo dumating. Ulitin ko lang po ‘no, eh siguro po nababahala si Presidente doon sa mga reports na parang lumalaganap na naman ang krimen. May dalawa po tayong prosecutors na napatay, kasama na po iyong isang buntis na prosecutor. Nakikiramay po kami sa mga pamilya ng mga prosecutor.

Ito nga pala pong Lady Prosecutor, naku kakilala ko pa pala po iyan, daughter-in-law ng aking kaibigan na si Rene Tanyag. At bukod pa po diyan eh maraming napapabalitang mga holdapan na nangyayari ngayon at maraming mga bagong schemes daw na nagiging biktima iyong mga motorista natin.

So iyan po ang dahilan kung bakit sinasabi po ng Pangulo na paiigtingin pa ang laban natin dito sa kriminalidad na ito.

Q: Sir, two years napo iyong administrasyon. Ano po iyong assessment natin sa criminality? Dahil isa po ito sa tatlong kampanyang itinatambol ng Pangulo magmula noong siya ay nangangampanya – anti-criminality, anti-drugs, anti-corruption. Pero po mukhang hindi po yata nare-reach pa iyong kanyang target hanggang itong second year na ng kanyang administrasyon.

SEC. ROQUE: Gaya ng sinabi ko kanina, sabihin na lang natin na naniniwala ang Presidente na there still a room for improvement. Bagama’t kung titingnan naman natin iyong datos, talagang bumaba, iyong last indication bumaba lahat iyong lahat ng crimes dito sa ating bayan. Pero nahabag talaga ang Presidente dito sa mga balitang ito. Tingin ko talagang pinakanahabag siya doon sa balita na buntis sinaksak ng isang drug addict.

Eh sa mula’t-mula ito naman ang sinasabi ng Presidente, nasaan iyong mga human rights sa kasong gaya nito na sinaksak ang isang limang buwan na buntis na prosecutor ng isang drug addict, bakit wala tayong naririnig ngayon sa mga Human Rights. Kaya ang sabi nga niya paigtingin niya ang kampanya laban sa kriminalidad, paigtingin pa niya ang giyera laban sa ipinagbabawal na gamot.

Q: Ano po iyong utos niya sa PNP ngayong tumataas na naman iyong crime rate katulad po niyan?

SEC. ROQUE: Tingin ko po makipag-ugnayan muna. Tsinek ko po kay General Albayalde kaninang umaga lang kung meron nang mandato na bago. Sabi niya nag-aantay din siya dahil narinig din niya nandoon siya sa airport, at sa tingin ko pagpupulungan iyan.

Q: Hi Secretary good morning. Sir, ano po ang take ng Palace na after noong sinabi ni—nag-apologize po si President Duterte through Secretary Bong Go doon sa feud ni Kris Aquino and Asec. Mocha Uson at sinabi rin… nag-announce—ine-announce yesterday ni Secretary Bong Go na mag-a-apologize si Asec. Mocha pero hindi po niya ginawa. Ano po ang take ng Palace?

SEC. ROQUE: I defer to SAP Bong Go completely on this matter. Kasi siya ang sumagot eh, so he is privy to information on this and I am not. So, please ask Secretary Bong Go.

Q: Sir, sa inyong palagay, sir, asset po ba or liability si Asec. Mocha?

SEC. ROQUE: Well, ang sinagot po ni SAP Bong Go no comment. I don’t see any reason why I should deviate from that. As I said, please verify or get the opinion of SAP Bong Go because the information came from him.

Q: Sir, would you know if there was an order coming from the President or instruction, was there a defiance on the part of Asec. Mocha Uson? Should she be sanctioned?

SEC. ROQUE: Cecil, I will repeat: the information came from SAP Bong Go. Please direct all queries on this regard to SAP Bong Go. I was not privy to information in this regard, on this issue.

Q: I-rephrase ko lang, baka sagutin mo, sir. Does she still have the trust and confidence of the President?

SEC. ROQUE: She hasn’t been fired.

Q: Meaning?

SEC. ROQUE: For as long as she hasn’t been fired, she enjoys trust and confidence because all Presidential appointees serve at the pleasure of the President.

REYMUND: Thank you, Presidential Spokesperson. Anymore question? None.

SEC. ROQUE: Wala bang sasama sa inyo sa Cebu? Ah nandoon na, okay. Ako hahabol pa lang. So, thank you very much.


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