Press Briefing

Press Briefing of Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque

Event Press Briefing


ROCKY/PTV:  Good morning Malacañang Press Corps. Happy Monday, kitang-kita naman. Let’s now have Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque.

SEC. ROQUE:  Good Monday morning Pilipinas and good Monday morning to the ladies and gentlemen of the Malacañang Press Corps.

Good news! Motorist will soon be able to traverse the Plaridel Bypass Road as the project’s phase 2 is nearing completion. According to the Department of Public Works and Highways, the 24.61 kilometer road project funded with assistance from the Japan International Cooperation Agency will link North Luzon Expressway in Balagtas, Bulacan and the Philippine-Japan Friendship Highway or the Maharlika Highway in San Rafael, Bulacan. Passing through the bypass road will only require a travel time of 30 minutes. The road project is expected to be inaugurated by next month.

We welcome the findings of the latest business barometer Oxford Business Group in Asean CEO Survey, where investors’ sentiment and business prospects for the Philippines remain upbeat. The Philippines ranked highest in the Asean region in terms of projected gross domestic product growth, with business leaders forecasting the Philippine GDP growth between 6 to 8%. We guarantee that the Duterte administration remains on track in accelerating the country’s growth rate by improving the ease of doing business to transform the country into the one of the world’s leading investment destinations.

Good news! We welcome the latest forecast by Moody’s Analytics citing the country’s economy likely to grow by 6.8% for the first quarter of the year. Moody’s Analytics attributed the faster economic growth to increased investments and stronger consumer spending supported by stable inflows of remittances from Overseas Filipino Workers. The Philippines is also expected to remain as one of the Asia’s fastest growing major economies over the coming years.

We guarantee that the country’s robust economic growth will be supported by solid macroeconomic fundamentals and sustained investments in infrastructure and social services, such as education, health and social protection. Questions please?

ROSE NOVENARIO/HATAW:  Good morning, sir. Sir, meron pong post si dating presidential sister Kris Aquino sa social media na parang naiinis siya doon sa TV show ni Korina Sanchez, dahil na-feature iyong masayang pamilya na ngayon ni James Yap at iyong kanyang second wife. Dahil po doon ay sinabi niyang mas tama raw po na nanalo si Pangulong Duterte kaysa po sa mister ni Korina na si Mar Roxas, last 2016 presidential elections. Ano po iyong reaksyon ng Palasyo rito?

SEC. ROQUE:  Welcome on board, Kris Aquino. Next.

ROSE/HATAW:  Magkakaroon po kaya ng posibleng reconciliation ang Palasyo sa pamilya Aquino dahil po sa statement ni Miss Kris?

SEC. ROQUE:  Well, ang nabasa ko sa statement niya, ngayon lang, a few minutes… a few seconds before the press briefing was, walang masamang pinakita si Presidente Duterte sa kanya at sa kanyang pamilya ano, noong nangangampanya siya para sa kanyang kapatid sa Davao.

At alam mo, iyon din ang sinabi sa akin ni Presidente ha. Kasi si Presidente noong ’86 revolution, nag-suporta kay Cory. At lahat ng kampanya ng pamilyang Aquino suportado ni Presidente Duterte sa Davao… and the mother of course ‘no of the President.

MARICEL HALILI/TV5:  Sir, iyong sa Kuwait lang po. Kasi pinatawag daw po ng Kuwaiti government iyong Philippine Ambassador over the weekend, because of allegedly iyong paglabas po noong video na meron daw ilang mga embassy officials na nagre-rescue doon sa mga Filipino workers doon. Sir, parang merong dalawang protest na inabot iyong Kuwait doon sa Philippine Ambassador. May we have details about it and how will this affect, sir, iyong ongoing negotiations po between the Philippines and the Kuwaiti government?

SEC. ROQUE:  This happened this weekend. Secretary of Foreign Affairs has not officially informed the Palace of what has happened in Kuwait. And because of this, I will have to defer to the Secretary of Foreign Affairs on this matter.

So, we are awaiting information from the Secretary of Foreign Affairs. Although the President is the Chief Architect of Foreign Affairs, the reality is day to day diplomacy is conducted in his country for the President by the Secretary of Foreign Affairs. So, I would expect that Secretary Cayetano would have a statement on this within the day.

MARICEL/TV5:  Sir, ano po iyong marching orders ng Malacañang in terms of releasing videos, especially iyong mga rescue operations doon sa mga Filipino workers?

SEC. ROQUE:  You know, the facts are rather sketchy. We have heard an account from the OWWA. But we have also heard an account from Congressman Bertiz; I have not heard the version of the DFA. So we would await actually the official communication from the Department of Foreign Affairs before commenting on this matter.

CEDRIC CASTILLO/GMA7:  Sir, good morning. Jose Maria Sison, sir, has cited some conditions po para daw siya umuwi sa Pilipinas and help President Duterte pursue iyong peace talks. Dapat daw ay maganda na iyong track noong peace negotiations at mukhang sigurado and then he will come home daw para tulungan iyong government?

SEC. ROQUE:  I don’t know if he is in a position to provide for conditions. What the President said was if peace talks will resume, he is welcome to come home. The President will assure his security and the fact that he will not be arrested. Beyond that, the President has not acceded to any further terms.

TINA MENDEZ/PHIL. STAR:  Sir, in relation to this. Si Joma Sison is under… is classified as a financing the terrorism under the US list of terror organizations. Will the Duterte administration do something about it so that he can safely come back home?

SEC. ROQUE:  The President has given his word that he will not be apprehended while in the Philippines.

TINA/PHIL. STAR:  While in the Philippines; but en route from the Netherlands to the Philippines—

SEC. ROQUE:  That’s not beyond our control of course ‘no. But in the Philippines, his liberty will be guaranteed by the President.

TINA/PHIL. STAR:  So how can he comeback home, if… at least the government cannot help him?

SEC. ROQUE:  It’s up to him. Perhaps, he should take Philippine Airlines. That’s the only way. I am not promoting Philippine Airlines incidentally.

MARICEL/TV5:  Sir, when the President mentioned na 60 days to have a peace talks between the government and the NPA. Kailan po iyong sinasabi ni Presidente na start noong 60 days?

SEC. ROQUE:  As soon as both sides have clearly agreed to resume peace talks.

MARICEL/TV5:  Do we have a target, sir?

SEC. ROQUE:  No target. But the statement from Joma Sison is again new, so this might be a new condition which will have to be discussed. But as far as I know, both have to agree to resume peace talks and the 60 days period should be reckoned from that date.

MARICEL/TV5:  Sir, 60 days is parang medyo short iyong time compared doon sa naging talks nila na inabot ng ilang years. But at least, what do we expect or ano iyong target natin to achieve within the 60-day period?

SEC. ROQUE:  You know, the problem is we’ve been talking peace with them for years and years and years, walang katapusan. So I think the President said that this is our last chance. 60 days only because I understand the only agenda is, you know, addressing supposedly the root causes of rebellion ‘no and I don’t think there’s a… you know, divergence of views on the root causes of rebellion, it is poverty. So if the government and the CPP-NPA will have agreed to address the root causes, then it should not even take 60 days. Because we have a common platform ‘no, mas maginhawang buhay para sa lahat, mas komportableng buhay para sa lahat.

PIA GUTIERREZ/ABS-CBN:  Hi sir. Sir, what can we expect from President Duterte on Labor Day? Mayroon po ba siyang mga iaanunsiyong pro-labor on May 1?

SEC. ROQUE:  Traditionally there is something that is announced ‘no. So I’ll wait for Labor Day. We still have a few days before we commemorate.

PIA/ABS-CBN:  Also sir, there is some labor groups who have expressed doubt na maipapasa ang security of tenure bill sa Congress because most of the lawmakers now are apparently pro-management. Ano pong masasabi ninyo doon, sir?

SEC. ROQUE:  My version of the bill has been passed by the House, even before I move to Malacañang. So the issue is now with the Senate.

PIA/ABS-CBN:  Thank you sir.

PENG ALIÑO/RADYO PILIPINAS:  Sir, is the President going to Kuwait after this problem with Kuwaiti government? Iyong dahil doon sa ipinalabas na na-rescue na mga OFW.

SEC. ROQUE:  Well, I’m not aware of the final decision of the President whether or not he will go to Kuwait. So, I will clarify. But the last statement was he wants to go to tell them why they should be more humane to Filipino workers ‘no. And of course he will go when there’s already an agreed agreement ‘no on the minimum terms and conditions for employment of Filipino Overseas Workers ‘no. But I’m not aware now of the current stand of the Philippine President and we will of course await word also from the DFA on the latest event that happened this weekend in Kuwait.

PENG ALIÑO/RADYO PILIPINAS:  Follow up lang sir, dumating na po iyong galing Kuwait from the Philippines. Any result po of that visit?

SEC. ROQUE: Alam ninyo ang sinabi naman sa akin ng OWWA ay parang napapayag naman daw nila iyong Kuwait sa lahat ng gusto nila, kasama diyan iyong parang Plaza para sa day off ng mga kababayan natin. So parang upbeat iyong mga OWWA officials na nag-report sa akin ‘no. Pero hindi ko nga alam kung anong naging epekto iyong—magiging epekto noong iba pang mga nangyari over the weekend ‘no. So let’s await word from Secretary Cayetano.

ROSE NOVENARIO/HATAW:  Sir, follow up. Palagay po ninyo ay magkakaroon ng epekto ito sa hinuhulmang memorandum of agreement sa pagitan ng Kuwaiti government at ng Philippine government?

SEC. ROQUE:  Sana hindi. But by filing a diplomatic protest of course it’s an expression of displeasure and let’s see what steps the DFA will take next.

CEDRIC CASTILLO/GMA7:  Sir, update lang po sir doon sa Boracay, iyong closure order at saka iyong declaration po noong state of calamity. Kailan po ito naka-set?

SEC. ROQUE: Forthcoming na po iyan, siyempre 26 na eh ‘no. So forthcoming very soon. This was discussed in the last Cabinet meeting on Boracay last… kailan ba iyon? Last Friday ba iyon? Yeah, it was last Friday. So lalabas na iyong order ng state of calamity at saka iyong proclamation on the closure of Boracay.

CEDRIC/GMA7:  Sir, may question po from Joseph although hindi ko ma-frame right now ano. It’s—parang kung puwede daw pong pa-elaborate iyong doon sa unimpeded access ng media personnel? Tama po ba?

SEC. ROQUE:  Well I can only confirm as of now that in the Cabinet meeting, I personally appealed to the interagency to reconsider the 9 to 5 rule applied to members of the media to cover. I do agree that media does not sleep and of course although a comparison was made between Boracay and Marawi, I said wala namang IED sa Boracay. And I think I persuaded the Cabinet that provided that there will be accreditation for a Boracay Press Corps, then they can issue media cards to accredited members of the Boracay Press Corps and they can be treated as residents in the island. But let’s await the final word from the interagency. I do not want to preempt them. But my impression was they were in agreement before I left the meeting. That was the last point that I raised before I left the meeting.

TED TUVERA/DAILY TRIBUNE: Good morning, Secretary. Reaction lang po doon sa sinabi ni Justice Carpio na the Philippines should protest iyong recent activities ng China doon sa West Philippine Sea?

SEC. ROQUE:  Well I don’t think he should preempt any decision of the Secretary of Foreign Affairs. The Secretary of Foreign Affairs has said they are looking at all diplomatic responses to this latest reports. So a protest should not be precluded. So I think the statement of Justice Carpio is premature. Let’s await the final word from Secretary Cayetano.


PIA GUTIERREZ/ABS-CBN:  Sir, hingi lang po ako ng Palace reaction on the US State Department report?

SEC. ROQUE:  Well you know, I read the Palace—the State Department report and I was really lost on how to read it. Number one, if you know the Secretary of State was recently changed, so I do not know how much input of the former Secretary of State had in drafting that final report. Number two, I personally heard the discussion between President Trump and President Duterte when they were here in the Philippines during the ASEAN Summit and I think I heard words from President Trump praising President Duterte including the war on drugs. If I’m not mistaken, President Trump said he knows what he’s doing in the Philippines ‘no. So I do not know how to reconcile the State Department report with the actual statement of the President. But for now, we were going by the statements of President Trump that we all heard from the mouth of President Trump.

PIA/ABS-CBN:  So you are saying sir, that the US State Department report is not consistent with the stand of President Trump?

SEC. ROQUE: I think so and given what we heard from President Trump, let’s just say it exists but we prefer to hold on to the words of President Trump. He is after all the President.

ROSE NOVENARIO/HATAW:  Hi sir, good morning po ulit. Sir, may isinulat po si dating Presidential Spokesperson Rigoberto Tiglao na may information daw po siya na si Vice President Leni Robredo at iba pang opisyal ng Liberal Party ang nag-udyok sa EU parliament para mag-issue ng resolution po noong April 18 laban po sa extrajudicial killings po na nagaganap sa Pilipinas. Ano po iyong masasabi ng Palasyo rito?

SEC. ROQUE:  Eh kahit ano namang sabihin ng EU eh, bayaan mo silang magsalita. We have been very firm as far as the EU is concerned that the President will do what he thinks is best for his country. He’s only accountable to the Filipino people and to no one else. But I hope Mr. Tiglao will follow up on his report because we do have to expose this if it can be proven.

ROSE NOVENARIO/HATAW:  Sir, wasto po ba iyong mga ganoong aksyon ng Bise Presidente na parang nag-uudyok na batikusin ng ibang bansa iyong sarili niyang bansa?

SEC. ROQUE: Medyo mahirap magkomento kasi hindi pa naman napupruwebahan. So it’s an allegation, I hope it can be backed up. And if it’s backed up, then we can take moves.

TINA MENDEZ/PHIL. STAR: Sir, in relation to the President’s trip to Singapore this week and there’s a report from the Philippine Star saying that the President wants a leaner delegation and that he will be taking a private plane. Can we have the reasons why he is taking a private plane, leaner delegation and that he might forego of the traditional departure and arrival speeches?

SEC. ROQUE: To save money. It’s expensive to charter a plane. And a leaner delegation would mean lesser cost for the taxpayer.

TINA MENDEZ/PHIL. STAR: But, sir, did he not say that he’d prefer commercial planes rather than take private planes?

SEC. ROQUE: You know, the private is an 8-seater plane, so it’s a very small plane. It’s a two-hour flight from Davao to Singapore, so it’s not a long flight. But it’s an 8-seater plane. I think other than SAP Go, all the other people in plane will be staff complement of the President, including a nurse, you know, things like that.

So it’s a very small team that will fly with him, and it’s a lot cheaper compared to chartering a whole… an entire Philippine Airlines plane.

TINA MENDEZ/PHIL. STAR: So the government is footing the bill on this, right, sir?

SEC. ROQUE: Yes, of course.

TINA MENDEZ/PHIL. STAR: Sir, will he really forego with the arrival and departure speeches?

SEC. ROQUE: That’s what I know but—


SEC. ROQUE: I saw a schedule. I saw a schedule. So I’m now confused because I’m coming from here to Singapore, so I will not be able to witness the departure statement. But I think it’s because—it’s the first of many ASEAN meetings under the chairmanship of Singapore, and this is only the first. So I think—it’s a Leader’s Meeting that’s why he is going, but it’s not like the summit that we hosted. The big summit will be when the turnover will happen. So that’s why we’re also cutting on costs.

CEDRIC CASTILLO/GMA7: Sir, from Joseph Morong ulit, sir. Paki-elaborate daw, sir, iyong mga legal basis ng actions sa Boracay po, sir?

SEC. ROQUE: Anong legal basis? Napakadami naman niyan, ano ba naman iyan. Legal  basis is, of course, the inherent police power of the State ‘no, to protect the environment. That’s the legal basis for what’s going to happen in Boracay. And of course, police power is one of the three inherent powers of a State, together with imminent domain and the power of taxation.

CEDRIC CASTILLO/GMA7: Sir, last on my part, sir. Over the weekend, President Duterte said that he sacked a Usec., and I think parang dalawang officials yata ang nabanggit niya. Can you, sir, give us additional details? Kasi you said, if he did not resign, Usec. Say would have been sacked.

SEC. ROQUE: And he was again referring to him over the weekend, ‘di ba, that he should shut up. So let’s leave it at that.

CEDRIC CASTILLO/GMA7:  So si Usec. Say po iyong …

SEC. ROQUE: I think it was clear because the question was, kaya raw nag-resign because of differences over endo. And the President told him shut up otherwise I will share with the media the affidavit signed before me ‘no, detailing the activities, his activities

CEDRIC CASTILLO/GMA7: Iyong ibang officials, sir, kung mayroon pa?

SEC. ROQUE: Ako, lilinawin ko pa ha: Until the President says it and I tell you that there’s another one, there’s no one else scheduled for the chopping block. Nagkakaroon kasi ng confusion because of the information – mayroon daw anim, limang Cabinet members. Iyan po ay rekomendasyon, apparently, ng Anti-Graft Commission ‘no pero hindi po iyan nanggaling dito sa Palasyo.

So alam ninyo naman ang set up natin dito sa Palasyo ‘no. If there will be another one, I will let you know. But for now, I will also clarify the mandate of the Anti-Graft Commission; I will clarify, first and foremost, if it will really include Cabinet members. Okay? And number two, we will have to come up with an agreement on information. I think they do not know lang kasi the procedure of the Palace on what qualifies as presidential statements.

But I think Asec. Queenie will coordinate closely with the Spokesperson of the Anti-Graft Commission Belgica, and will inform him of our protocols.

PIA GUTIERREZ/ABS-CBN: Sir, aside from some Cabinet officials, mayroon po ba tayong balita kung sinu-sino pong mga political personalities na sasama kay President Duterte sa Singapore? Like for example, Mayor Sara Duterte, will she be coming with the President po?

SEC. ROQUE: No information yet. That’s one of the things I’m going to clarify today, the members of the mission.

PIA GUTIERREZ/ABS-CBN: Also, sir, what can we expect from the Filipino community meeting with President Duterte in Singapore?

SEC. ROQUE: That’s always been an integral part of every official trip that the Philippines embarks on – a meeting with the Filipino community. So it’s really his way of communicating with our OFWs, and I think it’s a good practice of the President. What else can I say, other than it’s very much appreciated by the OFWs, and the President conducts these meetings as a matter of course.

PIA GUTIERREZ/ABS-CBN: Sir, there were some criticisms during iyong Hong Kong Filipino community meeting with President Duterte because, apparently, parang nagmukha daw sortie ng PDP Laban senatorial slate iyong Filipino community meeting. What can you say about that, sir? And will we also expect that same thing to happen sa Singapore?

SEC. ROQUE: I don’t think that’s true. I really don’t think that’s true. Kamuntik na nga nakalimutan akong batiin ni Presidente, sortie? [Laughs] I object to that.  [Laughs]

PIA GUTIERREZ/ABS-CBN:  But, sir, you were given a chance to speak, as well as with the other personalities during this before he came to the—

SEC. ROQUE: Eh kasi ano naman ang mangyayari kung hindi kami magsasalita roon eh ang dami nang naka-assemble na tao ‘no. Nandoon na sila, anong gagawin namin doon, magtitinginan? So we were basically front acts for the President, what can you do?

Ako naman, I have a standard. To those who have been going with us, I have standard. I enumerate the accomplishments of the Duterte administration which is my job as spokesperson as well. So I don’t know if that is campaigning. But who can deny the achievements that enumerate in all these meetings with the OFWs.

MODERATOR: Okay, thank you. Okay na tayo? Thank you, Malacañang Press Corps. Salamat.

SEC. ROQUE: Thank you. See you tomorrow.


SOURCE: PCOO – NIB (News and Information Bureau)