Press Briefing

Press Briefing of Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque

Location Malacañang Press Briefing Room, New Executive Building

ROCKY IGNACIO/PTV4:  Good morning, Malacañang Press Corps, Happy Monday. Welcome din sa ating mga guest and kay Asec. Ana Marie Banaag, welcome sa regular press briefing ni Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque.

SEC. ROQUE: Magandang umaga Pilipinas, and good morning to the ladies and gentlemen of the Malacañang Press Corps.

Good news Monday! The ADB forecasted our GDP growth to be at 6.8 percent in 2018 and 6.9 percent in 2019. The multilateral bank sees rising investments and labor productivity as major drivers in the economy’s robust domestic growth.

We’re pleased furthermore to announce the strong and robust manufacturing output for the first quarter of 2018 driven by major sectors such as printing, textile, food, manufacturing, petroleum products, electric machinery, non-metallic products and others.

According to the Monthly Integrated Survey of Selected Industries, the MISSI of the Philippine Statistics Authority, the value of production index for manufacturing displayed an increment of 12.8 percent in March 2018 compared to 11.8 percent in the same period of last year.

Magandang balita po sa mga magsasaka sa Bulacan, ngayon po ay may solusyon na sa pagbaha at sa patubig. The National Irrigation Authority led the groundbreaking ceremony and capsule laying of the 990 million Bulo Small Reservoir Irrigation Project in Doña Remedios Trinidad, Bulacan. The irrigation project will be benefiting around 500 local farmers. Bulo SRIP will cover 35 hectares of agricultural lands at Kalawakan in Doña Remedios Trinidad and another 535 hectares at Malibay, San Miguel. Also the Bulo SRIP will be the catch basin area for 20 barangays in Bulacan to prevent flashfloods. Lastly, the Bulo SRIP will serve as developments site for inland fish culture.

Yes, questions please?

ROSE NOVENARIO/HATAW:  Sir, good morning.

SEC. ROQUE: Good morning, Rose.

ROSE/HATAW:  [off mic] Sir, take two. Sir, bago po tayo nag-start may breaking news po nag-submit na raw po ng courtesy resignation si Mr. Teo sa TIEZA?

SEC. ROQUE:  Ang pagkakaintindi ko po and I promise to clarify whether or not nandoon pa nga po sa TIEZA, apparently si Mr. Teo po was an appointee of President Aquino into—in the TIEZA. And he has long tendered his resignation. Pero wala pa pong kapalit kaya daw po nandoon pa siya. Pero ngayon po raw yata ang sinabi niya na hindi na talaga siya pupunta sa mga meetings ‘no. Ang natatakot lang daw po siya ay iyong dereliction of duty ‘no, iyong dahil ‘pag wala pang kapalit baka naman sabihin, ‘Bakit mo binakante?’

So yes, I heard what you heard that he will stop going to be board meetings of TIEZA.

ROSE/HATAW:  Ano po iyon—synonymous po iyon sa irrevocable resignation?

SEC. ROQUE:  Well I suppose ‘no. Kasi ang hinihintay lang naman daw niya iyong kapalit niya ‘no. So that would be an irrevocable resignation. I just heard it like you over the radio.

ROSE/HATAW:  Sir, thank you—Sir, kailan daw po iyon nangyari, iyong kaniyang irrevocable resignation?

SEC. ROQUE:  Hindi ko po alam kasi doon ko lang sa radyo rin narinig, just a few minutes before this press briefing. I also heard that the Teo family will return the 60 million. I heard it like you over the radio.

ROSE/HATAW:  Sir, as lawyer, iyon pong pagbabalik ng halaga na parang inaakusa sa inyo na ninakaw ninyo, ano po iyong magiging kaso noon?

SEC. ROQUE:  Unang una, wala naman po atang nagsasabi na nakaw ‘no. May mga nagsasabi na nepotism, may nagsasabi na violation of anti-graft. Pero mixed signals po tayo diyan dahil nagkaroon po ng desisyon ang Korte Suprema ‘di ba doon sa Garcia ‘no, na noong una ipinagbawal tapos in-allow din. So it’s a matter po that we have to look into in line with the existing jurisprudence na pabale-balentong din minsan, minsan pinapayagan minsan hindi.

So your guess is as good as mine. Pero kung ang tatanungin po kung ano ang desisyon ni Presidente dito sa isyung ito, wala pa po. Dahil itong offer po na ibalik ang 60 million is a breaking development. Siguro po ang Presidente nalaman din sa balita lamang.

ROSE/HATAW:  Thank you.

CHRISTINE AVENDAÑO/INQUIRER:  Hi sir. Sir, legally can you just return iyong money na iyon without being charged?

SEC. ROQUE: Well, they could do whatever they want po ‘no dahil ngayon wala pa naman pong kaso. As to whether or not a charge will be forthcoming, I cannot also say what the Ombudsman will do. So ngayon po the information is very new, I’m not even aware if the President knows about it already. It was just a matter of literally a few minutes before this press briefing when I heard it over the radio ‘no. But if you are asking me for my opinion as a lawyer, right now po I do not know what question you can ask, because right now there are no charges, number one, and number two po, I do not know kung kanino nila ibabalik iyan and I do not know kung ano ang magiging ramification ng pagbalik ng halagang iyan.

CHRISTINE/INQUIRER:  Sir, what possible charges iyon if iyong—given the circumstance involving iyong PTV and the—

SEC. ROQUE:  You know, I think any other lawyer can answer that question; but as Spokesperson, I think I’d rather not answer that question ‘no. Any other lawyer can answer that.

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7:  Hi sir, can we go to China?

SEC. ROQUE:  Yes, please.

JOSEPH/GMA7:  Okay, how much do we know now about the alleged installation?

SEC. ROQUE:  We still do not have verification.

JOSEPH/GMA7:  Really?


JOSEPH/GMA7:  After how many days? Like Friday, Saturday, Sunday?

SEC. ROQUE:  Well I had a talk with the security—National Security Adviser and he told me that there’s a technology that we need that we still don’t have to be able to verify it for ourselves. Now, I understand that we could get information from third party resources but that would not be first party verification.

JOSEPH/GMA7:  About us and China?

SEC. ROQUE:  I do not know, but that’s the last conversation I had with the National Security Adviser and this was only last… on an ADB affair last Friday.

JOSEPH/GMA7:  So tayo pa rin iyong magko-confirm, we are not going to ask maybe the US because it’s the US information?

SEC. ROQUE:  There’s still a technology that he’s awaiting to verify everything. But there is a way of verifying for ourselves.

JOSEPH/GMA7:  Remember sir that China promised ‘no that there will be no construction, and that was the President said. Does it—and the information of the US is that this missile defense system has been installed in the past three months. So is that like reneging on the promise of China when they built the missile defense system?

SEC. ROQUE:  I will answer this but any other further questions that you may have, you will have to direct to the Secretary of Foreign Affairs. This is not a new construction in the sense that what China promised is new reclamations. Okay? Or artificial islands.

JOSEPH/GMA7:  So they can build anything, except new islands?

SEC. ROQUE:  That’s a promise of China. I’m not saying it’s okay but that’s the promise. But your question is: ‘Is this a new construction which is a breach of China’s promise?’ The promise was as far as new reclamations and new artificial islands are concerned.

JOSEPH/GMA7:  Okay, that’s it for the meantime.

RALPH VILLANUEVA/MANILA TIMES:  Sir, what are the particular actions po na ginawa na ng Philippine government po doon sa installation?

SEC. ROQUE:  Well I’m not aware but I know there are steps being taken. And this will be addressed by the Secretary of Foreign Affairs.

VIRGIL LOPEZ/GMA NEWS ONLINE:  Sir, the President will be holding a full Cabinet meeting this afternoon. Would you know what would be the agenda?

SEC. ROQUE:  I saw a copy of the agenda ‘no. I think some of the agenda would be the State of the Nation Address for 2018; the report on the first batch of senior high school students; the dengvaxia vaccine controversy and other matters.

VIRGIL/GMA NEWS ONLINE:  How about China, sir?

SEC. ROQUE:  China is not on the agenda.

ROSE NOVENARIO/HATAW:  Sir, a-attend po kaya si ano—invited sa Cabinet meeting si Secretary Teo?

SEC. ROQUE:  Lahat po ng Cabinet members are in fact required, not invited, to attend the Cabinet meeting.

PIA GUTTIEREZ/ABS-CBN:  Hi, sir. Sir, back on Mr. Teo. Mr. Teo was appointed to the Landbank Board of Directors on August 2017, if I recall correctly, sir. Hindi ba siya covered ng prohibition on double compensation, because he is both appointee sa Landbank and also nasa TIEZA din siya?

SEC. ROQUE:  Hindi ko po alam na na-appoint siya sa Landbank. I really don’t have information on Mr. Teo. I hope you understand that as Presidential Spokesperson, I am not aware of appointments even to Government Owned and Controlled Corporations.

PIA/ABS-CBN:  Papalitan po ba rin siya ng Palasyo, sir, sa TIEZA. Meron na po ba tayong nakuhang kapalit?

SEC. ROQUE:  Hindi ko po alam. Hindi ko po alam. Dahil ang sabi lang niya kanina, kaya lang naman daw siya patuloy na nag-a-attend ng mga board meetings ng TIEZA, kasi inaantay niya iyong kapalit niya. Ayaw niyang ma-accuse of having abandoned his post without a replacement. Pero ang sabi niya hindi na raw siya a-attend ng mga board meetings ng TIEZA.

CHONA YU/RADYO INQUIRER:  Sir, balik lang ako sa China. Under the Duterte administration, how many diplomatic protests were filed already and did China even bother to answer doon sa mga diplomatic protest or how did they respond?

SEC. ROQUE:  I don’t have the numbers, because it’s the Department of Foreign Affairs that actually filed these protests. Better address the issue to the Department of Foreign Affairs.

NESTOR CORALES/INQ.NET:  Good morning, sir. Sir, you previously mentioned that the President is regularly apprised with the recent developments in the South China Sea. What was his reaction regarding this reported missile deployment in the Spratlys?

SEC. ROQUE:  Alam  n’yo ho, the President views it from an overall perspective ‘no. Nandiyan na iyang mga isla na iyan when we came in and it can’t be denied that whether or not China will admit it, it will be used for military purposes. Kaya nga po sinabi na naman niya kung kailan lang naman iyan eh… ang problema nagsimula diyan, dahil pinayagang gawin iyong mga isla na iyan to begin with. Bakit kasi walang ginawa iyong ibang mga tao noong ginagawa iyan? Bakit hindi pinigilan ng Estados Unidos kung ayaw nila iyong mga islands na iyan nung ire-reclaim pa iyan ‘no? And everything happened before his term.

We have to deal now with existing realities and ang sinasabi nga ni Presidente is, we are trying to do the best that we can under existing circumstances. We are exploring all diplomatic options, which does not mean we are not doing anything.

NESTOR/INQ.NET:  so, sir may specific instructions ba siya sa DFA, sa DND and kay National Security Adviser?

SEC. ROQUE:  Wala naman po, dahil alam n’yo naman hindi naman nagma-micromanage ang ating Presidente, but he—this issue is really lodged with the Office of Secretary Alan Cayetano.

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7:  Sir, how do you find the situation where one of the missile defense system is in Panganiban Reef which is basically technically ours under the tribunal award?

SEC. ROQUE:  Well, all the artificial islands according to the tribunal are found in Exclusive Economic Zone. So, the ruling of the tribunal is that only the Philippines could have developed those artificial islands. So what is the question now?

JOSEPH/GMA7:  What do we think about the missile defense system being in our EEZ?

SEC. ROQUE:  What do I think? Well, I don’t have any personal opinion as Spokesperson—

JOSEPH/GMA7:  Of course, I’m asking you as a Palace Spokesperson.

SEC. ROQUE:  We have already—we are viewing this with much concern because any possible scenario that would encourage military action in our backyard, in our Exclusive Economic Zone and in the—one of the busiest sea lanes in the world is troublesome. So like the rest of the world, we value freedom of navigation. But we have more of an interest because this is covered by our EEZ.

JOSEPH/GMA7:  Are we not going to ask China, because we are friends, right?

SEC. ROQUE:  I am not saying we are going to ask China but the DFA will exercise all diplomatic initiatives and we leave it to the DFA.

Again, the fact that we are publicizing what we are doing. Let me remind you that it is an accepted exception to freedom of information – diplomatic conversations and initiatives.

CHRISTINE/INQUIRER:  Sir, on your conversation with Secretary Esperon. Did he say what kind of technology—

SEC. ROQUE:  He did. I forgot what it is. I will ask him again and tell you tomorrow what it is that we were awaiting so that we can have finally our own capacity to verify for ourselves.  He mentioned something. I should have written it down.

CHRISTINE/INQUIRER:  Did he say—are we gonna acquire it, sir?   

SEC. ROQUE:  Yes, it’s forthcoming.


SEC. ROQUE:  Yes. I am not sure from what country.

CHRISTINE/INQUIRER:  But it will be fast enough for us to confirm or verify—

SEC. ROQUE:  I think so. He mentioned it. He says that we are awaiting delivery, but we don’t have that capacity, yet.

RALPH VILLANUEVA/MLA TIMES:  Iyong sabi po ni Congressman Zarate sa statement niya kahapon na we should turn away from the notion po na iyong Chinese missiles are not pointed at the Philippines daw po. Kasi iyong retaliation would affect the Philippines po. Any  reaction po?

SEC. ROQUE:  Well, you know, I think, I was from the very beginning saying that we were concerned. But you can’t ignore the fact that because of very good relations, we can be confident that that China as a country does not view us as a threat and there is no reason why assuming they have missiles that they can use, they will use it on us. That’s all that we are saying.

NESTOR/INQ.NET:  Sir, last. Senate President Pimentel yesterday said that the Senate would investigate or would conduct an investigation in the reports that China has installed missiles system in the Spratlys. Reaction from Malacañang?

SEC. ROQUE:  Well, iyan po ay katungkulan din naman ng Senado, hindi po namin ipinagkakait iyan sa Senado. Kaya lang maraming mga bagay-bagay po siguro doon na hindi pupuwedeng i-diskurso sa publiko ‘no, dahil meron nga po  tayong tinatawag na mga bagay-bagay na covered ng executive privilege at saka mga state secret because of national security.

But katungkulan po iyan at prebelihiyo po iyan ng Senado na imbestigahan itong mga missiles ng Tsina.

JULIE AURELIO/INQ:  Sir, follow up lang doon sa probe. Are you not afraid na baka ma-jeopardize iyong friendship natin with China kung may pronouncement na iyong Senate at House natin na we want to investigate the missile deployment?

SEC. ROQUE:  Well, itong imbestigasyon naman po nila is in aid of legislation. So tingnan po natin kung anong mga bagong batas na mababalangkas na magreresulta dahil sa kanilang imbestigasyon ng missiles na ito sa mga islang ito.

JULIE/INQ:  Sir, follow-up. Sabi po ni former Foreign Affairs Secretary Del Rosario na he think it’s about time that the country review its foreign policy, particularly differentiate iyong promised benefits of China against iyong national security natin.  Your take on that, sir?

SEC. ROQUE:  Well that is his opinion, but the President has taken steps towards an independent foreign policy. I fully support that. The nation supports that and it has resulted 

in tangible results. Napakadami na pong benepisyong nakalap ng Pilipinas dahil dito sa independiyenteng panglabas na relasyon natin, kasama na po diyan, nawala nga iyong banta sa seguridad ng Pilipinas. Lahat po sila kaibigan natin at napakadami pong mga bansa ngayon na nagbibigay sa atin ng tulong na dahilan na nagiging napakalakas ng ating ekonomiya ngayon.

On other issue, tapos na ang Wanda, tapos na ang China.

JOSEPH/GMA7:  Sir, kaunti lang, sa China. Hindi ba iyon betrayal of trust, sir? Because some were saying it’s a betrayal of trust.



SEC. ROQUE:  I do not know why it’s even betrayal of trust. Why is it betrayal and trust? Hindi ko po alam, bakit betrayal of trust iyon.  

JOSEPH/GMA7: Kasi sabi nila reclamation lang naman iyong sinabi nilang hindi gagawin. But it’s a missile defense system so it is not reclamation. So therefore it’s not a breach of trust?

SEC. ROQUE:  Hindi naman natin sinasabi wala tayong ginagawa eh. Sinasabi ko lang hindi namin sasabihin kung ano ang ginagawa. Pero all diplomatic initiatives are being undertaken. It’s not something that we can talk about.

JOSEPH/GMA7: Okay. ADB, sir, may statement na we should avoid… maybe we should be careful about loans from China, because may mga history iyong ibang countries like Maldives, Sri Lanka na may mga debt trap. Where are we going to get the money for the build, build, build, again?

SEC. ROQUE:  Not really just from China ‘no, it’s from all sources. Ang maganda po dito sa independent foreign policy ng ating Pangulo eh nag-uunahan iyong bansang Tsina at saka Japan na magbigay sa atin ng hindi lang pautang kung hindi ng mga grants. So kapag nagbigay ang Tsina, hindi pupuwedeng magbigay ang Japan.

So wala po tayong problema diyan sa warning ng ADB na iyan dahil bukas naman ang mga mata natin at ang ginawa naman natin mula nung nagkaroon tayo ng independiyenteng panglabas na relasyon, eh lahat po naging kaibigan dito sa Asya, hindi lang po ang Tsina, kasama na po ang Russia, kasama ang India.

JOSEPH/GMA7: But didn’t Secretary Pernia say we chose China’s offers over Japan because we are trying to be warm to them?

SEC. ROQUE:   Hindi po sa lahat ng proyekto iyan. May mga ilang proyekto na pinili natin Tsina, may ilang proyekto pinili natin Japan. Ang subway po Japan, hindi natin binigay sa Tsina.

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA NEWS:   Sir, ano lang ha…I’m going to go through the checklist ng office. There was one—with regard to training, sir. Mayroon daw 21 schools na derail iyong pag… na hindi na nagawa because kailangang i-adjust iyong mga prices because of TRAIN.

SEC. ROQUE:   Hindi ko po alam iyan. And I find that highly unlikely ‘no.


SEC. ROQUE:  Dahil ang report po natin ngayon, napakataas po ngayon utilization rate ng lahat nang mga departamento, kasama na po diyan ang DPWH. Hindi na po problema ngayon ang underspending; at iyan naman po ay crucial para sa tagumpay ng TRAIN, TRAIN, TRAIN na magastos talaga iyong budget na inilaan para sa mga proyekto.

JOSEPH/GMA7: Build, build, build.

SEC. ROQUE:   TRAIN, TRAIN, TRAIN—build, build, build! Sorry po. Importante iyan sa build, build, build na magastos po iyong mga inilaan na mga budget para sa mga proyekto.

JOSEPH/GMA7: Sir, konti lang. Iyong meron yatang bidding iyong DOT na one million something for reversible jackets for birthday celebrants sa ahensiya nila.

SEC. ROQUE:   Hindi ko na po alam iyang one million projects na iyan sa totoo lang.

JOSEPH/GMA7: So wala pang update?

SEC. ROQUE:   Ipaumanhin po, pero iyong mga one million [na] mga appropriation, hindi na po nakakarating iyan sa Tanggapan ng Presidente.


ROSE NOVENARIO/ HATAW:  Sir, iyong sa PhilHealth po, iyong COA report din doon at saka iyong po iyong sulat ng mga empleyado kay Presidente. Ano po iyong follow up doon?

SEC. ROQUE:   Well, alam ko po iimbestigahan din po iyan ng Presidente ‘no. Dahil prayoridad po talaga ng Presidente na magbigay nung universal health care at talagang kung hindi po malilinis ang hanay ng PhilHealth, hindi po magkakatuparan itong universal health care. So ito lang po ang maipapangako ko po: Talagang bibigyan po ng importansiya paglilinis sa hanay ng PhilHealth.

ROCKY IGNACIO/PTV4:    Okay. No more questions MPC? Okay, thank you Presidential—

DHAREL PLACIDO/ABS-CBN:  Sir, iyong PhilHealth chief po asked for her side to be heard by the President. Is the President willing to entertain her, sir?

SEC. ROQUE:   Well, the matter po naman will be – I think like all controversies – investigated and everyone will be heard.


SEC. ROQUE:   So kung wala na ho, see you tomorrow. Okay.

ROCKY IGNACIO/PTV4:    Okay. Maraming salamat Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque.

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SOURCE: PCOO – NIB (News and Information Bureau)