Press Briefing

Press Briefing of Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque at the Camarines Sur Polytechnic College

Location Camarines Sur Polytechnic Colleges Auditorium in Nabua, Camarines Sur

SEC. ROQUE: Here on the occasion of the awarding of the Ten Outstanding Students of Bicol. So, I would like to thank first and foremost, the beautiful President of CamSur Polytechnic Colleges, Dr. Dulce F. Atian and I’d like to recognize also, of course Atty. Vitriolo, Executive director of the Commission on Higher Education. We hope to be joined by the two Representatives of Ako Bicol – one of them is approaching – Congressman Christopher Co and the other Congressman of Bicol is Congressman Rodel Batocabe. I hope he is able to join us.

Now, let me begin with the Palace position on Manila Pavilion. We deeply mourn the loss of lives caused by fire at the Manila Pavillion and plane crash in Bulacan. Our sympathies go to the victims, to their families and friends. Please join me in a moment of silence as we offer a prayer for the victims of these unfortunate tragedies. A moment of silence please…

We are joined now also by Ako Bicol Representative, Rodel Batocabe.

Let me begin with good news for Bicol, first because we are here in Bicol. The good news for Bicol is, magandang balita po sa mga magsasaka ng Albay na naapektuhan ng pagsabog ng Bulkang  Mayon, maari na po kayong makakuha ng 25,000 interest free loan mula  po sa Department  of Agriculture sa kanilang Survival and Recovery assistance program (SURE). Kasama ito sa financial assistance na ipinangako ni Pangulong Rodrigo Roa Duterte sa kanyang pagbisita rito sa Albay noong Enero.

Sa ilalim ng SURE Program makakakuha ang isang magsasaka ng paunang 5,000 para sa kanyang pang-araw-araw na pangangailangan. Ang nalalabing 20,000 po ay maibibigay pagkabalik na ng magsasaka sa kanyang tahanan o sa lupang sinasaka para makapagsimula muli.

Maximum loanable amount is P25,000 per farmer,  regardless of the size of the farm. The local government unit through the City or Municipal Agricultural Officer will submit to the D.A. the list of affected farmers in their areas. The DA in turn will endorse the list to the Agricultural Credit Policy Council which will serve as the latter’s gauge in determining the amount to be downloaded to the conduit bank or cooperative.

Now, more good news for the nation! We are moving a step closer to having our first subway system that would help alleviate traffic congestion in Metro Manila. The Philippines signed a loan with the Japanese government worth 104.5 billion yen or 51.3 billion pesos to finance the initial phase of the subway flagship infrastructure project, the biggest infrastructure project to be funded by Japanese ODA.

The construction of the 36-kilometers subway will begin next year and it’s expected to be finished by 2025. The subway will begin partial operations by 2020.  Once completed, the subway will have 16 stations and will run from Mindanao Avenue in Quezon City up to Ninoy Aquino International Airport.

More good news!  Investor confidence in the Philippines is indeed real and remains to be strong. The growth outlook on the economy continues to be favorable, as manufacturing investments in the Philippines surge in 2017 – according to the Department of Trade and Industry – by 244%, recording an amount of 1.15 billion US dollars inflow compared to only 334.3 million in 2016.

The top manufacturing sectors were in food, production of radio, television, communication equipment and apparatus, chemical and non-chemical products, fabricated  metal products, basic metal and non-metallic mineral products.

Meanwhile, the largest share of foreign equity investments came from Singapore, Japan, The Netherlands, United States and Luxembourg.

One final piece of good news! We are pleased to announce that the Department of Energy declared last week, that after years of exploration and drilling activities, there are commercial quantities of natural gas and oil resources in Alegria oil field located in the Southern part of Cebu.  A ceremonial signing of the joint declaration of commerciality was done between Department of Energy Secretary Alfonso G. Cusi and China international Mining Petroleum Company Limited Chair, Lam Nam.

It has been established that the Alegria Underground area has 27.93 million barrels of  oil and  an approximate  9.42 billion cubic feet  reserves.

Now, as I said. We will entertain questions first from the  local media alternating with text questions from the Malacañang Press Corps.

Q:  Good afternoon po. I’m Roel Escandor jr. from the—correspondent of Philippine Daily Inquirer. Bago po ako, iyong question ko. Sir, are you joking when you said, pinulsuhan mo si…

SEC. ROQUE:  Ah, pinulsuan ko si Batocabe. On national TV? We just had to verify po and as soon I verified there was no attraction, I felt safe.

Q:  You were the prime mover para mapirmahan sa senado iyong treaty sa International Criminal Court. Ngayon, yesterday and you are the alter ego of the President. The President was asking, encouraging some nations to also withdraw. Nagbago na ba iyong posisyon mo at pagtingin sa ICC ngayon?

SEC. ROQUE:  Hindi po. And let me clarify that. I was very committed to the principles that lead to the establishment of the ICC. Yes, I acknowledge, we were the most active supporter of the ICC in the Philippines. But I do agree with the decision of the President. Why? Kasi nga po iyong basehan ng ating consent para maging member ng ICC ay hindi po gagalaw o hindi mag-i-eksersisyo ng huridiksyon ng ICC  hanggang naririyan po ang ating mga local na hukuman.

So sa akin po, wag po nating ikumpara ang hukuman ng Pilipinas sa mga bansa gaya Burundi, Sudan, Somalia. Dahil ang ating mga hukuman po ay bukas, gumagana at wala pong hadlang para maparusahan maski po ang Presidente. Dahil dito sa Pilipinas napatunayan na po natin, dalawang Presidente na ang napakulong right after their term of office.

So wala po talagang basehan na manghimasok ang Prosecutor – I feel and I reiterate – this is the fault of the Prosecutor! States when they became part of the ICC did not surrender their sovereignty.  They did not surrender the power of their local courts to exercise jurisdiction over crimes that happened in the Philippines.

We have a domestic IHL law, which is the legal basis for investigating and prosecuting crimes against humanity in the Philippines. The Philippine Courts should have been given the opportunity to exercise jurisdiction as in fact, the Philippine Courts have exercised jurisdiction in at least two cases of writs of Amparo and the office of the Ombudsman still investigating complaints for alleged crime against humanity. So, hindi po nagbabago ang aking paninindigan, pero out of bounds po talaga iyong Prosecutor.

And may I take this opportunity to my bashers. Number one, your bashing will not affect me. Number two, iyong mga kino-quote n’yo pong mga opinion ko, I stand by my personal opinions, but when I became Presidential Spokesperson, I lost my personal opinions. I can only speak the thoughts of the President. That is the nature of my job.

MIKE VIADO/GMA7:  Good afternoon, Secretary Roque. Reaksiyon n’yo lang po sa pagpapa-pullout ni President Duterte sa ibang bansa from the ICC?

SEC. ROQUE:  Well, I think even without the President calling for the member countries to pull out from the ICC, that they may consider because of the development that the Prosecutor breached the principle of complimentarity. Iyong prinsipyo po na sinasabi ko na the ICC will only exercise if domestic courts are unable or unwilling to do so, is called the principle of complimentarity. That is the cornerstone, for all 124 countries comprising the ICC to have become members of the Court and once that is violated of course, states will think twice about their continuing membership to the ICC.

I hasten to add, kaunti lang naman po ang miyembro ng ICC, 124. Hindi po kasama diyan ang Estados Unidos, Tsina, Russia, even Israel. At sa South East Asia po, dadalawa na lang ang natitirang miyembro niyan, Cambodia at Timor L’este.

MIKE/GMA7:  One last question, sir. Iyong sinabi po ni President Duterte tungkol sa pagtakbo ni Bong Go. Itaas n’yo na iyong kamay na iyan, itinaas  ko na ang kamay niyan. Ibig bang sabihin approved na ni Duterte na tumakbo si Bong Go?

SEC. ROQUE:  Well, approved naman po talaga ni Presidente na tumakbo si Secretary Bong Go. But the decision is Secretary Bong Go’s eventually.

AL ALMARIO/DZGB:  Good afternoon DZGB-Legazpi, sir. Marami pa ring nalilito tungkol dito sa palapit na Barangay election, sir. Ano ba ang opinion ng ating Presidente dito, matuloy kaya ito o hindi?

SEC. ROQUE:  Well, nagsalita na po ang Presidente, ang desisyon po talaga, nakasalalay sa mga kamay ni Congressman Co, Congressman Batocabe at ng Kongreso. Minsan po nagsalita sa Davao ang Presidente na nais na niyang matuloy iyan, pero siyempre po, hindi Presidente po ang nagdedesisyon diyan. Pero ang balita ko po wala nga pong suporta sa Senado ang pagpapaliban ng Barangay election. So ang aking payo po sa mga nais kumandidato, maghanda po kayo, dahil habang wala pong conforme ang senado, tuloy po ang eleksyon para sa Barangay.

LIEZEL:  Good morning. This is the question coming from Malacañang Press Corps. From Maricel Halili and Deo De Guzman: “House Committee on Justice approved the article of impeachment against CJ Sereno. What do you think of this? Palace’ reaction on this.”

SEC. ROQUE:  We leave the matter of the impeachment of the CJ wholly to the Congress, because that is a Constitutional function of the House of Representatives. Once approved by Plenary, then the articles of impeachment will be submitted to the Senate and the Senate will have to organize itself as an impeachment court. So we will allow the constitutional process to proceed.

LIEZEL:  Thank you so much. From Bella Cariaso: Is the President really satisfied with the performance of Secretary Aguirre: First iyong dismissal ng case ng mga drug lords; Now, he wants the brain of pork barrel scam to be a state witness?

While may gusto pong makasuhan ang government na obviously hindi nakasuhan noong past administration sa pork scam, kailangan ba iyong architect ng scam? Hindi ba ine-encourage nito ang ilan na gumawa ng huge crimes and then i-offer ang   sarili bilang state witness?

SEC. ROQUE:  Siguro sagutin ko muna po iyong dalawang isyu ‘no. Nagsalita na po ang Presidente pagdating doon sa pagdi-dismiss ng kaso kay Peter Lim at saka kay Kerwin Espinosa. Ang sabi ni Presidente, dapat mabago iyan, mabaligtad iyan hindi katanggap-tanggap na sila po ay mapapawalang-sala.

Pagdating naman po dito sa Witness Protection, ang problema po ang Presidente, hindi po micro-manager. Nakasaad po sa batas na iyong desisyon kung sino ang papasukin sa WPP nakasalalay po iyan sa mga Prosecutors ng DOJ. Mayroon po tayong batas na sinusunod diyan. At sa ngayong punto pong ito, wala pa naman pong witness protection talaga si Janet Lim Napoles. Siya po ay binigyan pa lamang ng provisional protection! Hindi pa po siya admitted into the program, dahil pag-aaralan pa ng mga Prosecutors alinsunod sa batas kung  pupuwede nga siyang  mapapasok: If she is not the most guilty; and if her testimony is absolutely indispensable.

So wala pa naman pong desisyon  diyan. Pero uulitin ko lang po, hindi naman po sa lahat ng bagay ay nanghihimasok ang Presidente. Siguro po kinailangang magsalita ang Presidente dahil iyong pagde-dismiss sa   kaso ni Espinosa at Lim eh napakalaking impact doon sa kampanya ng Presidente laban sa ipinagbabawal na gamot.

So, sa ngayon po, nirerespeto namin ang magiging desisyon ng DOJ, dahil katungkulan naman po nila iyan sang-ayon din sa batas na bumuo ng Witness Protection Program. As to whether or not he enjoys the confidence of the President, hanggang naririyan po ang miyembro ng gabinete, meron pa ring trust and confidence ang Presidente, dahil kung nawala naman, as you know, the President has fired at least one sitting member  of the cabinet, if he has lost trust and confidence  and he will fire whoever he wants to fire. That everyone in the cabinet sits at the pleasure of the President.

Q:  Good morning, sir. I am Mr. Ricky Roces from Aksiyon Pinoy based in Naga. Now ang first impression sir sa iyo ng karamihan, very impressive ka daw na maging Senador ng bansa. Now, my question is here: Uhaw na uhaw na po ang mga Bikolano na iyon pong ine-enjoy nila noong sa PNR. Kailan po—how soon na maibalik iyong… sa mga Bikolano po ang PNR dito sa Bicolandia?

SEC. ROQUE:  Well unang-una po, hindi—ako po ay mayroong connection sa Bicol. Ang misis ko po ay Taal na taga Daraga, Albay. So, ang commander ko po taga Daraga, Albay at siya po mismo ang nagtatanong kung kailan na iyang PNR mabubuhay muli. Ang PNR po ay ibinigay sa Tsina at nagkausap po kami ng Ambassador ng Tsina noong isang Linggo, hindi naman daw po matatapos ang termino na hindi nagagawa iyang South Rail na iyan. So huwag po kayong maiinip, naririyan na po ang South Rail at ang pangako po ng Presidente, hindi siya aalis ng puwesto nang hindi nagkaroon ng katuparan iyan.

Q:  Nice to see you again, Secretary. On your statement po last Friday, you said na negative po iyong swollen hands na sinasabi ni PNP chief—

SEC. ROQUE:  Iyong ano? Iyong?

Q: Iyong swollen hands po ni Presidente Duterte sa galit niya po ‘no na may sinuntok siyang pader, on the statement of PNP Chief Bato Dela Rosa. But the President’s brother Bong Duterte posted some photos on Facebook po confirming the swollen hands. Any statement on this?

SEC. ROQUE:  Hindi ko po kasi nakita iyong pagsuntok sa pader. Iyon lang po ang aking sinabi ‘no. I was with the President from the beginning of the command conference until the last appointment which was an interview with 12 opinion writers. Hindi ko lang po nakita. So that’s all that I said.

Q:  Good afternoon, Senator and Congressman. Ano po ba talaga iyong Tax Reform Acceleration Law, pro-poor or pro-rich po ito! Kasi sabi ng DTI, hindi naman dapat magtaasan iyong mga prime commodities. Pero kami po pagbili namin, talagang tumaas iyong mga prime commodities! Ano po ang puwedeng magawang paraan ng ating pamahalaan, ng government para po hindi masyadong magkaroon tayo ng profiteering?

SEC. ROQUE:  Okay. Well unang-una po talagang ito po ay para sa mahirap. Iyong mga sumasahod po ng 250,000 and below, wala na po silang binabayarang buwis. At iyong mga mayroon pang binabayaran, lumiit na po ang buwis na kanilang binabayaran dahil iyong tax base po para doon sa mga under 500 ay bumaba na rin po ang tax base and I think all the teachers can attest to this ‘no. Mas maliit na po o wala na iyong tinatawag na withholding tax. Pangalawa po, iyong mga pagtaas naman ng mga presyo ng bilihin, hindi po iyan lahat dahil lamang sa TRAIN. Ang hindi po siguro naasahan ay dahil sa World Market ay masyadong tumaas ang presyo ng gasolina at langis. Kaya nga po medyo mataas dahil mayroon ngang kaunting excise tax na pinapataw. Pero ang pagtaas po talaga ay dahil sa World Market forces, noong presyo ng langis na nakakaapekto sa presyo ng lahat ng mga iba pang mga bagay.

Now, mayroon din po tayong 200 pesos na kada buwan na ibinigay ngayon para doon sa mga beneficiaries ng 4Ps para maibsan po ang epekto ng TRAIN at sa susunod na taon po magiging 300 pesos a month po iyan para maibsan nga po iyong impact ng TRAIN. Pero in-assure po kami ng Department of Finance na hindi po aabot sa one percent ang magiging contribution ng TRAIN dito po sa ating inflation. Siguro po panandalian lang ito dahil masyadong mataas po ang presyo ng langis pero habang patapos na po ang winter, alam ninyo naman tumataas lang ang presyo ng langis dahil malamig sa mga lugar na mayroong winter. Pag natapos po ang winter naku magiging all time low na naman po iyan. So kaunting pagtiyaga lang po.

MODERATOR:  Okay, marami po tayong mga katanungan mula sa Manila Press Corps. Please?

SEC. ROQUE:  Malacañang Press Corps po. [laughs].

Q:  From Virgil: In your Facebook post dated April 23, 2014, you said, if Janette Napoles became state witness, they might as well admit all administrations Senatongs and Tongressmen as state witnesses versus opposition. Where is justice in this country? It appears that crime does stay here. May we get your clarification on this? Does this mean you are against the idea of tapping Mrs. Napoles who is now under provisional coverage of the WPP or the Witness Protection Program as state witness in the PDAF scam?

SEC. ROQUE:  As I said, lahat po ng nakasulat sa blog ko, at this is a 2014 blog, are my personal opinion. I cease to have a personal opinion as of November 7, 2017 when I took my oath as Presidential Spokesperson. As of the date of my oath, I can only speak the thoughts of the President. My personal opinions have become irrelevant for now. Pero gaya po ng sinabi ko kanina, hinahayaan muna po ng Presidente na DOJ ang mag-determine kung makakapasok sa witness protection si Janette Lim Napoles dahil iyan naman po ang nakasaad sa batas.

Pero lilinawin ko po ha, maski pa po at ako naman ay may kaunting karanasan sa witness protection dahil doon sa Maguindanao massacre ‘no at saka kay Jennifer Laude, maski na po makapasok iyan sa WPP, hindi po maaapektuhan ang pananagutan, tanging hukuman lang po ang pupuwede na magbigay ng immunity kapag ikaw po ay naging state witness at hindi naman po pareho ang witness protection sa pagiging state witness.

Pero sa ngayon po, uulitin ko po, wala pa pong desisyon ang DOJ. So huwag muna po tayong masyadong maging aggravated. Provisional lang po iyan, pag-aaralan pa ng mga affidavit. Siguro po pati ang Presidente kung magkaroon ng desisyon after mapag-aralan ang mga affidavit ay magkakaroon na rin ng personal na paninindigan ang Presidente. Pero sa ngayon po hayaan muna natin ang DOJ gawin ang kanilang trabaho. Sang-ayon na rin sa batas.

Q:  Thank you, Sec. Another question from Virgil: PAGCOR said last Friday that the plan of a Macau based casino operator Galaxy Entertainment Group LTD and its local partner – to build a 500 million dollar integrated casino resort in Boracay – will proceed despite an impending total closure of the island for up to one year. How will this impact the closure plan? Should the government ban all construction activities in the island while it is being rehabilitated?

SEC. ROQUE:  Ang desisyon po sa Boracay ay gagawin po ng ating Presidente. Iyan po ay preliminary recommendation, pero kung papansinin ninyo po iyong preliminary recommendation is closure from maximum of one year: So, pupuwede po iyang sundin ng Presidente; puwedeng baliwalain; pupuwedeng isang buwan; tatlong buwan. Hindi pa po natin alam! So pag-aaralan pa po iyan ng Presidente, ang alam ko po hindi pa nakakarating sa kaniya itong rekomendasyon na ito ‘no. Pero hindi naman po katanggap-tanggap na permanenteng isasara ang Boracay.

Kung mayroon pong gagawin sa Boracay, kung sabihin natin magkakaroon ng partial closure. It is to ensure that Boracay will be viable for the next generations to come. So iyan po ay isang remedial measure to make sure that the environment is protected and that we will ensure that the jewel that is Boracay, will be shared by the coming generations. Wala pong possibility ng permanent closure! It is only steps that must be undertaken to protect the environment of Boracay.

Q:  Good morning po, Senator Harry Roque, gaya ng sinabi ni Congressman Batocabe. This is my question sir: Matutuloy po ba iyong pagbalangkas ng ating Konstitusyon? And then iyong—kasi malapit na maging 2022. Mare-realize po ba iyong advocacy ng ating Presidente na i-push iyong federal government sa ating bansa?

SEC. ROQUE:  Ay sa tingin ko po iyan ang ilan lamang doon sa ipinangako ng ating Presidente, parang tatlo lang po iyang ipinangako niya eh: korapsyon; kampanya sa korapsyon; kampanya laban sa ipinaglalabang droga; pederalismo at saka mas komportableng buhay para sa lahat. Apat lang po iyan, ipinangako ng Presidente. Gagawin naman po niya ang lahat para makamit lalong lalo na itong charter change para sa federalism.

Eh pati po iyong desisyon namin ni Secretary Bong Go, kung tatakbo sa Senado, nakasalalay po iyan sa Presidente dahil kinakailangan na ang Presidente, hindi po bababa sa sampung senador para po umusad nga itong charter change na ito.

Q:  Sir, Mar Barcenas po ng Radyo Natin-Iriga. Tungkol naman sir sa mga modernization program ng jeep sir?

SEC. ROQUE: Ano ang? Ah, modernization ng jeep. Ah tabi po kayo, oo para hindi po kayo ma-block ng camera, hindi ninyo ma-block ang camera.

Q:  Kasi dito sa amin sir, iyong mga nagba-violate ng batas sir. Ano po sir, kaya po iyan ng jeep po na isinusulong ng ating gobyerno po?

SEC. ROQUE:  Well unang ang unang-una bagama’t ang nais ng Presidente ay complete phase out by January. Nakita naman natin hindi po nangyari. The reality is we cannot completely phase out the jeepneys instantly. So step by step po iyan! So sa ngayon po ang tingin ko ay nandoon na tayo sa transitions stage. So pag-aralan po natin kung kakayanin ng electric jeepney ang mga matatarik. Pero ang punto po sa electric jeepney ay less pollution po iyan. At saka ang buong daigdig po talaga going electric na. So nahuhuli na nga po tayo sa prosesong ito. Pero it will not happen overnight.

Q:  Thank you very much. My name is Myra Revilla from Radyo Pilipinas. Naka-base po sa Naga, that’s 45 minutes away from Nabua.

SEC. ROQUE:  Yes, Ma’am.

Q:  Sir, gusto kong mag-local kasi dito iyong mga state colleges and university, talagang fully subsidized na nang ating government. Pero mayroon po kaming natanggap na mga ulat na parang iyong mga miscellaneous fee ay parang sinisingil pa po sa ating mga magulang?

SEC. ROQUE:  Let me clarify this ‘no.

Q:  Opo, kamusta po iyon sir?

SEC. ROQUE:  Iyong 2017 ang libre lang talaga tuition. Kasi this was not the law that Congressman—that I supported together with Congressman Batocabe and Congressman Co. Iyong 2017 free tuition po dahil nagkaroon ng realignment from what—the Senate Lacson perceived to be pork barrel going to the ARMM. Nilipat po iyan sa free tuition. So ang 2017 talagang hindi po libre ang miscellaneous, tuition lamang.

Pero dito po sa batas na naging—itong batas na pinirmahan na po ng ating Presidente bagama’t sabi ng economic team huwag pirmahan at nandito po si Commissioner Vitriolo, ang Executive Director ng CHED, ang sakop po ay tuition and miscellaneous. At hindi lang po iyan, mayroon din po tayong educational subsidy doon po sa mga pinakamahihirap, mga beneficiaries ng 4Ps na nag-aaral po sa mga pribadong eskuwelahan. Kung hindi po ako nagkakamali 40,000 po iyan per year; 20,000 per semester.

Q:  Good day, Mr. Secretary. Isu-shoot ko na po iyong dalawang tanong. Iyong unang tanong ko po. Kailan po matatapos iyong pinapatayo na International Airport sa Bicol and modernization of Pili Airport and number two question, ano pa po talaga ang opinyon ninyo tungkol dito sa divorce bill?

SEC. ROQUE: Una muna! Tinanong ko po kay Secretary Tugade, siguro mga two weeks ang nakalipas, tungkol po doon sa Pili Airport. Ito po iyong bagong airport sa Camarines Sur ‘no na hindi pa kasama sa Naga o pareho iyan? Ah, Naga Airport. Okay.

Iyong upgrading po, alam ko po ay tuloy iyan at magkakaroon pa nga ng pangalawang airport doon sa San Jose. Kinunfirm po sa akin iyan ni Secretary Tugade. So pareho po iyan ay matutuloy po iyan para magkaroon kayo nang hindi lang dalawa kung hindi tatlong airport dito sa Bicol Region.

Ano po ang posisyon ng Presidente sa Divorce Bill? Ayaw po sana niyang magkomento, pero since nagbotohan na naman na sa Kamara, ang Presidente po ay tutol sa divorce. Ang sabi po niya: “kawawa po iyong mga anak; at kung magkakaroon ng divorce, mawawalan po ng karapatan na magsampa ng kaso iyong mga asawa na pinabayaan ng mga asawa nila matapos nilang mag-divorce.” So iyan po ang posisyon niya!

Pero ang unang sabi niya sa akin, no comment na lang tayo. Pero since nagtanong kayo at tapos na naman ang botohan sa Kamara, iyan po ang kaniyang paninindigan.

Q:  [OFF MIC] Puwede ko pong matanong si Congressman Batocabe kung ano ang kaniyang opinyon?

CONGRESSMAN BATOCABE: Author ako.

MODERATOR: So he’s for divorce, okay. From Malacañang Press Corps, from Leila: How will Napoles’ provisional acceptance in WPP affect the administration’s anti-corruption program. The President has said fighting corruption is one of his main programs. What are his plans for Napoles?

SEC. ROQUE: Well, I think that’s a premature question because she has not been admitted to the WPP. It is a provisional admission which only gives her temporary protection subject to the evaluation of the panel prosecutors who will recommend her admission into the program.

So right now po, hands-off muna ang Presidente dahil wala pa namang desisyon! Kapag nagkaroon po ng desisyon, tatanungin ko kay Presidente kung sang-ayon ba siya or hindi sa magiging desisyon ng DOJ. But to say anything now is premature; wala pa pong desisyon iyan.

MODERATOR: Thank you. From Darrel: Can we get the Palace’s comment on Vladimir Putin’s re-election as Russian President?

SEC. ROQUE: We can only congratulate him because we don’t meddle in the affairs of other states.

NIÑO LUCES/MANILA BULLETIN: Magandang hapon po, sir. Sir, mayroon po yatang balasahan sa Cabinet. Babalasahin po iyong Gabinete ni Presidente Duterte. May nabanggit po ba sa inyo si Presidente kung sino iyong mga mahihinang mag-perform na mga secretaries?

SEC. ROQUE: Wala po. Lilinawin ko po ha, hindi sa akin nanggaling po ito, nanggaling kay Presidente. Noong Lunes kasi, iyong araw na di-umano’y nagkaroon ng sintukan sa pader, ang huling appointment ni Presidente po ay isang interview with twelve select opinion writers. Doon po niya sinabi: Unang-una, hindi raw siya happy sa Gabinete niya ‘no; at siyempre magkakaroon ng pagbabago. Pero iyon lang po ang sinabi ni Presidente, wala na po siyang ibang nabanggit.

So hindi ko pa po alam ang kasagutan sa inyong katanungan dahil I can only repeat what the President told the select opinion writers last Monday.

JAYVEE(?)/BRIGADA NEWS: Good afternoon sir, Secretary and kay Congressman. Sir, sa local ho, kasi dito sa Camarines Sur, may mga pagkilos na sa pulitika. May mga nagpuproklama na ma-run for ganitong posisyon. Sir, sa personal, may napipisil na kayo or napag-uusapan ninyo na po kung sino po iyong puwedeng manukin po ninyo sa pagka-governor and the rest na mga local positions po dito sa Camarines Sur?

And sa national naman po, may MOU signing na yatang nangyari sa Kuwait and the Philippines tungkol sa deployment ban. Ano po ang update kasi marami pong nagtatanong na gustong makapagtrabaho sa Kuwait pero may problema yata? Thank you very much po, sir.

SEC. ROQUE:  Sagutin ko po muna iyong katanungan ninyo sa Kuwait. Totoo po iyan, nagkaroon na ng MOU signing. Pero ang hiningi po ng Presidente para ma-lift ang deployment ay hindi lang iyong garantiya na magbibigay ng proteksyon ang Kuwait sa ating mga manggagawa kung hindi katarungan din para po kay Joanna. So ngayon po, bagama’t mayroon ng nalagdaang MOU, the deployment ban stays.

Now, pagdating po doon sa mga minamanok ni Presidente, wala pa po. in fact, ang Presidente po talaga, binigay niya kay Senate President Koko Pimentel at kay Speaker Alvarez at kay Secretary Cusi iyong pamamalakad po ng PDP-Laban. So sa ngayon po, talagang hinahayaan niya po ang mga tatlong opisyales na magpatakbo ng partido.

ALAN MANANSALA/UNTV: Sir, have you read an article, an appeal to Presidente Rodrigo Duterte from the stakeholders of Boracay? Anong reaksiyon ninyo dito, sir?

SEC. ROQUE: I haven’t read it. I will read it. As I said, what the President has said is he will be fair in his decision on what to do with Boracay, and he is the President who listens.

Uulitin ko lang po, kung ano ang gagawin niya sa Boracay is intended for the welfare of Boracay. Para po sa ikabubuti din iyan ng Boracay kung anumang ang maging desisyon ng ating Presidente. Pero sa ngayon po, wala pa siyang desisyon.

RADYO UNO LEGAZPI: Secretary, ito po ang aking katanungan: Due to inconsistent testimony and evidence ng mga testigo against alleged drug lord Kerwin Espinosa and Peter Lim, inabsuwelto sila ng prosecutor! And alam natin mismo na sa harap  ng mga senador, inako at idiniin niya – ni Kerwin Espinosa – ang ating Bikolanang senador, Leila De Lima, in conspiracy sa drug proliferation dito sa bansa. Ngayon, dapat ba na i-absuwelto rin si Secretary o kaya si Bikolana Senador Leila De Lima?

SEC. ROQUE: Hindi po, wala pong kinalaman iyong kaso ni Leila De Lima dito sa kaso na hindi pa naman pinal na na-dismiss. That is subject to automatic appeal pa po so hindi pa po iyan dismissed. As far as Leila De Lima is concerned po, nakarating na iyan sa kataas-taasang hukuman kung mayroon pong basehan iyong kaso laban sa kaniya; at mayroon daw po.

JUAN HUGO/RPN: Good morning, sir, Harry and Congressman of Party List. Sir, katanungan lang namin: Any reaction for latest news ngayon na lumabas na Senator Leila De Lima po was chosen as one of the five strongest women in Asia?

SEC. ROQUE:  Wala po kaming reaksiyon dahil hindi naman po kami ang namili sa kaniya na bigyan ng ganyang parangal. Bahala po iyong nagbigay ng parangal sa kaniya.

DZRC: Good afternoon po, Secretary. Palagi pong sinasabi noon ni Presidente na ilalabas niya iyong pangalan ng mga barangay officials na connected po sa illegal drugs. Kailan po ito sir ilalabas? Thank you.

SEC. ROQUE: Well, hindi ko po alam kung siya mismo ang nagbanggit na ilalabas, kasi ang may hawak po niyang ay DILG. So tatanungin ko po kay Acting Secretary Año kung ano ang plano niya doon sa listahan ng barangay officials na nakasama sa narco-list dahil mukhang matutuloy na po ang eleksyon. Ang sinabi lang ni Presidente, sana huwag mahalal iyong mga drug lords na iyan. At kung matutuloy, eh baka manalo nga iyong mga drug personalities na iyan dahil natural, marami silang pera.

MODERATOR: Thank you. Mr. Secretary, we have here four paragraphs insights coming from Ian Cruz of GMA 7. Shall we read these four paragraphs for you to react on?

SEC. ROQUE: Amin na, patingin na lang para isa-summarize ko na rin kasi, Ian, I’m sorry but we cannot read the whole page ‘no. Okay number one: The withdrawal will not affect the status of the judge from the Philippines? We confirmed that po. Ang term po ni Judge Raul Pangalangan na dati kong kasama sa UP is fixed and he will serve, if I’m not mistaken, until 2021 0r 2022.

Now, withdrawal have no impact on ongoing proceedings? Well, that’s true. That’s the decision as far as Burundi is concerned. Pero gaya ng sinabi ko sa kanila po, I’m sorry if we are offending Burundi. But one reason why we, in fact, withdrew from the ICC is – under no circumstance – can you compare the judicial system of the Philippines with that of Burundi? Napakalaki naman po ng dipirensya! Kaya nga po  sinasabi namin na labag iyong principle of complementarity because Philippine courts are not unable or unwilling.

Totoo po iyan, the proceedings can continue but the President has said, the matter of cooperation, well, the court will never acquire jurisdiction over him. And given the very limited number of member-states in Southeast Asia, which is just Cambodia and Timor L’este, we do not know how the court can proceed. For its own good, they should drop the case rather than prove to the world na inutil ang hukuman.

There is no conspiracy between ICC and UN commissioner? Siguro po, but there is concerted effort to discredit the President as far as the UN Human Rights community is concerned!

Okay? I think I was able to answer the three points.

MODERATOR: Yeah. We have here from Ina on ICC: In a statement, ICC says, it will continue with its preliminary examination on Presidente Duterte and his drug war. What’s the Palace’ take on this? Any update on the letter we sent to the UN regarding the Philippines’ withdrawal from the Rome Statute?

SEC. ROQUE: Well, Maricel [sic], as I said, that’s the court’s call. If they want to continue, I think it would be fool-hardy for the court to expect cooperation from us. And of course, even the matter of acquiring jurisdiction over the person will depend on cooperation.

There is already one President who has an outstanding warrant of arrest, Al-Bashir, and no state has apprehended him. So if the court knows what is good for it, for an institution to survive, they will just throw away this case.

And again, please, the biggest reason why we withdrew from the court is we’re not a Burundi. That’s an insult to all officers of the court in this country.

MODERATOR: ICC is appealing to the government to not proceed with its withdrawal. Is this scenario possible? The ICC says the Philippine is an important state-party to the Rome Statute, and as such, an integral part of the international criminal justice system.

SEC. ROQU: I’ve already said that that appeal is, ‘too late, the hero’. The ICC should have known that the Philippines was at the forefront of the campaign for universal ratification.

They know what the principle of complementarity is. Hindi dapat nagpasikat iyang prosecutor na iyan. Ang problema sa kaniya, nagpasikat siya dahil pinupulaan siya na puro kapwa Aprikano ang kinakasuhan. Kaya just for the sake of saying, oo, may nakasuhan akong hindi Aprikano, nagsimula siya ng preliminary examination. Pero alam po natin na iyong basehan na domestic courts are unable, are unwilling, huwag naman nating ikumpara ang hukuman sa Pilipinas sa hukuman sa Africa.

I’m sorry to say this, the African states may complain, but most of the cases pending in the ICC involve failed states. Kaya nga po tinayo ang ICC, kapag walang working courts doon sa mga lugar na nangyayari itong mga krimen na ito, dapat mayroong hukuman na magpaparusa. Hindi po ganyan ang pangyayari dito sa Pilipinas.

Again, with all due respect to the African states, the system of justice in the Philippines is simply a lot more advance than the prosecutor thinks. Maybe because she’s from Africa, she thinks we have the same judicial system. Sorry, Prosecutor, it’s vastly different from what you are used to.

MODERATOR: Also, the ICC says, it can proceed with their preliminary examination even without coming to the Philippine territory.

SEC. ROQUE: Nasagot ko na po iyan. Good luck on obtaining the cooperation of the Philippine state. But come on, you know, law is based on human experience. The human experience is, do not expect any cooperation from the Philippine government.

MODERATOR: Last question from the Malacañang Press Corps, from Bernadette Nicolas of Business Mirror: Patanong naman po nito, what can you say about statement of groups that Boracay closure would harm tourism and cripple economy of municipalities relying on it?

SEC. ROQUE: Alam mo ang nasabi po ng Presidente noong pagpupulong niya sa opinion writers, talagang sabi niya, when I decide on Boracay, I will consider the plight of the small resort owners dahil sila po ang tatamaan. Wala naman masyadong epekto iyon sa mga dambuhalang resort owners sa pagsasara nang panandalian ng Boracay.

So let’s wait for the final directive from the President.

Okay? Thank you very much because I have to fly back to Manila and try to catch up with an afternoon affair in the Palace. Okay? Thank you very much to the CamSur Polytechnic Colleges, again, our President Dulce Atian. Thank you to Ako Bicol, Congressmen Christopher Co and Rodel Batocabe. And thank you to the Executive Director of the CHEd, Director Vitriolo. Good afternoon to all of you.

###

Source: PCOO – NIB (News and Information Bureau)

 

Resource