Press Briefing

Press Briefing of Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque with Department of Public Works and Highways Secretary Mark Villar

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

ROCKY IGNACIO/PTV4:  Good morning, Malacañang Press Corps. Happy Monday, welcome sa regular press briefing ni Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque. Good morning, sir.

SEC. ROQUE:  Good morning, Pilipinas. Good morning, ladies and gentlemen of the Malacañang Press Corps. And let’s begin the week with good news.

We welcome the recent report by the Department of Budget and Management stating that government spending and infrastructure and other capital outlays soared by 25.2 percent year-on-year, reaching a total of 43.3 billion for the month of January.

The increase was driven by the completed projects of the Department of Public Works and Highways such as construction of school buildings; flood control; climate mitigation projects; Lahar control works in Central Luzon will guarantee that our build, build, build program will further sustain the country’s growth momentum, affect more investments and create jobs for our people.

Our resource speaker for today in connection with this good news is Public Works and Highways Secretary Mark A. Villar. He will share with us updates on the build, build, build infrastructure program of the Duterte administration. Ladies and gentlemen, let us welcome Secretary Mark Villar. Since Secretary Mark Villar has an appointment after, please ask questions directed to him immediately after his presentation. Secretary Mark Villar.

SEC. VILLAR:  Magandang umaga po at maraming salamat po sa inyong lahat. Of course nandito po ako para i-update ko ho kayong lahat sa ating build, build, build program. Of course, ito po ay unprecedented sa kasaysayan ng ating bansa. It’s the largest infrastructure program and just—para may ideya kayo kung gaano kalaki po, in previous—in the history of—in the past six administrations ang pinakamalaking spending sa infrastructure ay 3 percent. Hindi pa lumalampas sa 3 percent. Sa first year po ng ating Pangulo 5.2 percent ang naging spending natin and this year umakyat po to 6 percent ng GDP.

So napalaki po ang infrastructure program and of course, I’m sure gusto ninyo rin malaman kung ano iyong mga updates sa actual construction. Binanggit po kanina ni Secretary Roque na year-on-year there are—our disbursement or implementation in terms spending is much higher. In fact last year our obligation or absorptive capacity reached a record high of 92 percent. This is the highest in the history of the DPWH.

So maganda po ang takbo ng ating build, build, build its all systems go and we just recently galing po… galing po kami sa China at si Presidente po ay nag-sign—we signed memorandum with the Chinese dahil magbibigay po sila ng assistance with regards—with the feasibility studies ng ating mga inter-island bridges. Kaya napakalaking bagay po ang tulong ng ating mga kaibigan sa China and other countries in Asia – Japan, Korea. So we prepared a visual presentation, a 10-minute visual presentation to summarize lahat po ng projects and programa po ng build, build, build program for the DPWH.

And I’d also like to announce that to date, this year nakapag-generate na rin ng 100,000 jobs ang DPWH, construction jobs dahil sa build, build, build program ng ating Pangulo.

So, I’d like to—if I can and request if can you start the video and I think this will give you idea of the scale of the build, build, build program.

(VIDEO PRESENTATION)

SEC. VILLAR:  So at this point, we’ll be entertaining some questions.

ROCKY IGNACION/PTV4:  Sir, doon sa 24/7 na isa-sanction—hotline ng Secretary, isa-sanction iyong mga airing DPWH personnel. Mayroon na bang—ongoing na ba ito or mayroon ng nakapagsumbong about doon sa mga projects?

SEC. ROQUE:  Well iyong 16502, iyong Secretary’s hotline na napakahaba ng listahan. So we make sure na lahat po ng—ina-address namin lahat ng concerns ranging from minor to major concerns, lahat po iyan. And we have existing policies for contractors, we are blacklisting, kapag lumampas sila sa… a certain percentage of slippage may sanction na iyan kaagad. So iyon ang ini-enforce ng DPWH.

CEDRIC CASTILLO/GMA7:  Good morning, sir. Sir, iyong infra projects po, road projects sa Metro Manila. Sir, not take into consideration po ba iyong vehicular sales in the coming years? Kasi ‘di ba usually iyong mga past years, it take years bago makatayo ka ng flyover and then by then nadagdagan na iyong volume ng vehicles sir?

SEC. VILLAR:  Well of course, we realize there’s an increased but of course that’s—on our part, our studies based on reducing the—for instance sa EDSA, iyong volume ng traffic sa EDSA. Kapag natapos po itong dalawang bypass roads ang—we are expecting as much as 100,000 per day ang mababawasan po sa EDSA. So, on our part, I think we’re do on our part in reducing—reducing the clogged arteries of—hindi lang po Metro Manila iyong lahat po ng major urban centers sa ating bansa.

So, my instruction to all regional directors is to identify the most congested areas. Gagawa kami ng solutions for all those and iyon ang basis ng presentation kanina iyong mga major—actually iyong prinesent po ito ay isang—ito po ay snapshot pa lang. Marami po kaming project na siguro kulang lang ang oras natin para banggitin lahat but ito—this is just a snapshot so you can see how extensive the program is, of our President.

CEDRIC/GMA7:  Follow up sir. Sir, to simply sir iyong presentation po… In how many years do you project sir that traffic in Metro Manila will be comfortable and can you sir quantify or qualify what—how comfortable that will be sir?

SEC. VILLAR: Every year magkakaroon ng improvement, that we can guarantee and it’s really our goal by the end of the term of our President na ma-decongest iyang Metro Manila.

Now, ano po iyong mga steps, you know, they say, ‘talk is cheap,’ ‘di ba? So kung makita ninyo po kanina iyong mga bypass roads, iyong NLEX-SLEX connector, the Skyway, this will be finished by 2020. Iyong Laguna Lake Highway matatapos po iyong first portion sa June. Iyong Harbor Link would be opened also by the first—second quarter of this year, late second quarter of this year. We have the C-6. So we have bypass roads for EDSA, dagdagan niya pa iyong 12 bridges across the Pasig River. That we are already—nasimulan na po iyong Sta. Monica-Lawton Bridge connecting Ortigas to Fort. And then we have the NAIA expansion, we have—at marami pong projects and I believe that in the next… especially by 2000—every year magkakaroon po ng improvement. And specially in 2020 there would be a lot of projects that would be online and we’ll see even more drastic improvement and definitely by the end of the term of our President napakalaki po ang naitulong sa traffic, hindi lang po sa Metro Manila, doon sa lahat po ng urban centers.

CEDRIC/GMA7:  Thank you sir.

ROSALIE COZ/UNTV:  Hi po, Secretary good morning. Sir, ano po ang reaksiyon ninyo po sa statement po ni Senator Recto na i-live stream iyong mga big ticket infrastructure project at gawing pilot iyon pong Marawi rehabilitation at Boracay clean up?

SEC. VILLAR: Yes. Kami we are in favor of any transparency. In fact this year we’ll implement—for the first time mag-i-implement po kami ng software monitoring system for all DPWH projects. We call it the PCMA system, whereby we’ll be utilizing drone technology and geotagging for project monitoring.

So we’ll be using analytics to make the monitoring projects more efficient. Halimbawa, kung may project kung magre-release ng pera kailangan may geotag photo at iyong geotag photo ay confirmed by satellite. So there—wala ng faking or any—hindi puwedeng ipeke iyong photo. This is geotagged, this is by GPS which will be uploaded to the software of the Department. Our plan is to use analytics to make—para maging mas efficient ang project monitoring and to make sure that hindi na magkakaroon ng any kind of—maybe kung—basta mawawala po iyong kalokohan kung mayroon man because of this software that we’re utilizing, magiging efficient po ang implementation ng infrastructure projects.

ROSALIE COZ/UNTV:  May timeframe po this year kung—

SEC. VILLAR: This year, it’s really being implemented and in fact, it’s already 90%. There are certain areas na pinapa-geo tag ko na iyong mga projects. So definitely, we can monitor. At the click of a button mamo-monitor po ang project, makikita, may geo-tag photo na puwedeng i-access immediately.

So halimbawa, may tanong kayo, itong project kung saan man. Puwede kong i-check sa computer, makikita ninyo iyong pictures ng ongoing project kung ano ang na-release and what is the status of every project.

Dati po kasi, XL lang ginagamit po ng department. So napakalaking bagay na nagkakaroon po kami ng software.

ROSALIE/UNTV:  Sir expensive po ba iyong paggamit ng ganitong technology to monitor po iyong mga ongoing projects?

SEC. VILLAR:  Relative to the size of the budget, it’s very cheap. Kasi napakalaki ng budget ng—wala kang makikitang malaking business na walang software monitoring. And I think that’s how we should manage government. We should all be striving to be more efficient. Kaya sa laki ng budget ng DPWH, P650 billion, it’s a necessity to have a computerized monitoring.

AC NICHOLLS/CNN PHILS:  Just a follow up. This is uploaded to the software of the department, but the public can’t access it?

SEC. VILLAR:  Well, we can make certain parts accessible to the public, we are open to that.

AC NICHOLLS/CNN PHILS:  What particular parts and other specific—

SEC. VILLAR:  The project updates. In fact now, meron po kaming build, build, build portal, where nagbibigay po talaga kami ng updates sa lahat ng projects, kung sino iyong contractor, kung ano iyong update sa construction. So, ito po ay importante po sa ating Pangulo na magkaroon po ng transparency sa lahat po ng transaction ng gobyerno.

AC NICHOLLS/CNN PHILS:  And so far sir, have you seen any improvements in terms of avoiding corruption doon sa mga step by step ng projects dahil i-implement ninyo itong—

SEC. VILLAR:  Corruption is a function of discretion. Kung malaki ang discretion; malaking opportunity for corruption. By instituting systems at software mababawasan po ang corruption sa gobyerno.

ROCKY:  Okay, MPC question?  Bernadette?

BERNADETTE NICOLAS/BUS. MIRROR:  Sir, itanong ko lang po kung all systems go na po iyong job fair for JJJ po. Di ba JJJ is set to be launched in May po?

SEC. VILLAR:  Yes. In fact, we have already—meron na kaming venue and so, I would like to invite iyong mga naghahanap ng trabaho, puwede po kayong pumunta sa SM Manila and there would be a job fair on May 1. Kasama po iyan sa BBB, meron din kaming JJJ – jobs, jobs, jobs.

ROCKY:  Okay, no more? Okay. Thank you DPWH Secretary Mark Villar. Presidential  Spokesperson Harry Roque.

SEC. ROQUE:  Thank you very much Secretary Mark Villar. We continue with the good news. Government is continuously providing support to our abaca famers for efficient and abundant production. Abaca farmers can now benefit from 15,000 per hectare production loans made possible through the Agricultural Credit Policy Council of the Department of Agriculture.

In addition, the Department of Agriculture – Philippine Fiber Industry Development highlighted its plan to shorten the abaca production process from 12 to 6 steps which will include – topping, tumbling, tuxying, bundling, transporting and trading.

Good governance continues to be the hallmark of this administration. The Philippine Ports Authority – an attached agency of the Department of Transportation – remitted last Friday or April 13, its highest contributions since 1986. More than 3 billion was remitted by the PPA for 2017, which is 54% higher than the recorder remittance of 1.956 billion in the previous year. The growth can be attributed to the strong performance of Manila Ports including Manila integrated Container Terminal, Manila South Harbor, North Port and 24 other port management offices.

Okay. So, I’ll see you tomorrow. Joke only, questions na.

MARICEL HALILI/TV5:  Sir, what do you think of the effort of facebook to have a partnership with Rappler and Vera Files in terms of deleting all the fake sites in facebook?

SEC. ROQUE:  Well, I would say that the effort of facebook to counter fake news is the solution and not legislation. However, there are those who are complaining that the chosen police of the truths so to speak are sometimes partisan themselves. And of course this is the problem with truth that can be subjective depending on your political perspective. And that is why I commensurate with those who object to the selection of Rappler and Vera Files, because they know, we know where they stand in the political spectrum.

MARICEL/TV5:  And I understand, sir, that some of the sites that were deleted are supporters of the President.

SEC. ROQUE:  That is true and that is why when I was asked earlier in a radio’s interview what should be done. I said, well, the users of facebook should make known their wishes to facebook itself, that there should be a more partial arbiter of the truth.

MARICEL/TV5:  And do you support, sir, the calls of some of the supporters of the President na lumipat na lang from facebook to a Russian counterpart nung social media – VK?

SEC. ROQUE:  Alam mo naman iyan, it’s the free market place of ideas. My advice is for the facebook users to make their wishes known to facebook and of course the possibility of shifting is always there. Of course, there’s the worldwide movement to delete facebook not just because of their moves in the Philippines, but because also of privacy concerns.

LIELA SALAVERRIA/PDI:  Sir, why did Malacañang cancel a meeting with labor groups, as DOLE Usec. Joel Maglungsod said?

SEC. ROQUE:  I can only surmise that the final version of the EO has not been agreed upon by both labor, management and government. It’s a tripartite document, which has to be agreed upon. So, possibly, they don’t have a final version yet.

LIELA/PDI:  Sir, what’s the sticking point.  Why haven’t they come up with the final version?

SEC. ROQUE:   I do not know. But I know that the President is rather restive about this EO. He has mentioned to me personally that this is a campaign promise that he wants to deliver to the people very soon.

LIELA/PDI:  So, what can—the labor groups, labor expect from the President. What kind of EO is being crafted by the Palace?

SEC. ROQUE:  Well, I would suppose, because it is a promise given by the President to labor groups that it will be an EO that will side with the labor forces.

LIELA/PDI:  Sir, do you have any idea when this would come out?

SEC. ROQUE:  The President wants it as soon as possible. We all know that Labor Day is May 1. So, I would think that it will come out on or before May 1.

AC NICHOLLS/CNN PHILS:  Sir, sorry just to clarify. Iyong April 16 ba, was that ever confirmed by the Palace na today talaga dapat or that just come from the Labor groups or today talaga dapat, sir, iyong signing?

SEC. ROQUE:  Well, okay, I was looking at my own calendar. I did not find it in my own calendar, okay. I found a meeting with GSIS, another meeting with an ambassador and two private meetings. Unless the meeting was, you know, denominated as a private meeting which it should not be. So, it was not even in my calendar.

So that’s the truth, that’s from my own calendar. So, I wouldn’t make a big thing out of it, because anyway, I would think that they would want a significant EO like this to be issued in connection with another commemoration giving… recognizing the value of the labor sector in our society, which is Labor Day.

BERNADETTE NICOLAS/BUS. MIRROR: Sir, itanong ko lang po kung may bagong date na po ng meeting with labor groups po and President po?

SEC. ROQUE:  Wala po akong alam pa na bagong date of meeting ‘no. But I will ask ‘no, kasi nga ang dami ninyong tanong about this. But to me, I was surprised, kasi it wasn’t really in my calendar. So, sabi ko saan nanggagaling ito. So, I will let you know if there’s a new date.

ROSE NOVENARIO/HATAW:  Sir, iyong sunud-sunod pong pangbobomba ng US sa Syria ay kinondena na po ng Russia, ng China at Venezuela. Iyong China at Russia po ay malapit na kaalyado ni Pangulong Rodrigo Duterte. Ano po iyong paninindigan dito ng kanyang administrasyon?

SEC. ROQUE:  Well, alam ninyo tayo po ay miyembro ng United Nations. We are bound by the UN Charter. Chapter 7 says that the use of force must be by way of self-defense or when authorized by the UN Security Council. Pero meron din pong development sa international, iyong tinatawag na responsibility to protect.

So, bina-balanse po ng gobyerno natin iyang mga ganyang mga pananaw, pero sa ngayon po ang number one na binibigyan ng importansiya ay iyong safety ng ating mga mamamayan na nasa Syria, dahil meron po tayong mahigit-kumulang mga isang libong mga kababayan doon sa Syria. So inaatupag muna po natin iyong kanilang kaligtasan at saka na po tayo gagawa ng policy statement pagdating mismo doon sa isyu ng pagbobomba ng Syria.

ROSE/HATAW:  Mga kailan po kayo magbibigay ng paninindigan ninyo?

SEC. ROQUE:  I would think it will be soon.

TED TUVERA/TRIBUNE: Secretary, noong nagkaroon ng US-Iraq War, isa iyong Pilipinas sa mga nag-contribute ng forces sa US. This time around, if ever nag-call iyong US, will the Philippines contribute troops there?

SEC. ROQUE: I would not know. I have not been given any information in this regard. And I would rather wait for instructions from the President himself.

TED TUVERA/TRIBUNE: But the President said before in a previous speaking engagement na hindi raw … never na daw siyang makikisali sa mga—

SEC. ROQUE: I know about that. But I’d rather that he gives me directive by way of instructions on what to announce to the public.

But as I said earlier, we are a member of the United Nations. We know the provisions of Chapter 7 of the United Nations. There is a development on responsibility to protect. But right now, it’s the safety of our citizens that’s primordial importance.

TED TUVERA/TRIBUNE: One last from my part. Secretary, laging sinasabi ni Presidente na ayaw niyang …lagi niyang sinisisi ang US na nangingialam sa … sa nangyari sa Libya, sa Iraq. Does the President consider these recent attacks from the US and its allies on Syria pangingialam din, sir, sa Syria?

SEC. ROQUE: Well, as I said, based on the UN Charter, use of force must be approved by the Security Council subject to a growing recognition of an exception not fully recognized as of yet under international law which is the responsibility to protect. So let’s await the statement from the President.

CEDRIC CASTILLO/GMA7: Sir, phone in question po. Sir, Mactan and Panglao Islands have been recently pronounced as having unsafe waters and having high levels of fecal coliform. Ano po ang plans now ng government considering these two are alternatives to Boracay, sir?

SEC. ROQUE: Well, ang Panglao po, ang mabuting balita diyan, iyong waste water treatment nasa ilalim mismo ng bagong airport. Iyan po ang problema ng Boracay ngayon ‘no. Mayroon po dapat iyong Boracay Water na water treatment facility, pero mukhang napakataas pa rin ng coliform ‘no, as we all know, so parang hindi sapat iyong sewage treatment system ng Boracay.

Hindi po magiging problema itong sa Panglao as soon as it is operational. But it’s already in place; it’s right under the new international airport of Panglao. So I think, the prospects for Panglao is rather good.

Now, sa Mactan, I’m not aware of a centralized water treatment facility. But the Department of Environment and Natural Resources has said that Panglao is also in their radar.

CEDRIC CASTILLO/GMA7:  You don’t expect, sir, that Panglao and Mactan will be another Boracay situation po?

SEC. ROQUE: I’m almost certain that the DENR will also ensure that all the resorts are in compliance particularly with the rule that they should have their own waste water treatment facility. Otherwise, they should be attached to a sewerage system that has a water treatment facility ‘no. Iyon naman talaga ang nakasulat sa Water Code – you should have your own or naka-attach ka sa isang sewage line na mayroong waste water treatment. Hindi talaga pupuwede na mag-discharge ng wastewater na untreated sa karagatan.

LEILA SALAVERRIA/PDI: Good morning. Sir, has the President clarified the status of the NFA Council or what he wants to do with it?

SEC. ROQUE: I think they have a meeting on Thursday. We’ll address that on Thursday.

LEILA SALAVERRIA/PDI: Cabinet, sir, or NFA Council?

SEC. ROQUE: I think the President will attend a meeting between—I think there’s an NFA, NFA Council meeting with the President, if I’m not mistaken.

MARICEL HALILI/TV5:  Sir, kahapon, I understand, iyong isa pong EU official was denied entry in Cebu and he is known to be one of the critics of this administration. And I understand iyong Akbayan po condemns the act. So is this something na magiging part na po ng … I mean, probably policy of the government na iyong mga partisan politics.

SEC. ROQUE: Well, alam ninyo in international law, it is always a sovereign decision whom they wish to allow into their territory. So we are not obliged to allow anyone into our territory if we do not want them in our territory. Unfortunately, the socialist leader was one of those that we determine as a person that we don’t want to be in our territory.

There is no rule under international law that will compel us to admit anyone whom we do not want to admit in our territory. That’s the exercise of sovereignty.

MARICEL HALILI/TV5: And, sir, sinasabi po kasi ng Akbayan na parang it shows na paranoid na raw iyong government doon sa mga critics?

SEC. ROQUE: Naku, let the people decide. Akbayan naman has never had anything good to say about the President. Kung napapansin ninyo, kapag humihingi kayo ng reactions sa mga statements ng mga wala namang mabuting sinasabi ang President hindi na ako nagbibigay ng statement. What for ‘di ba, nagiging isyu lang if we react to it.

ROSE NOVENARIO/HATAW: Good morning uli, sir. Sir, may nahuling ano … nasabat na 1,359 metric tons po na smuggled rice sa isang barko ng China sa Zamboanga Sibugay. Ano po ang direktiba ng Presidente rito at may posibilidad po bang matagal na itong  nangyayari at iyong mga bigas po ay  may mga palamang illegal drugs like shabu?

SEC. ROQUE: Well, alam ninyo po, iyong huling deklarasyon ko, dapat nga ipamigay na iyan sa mga mahihirap. Pero hindi pala pupuwede iyon. Pupuwede pala iyang ibenta as NFA rice. So that’s a possibility dito sa nahuling mga smuggled rice.

Pero pinaigting po ng Presidente ang instruction sa Customs, at ito nga ang dahilan ng public destruction ng mga luxury vehicles. Hindi po dapat magpatuloy ang mga smuggling na iyan dahil ang nagdurusa po diyan ay ang taumbayan dahil nawawala iyong dapat makolekta by way of tariffs at saka siyempre, iyong mga … kapag nakapasok iyang mga imported rice na iyan ay kawawa rin iyong ating mga lokal na mga magsasaka.

ROSE NOVENARIO/HATAW: May direktiba po na tungkol po sa paghihigpit sa mga karagatan po sa … sa mga boundaries po ng Pilipinsa?

SEC. ROQUE: Naku, matagal na po iyan. Kaya nga po—

ROSE NOVENARIO/HATAW: Iyong Philippine Navy po kasi iyong nakahuli nito eh.

SEC. ROQUE: Oo. Well, kaya nga po matagal na po iyang pinaigting ng ating Presidente iyong kampaniya laban sa smuggling. Iyan po iyong mensahe na nais iparating ng Presidente nung sinira iyong mga luxury vehicles, na zero tolerance for smuggling.

Now, kung hindi nga lang po bigas iyan, that should be up for destruction din. Pero dahil makakain naman ng taumbayan, ang sinabi sa akin ng Department of Agriculture ay pupuwede po iyang ibenta as NFA rice, iyong cheap rice ‘no para ma-increase iyong stockpile ng NFA.

ROSE NOVENARIO/HATAW: So hindi po ito up for auction?

SEC. ROQUE: Well, hindi ko po alam. That’s also an alternative. Pero since konti nga ang NFA rice natin, baka po siguro one option is gamitin na lang to shore up iyong inventory ng NFA rice.

ROSE NOVENARIO/HATAW: Sir, isa na lang. May report na tungkol doon sa special audit sa NFA dahil apat na milyong sakong bigas iyong binenta nila na kuwestiyonable daw po ayon kay Secretary Evasco?

SEC. ROQUE: Kung may update na doon?

ROSE NOVENARIO/HATAW: Opo.

SEC. ROQUE: Wala pa po akong nakukuhang audit update. But I’m sure as soon as it is available, we’ll make it public.

ROSALIE COZ/UNTV: Hi, sir. Pinapa-follow lang po kung nakarating na po sa Malacañang iyong request ng Comelec na i-declare iyong May 14 na special non-working holiday?

SEC. ROQUE:  Well, I do not know because it’s a Monday. Tomorrow, ask me.

MODERATOR: Okay, no more? Thank you, Malacañang Press Corps. Thank you, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque.

SEC. ROQUE: Our briefing will be from Boracay tomorrow. I hope you can make it. This is the inter-agency meeting with the stakeholders originally scheduled for the 10th. Remember, we thought of going there but I was going to be in China. It was apparently postponed, and they’re going to have it tomorrow. So you’re welcome to join if you are able to make it. Thank you very much. See you tomorrow in Boracay.

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SOURCE: PCOO – NIB (News and Information Bureau)

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