Press Briefing

Press Briefing of Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque

MODERATOR:  Good morning, everyone. We would like to welcome all of you to the Press Briefing with our Presidential Spokesperson, Secretary Harry Roque. And we would like to welcome our media friends for this endeavor. Of course, we are here in the Municipality of Alimodian for the kick off of their Semana Kang Alimodian this Saturday that will proceed this week.

So at this point, we would like to call on Secretary Roque to give the opening statement. Sir…

SEC. ROQUE:  Good noon, Pilipinas. Good noon, ladies and gentlemen of the Iloilo Press Corps. We are in Alimodian for the Himud-os Festival. And before I proceed with my good news segment, I’d like to recognize Mayor “Kalay” of the Municipality of Alimodian.  Mayor…

MAYOR KALAY:  Good morning Pilipinas, and of course it is an honor for us, Alimodianenses with the presence of our Presidential Spokesperson, Secretary Harry Roque and other guests here in front with the Iloilo Press Corps for this press conference with our beloved Secretary Harry Roque. So, thank you again for coming over to our municipality as we celebrate our Himud-os Festival. So with this, thank you and good morning.

SEC. ROQUE:  Well, thank you Mayor. Thank you for your hospitality, for hosting our very first Malacañang Press Briefing in Alimodian.

Let me begin with the good news. The good news is that, we have an employment rate of 94.7% for January of 2018, which is the highest in all of the previous January rounds of the Labor Force Survey since 2009. This translates to 41.8 million Filipinos employed; it is also noteworthy that unemployment rate went down to 5.3% from 6.6% in January 2017; this is also the lowest rate recorded for all January rounds of the LFS in 10 years. The labor force participation rate also increased to 62.2% in January 2018, higher than 60.7 in the same last month. Latest results indicate that due to economic reforms and programs being implemented by the government, more Filipinos are encouraged to join and rejoined the labor force resulting in more Filipinos being employed.

Good news here in Iloilo – We are pleased to announce that the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) is providing 10,092 scholarships slots for Iloilo this 2018. Amounting a total of P170 million, this scholarships are meant to enhance jobs and employability of its graduates, aside from promoting and advocating the various programs and services of TESDA. According to TESDA, on February 27 to 28, around 45 technical-vocational institutions took part in the National Technical-Vocational Education and Training Enrollment Date and Jobs Bridging Fair located in 10 sites wherein 3,991 interested participants were estimated to have enrolled in TESDA’s various training program.

RA 10973 has been signed into law. This law grants subpoena power to the Criminal Investigation Detection Group and to the PNP Director General. This will add more teeth to their mandate to enhance the law and find solution to criminal cases. This subpoena power will give hope to the many victims of crimes who were deprived of justice due to the slow investigation processes, as witnesses or respondents to crimes cannot be forced to face investigation.

Another good news: Yesterday being International Women’s Day, the Philippines was named as the 9th Best Economy for Women Entrepreneurs. This is in a report entitled “Mastercard Index of Women Entrepreneurs 2018”. The Philippines scored 68 out of 100; Mastercard explains that the score indicates how entrepreneurship is considered as a ticket to opportunity for women in economies such as the Philippines. Additionally, the report also stated that female business leaders, professionals and technical workers are strongly represented along with local robust entrepreneurship landscape and respect for successful entrepreneurs. The index included 57 economies representing 78.6% of the worlds’ female labor force.

I’d like to respond now to the many queries that I received yesterday on the inclusion of Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, UN Special Rapporteur on IDPs in the petition to declare the CPP-NPA and certain individuals as terrorist groups. To begin with, the CPP-NPA had already been declared a terrorist group by the US State Department and by the European Union. This move therefore by the DOJ only reinforces the classification that the CPP-NPA is a terrorist group.

Unfortunately, perhaps the UN Special Rapporteur for IDPs or Indigenous Peoples, Victoria Tauli-Corpuz was also included because of intelligence information that she is somehow connected with the CPP-NPA. I assure everyone including the international community, that this is not a witch-hunt on UN Special Rapporteurs; instead perhaps the UN Rapporteur system should fine-tune its selection process to ensure that individuals identified with terrorist groups are not given any mandate by the UN Human Rights Council.

In any case, we are a civilized country in the Philippines; we will accord Ms. Victoria Tauli-Corpuz the right to be heard, inherent due process rights; and that is why she  …audio-cut … automatically tagged as a ‘terrorist’. She can dispute the classification in the regional trial court where the petition to declare the CPP-NPA as a terrorist group is currently pending.

In our legal system, we adhere to the rule of law and hence, Ms. Victoria Tauli-Corpuz can submit controverting evidence to what I am sure the DOJ already has linking her with the terrorist group – the CPP-NPA.

Now this classification of Rapporteur Corpuz has also resulted in very harsh language coming from the Prince of Jordan, who is also the High Commissioner on Human Rights. I reiterate that the language used by the High Commissioner is uncalled for. I’m very tempted to respond in similar language, but I have opted to restrain myself, opting not to respond in the same abominate used by the UN High Commissioner.

I will reiterate however, that such language directed against a democratically-elected head of a UN member-country is uncalled for, and is of course an affront on the sovereignty of the Republic of the Philippines. I will however state that perhaps, the UN High Commissioner’s language is because of the fact that they do not have democracy in his home state of Jordan. Jordan’s leader is not elected unlike our President.

And so my message to the High Commissioner is, we respect our President in this country because we gave him a democratic mandate to lead. I would hope that although you do not have the same democratic system in your home country of Jordan, you will respect the kind of democracy that we have in the Philippines. Your language was not just an insult to the Philippines and the Filipino people it is an insult to all countries who have democratically elected their heads of state.

MODERATOR:   Thank you very much, Secretary Roque. Before we proceed to the open forum, allow me to acknowledge our other esteemed guests for this press briefing. Of course we have Mayor Geefre ‘Kalay’ Alonsabe from the municipality of Alimodian. Our guest, no, our accommodator for this briefing. Of course board member, Liezel Sevilla-Mondejar from second district of Iloilo; Iloilo City Councilor Joshua Alim and also Iloilo City Councilor Plaridel Nava and our representatives from Philippine National Police, Police Superintendent Bonifacio T. Ancajas and Police Inspector John Sanchez. So at this point we are ready for the open forum. First question would come—

SEC. ROQUE:  Do you have the questions from Manila?

MODERATOR:  Ah yes, sir. Please proceed.

SEC. ROQUE:  Do you have the questions?

MODERATOR:  No sir, I don’t have the questions yet.

MAYENNE DAILY GUARDIAN:  Good afternoon, Secretary. Isa sa mga good news ngayon sa subpoena power na binigay sa CIDG at sa PNP Director General. Sir ano po iyong safeguards para sa masiguro na hindi maabuso iyong ganitong power ng mga law enforcers?

SEC. ROQUE:  Well unang una po hindi naman lahat ng kapulisan may subpoena power, iyong hepe lang ng PNP, iyong hepe lang ng CIDG at iyong kanilang mga deputies. So ilan lang po silang binigyan ng ganiyang subpoena powers. Pangalawa po, ay mayroon naman tayong mga umiiral na batas po kapag inabuso itong ganitong kapangyarihan.

So kung talagang walang dahilan para mag-subpoena, puwede naman pong kuwestiyunin iyan sa pamamagitan ng certiorari – arguing that it is whimsical, capricious. At pangalawa po, hindi naman po sila mag-o-order ng pagkakakulong kapag hindi po sinunod ang subpoena, kinakailangan pa magsampa sa hukuman ng isang petisyon for indirect contempt. So iyong subpoena powers po hindi po iyan dahilan para sila ay magkaroon ng kapangyarihan na mag-aresto, dahilan lang po iyan para magkaroon ng petition for indirect contempt at ang hukuman pa rin po ang magpapataw ng parusa doon sa hindi susunod sa mga subpoenas.

Q:  Okay.

MODERATOR:   Sir we have question from the Malacañang Press Corps. Good morning, Secretary. What is the Palace reaction on human right expert statement that the terrorism accusation against UN special rapporteurs Victoria Corpuz is Philippine government’s attack against her as a mandate-holder. They also say that UN experts have immunity from legal proceedings while doing their work?

SEC. ROQUE:  Well I have already answered that. The DOJ would not have filed the petition without evidence that she is a member of or somewhere affiliated with the CPP-NPA. And if she has evidence that this is not true, then she should present it in court, that’s why the human security act requires that there be judicial declaration of a terrorist group or a person as a terrorist before they are classified as such.

I will assure you that this has nothing to do with her mandate. The CPP-NPA, I reiterate, has already been declared a terrorist organization in the US and in Europe. So the declaration as such that the CPP-NPA is such, is only a reiteration of prior clarifications and the issue now is, is the special rapporteur in any way identified with the CPP-NPA? Let her adduce evidence that she’s not.

MARIO HILONGO/AKSIYON RADIO:  Good morning, Mr. Secretary regarding sa upcoming synchronized barangay and SK election, ano po iyong stand ng Presidente with regard sa u[‘coming barangay and SK election?

SEC. ROQUE:  Sinabi na po ni Presidente kung siya ang masusunod gusto niyang matuloy pero kinikilala niya po na ang desisyon ay isang desisyon na gagawin ng Kongreso.

Q:  So since mayroon ng stand ang Presidente, kung sakaling maitutuloy ang elections. May aksiyon po ba ang administration against sa mga barangay officials na allegedly na involve sa illegal drugs?

SEC. ROQUE:  Well patuloy po naman ang ating DILG na nagmo-monitor. At ang tingin ko po ay dapat nga po na ngayon pa lang ay isa-publiko na ng DILG kung sino iyang mga nasa listahan nila nang magkaroon naman ng basehan ang ating taong bayan kung bakit hindi nila susuportahan ang ilang barangay officials natin.

Q:  Last Wednesday, Mr. Secretary mayroong naganap na buy-bust operation ang regional drug enforcement unit dito sa Region 6 and the—sa operation isa sa mga arrested persons nila, sinabi nila sa media na nagre-remit sila ng pera sa isang punong barangay galing sa pagbebenta ng illegal drugs. And sabi nila si punong barangay Remigia Gregory ng barangay Bakhaw daw na pinagre-remit-an nila ng pera. So—and si punong barangay Remigia Gregory is—siya ang kapatid ni Mr. Richard Prevendido na namatay last year during sa operation ng PNT. So ano ang maging aksiyon ng gobyerno laban sa kaniya?

SEC. ROQUE:  I-text ninyo po sa akin iyang mga pangalan na binasa mo ngayon. Ipadadala ko po iyan sa DILG sisiguraduhin ko po na sila ay matanggal sa kanilang opisina.

Q:  Sir, good morning from Aksiyon Radyo sir. Regarding po kay—

SEC. ROQUE:  Hindi ka maririnig.

Q:  Regarding po kay former Mayor John Patrick Mabilog, he was again mentioned by the President threatening to kill him if he returns to the country. Bakit po sir palagi siyang mine-mention ni President Rodrigo Duterte?

SEC. ROQUE:  Flight is evidence of guilt. Kung gusto niyang linisin ang pangalan niya, umuwi siya dito at harapin ang mga bintang laban sa kaniya. Pero habang siya ay nagtatago, continuing evidence of guilt!

Q:  Sir, may personal hatred po ba si President Duterte kay former Mayor Mabilog?

SEC. ROQUE:  Wala. Wala naman silang personal na relasyon, bakit magkakaroon ng personal hatred.

Q:  Sir, in a local newspaper, Mrs. Marivic Mabilog, the wife of former Mayor Jed Patrick Mabilog said that Duterte is mentally ill. How do you take this sir, the statement of Mrs. Mabilog?

SEC. ROQUE:  I don’t respond to people who are not worthy of any response. She’s one of them.

Q:  Lastly sir. Until now, hindi pa rin po kasi clear kung ano po iyong involvement ni former Mayor Mabilog. What is the category of Mayor Mabilog? Is he a drug protector? Drug user?

SEC. ROQUE:  He is in the drug list, local government units or leaders who are in the drug list provided by different law enforcement agents of the government.

Q:  Regarding sir sa PECO sir. May assurance po ba that PECO consumers can have the fair chance to air their sentiments on the allege overbilling of PECO?

SEC. ROQUE:  Well alam naman po ng mga taga Iloilo dahil ang aking nanay ay taga dito sa lloilo, noong ako po ay Kongresista, ako ang naghain ng isang resolution para imbestigahan po ang PECO. At itong resolution ko po ay hindi lang para imbestigahan, isa na rin po ito ngayon sa dinidinig ng Kamara dahil humihingi po ng extension ng prangkisa ang PECO. I’m now the Presidential Spokesperson, that’s why I was not able to lead the investigation. However, this was one of the last acts that I had as a Congressman. It was actually heard by way of opposition to the franchise renewal of PECO.

What I will do is I will ask permission from the President to attend the public hearing of the Committee on franchise here in Iloilo because as many people here in Iloilo wanted, they wanted a hearing to be held here and I think the franchise committee agreed to hold a hearing here in Iloilo. So if the President will allow me, I will appear as a resource person because I’m no longer a member of Congress. I will appear as a resource person and I would like the citizens of Iloilo to detail their complaints against PECO so I could articulate them in the public hearing. Siguro naman, kapag Spokesperson mag-a-articulate ng mga hinaing ng mga Ilonggo ay baka naman mapakinggan tayo, pero I need the permission of the President.

TARA YAP:  Secretary, just to go back. You said that Mayor Mabilog did not come back because he’s guilty. Yet the President said specifically “papatayin ko siya.” So what is his assurance that if he comes back, he faces whatever charges against him that his life is safe?

SEC. ROQUE:  Well he could avail of the existing instruments and remedies already found in the statute_ book. If he really thinks there’s a threat on his life, file a writ of Amparo and ask for protection from our Courts.

Q:  If the Duterte administration really believes that he did something wrong other than he has been dismissed but if he did something wrong, why doesn’t the Duterte administration file a case at the same time request extradition from whatever country his currently in? Why doesn’t the Duterte administration do that?

SEC. ROQUE:  Well in the first place, we’re not saying we will not do that. But it’s not my business to make public what the government will or will not do. But meanwhile, I reiterate: flight is evidence of guilt.

MODERATOR:  We’ll have one question from MPC, sir. “May I ask your reaction to Human Rights Watch Researcher’s Carlos Conde’s view that the new law granting authority to the PNP Chief and CIDG Director to issue subpoena is worrisome as it expands the power of an already abusive police force?

SEC. ROQUE:  Well, I’ve already answered that. Unang-una, hindi po lahat ng pulis may subpoena powers – iyong PNP Director General lang at saka iyong Hepe ng CIDG at ang kanilang mga Deputy. Pangalawa po, iyong subpoena power hindi po automatic na magpapakulong iyan; kapag hindi sinuway ang subpoena power, kailangan pa pong pumunta sa hudikatura, sa korte para po mapakulong iyong ayaw humarap sa imbestigasyon. So wala pong basehan ‘yang sinabi ni Caloy Conde.

Q:  Good morning, Secretary. Ibrahim Calanao, Ukay-Ukay Aksyon Radyo. Secretary, iyong posisyon ng mga barangay captain ay non-political! Eh ‘pag may eleksiyon, iyong mga barangay captain na nagsumpa bilang member ng isang partido ay puwede bang ma-disqualify?

SEC. ROQUE:  Iyong mga?

Q:  Barangay captain na nagsumpa sa isang partido.

SEC. ROQUE:  Ay?

Q:  Ay puwede ba silang ma-disqualify ‘pag nagpa-reelect sila? Kasi ganito eh…

SEC. ROQUE:  Hindi ko po maintindihan ang tanong ninyo.

Q:  Dito sa Iloilo at sa ibang bayan, lahat-lahat ng mga barangay captains ay nagsumpa sa isang partido, sa PDP-Laban. So, ang position ng—

SEC. ROQUE:  Okay. Alam ko na po ang sagot. Ang sabi po ng batas, non-political ang barangay election, wala pong partido na sasapi dito sa eleksiyon na ito. At hindi ko po alam sa ngayon kung ang pagiging miyembro ng isang barangay captain, ng isang partido ay basehan para sa kaniyang disqualification. Ang alam ko lang po sa ngayon, ang sabi ng batas non-political iyong eleksiyon, so walang partido na involved sa eleksiyon, mga tao lang po.

Q:  Good morning, Mr. Secretary. Ang binabantayan ng karamihan, itong buwan ng Mayo! Ang sinasabi nila mayroong eleksiyon sa barangay, mayroon namang mga tsismis na huwag daw matuloy dahil isasabay na lang sa 2019. Saan ba dito iyong tama, Mr. Secretary?

SEC. ROQUE:  Well ang sabi ng Presidente, mas gusto niyang matuloy. Ang sabi ni Senate President sa isang pagpupulong ng Liga ng mga Barangay ng Leyte, walang suporta sa Senado ang pagpapaliban. Wala pa pong nakahain kahit anong panukalang batas sa Senado para ipagpaliban ang barangay elections. At ngayon po ay Marso na, ang halalan ay Mayo – tingin ko po, tuloy na ‘yan.

Q:  Okay. Follow up lang sir ‘no. Si Mayor Sara Duterte, nag-create ng another party – ito iyong ‘Hugpong ng Pagbabago’. Noong dumating dito si Presidente, sinabi niya na hindi naman daw siya talaga PDP-Laban, kundi in-invite lang siya ng PDP-Laban. So kung mangyari ang eleksiyon by 2018, I think iyong partido ni Sara Duterte, kukuha rin ‘yan siguro nationwide ng mga kandidato nila. Anong mangyayari sa mga nakasumpa na sa PDP?

SEC. ROQUE:  Well ang sabi lang po ni Presidente diyan, ay masyadong maaga para magkahiwa-hiwalay. So sa ngayon po, ang Hugpong—gaya ng sinabi ni Mayor Sara Duterte, it is a regional party.

Q:  Sir, last day President Duterte called his son Paolo being a ‘gangster’. Puwede ba i-specify kung anong klaseng gangster, sindikato to the son. So, puwede mo bang ma-clarify kung anong gangster na tinawag ni Presidente sa anak niya?

SEC. ROQUE:  I’m sure ang ibig sabihin ni Presidente, iyong gangster niya is a term of endearment. So, it’s a term of endearment. It’s all I can think of.

Q:  Thank you, sir.

Q:  Good noon, Mr. Secretary. Clarification po sa barangay elections ‘no. I think Comelec is already requiring those who will run for candidates sa barangay elections ng résumé. I think they are required to submit their résumé. I don’t know if alam mo ‘to, and then I think this is part of the program ng DILG also, to pick qualified candidates for the barangay.

SEC. ROQUE:  I heard that DILG suggested that; I’ll leave it to DILG.

Q:  Okay. So on another issue, local issue. Dito po sa Iloilo City, I don’t know if you can clarify the administration’s party represented—ang daming nagki-claim representing PDP-Laban sa Iloilo City at sa province. I don’t know if you already have somebody, a person na nagre-represent as far as the administration’s party is concerned, PDP-Laban.

SEC. ROQUE:  Well again po ‘no, my—I have adopted hence, the policy that as Spokesperson of the President, I will acknowledge that the President is Chairman of the party, but I think the party will also have or should have its own spokesperson. So, all queries on PDP-Laban should be addressed to the Senate President or the House Speaker.

MODERATOR:  Sir, question from MPC: “Reaction on Joma Sison’s statement that PRRD is the number one terrorist and reaction on the upcoming meeting in May between Trump and North Korean Leader Kim Jong Un.

SEC. ROQUE:  On Joma Sison, eh ‘di maghain siya ng petisyon sa RTC, padeklara niyang terrorist ang Presidente kung gusto niya. Pero meanwhile, sagutin niya iyong petisyon na hinain ng gobyerno na iyong kaniyang grupo, CPP-NPA at siya mismo ay isang terorista. Okay? So daanin natin sa prosesong legal, huwag ngawa nang ngawa.

Pangalawang question po, eh we welcome po this dialogue between the Head of North Korea and President Trump. Si Presidente Duterte po noong ASEAN, noong APEC… paulit-ulit po niyang sinasabi na wala pong interes na magkaroon ng giyera dito sa ating rehiyon. Ang giyera po ay magiging dahilan para tumigil na naman ang nararamdaman nating pag-unlad dito sa ating bayan. Kaya ang inaasahan po niya, ang mga hindi pinagkakasunduan ng Amerika at ng North Korea, mapag-uusapan. At ngayong mag-uusap po sila, ito po’y dahilan para magalak naman ang Presidente, at nagbibigay ng pag-asa na itong kontrobersiya ng Korean Peninsula ay mabibigyan ng mapayapang solusyon.

Q:  Hello sir, I’m Lalaine from UNTV. Sir, may update po ba tayo sa declaration ni President na he would justify iyong pag declare sa Boracay na under state of calamity; and then sinabi niya sa court na, not to interfere by issuing TRO?

SEC. ROQUE:  The only update is, on Monday the Secretaries of Tourism, DENR and DILG will meet and will make public the plan of action for Boracay. So, let’s await for that declaration this Monday.

Q:  Sir, Cindy po sa PNA. Sir it’s been a week since slain OFW Joanna Demafelis was laid to rest. Sir, do we have update sa ongoing efforts natin to bring justice to the family?

SEC. ROQUE:  Well I know as much as you do, nahuli na raw po iyong dalawang employer abroad at nahuli na rin iyong dalawang recruiter dito sa Pilipinas—or sumuko na iyong dalawang recruiter dito sa Pilipinas. So, inaantay pa rin po natin ang katarungan – ang katarungan ibig sabihin: imbestiga; paglilitis at pagpaparusa. So, wala pa po iyon!

Q:  Just a follow up lang po. Doon po sa mga commitments ni President sa family like to rebuild noong kanilang—or tapusin iyong pagpapatayo noong kanilang bahay sir…

SEC. ROQUE:  Nabigay na po lahat ‘yan. Dahil noong umalis po si Presidente, nabigay na niya iyong cash contribution niya na parang 500 thousand ho ‘ata iyon at iyong iba pang pangako… nag-uunahan pa nga po na magkaroon ng katuparan iyong pangako sa bahay. I understand pati si Senator Manny Pacquiao offered na to rebuild the house and to redeem the property sa pagkakasanla. So, nag-uunahan pa ho ngayon kung sino ang gagawa noon para sa pamilyang Demafelis.

Q:  Good morning. Good morning sir. There are still three mayors in the province of Iloilo. There are still in a quandary if they are drug cleared or not. This is after—in relation with the statement of the President during the Sara visit that you should check it on his list na hindi niya alam na sumumpa sila sa PDP-Laban. So what’s the latest sir?

SEC. ROQUE:  Ang sabi naman po ay mayroong listahan at mayroong at least dalawang nawala sa listahan doon sa latest version. Iyon lang po ang pagkakaalam ko diyan.

Q:  Sino iyong dalawang nawala sir?

SEC. ROQUE:  Naku hindi ko po maalala ngayon. But let me just check the record and maybe I’ll issue a statement ha, just to be accurate.

Q:  And definitely it’s not Mayor Kalay? [laughs].

SEC. ROQUE:  Sino iyon, definitely?

Q:  Joke lang.

SEC. ROQUE:  Wala siya. Naku susmaryosep! He’s in the list of the most good looking mayors on Earth. [Applause]. Iyan ang listahan ng ating mayor. And the best good looking, and best mayors, number one in the list.

JOEL FRANCO/RMN:  [off mic]. Tanong lang sir. And my question is about Libreng Edukasyon, ano po iyong mga parameters dito kasi ang—

SEC. ROQUE:  Libreng tuition sa State Universities and Colleges, applicable to all state universities, libre na po ang tuition pati miscellaneous and this is beginning 2018. Iba po iyong libreng tuition ng 2017! Iyong 2017 na-realign po iyong budget intended for ARMM, binigay pambayad ng libreng tuition kaya libreng tuition lang po, mayroon pang binayad na miscellaneous. Ngayon po dapat libreng tuition, libreng miscellaneous, at ito po ay mapapatupad din doon sa mga LGU Colleges. Pero kinakailangan iyong mga LGU Colleges accredited with CHED.

Sa pribadong mga eskuwelahan po mayroon din tayong educational subsidy pero ito po ay nakareserba sa pinakamahihirap na mga estudyante, mga 4Ps beneficiaries at ito po ay equivalent to 60,000 a year, 30,000 for semester.

JOEL/RMN:  Sir, is it upon admission sa school—

SEC. ROQUE:  Kailangan po ma-admit sa eskuwelahan.

JOEL/RMN:  Na wala ng ibang exam na dapat—?

SEC. ROQUE: Hindi, pero kailangan pumasok siya, mag-comply siya sa admission requirements. Okay?

JOEL/RMN:  [off mic.]

SEC. ROQUE:   Ang universal health care ko po naipasa ko po iyan sa Kongreso and the Senate is now conducting its hearings on it. It is being heard by the committee on health under Senator JV Ejercito. And we are now providing for basic primary health care, and as well as health promotion diagnostics and prevention, health prevention, prevention of diseases.

JOEL/RMN:  Sir iyong sinabi ni President Duterte na papatayin niya si Mayor Mabilog, talaga bang papatayin niya si Mayor Mabilog?

SEC. ROQUE:  Eh sinabi po ni Presidente iyon pero ang ibig sabihin rin po ng Presidente kapag sinabi siya ay papatay ay minsan it’s just to emphasize the point na hindi pupuwede na hindi maparusahan ang mga nagkakasala.

Q:  Sir, Rex [unclear], Iloilo News online. Sir, there was a documents showing na—regarding PECO. PECO has a tax evasion case, now pending in Cebu in a large tax division. Kung ito po ay mapapatunayan and ma-dig up – kasi there was this transaction with them, to the National Power Corporation few years ago – so mayroong case nila ngayon pending sa Cebu, large tax division. Kung ito mapapatunayan na mayroon silang tax. Ano ang gagawin ng gobyerno tungkol sa PECO?

SEC. ROQUE:  Eh ‘di sasabihin ko kay Commissioner Dulay, sampahan ng kaso kung mapapatunayan iyan dahil talaga namang labag sa ating batas ang hindi magbayad ng tamang buwis. Paki-imbita po ako as a resource person but as I said, I need to get the consent of the President if I am to go.

Ah ito na pala, okay. There will be an information dissemination and consultation campaign on Iloilo City. The program will include the discussion of Magna Carta for residential electricity consumers. Distribution services and open access rule. We hope that this will be considered as sufficient compliant with your directive.

Ang nangyari po kasi maski wala na ako sa Kongreso, I send them a letter dated 26 January, Spokesperson na ako. And I sent the ERC, a letter to conduct a public hearing on the complaints of consumers of PECO due to its inefficient operation. So itong hearing pala ito dahil doon sa aking liham sa ERC. Eh, kapag na-schedule na po iyan, meeting na iyan ay, siguro dahil ang nagpatawag ay ERC, ay pupuwede na akong um-attend except that I need the permission of the President. Pangatlong beses ko ng sinabi iyon. [laughs]. Okay? So I will ask permission.

Q:  Sir, good morning. I’m Aimee Sonito from Panay News. Sir, ilang beses na kayong nagpunta dito sa Iloilo at maraming Ilonggo ang nagtatanong, ano ba iyong plan ninyo in this coming local and national election. Kasi iyong name mo isa sa lumulutang na to run for Senate?

SEC. ROQUE:  Well ang katotohanan po niyan hindi ko alam kung ano ang kapalaran ko bukas, hindi ko po inasahan na maging Kongresista, dati po ako ay propesor lamang sa UP, isang aktibista, hindi ko inaasahan na sa—pagkagaling sa Kongreso maging Spokesperson ako. Pinaubaya ko na po sa Panginoon kung anong mangyari sa akin. Pero ngayon po ginagampanan ko sa pinakamabuting pamamaraan ang aking katungkulan bilang tagapagsalita ng ating Presidente.

Q:  But are you open sir to run for Senate in case na iimbitahan kayo ng PDP-Laban?

SEC. ROQUE:  Okay. Alam mo naimbitahan na nga ako ni Speaker and I have thanked him. Do I want to? Siguro po pero ang riyalidad po, anak po ako ng guro, anak ako ng pastor, kinakailangan po half a billion para tumakbo sa Senado, iba po iyong mangarap sa kumandidato dahil kung wala ka namang ganiyang kalaking pera, bakit ka pa tatakbo? So nandoon po ako sa punto na iba po ang—alam ko po ang riyalidad ng pulitika dahil pumasok na rin po ako sa larangan ng pulitika.

Q:  Mr. Secretary, magandang hapon ulit. Pumunta ka ng Alimodian, mayroon po ba tayong dalang magandang balita sa taga Alimodian considering na ikaw ang bisita ng taga Alimodian?

SEC. ROQUE:  Oo ang aking dalang magandang balita, ang ating pinakamagaling at pinaka-good looking Mayor, humihingi ng covered court sa kanilang Plaza. Ang sagot ko naman, sulatan lang ako dahil after all, mayroon naman yatang kaunting budget ang pamahalaan ng Pilipinas at ang Malacañang Palace para sa ganitong mga proyekto. Okay? [Applause].

Q:  [off mic.]

SEC. ROQUE:  Wala pa siyang hinihingi halaga, hayaan mo muna siyang humingi. Wala pa siyang hinihingi. Hayaan mo munang magpadala ng liham ng malaman natin kung magkano ang maibibigay na tulong ng Malacañang. But I have to say, I’m very impressed by this festival. I’m very impressed by the productivity in this area. And I would hope that other municipalities follow the footsteps of Alimodian and I would hope that other Mayors are good as Mayor Kalay. Okay?

MODERATOR:  At this point, we will entertain one last question sir.

SEC. ROQUE:  One last question po.

Q:  Bago siguro sir iyong katanungan ko, puwede bang malaman namin kung saan sa Iloilo iyong mother mo? Anong town?

SEC. ROQUE:  Ay ang aking angkan po ay galing po ng Jaro—

Q:  Ajoy?

SEC. ROQUE:  Jaro.

Q:  Ah Jaro. Anong pamilya sir?

SEC. ROQUE:  Ay mamaya na po, iyong mga mahihirap lamang po kami.

Q:  Okay. [laughs]. Sir iyong last question ko lang, iyong pinakamainit na isyu ngayong national, tungkol sa Dengvaxia. Pero napapansin namin iyong Presidente natin wala masyadong comment tungkol dito. Iyong away parang nanggaling nasa PAO at saka sa mga doctors. Ano bang stand ng Presidente tungkol dito?

SEC. ROQUE:  Ang stand po ng Presidente nag-iimbestiga. Hintayin nating matapos ang imbestigasyon bago tayo magkaroon ng konklusyon at kapag nagkaroon naman ng konklusyon dahil sa imbestigasyon na dapat may mga taong managot, asahan ninyo po ang Presidente pananagutin ang mga iyan at patapusin muna ang imbestigasyon. Okay?

Maraming salamat po. Again, thank you, Mayor. Thank you to all our public officials who were here. Thank you to the municipality of Alimodian and the province of Iloilo. And happy festival sa inyong lahat po.

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Source: PCOO-NIB (News and Information Bureau)

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