Press Briefing

Press Briefing by Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella with Secretary Roy Cimatu Department of Environment and Natural Resources

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

 

OPENING STATEMENTS:

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: Good morning. Our resource speaker for today is none other than Department of Environment and Natural Resources, Secretary Roy Cimatu.

Prior to his appointment, he was the Special Presidential Envoy to the Middle East with the rank of Ambassador.

He was also appointed as the 29th Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines in May 2002.

He graduated from the Philippine Military Academy in 1970 and did his MBA at the Ateneo.

Ladies and gentlemen of the Malacañang Press Corps, please welcome Secretary Roy Cimatu. Sir, kayo po.

SEC. CIMATU: Thank you very much, Secretary Abella, members of media, Malacañg media. Good morning.

I’m here, my very first time as a Secretary to meet the media and at the same time to grace the invitation of the Secretary.

Well, I’m almost five months old as Secretary and in that five months time as Secretary, I’ve learned a lot from the department especially the mandate given to this department.

I knew for a fact that there are many laws on environment and natural resources in my shoulder.

The number one is the national — the Clean Air Act. Clean Air Act is about a law that prescribes some regulations controlling the environment, especially air pollution.

And the number one pollution problem is the emission of motor vehicles. And I was told by the World Health Organization that one out of four died of the effects of pollution in the world.

And therefore it is really a very big responsibility on my part to make sure that air pollution is contained or is resolved or improved as one of my job.

And 80 percent of air pollution is derived from motor vehicles and this is really a big worry for us, especially here in Metro Manila because of pollution, air pollution.

And one of the biggest and the one that can mitigate this pollution is trees — planting trees. And this is really one that we are doing in order to neutralize the effects of air pollution.

The other one is the modernization of our vehicles. The number one source of pollution really are those engines that are still in categorize as Euro 2.

And these Euro 2 vehicles should be out in the streets by in the middle of next year, as far as our plans is concerned with the DENR.

And we are also requiring planting of trees because these are the only way that we can mitigate the effect of air pollution for the moment.

Water, water pollution. This is also one of the mandate of the DENR. The Clean Water Act and this prescribes that wastewater should be prevented in going to the sea or to the rivers and this is one really that we have to implement or enforce properly, especially those in the sewage system.

It should not go out to the rivers or to the sea, especially the Manila Bay. As of now, the DENR is one of 13 agencies of government that were — that is facing a mandamus from the Supreme Court because of the Manila Bay pollution.

And therefore this is really one of big — not actually — a challenge for the DENR to make sure that we are doing something to clean the Manila Bay, to clean the Pasig River and Laguna Lake.

The third one is the Solid Waste Management. This is another mandate of the DENR. And we have… We have to close Payatas landfill because it already exceeded its limit.

And we are closely looking at the other one in Navotas. And the problem in that landfill is that the waste — the garbage is transported by barge in Pier 18. They bring these to the landfill in Navotas.

During the transportation of this garbage, we have noted that there are some accidental things that happen when the garbage fall towards the Manila Bay.

And it again increased the pollutants in the Manila Bay. So we were taking actions on these.

And the fourth one that we are very busy with DENR is the National Greening Program. We have proposed the budget the amount of P7 billion for a National Greening Program of our country.

For every province in our country, we have programmed some tree planting of these areas, forested areas.

And of course the mining. We are really… We are still waiting for the finalization of the audit on the 13 mining companies that were either suspended or closed, recommended by the previous secretary.

And we intend… We should complete this probably towards the end of the year because there were several problems that we found out during the review.

And the decision of the open pit mining, these are being discussed now with the MICC, the Mining Industry Coordinating Council.

And next week, we’ll have a meeting to receive the report of inter-agency working group to submit the findings.

So that’s in a nutshell my mandate and the things that we have done so far.

Thank you very much.

QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS:

Tuesday Niu (DZBB): Hi, sir. Sir, nabanggit niyo ‘yung — we have to close the Payatas landfill and one in Navotas. Saan niyo pino-propose na ilipat po ‘yung pagtatapunan natin ng mga basura? At saka anong mangyayari sa Payatas after closing it?

SEC. CIMATU: Yes, ang pinasaraduhan ‘yung Payatas dahil ano na, nakalampas na sa limitation ng ano niya, ‘yung capability, capacity. That’s the reason because it was really very dangerous.

During nung umuulan nga noon nang malakas, nagtawag sa’kin ‘yung MMDA na medyo delikado na mag-landslide uli ‘yung mga ano doon. Katulad nung nangyari several years back na mga 300 ang namatay, natabunan ng basura.

So we did not like that to happen again. And ang alternate na pinuntahan nila was in the landfill in Rodriguez. Nandun po ‘yung mga ano…

Kasi we are ano, we are… Mabigat na problema ang ating ano eh, basura eh. As of now, we are experiencing mga 4,000 tons of garbage a day — 4,000 tons.

And really kung saan mo ilalagay ‘to. It is really a problem. Buti na lang meron tayong mga alternative in Rodriguez landfill at saka itong Navotas for the Metro Manila residents.

So ‘yung what will happen to Payatas, ini — ano yata nila ini-improve nila for hindi na maging basurahan ‘yun. Hindi na pwedeng basurahan.

Kung anong gagawin ng may-ari, well, I don’t know but… I don’t know if they have plans of putting something there for — in relation also to the garbage problem.

Ms. Niu: When will this be effective, sir? ‘Yung totally na isasara na siya.

SEC. CIMATU: Yes, sarado na talaga ‘yan.

Ms. Niu: Ah, sarado na.

SEC. CIMATU: Yep because…

Ms. Niu: Hindi na tayo nagtatapon doon, sir?

SEC. CIMATU: Hindi na, hindi na. Wala na, sarado na ‘yan.

Rocky Ignacio (PTV-4): Sir, kailan pa daw po nagsara?

SEC. CIMATU: Last month pa ‘yung Payatas. ‘Yun nga ang nangyari, gusto sana nila i-extend pa ‘yung buhay nun kasi talagang — ilang beses ng extended kasi ‘yan eh.

Pero this time, hindi na pwede kasi magsa-suffer rin ang mga tao diyan sa ilalim ng ano — sa baba ng Payatas.

Ina Andolong (CNN Philippines): Sir, just to clarify you mean since last month all garbage that used to go to Payatas are now going to Rodriguez?

SEC. CIMATU: Rodriguez, yes.

Ms. Andolong: The Rodriguez — the landfills in Rodriguez sir, I understand, have been operational for a while. So it’s… Maybe just a matter of time before those also reached their capacity. What is the long term plan?

SEC. CIMATU: Yes, expected life niya 2022 ang Rodriguez.

‘Yun nga ang aming tinitingnan because dapat meron na tayong alternative for this. Kasi mabigat kasi, marami kasing ano…

Ang total kasi, mga 4,000 to 6,000 tons a day. And you can just imagine ‘yung mga dump trucks na dumadaan diyan sa kalsada, these were going to Payatas dati.

So nag-move na sila towards the — sa Rodriguez. Umaabot ng mga ilang — 400, 500 trucks ang dadalan ng basura, dumadaan diyan.

Kaya ma-ano talaga ‘yung ano — the basura. But there are some other things that we can do later on para ma-ano lang ito. Stop gap lang ho ito, ‘yung mga ano natin eh.

But we have to solve this completely. And we have some ways of pag-ano, pagka-address ng basura na problem by — ‘yung mga iba nire-recycle lang eh. ‘Yung mga ibang subdivisions dito, to be fair with the other subdivisions.

About 20 to 30 percent ay hindi na nagdadala sa basurahan. They recycle it among themselves, in a subdivision. Maganda po ‘yung mga ginagawa.

May mga NGOs kasi na very strict sa pag-ano ng basura. If they can only do that, lahat-lahat tayo, sana wala na sana tayong ganito.

But ano pa rin, they would like to dispose pa rin ‘yung mga basura nila. Ilabas ‘yung basura nila sa harapan nung bahay. Kukunin ‘yung garbage. Pero sana hindi na ganyan in the future eh.

Ms. Andolong: Sir, ‘yung 2022 po na sinabi niyong likely mahi-hit ng Rodriguez landfill ‘yung kanyang capacity. Does this already factor in the additional garbage na na-divert from Payatas kasi kung ganun, hindi po ba mas mapapaaga pa ‘yun?

SEC. CIMATU: Well, that was the estimate nila. Kasi katulad ‘yung Payatas that should have been closed four years ago eh.

But na-extend-extend hangga’t supposed to be ngayon December na sana ang final, final-final. Pero hindi na natin pinaabot ‘yung December kasi talagang delikado na.

Ms. Andolong: ‘Yung sa Rodriguez po, sir?

SEC. CIMATU: Sa Rodriguez, ‘yung 2022

‘yung estimate, taking into consideration pa rin ‘yung pag-increase ng basura later on kasi ngayon 4,000 tons a day.

Siguro in the next several years naman baka magdagdag uli. So the only way for us na hindi madagdagan ‘yan is i-recycle. Tayo-tayo na lang mag-ano ‘yung ating basura.

Ms. Andolong: Okay. Last on this, sir. So what is the alternative that you were talking about because 2022 is just a few years away?

SEC. CIMATU: Well, aside from the — ‘yung ano, recycling among ourselves, sa families or sa bahay, households, eh ‘yun, tinitingnan ‘yung waste-to-energy method.

Marami ang nag-ano niyan, nagpo-propose. Last two weeks ago, I was in Cebu. Nakikinig ako ‘yung dalawang pinapakitang ano doon, one in Mactan, one in Naga, Cebu.

Nagpunta ako doon, nakita ko for myself how they ano, manage the garbage problem there.

So ang ginawa nila, merong ano eh, semi-Filipino ingenuity eh, at the same time, hindi ‘yung ano, sinusunog, ano — ‘yung chemical ano, parang, there’s a method non-draining.

Ang nangyayari, they were able to… There were three towns in ano, in Cebu and ito ‘yung ginagamit namin na parang gawin munang initial model in case na mag-ano naman dito sa Quezon City, Manila.

Three towns, sa Minglanilla, Carcar and Naga, they had a contract with this company na sila ang kumukuha na lang ng basura eh from the towns eh.

Dinadala nila sa machine nila, inilalagay doon for ano, nag-ano ‘yun eh, nag — through chemical process, nagkaroon ng methane ‘yun eh, nagme-methane, naka-generate ng electricity.

But ‘yung after 41 days, ‘yung basura na ‘yan maging fertilizer na eh. So ‘yun ngayon ang ano, by-product nila, nakakabigay ng little kuryente and ano… So that happens.

So far, okay naman ‘yung nakita ko but that is only… [inaudible] lang nila is 150 tons a day. Dito sa Metro Manila is 4,000.

So ito ngayon ang ating tinitignan kung paano natin ano but that will be our plan to put up really this kind of waste energy because ito na nga ang trend nila eh sa mga other countries.

Ito rin talaga ang pupuntahan na natin kung hindi tayo ma — ma-address itong problema ng waste, solid waste.

Alvin Baltazar (Radyo Pilipinas): Good morning, Secretary. Sir, hindi niyo ba kino-consider ‘yung paggamit ng incinerator o makakasama sa future plans natin? Though alam natin may batas doon pero wala ba tayong balak kausapin din ‘yung mga mambabatas natin para mai-consider din ‘yung paggamit ng incinerator?

SEC. CIMATU: Meron po. Meron silang proposed bill for the amendment of the Clean Air Act regarding incineration.

And in fact, nagpunta sa akin kahapon si Congressman Pineda about that proposal to amend the Clean Air Act about incineration.

Nagtanong-tanong rin ako about incineration na — and one of the Justices of the Supreme Court told me that incineration is really not prohibited absolute. Hindi in absolute ‘yung prohibition. Because ang nakalagay lang yata doon ‘yung sa Clean Air Act is ‘yung mga toxic at saka ‘yung mga — tocix and hospital waste. ‘Yun lang ang mga nakalagay na prohibited doon sa ano, sa Clean Air Act.

However, kasi marami rin naman nagdi-disagree about that but as long as that is in the law, eh talagang nandiyan na, hindi klaro so pinapa-amend pa rin nila ‘yung bill ng Clean Air.

Pia Ranada (Rappler): Hi, sir. Sir, could we have figures on how much mining companies have paid the government for environmental damage so far?

SEC. CIMATU: Oh. I was told that the government is spending about a billion a month or a year? In Metro Manila, the amount that we are spending for garbage?

Ms. Ranada: Sir, my question was how much have the mining companies paid the government for environmental damage? Kasi sir, that was the promise of the President, that he would bill the mining companies for the damage.

SEC. CIMATU: Sorry, sorry. Nag-shift na pala tayo sa mining ano. I’m really very sorry.

Well, the mining companies paid the government 10 percent — two percent excise tax? Two percent excise tax. And out of this, several percent goes to the province where the mining company goes and the other half goes to the national government.

And in the amount that is given to the government, there is an amount intended for rehabilitation and protection as far as the effects of the mining is concerned.

They are also… They are also giving something for the community. The mining community by itself provides also some assistance to the community, aside from the taxes being paid to the government.

Ms. Ranada: Sir, but aside from that, that’s in the system already, that’s in the law. But how about sir the fines that the Duterte administration wants to impose on these mining companies who have created damage to the environment?

SEC. CIMATU: Yes, that’s why this is really a very… Most of those who were suspended — these were suspended or closed, part of the suspension is caused by non-compliance of regulations.

And in the event that the suspension will be lifted or shall be lifted or they will eventually be closed — those will be lifted, we’ll be really very strict in the implementation of this — of their responsibility on the community, responsibility to rehabilitate the scars that they did to the Earth ano. That is their responsibility, part of their rehabilitation program, it is still their responsibility.

Ms. Ranada: So, so far sir you have not collected any of these fines from these companies? Because you said sir you will be strict but you have not yet been strict? What does it mean?

SEC. CIMATU: These… The fines or the penalties are ano, are the result of some findings in environmental ano, in the DENR because hanggang DENR — in the Environment Management Bureau.

Like for example, the fines about spillage of wastewater to the ano…. They have been fined. Like for example, what happened to the Philex when there was this — nag-ano eh ‘yung kanilang water is nag — ‘yung spillage nila, nag-burst ‘yung dam nila, pumunta —-

Ms. Ranada: Sir, was this under the Duterte administration? This…

SEC. CIMATU: No, before pa.

Ms. Ranada: Sir, how about under the Duterte administration? Have you fined them for any environmental damage?

SEC. CIMATU: Ay, wala pa ho kasi nasa — suspended kasi sila pero ‘yung mga ano, ‘yung mga hindi suspended naman, they are complying. They are compliant.

‘Yung mga suspended ay hindi pa lumalabas kasi ‘yung decision on the punishment, penalty eh. Unless ‘yung sabi ko, by the end of the year siguro, ‘pag labas na ‘yung mga decisions, doon na mape-penalize ‘yung mga ano.

Hindi pa kasi lumalabas ‘yung decisions and the findings of these… Ilan ba ito? 28 companies.

Reymund Tinaza (Bombo Radyo): Hi sir, good morning. Naimbag a bigat. Sir, just to follow up ‘yung what you’ve mentioned kanina na doon sa 13 mining companies na pinapa-close ni former Secretary Gina Lopez. You’ve mentioned there was or there are problems that you encountered. What… Can you please elaborate sir what kind of problems? Is it on the operations of the mining being closed or the procedures undertaken by Secretary Lopez to order the closure?

SEC. CIMATU: Oo, nagsasama-sama na sila. Kasi may mga iba, nag-violate sila ng… ‘yung, ‘yung katulad ng spillage, ‘yung water na — ‘yung mine water nila doon, napupunta sa river, sa tubig dagat.

‘Yun may fine, may ano ‘yun, one of the violations and kasama ‘yun sa violations ‘yun that’s why it was closed or it was suspended.

‘Yung mga iba naman, ‘yung mga violation of some ECCs, ‘yung mga viniolate (violate) ng ECCs, ‘yung mga ganun. At saka ‘yung mga iba pa naman, ‘yung mga nag-illegal cutting sila ng ano, ng mga kahoy.

‘Yung mga… Like those, they were suspended, they were closed. So ito ngayon, tinitignan namin kung anong mga other violations na nangyari that’s why we are ano, we are undertaking this ano — very rigid ‘yung aming ano eh inspection because itong resulta ng audit…

Nag-hire pa kasi kami ng ano eh, ng mga experts that were not connected with the mining companies. Nag-hire kami para matutukan talaga ‘yung mga violations because we — I’d like to really talaga to improve the system, to improve the mining practices, mga…

May mga good practices naman pero meron pa ring nagva-violate so ito ‘yung iniistrikto natin.

Because at the end of this year siguro, we will come up with a strategy or a roadmap and proper management of mining.

In fact next week, I was invited to go to Australia to see the mining companies there to look for myself the best practices kung anong ginagawa nila.

Kasi baka naman hindi kasi ano… Kasama pa nga namin ‘yung mga ibang mga mining company managers eh, kasama sa Australia para makita nila for themselves kung ano talaga, what is the best practices sa mining.

Mr. Tinaza: Sir, so without preempting the conclusion of the audit or the final review of the closure order, so at least now, reading from the documents or from the order, do you see merit or at least a basis of the order of Secretary Lopez for the closure of these 13 companies? Just the merit.

SEC. CIMATU: To be honest, I did not see ‘yung mga ano nila, I have not seen the works of the — ‘yung nag-audit na ‘yun… Gusto ko lang muna, they will continue their audit, they will continue their studies.

Then, only then na ‘pag may finished product na sila, saka ko na lang makita. I’m sorry I cannot answer it muna to preempt whatever it is.

Andreo Calonzo (Bloomberg): Hi sir, magandang tanghali po, sir. Sir, when can we expect a decision po on the suggestion to lift the open pit mining ban given that the President has already said that he’s in favor of the ban and he wants open pit mines closed eventually? He said that last month so when can we expect a decision from you on this po?

SEC. CIMATU: Let me read lang ito ano, these were about — it’s about open pit mining.

During the Cabinet meeting last September 4, the President ordered me to look into other options or modalities in getting what is inside the bowels of the Earth aside from open pit mining.

He also instructed me not to allow mining in watersheds and to require mining companies to plant trees in barren areas within the company concession, which are not utilized for mining.

It can be recalled that two months ago, during his speech before the mining industry leaders and NGOs in Malacañang, he said that he’s okay with open pit mining, provided that the company extend assistance to communities that are affected by the open pit mining.

We shall take our cue from the President’s statements. Mining companies will be given that elbow room. He said this in the Cabinet meeting but eventually at some point in the future, open pit mining will have to return or to turn more environmentally-accepted methods.

We will use the Mining Industry Coordinating Council to translate the President’s instruction into specific guidance. And with this, I bring this… I brought this to the MICC for them to assist in the decision whether to lift or not to lift the ban.

So the MICC has convened for the past two months their working group and by next month, by next week, that will be 24 of this month, the MICC will meet to discuss this and receive the recommendations of the working group.

Being as a co-chairman of the MICC, I will not — I will inhibit myself to be part of the MICC because the MICC will eventually give — forward this to me.

So I will inhibit in whatever the votation or whatever that. But I will hear their arguments for me also to be guided.

So that will be my stand when that meeting comes on October 24.

Mr. Calonzo: Sir, isa lang po. Mining companies are also closely watching your decision on the moratorium on ‘yung mining projects. What’s your stand on this po?

SEC. CIMATU: The moratorium and the new project…

Mr. Calonzo: ‘Yung new mining.

SEC. CIMATU: Well, yes. As I was saying a while ago, I will wait for the recommendation of the mining audit that were sent by the MICC to the mining companies.

And from their output, that will be my basis to recommend for the either lifting or sustaining the moratorium.

Elijah Rosales (Business Mirror): Sec, good morning.

SEC. CIMATU: Yes.

Mr. Rosales: I would like to ask, what is your stand as the DENR Chief? Do you agree that there should be a legislative — mining companies should get legislative franchise from the government?

SEC. CIMATU: Oh yeah. I was asked by some members of Congress, especially the Lower House about my stand.

But I said that I will wait for the bill about the franchise, about the mechanics of that.

But we will be very ano, we will look into this and we will cooperate with the lawmakers in crafting whatever bill they are proposing.

And my bottom line is that it should be — it should define the wish of the President for a responsible mining, make sure that the proper taxes will be given.

And also, if ever we have to process our minerals here to have a better revenue for the country because as of now, the mining industry is only contributing about less than 1% of the GDP.

Where other countries, they are getting about 10%, 8%. In fact, one country in South America is getting 15%.

So these are the things that we have to look because as of now, we are the fifth mineralized country in the world and their estimate is that if we can get all these, it can translate into a very big revenue for the government and it can translate I think into trillions of pesos.

Now, the question is if this is really… These are just estimates that I received and if we have to legislate the franchise of that, then it should veer across to this direction.

Mr. Rosales: Sir, last follow-up. You said that we can benefit from the mining sector and that some countries get as much as, 10% of the from the mining sector. Sir, do you recommend na taasan natin ‘yung sinisingil nating excise tax mula sa mga mining company, sir?

SEC. CIMATU: Absolutely, yes. Kailangan,

Mr. Rosales: So to how much…

SEC. CIMATU: Well, there was this study before. There were some proponent before to increase the 2% to 5%. But umaangal rin ang mga mining companies. Ano naman ‘yan eh.

Pero we have to really find out and… These are the things that we have to ano… We have to plan properly how much of financial and so forth and so on. But mukhang ma-liit ‘yung 2%.

Mr. Rosales: So, sir, para lang klaro. You recommend hanggang 5%, sir?

SEC. CIMATU: Hindi. Wala pang absolute na ano ‘yan ano. I think I will be bringing this to the MICC as part of a policy ano — recommendations later.

Rose Novenario (Hataw): Good morning, sir. Hello po. Hi, sir. Noong last month po nagkaroon po ng air, land and sea strikes po ang Armed Forces of the Philippines sa may Mt. Banoi sa Batangas City. Ang pinag-ugatan daw po ng issue ay ‘yung ‘pag-tutol ng mga mamamayan doon sa mining operations at ang akusasyon po ng Communist Party of the Philippines ay parang inayudahan daw po ng AFP ‘yung mining companies para daw pong nagsilbi silang private army nung mining company po doon. Ano po ‘yung… Nagkaroon po ba ng participation ‘yung DENR doon o illegal po ba ‘yung pagbibigay ng permit doon o ano po ‘yung feedback na nalaman niyo po doon?

SEC. CIMATU: Oo.

Ms. Novenario: Kasi po nag-evacuate po ‘yung mga tao doon sa Batangas City, that was ano September 24, 25, and 26.

SEC. CIMATU: Oo.

Ms. Novenario: Wala pong report na nakarating sa inyo?

SEC. CIMATU: Yeah. Honestly, this is my first time to receive that report and I will check into this. Last September 24.

Ms. Novenario: Oo. Last week po ng September.

SEC. CIMATU: Oo, Batangas.

Ms. Novenario: Opo, Batangas City po. Mt. Banoi.

SEC. CIMATU: Oo. I think there is no mining company…

Ms. Novenario: ‘Yun po ‘yung accusation nung ano, ng mga rebelde.

SEC. CIMATU: Wala tayong mining ano doon. Siguro kung meron small-scale na illegal, pero wala ho tayong…

Ms. Novenario: Binigyan po ng permit doon sa Mt. Banoi?

SEC. CIMATU: Wala ho. But I will check this one. I will check this with our DENR there ano.

Ms. Novenario: Okay po.

SEC. CIMATU: Yeah. Thank you.

Dexter Ganibe (DZMM): Sec, good noon. Sec, since nung naupo kayo, naka-visit na kayo sa Surigao?

SEC. CIMATU: Yes, yes.

Mr. Ganibe: Kailan po kayo ulit babalik?

SEC. CIMATU: A month ago.

Mr. Ganibe: Okay.

SEC. CIMATU: Yeah, yeah. I flew all over the mine areas there and took off from Butuan, flew around Surigao, then we landed in Taganito — mining company. I took some pictures especially sa effect of the mining sa dagat at saka sa mga river.

Nakita ko rin ‘yung distansya ng mga rice field versus the mining companies. Nakita ko naman na ‘yung fully grown ‘yung mga rice fields because I was very particular here.

Epekto ng mining sa mga rice fields doon. So nakita ko naman na fully grown naman ang mga rice fields. So I was very particular in the effect of the mining sa mga communities.

That was my intention really to find out and ‘yun nga makita mo talaga ‘yung the scar of mining talaga.

But I have some plans for that na medyo ma-mitigate (mitigate) naman ito.

Mr. Ganibe: Ano po ‘yung initial assessment niyo po dun sa ocular inspection na ginawa?

SEC. CIMATU: Well, most of the mining in the area is nickel. Ang product nila nickel.

And being a nickel mineral, the only way for you to get that is open-pit mining. You cannot get the mineral without open-pit mining.

Hindi mo pwedeng ano. Kailangan i-scrapin mo ‘yan. Kasi ‘yung scrape na kinukuha doon, ‘yan na ang raw materials ‘yun.

So they either export or pino-process (process). But in the Philippines, we only have two processing units, one in Surigao and one in Palawan in Rio Tuba.

And I might as well tell you that a Russian company came over to my office led by the Russian ambassador for them to propose if they can participate in the processing of our raw materials.

Mr. Ganibe: ‘Di po ba 14 companies… Mining companies ang for closure sa Surigao area? Ano na po ang…

SEC. CIMATU: Ano daw?

Mr. Ganibe: Labing apat na mga mining companies doon sa area ay for recommendation for closure, recommended for closure na isasara?

SEC. CIMATU: Mga ano eh, 13 under motion for reconsideration and 15 are with the Office of the President. Pero if you total this one, tama ‘yung sabi mo na for closure ‘yung mga iba doon.

Mr. Ganibe: Sir, ito, last nalang siguro. I learned may biyahe din po kayo ng Australia in the next few months or… Australia?

SEC. CIMATU: Yes, yes. Pupunta ako with the invitation of the Australian government para makita ‘yung for myself also how they mine.

And if we can adopt really their best practices kasi medyo maganda rin ang mining nito in Australia.

Mr. Ganibe: Sir, last nalang doon sa byahe sa Australia. Since invited or ang Australian government ang nag-invite. Sila po ba ang gagastos or the Philippine government?

SEC. CIMATU: I think meron silang grupo ng mga Australian ano, mining companies, nag-invite. But the ambassador invited us also.

Mr. Ganibe: ‘Yung gastos, sir, ng trip? ‘Yung gastos po dun sa trip, is it the Philippine government or the Australian government ang gagastos?

SEC. CIMATU: The Australian government po.

Thank you very much.

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: Thank you, sir.

Some good vibes. Boracay remains to be on top — on the top spot while Cebu and the Visayan Islands and Palawan came as second and third, respectively, according to the post published in October 16, 2017 by the international travel magazine Condé Nast.

Furthermore, the country’s international visitor arrivals in July this year peaked at 568,035 generating P33.52 billion.

This reflects a double digit growth of 58.22 percent from July 2016 and its expenditures of P21.189 billion.

The total visitor arrivals from January to July are now at 3, 925, 626 indicating an upward trend.

We hope that more and more tourists come to the Philippines as the administration

continually works for a safe and comfortable environment for all.

Also, the Philippines to issue Marawi bonds starting January 2018:

DBM Secretary Diokno said the government will issue bonds in January to finance Marawi rehabilitation.

SOF Dominguez says directed DOF to study the possible issuance of P30 billion in bonds after PRRD earlier committed at least P20 billion to rehabilitate Marawi.

The President has committed ample funds to rebuild Marawi and the January bonds will ensure that his pledge is fulfilled.

We hope to tap local and global markets as well as Islamic investors in ASEAN and the Middle East, possibly with Islamic securities.

In this rebuilding, all outlay will be tracked and posted online and we look with anticipation on the rising of Marawi.

Also, government spending up in 13.9% in August:

Spending reached P201 billion in August from 177 billion in August 2016 and January, August spending rose 9.8% to 1.78 trillion as DBM Secretary Diokno reported.

We are glad double-digit underspending is over and your government is now delivering the services you paid for with your taxes.

We aim to deliver more infrastructure services, jobs, and a better life for our people by boosting revenues through tax reforms.

A few more.

On the US trip of Mr. Trillanes:

We understand that Senator Trillanes went on a trip to the United States.

On whether the Senator went to the US to ask some sectors to convince the US President not to visit, the Palace is not privy to that.

However, the Office of Senator Marco Rubio confirmed the meeting of Senator Trillanes with the Florida senator, who has been critical of the Philippines’ anti-drug war. Per Senator Rubio’s Press Office, the two senators talked about issues concerning PH-US alliance, combating corruption, protecting human rights amid the government’s campaign [against illegal drugs].

We do hope that the correct information has been given and not biased information designed to adversely affect US-Philippine relations.

On CHR’s investigations on the alleged human right violation in Marawi:

We welcome the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) review and investigation of the action of state security forces in Marawi in connection with human rights. This ensures adherence to the rule of law which is vital in upholding democracy.

The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), we have to underline, gives primacy to the principles of human rights and international humanitarian law and it continues to work with the CHR to ensure that no violation is committed by its units on the ground in connection with military operations, whether or not there is martial law.

On the arrest of Karen Aizha Hamidon:

The arrest of Karen Aizha Hamidon by the agents of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) yesterday underscores that we cannot let our guard down in the fight against terrorism as some remnants of the forces of evil are still at large.

Hamidon is the widow of Mohammad Jaafar Maguid, the most wanted man in Sarangani before his death and former leader of Ansar Khalifa Philippines, the group behind the Davao bombing last year. She is an alleged Daesh-Maute recruiter, where she used online messaging applications to urge foreign terrorists to join the Maute group in Marawi and to fight the government.

Our efforts to hunt down extremist elements who want to sow fear and terror and to maintain peace and order in the community continue as we call upon our people to be continually vigilant and cooperate to inform authorities on possible threats to public safety.

On the reported death of Mahmud bin Ahmad:

The military is validating reports that Mahmud bin Ahmad, a Malaysian national who helped finance the rebellion in Marawi, died during last night’s operations.

Once government troops recover the body, only then can we make an official confirmation.

We are open to a few questions.

Mr. Ganibe: Usec, good afternoon.

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: Maayong hapon.

Mr. Ganibe: Maayong hapon, sir. Sir, ‘yung kay Hamidon, we learned the National Intelligence Agency of India has been contacting the Philippines since August last year for Hamidon because na-track nila si Hamidon na nagre-recruit ng mga Indian national going to Syria na sumali sa ISIS. Why it took so long, more than a year bago nahuli itong si Hamidon?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: I’m sure that the — all of these — all information needs to be vetted properly and we trust the security intelligence to — to have done their part. They were doing due diligence.

Mr. Ganibe: Kasi doon sa information from the National Intelligence Agency ng India, tinukoy na nila kung saan nanggagaling ‘yung mga messages na pinapadala niya sa mga Indian national last 2015 and early 2016?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: Like I said, I — we trust that the intelligence community was doing due diligence.

Joseph Morong (GMA): Sir, good morning.

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: Yes?

Mr. Morong: Sir, ‘yun pong sa SWS survey lang.

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: Which one?

Mr. Morong: Meron pong inilabas ulit ‘yung tungkol sa satisfaction, 3rd quarter 2017 Social Weather Survey, right now it’s at very good but that at 58. Pero po sabi doon sa survey is this is six points below the very good in June. So bumaba po siya ng six points. And then in terms of areas sa Metro Manila po bumaba siya ng 16 points and then 11 points sa Balance Luzon, nag-increase siya ng two points sa Mindanao and one point in Visayas. So the trust ratings are medyo mababa sa Norte and Metro Manila?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: Well, like I said, we can give you a full analysis — a full response as soon as we are able to get the full report and we can do our own analysis regarding the matter.

However, as we — as we have seen so far in the past results of the surveys, the trust is amazing, of the people. And they conti… Apparently, the people continue to trust the President to be able to bring them into the promises that they voted him in for.

In other words, there seems to be an enormous capacity of social capital. An enormous wellspring of social capital that the President can draw upon in order to fulfill his campaign promises.

Mr. Morong: But with regard to this particular survey, sir, where do you think or what do you think is the reason why there are certain declines in certain areas, particularly Metro Manila and Luzon?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: I’m sure there are certain factors regarding that matter. However, like I said, we’ll do — we’ll respond to that question as soon as we get the full report and we can do analysis.

Mr. Morong: But do you see this decline, sir, as affecting — as eroding the credibility of the administration?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: Hardly.

Mr. Morong: Because, sir?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: Simply because there is a huge wellspring of trust that the President has enjoyed and continues to enjoy. These are dips — these are — we consider these dips but on the whole the picture is amazing.

Mr. Morong: Do you think this is temporary?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: I’m sure it’s a dip, you know, it’s like a hiccup.

Mr. Morong: Hiccup? Okay. Thank you, sir.

Tina Mendez (Philippine Star): Sir.

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: Yes, ma’am?

Ms. Mendez: Good morning. Sir, any update lang on the resignation of Chairman Bautista? Has the President accepted it?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: Wala pa po ‘yung ano — the actual signed repo — signed approval. So I cannot affirm nor deny that yet. Except that apparently verbally it has been said so, but we don’t have the actual signed sheet — document.

Ms. Mendez: Do we expect the President appointing a new COMELEC Chairman at least before December?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: We’ll have to leave it to them.

Ms. Mendez: Thank you, sir.

Ms. Novenario: Hi. Good morning, sir. Ay, good afternoon po.

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: Yes, ma’am?

Ms. Novenario: Sir, confirmed po ba ‘yung appointment ni DOH Asec. Lorraine Badoy as PCOO — DSWD Asec. Lorraine Badoy as PCOO spokesperson?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: Wala pong formal na mga documents na natatanggap regarding the matter.

Ms. Novenario: Paano… Eh pero po sinabi po ni — ng DSWD OIC na siya raw po ay nagpaalam na doon sa ano DSWD?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: Sa kanila po ‘yun. Baka nagpaalam sila na nauna or I don’t know.

Ms. Novenario: Pero wala pa pong appointment paper?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: As far as we understand, wala pang appointment papers.

Deo de Guzman (RMN-DZXL): Good afternoon, sir.

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: Yes, sir?

Mr. de Guzman:XL): Meron po bang bagong vacant na Cabinet position dahil apparently last night meron pong sinabi si Presidente na meron siyang tinanggal o sinabak na high- ranking official ng government?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: As far as I know po wala, if you’re asking a Cabinet rank.

Mr. de Guzman:XL): So…

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: As far as I know. Patungkol po diyan, there’s nothing official regarding that matter.

Mr. de Guzman:XL): Thank you, sir.

Evangeline Fernandez (Police Fiiles): ‘Yun, sir. Good afternoon, sir.

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: Yes, ma’am?

Ms. Fernandez: Sir, is there a report that some terror group is looking for another place in Mindanao, like the Iligan, Cagayan de Oro, Zamboanga, Davao? So that there is no possibility to end up terrorism? Any reaction on this and with this do you think that the military cannot recommend the lifting of martial law to the President? How can this terrorism end?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: Madam, I think terrorism has roots and ideology, and ideology is far and deep reaching. So if people decide to believe certain things it is there — you know, it is within their purview.

However, we can — what we can, at most, do is to address the advances. So regarding ideologies, that was your first question, regarding the ideology of terrorism that’s something that is a subject to a mind shift, which is different from what the administration does.

The administration simply addresses certain tactical actions. So regarding tactical actions, the government continues to be aware, continues to raise awareness in order to stop the advance of any terroristic activities.

Ms. Fernandez: Okay. Thank you, sir.

Rosalie Coz (UNTV): Hi, sir. Good afternoon.

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: Yes, ma’am?

Ms. Coz: Sir, reaction po ng Palace sa statement ng isang professor sa Philippine Institute for Peace, Security and Terrorism Research na premature po ‘yung declaration ng liberation ng Marawi dahil ongoing pa po ‘yung skirmishes at may mga hinahabol pa pong terorista sa loob at hindi pa rin po nakakapanumbalik ang mga residents sa area and possibility na napilitan ang liberation declaration dahil po sa maraming missed deadlines?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: Ma’am, that is the speaker’s opinion. However, from where we are — as it has already been reported, announced that this was a strategic message.

And that those that — those are — technically, the leadership has been neutralized and that whatever forces that are left are non-significant and as it has been referred to should be a matter of police enforcement.

So, from the perspective of the government, this has been a — everything is aligned and on the road to recovery.

Thank you very much.

Yes, sir?

Mr. de Guzman:XL): Again, sir. Tatanong ko lang po kasi sinasabi po ni Presidente every time na humaharap siya sa troops, PNP, as AFP, kahapon po sa BJMP, sabi niya doblado ang sweldo ng tropa sa January, next year. Maaari po ba naming malaman kung saan po nahuhugot ng Presidente ‘yung ganung statements na bina-base po ba ito sa batas? Kasi po sa SSL po, sa Salary Standardization ng government, wala naman po dun na dodoble ‘yung suweldo ng mga government official — ng troops?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: Well, first and foremost you have to understand where the President is acting. He is not acting like a manager, he’s acting like a leader.

Ang tanong niyo kasi kung saan hinuhugot ‘di ba? So basically, he’s really acting as a leader. A leader who is inspirational, a leader who knows where to lead his troops, a leader who knows exactly what to say to his people.

So if that was the — your question, so saan ‘yung hugot.

Mr. de Guzman:XL): So, sir, inspirational talk lang po ito, hindi po siya magma-materialize?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: No. He is a… I think you misunderstand and put words into my mouth, you know.

Basically, I’m saying he’s an inspirational leader. In other words, hindi siya manager, you know, hindi siya, “Maghahanap muna tayo kung saan tayo kukuha.” No. He’s a person who acts and he trusts that his government will be able to produce.

That’s exactly how the nation was… That’s exactly why the people voted him in because they see in him the hope to be able to transform the structure which they have already rejected.

Mr. de Guzman:XL): So, will the troops expect their salary to double next year?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: I’m sure they expect that it will improve somehow.

Mr. de Guzman:XL): Will it be done, sir?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: Well, that’s — that remains to — we have to wait until the numbers are in.

Mr. de Guzman:XL): How will it be done, sir?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: With due diligence.

Mr. de Guzman:XL): Due diligence, sir?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: Yes.

Mr. de Guzman:XL): Because we have our GAA and according to the GAA hindi po sila doble yata parang ganun.

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: Well, like I said, we’ll just have to trust the processes.

Thank you.

Ms. Novenario: Sir, good afternoon.

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: Yes?

Ms. Novenario: Sir, sa press conference po kahapon ni Budget Secretary Diokno, ang sabi po niya hinihintay na lang po ng Palasyo ‘yung joint resolution ng House of Representatives and Senate para po doon sa wage increase po ng mga uniformed personnel?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: Okay. Is that the answer?

Ms. Novenario: Oo. ‘Yun po ‘yung sabi niya kahapon.

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: Okay.

Ms. Novenario: So, sabi niya mag-a-amount po ito ng 60 to — 60 billion plus, so may update na po ba kayo doon o—?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: Ma’am, as of now, wala po. But — as of this moment wala po kaming natatanggap. But, you know, that’s the kind of action that we’re waiting on.

Ms. Novenario: Thank you.

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: Yes, Joseph?

Mr. Morong: Hi, sir. Sir, ‘yung kay Dr. Badoy-Partosa, assuming that is true and inilabas na naman DSWD ano, PCO spokesperson po siya?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: Hindi ko pa din masasabi na oo dahil hindi — hindi pa natin nakikita ‘yung papel, tama? So this is just ‘yung bali-balita nagkalat, you know, but hantayin na po natin pagdating.

Mr. Morong: Sir, fake news? Charing. Sir, how many — how many spokespersons do we need?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: I don’t know. I’m the only one here. [laughter]

Mr. Morong: Eh kung gagawin niyo, sir, PCO spox ‘yun, who is she going to speak for?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: Martin Andanar.

Mr. Morong: Yeah? And you’re thoughts about this, sir?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: Excellent. O ‘di ba?

Mr. Morong: Why, sir?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: Why not? You know, if he feels the need to have a spokesperson, so why not?

Mr. Morong: Okay. Fair enough.

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: ‘Di ba?

Mr. Morong: Thank you.

— END —

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