Press Briefing

Press Briefing by Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella with Secretary Silvestre Bello III Department of Labor and Employment

Event Press Briefing
Location Kalayaan Hall, Malacañan Palace

OPENING STATEMENTS:

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: Welcome to our last press briefing in Kalayaan Hall. Starting tomorrow, we will be having our press briefings at the newly refurbished Press Briefing Room in NEB which will be inaugurated this afternoon.

For this morning, we are very proud to have Secretary Silvestre Bello III to share with us matters on wage increase and the Overseas Filipino bank.

Ladies and gentlemen of the Malacañang Press Corps, let’s all give a warm welcome to Labor Secretary Silvestre Bebot Bello. Sir…

SEC. BELLO: Thank you, Sec. Ernie. My friends in the — in media, good morning to all of you. Maayong buntag. Naimbag nga bigat yo amin.

As stated by Sec. Ernie, we will have an OF bank effective January 2018.

If you noticed, it’s called OF bank, not an OFW bank. And the intention here is to cover not only the overseas Filipino workers but also the overseas Filipinos. Because just like our OFWs, our OF — our overseas Filipinos are also contributing a lot to Philippine economy.

In fact, they helped in the remittance of not less than 28 billion dollars for the year 2016. Kaya napakalaki ang kanilang tulong, so it’s only proper and fair that they be included in this bank that will solely service our OFWs and our overseas Filipinos.

Ang ano… Ang composition nito is well we have… Since this ano, since this OF bank will come about by the purchase of the Philippine Postal Bank by Land Bank and this will be converted as a subsidiary bank of the Land Bank.

And probably, logically, the President of Land Bank will be the chairman of the board of Land Bank, of I mean OF bank. And the President will be nominated by the chairman of the new OF bank.

Ang maganda dito is that three members of the board will be nominated by the Secretary of Labor. One to represent the Department of Labor; another to represent the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration, OWWA for short; and the third would be a nominee coming from the ranks of the OFWs.

Ito ‘yung mahirap na parte. Lalong lalo na ibinigay ‘yung responsibility sa akin na mag-nominate ng isang representative of the OFWs. Siyempre ang dami niyan. It will be very difficult to choose.

So, maybe to lessen the difficulty of nominating representative from the OFWs, we intend — when I say we, I’m referring to the OFWs because we are holding in trust about P20 billion for the OFWs. This is deposited both in Land Bank and also in the DBP.

Ngayon, by law, we are supposed to give by the end of this year a rebate to the OFWs. And we are now in the process of computing how much we will be spending as rebate to our OFWs.

Malaki siguro — malaki-laki ‘yan. Let’s say 10,000 per OFW and you are talking of not less than six million OFWs. That’s about half — 600 million.

So instead of ano giving it individually to our OFWs, we are thinking of using this amount to buy into the OF bank. To entitle the OFWs to at least three board seats, so magiging anim ‘yan. Para hindi naman masyadong ano na napapag-iwanan ang mga OFWs.

But this has to be coursed through… It has to go — undergo a lot of consultation, especially to the OFWs. Kakausapin namin sila how they feel na gagamitin namin ‘yung rebate nila.

Instead of giving it to them, eh ibibigay na lang — ibibili na lang namin ng shares sa OF bank. Para sa ganon, lalaki ang representation. Medyo gagaan ‘yung aking problema.

Instead of nominating one, I would be nominating two to three — three more. Eh ‘di medyo mas malaki ang representation nila.

Ayon. That’s the OF bank. It was brought about by the Executive Order of His Excellency President Rodrigo Duterte.

Ito ay isang pangako na natupad after so many years and so many presidents making the promise.

As early as martial law days, itong OFW bank eh na-kuwan na ‘yan, na-conceptualize na ‘yan. Naipangako na ‘yan.

And now, the OF bank will become a reality because of the sincere desire of our President to service the OFWs.

Oh, one point — one point, one point plus kay Presidente ‘yan na may natupad siyang pangako para sa ating OFW.

This is in addition to so many promises that he committed to our OFWs na tinupad niya ha. Hindi empty promises ang binitawan ng ating Pangulo kay — sa mga OFWs.

‘Yung one-stop shop. Hindi niya ipinangako pero ginawa niya. ‘Yung 72-hour policy, hindi niya ipinangako ‘yan pero he ordered us to act on all requests, complaints, communications coming from OFWs within three days or 72 hours.

Ganon kahalaga ang ating mga OFWS sa ating Pangulo. So that’s it. That is the OF bank.

You want to ask question, we are more than willing to address them.

QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS:

Rose Novenario (Hataw): Good morning, sir.

SEC. BELLO: Good morning, ma’am.

Ms. Novenario: Sir, ‘yung Postal Bank, ‘di ba pagmamay-ari ito ng Philippine Postal Corporation?

SEC. BELLO: Yes.

Ms. Novenario: So, wala naman po itong branch sa ibang mga lugar maliban po doon sa main branch nila sa Lawton. So paano po ito maa-avail ng OFWs, OFW family sa iba’t ibang parte ng Pilipinas? Sa mga ano po ba, mga post office po ba magkakaroon tayo ng mga ano doon, na isang window para sa pera padala, parang sa katulad po nung ibang mga sanglaan o ‘di ba may mga tie-up po sila sa bangko sa iba’t ibang bansa?

SEC. BELLO: Maybe you’re not aware of this that there are 116 Postal banks throughout the country.

Ms. Novenario: Sa malapit po ito sa mga munisi — sa mga post office.

SEC. BELLO: ‘Yan, oo.

Ms. Novenario: Oo, pero parang hindi po aware ‘yung mga OFW na pwede sila magpadala doon.

SEC. BELLO: ‘Yan ang ipapaalam natin sa kanila, oo. Pag-launch nitong bangkong ito, merong nationwide projection lahat ng mga bangko.

In fact, in my meeting with the President Alex Buenaventura last week, we are already in the process of establishing postal ano — OF banks in all the POLO offices all over the world.

Medyo ma — kuripot lang si President Buenaventura. Gusto niya, libre. Sabi ko, “Hindi ah. Share tayo sa lease [laughs].” Kasi we are paying for the lease of our POLO offices, dapat makipag-share siya.

But we have to get the clearance from the DFA from Secretary Cayetano.

Ms. Novenario: So, ‘yung post — ‘yung OF bank po, magkakaron po ito ng tie-up sa mga private banks sa ibang bansa para po mapadali ‘yung remittance ng OFWs?

SEC. BELLO: That is not the plan. The plan is to capture the market of the remittances from abroad through — exclusively through the OF bank.

So, ang makikinabang talaga dito ay ang OF bank at ang mapapa — mapapaboran dito ay ang ating mga OFWs, because the intention is to not all…

I don’t know if we can afford to have a free remittance, but at least it will be a cheaper remittance fee.

Ms. Novenario: So ano po ito, parang online banking?

SEC. BELLO: It will — it will go to that.

Ms. Novenario: Nasa abroad…

SEC. BELLO: And this will have a tie-up on our iDOLE card. Magagamit ‘yung iDOLE, oo.

Pero, ‘yung iDOLE, gusto niyo ba i-discuss na ‘yung iDOLE?

Ms. Novenario: Sige po.

SEC. BELLO: Our commitment — the technical working group that we created for the purpose of the iDOLE is — committed that they will come up with the implementing guidelines on the iDOLE by the end of next week, and that the iDOLE card will start coming out by the end of October this year.

So you will see iDOLE card coming out already October 31.

Ms. Novenario: Para saan po ‘yung iDOLE card?

SEC. BELLO: Para sa mga OFWs.

Ms. Novenario: Ano po ‘yun, ah parang membership nila sa OWWA or sa…

SEC. BELLO: Ah, that card will be the substitute of the OEC — that’s the Overseas Employment Certificate. ‘Yan.

Alam mo, ‘yan ang pinaka — ‘yung OEC isang pinaka-ano eh, mabigat sa ating OFW kasi pag-alis nila kukuha sila ng OEC. Pagbalik nila, kukuha sila ng OEC. Eh grabe ang pila niyan.

At lalong lalo na, magbayad pa sila. But with these iDOLE card, mere showing of the iDOLE card will already allow them to go abroad and then come back using only this card.

And if our plan or our discussion with DFA and other agencies in government like Pag-IBIG, SSS, PhilHealth, itong card na ‘to will also serve as their PhilHealth card, SSS card.

So, malaki ang — malaki ang kahulugan nitong card na ito sa ating mga iDOLE. More importantly is ‘yung OEC equivalent of this card.

Ah, yung wage, oo. Maybe you are asking about this wage increase because of the recent news about the increase of 21 pesos here in Metro Manila, and surprisingly ha — surprisingly, 40 pesos in my region. So, there is a suspicion na parang pinaboran ko ang ano — ang region ko.

The increase is extremely high ha. But that is not actually an increase. It is called wage adjustment. And this is studied, assessed in the region — the economic situation in the region. And the tripartite wage board makes the recommendation.

And not only a recommendation, but a decision. So it is — it is not the Department of Labor or the Secretary of Labor who issued the wage adjustment.

It is the tripartite board. It is composed of a representative from labor, a representative from the employers or management, and one from Department of Labor.

And they come up with an assessment of the respective situation in the different regions. And on the basis of this, they make or they decide on a salary adjustment.

‘Yung salary increases, that is a mandate of Congress. It is only Congress who can increase the salaries of our employees, hindi ang Department of Labor. Kasi madaming magsasabi na, “Ang kunat ng Department of Labor, bakit hindi tinataasan?” It is only Congress who can do that.

Of course, we can recommend, but the mandate is with Congress.

Ms. Novenario: Sir, magkano po ‘yung nirekomenda niyong wage hike?

SEC. BELLO: Wala pa. Hindi pa kami tinatanong eh.

Ms. Novenario: Ah, in case po tanungin kayo, magkano po ‘yung irerekomenda niyo?

SEC. BELLO: Ah, siyempre tatanungin ko ho si Secretary Dominguez, tatanungin ko si Secretary Pernia, lahat ng mga — ating mga finance advisers ng ating Pangulo, tatanungin ko ‘yan.

Siyempre, tatanungin din natin ang ating mga manggagawa kung ano ang pangangailangan nila. Pero ang hinihingi nila, 1,000 eh.

Although, last week, we had a discussion na — I mean, I was discussing it with my undersecretary Maglunsod. How do you know? How did you guess?

They might settle for that ano — ‘yung proposal na ‘yung 500-peso subsidy. Oo.

Ms. Novenario: Hindi na po across-the-board wage hike?

SEC. BELLO: Hindi na ‘yon, oo. Sabi nila, kung hindi ma-afford talaga, siguro we’ll settle for ‘yung ano — ‘yung 500-peso subsidy. Pero kako, kailangan ‘yan DBM ang kausapin natin diyan. Oo.

Ms. Novenario: ‘Pag — in case po na ‘yung 500 subsidy ‘yung ipo-propose niyo, magkano po ‘yung halaga ng pangkalahatang ipagkakaloob ng gobyerno kung saka-sakali?

SEC. BELLO: Siyempre, tata — ang magko-compute niyan ang DBM.

Ms. Novenario: Sa pag-ano niyo, sir, sa tantsa niyo, ilan po ‘yung mga manggagawa sa buong Pilipinas na — na pwedeng bigyan ng ganun…

SEC. BELLO: Ah, 42 — 42 million.

Ms. Novenario: 42 million, times 500 pesos?

SEC. BELLO: Oo. Malaki ‘yan. Malaki ‘yan.

Leila Salaverria (Philippine Daily Inquirer): Good morning, sir.

SEC. BELLO: Yes, ma’am.

Ms. Salaverria: Sir, the President has repeatedly said that he doesn’t want to talk to the Communist rebels anymore. Have we sent a formal notice to terminate the peace talks?

SEC. BELLO: Not yet, not yet.

Ms. Salaverria: Why not, sir?

SEC. BELLO: Well, when the President mentioned about not talking to them, probably, our President was referring to the two cancelled talks that we were supposed to hold or would have held some time in June, and then in July.

If you recall, we were supposed to meet for the fifth round — formal round of talks, June 21. He ordered it cancelled for a very good reason.

Then, we were on our way to a backchannel on July 19 for a 20-21 backchanneling, which again he cancelled and again for a good reason.

But that did not mean that the talks were cancelled or terminated. And we have been consistently saying that in order to terminate the talks, either of the parties have to serve the party with a written notice of termination. And the termination takes effect 30 days after receipt of that notice of termination.

Ms. Salaverria: So sir, you’re saying sir, the pronouncements of the President were just referring to specific meetings —

SEC. BELLO: Specific, yes.

Ms. Salaverria: — not the entire…

SEC. BELLO: Yes, I think so. Because, if you recall, when the President came in as our President, he made a very clear statement that his legacy to our country and our countrymen is a lasting peace for our country.

So, I don’t think that — that the President has abandoned — abandoned that legacy.

Ms. Salaverria: Sir, have you discussed this with him recently? Kasi he — I think recent — he also mentioned recently that maybe it’s the next President who could pursue the talks.

SEC. BELLO: I really don’t know, basta the talks are alive and we are just waiting for the President to give us the instruction to go back to the peace table.

Ms. Salaverria: Thank you.

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: Good morning. A bit of a fresh perspective.

The World Bank cites country’s migrant workers’ support system:

The concern of our OFWs remains as one of the priorities of the Duterte administration and the World Bank (WB), in its report entitled, “Migrating to Opportunity,” mentioned that the Philippines has a good support system for migrant workers with the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), [sir]; Philippine Overseas Employment Agency (POEA) and Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) having clearly defined institutional responsibilities.

In addition, the World Bank cited that in the Philippines, attendance in orientation seminars is required before receiving a license and for renewal of license.

World Bank also stated that the country has made it easier for migrant workers to find jobs abroad through the Department’s effort of listing job opportunities.

There are two memoranda from the Executive Secretary:

To Undersecretary Herminigildo Valle, Department of Health, designation as Officer-in-Charge of the Department of Health.

Under the instruction of President Rodrigo Roa Duterte, and to ensure the continuous and effective delivery of public service, please be informed that you are hereby designated as Officer-in-Charge of the Department of Health, effective immediately.

For your information and guidance. By authority of the President, signed, Salvador Medialdea.

Herminigildo V. Valle. Usec po siya.

Ang pangalawa, to Undersecretary Eliseo Mijares Rio, Jr., Department of Information and Communications Technology.

Designation as Officer-in-Charge of the Department of Information and Communications Technology, 10 October 2017, as also the other one, 10th of October.

Upon the instruction of President Rodrigo Roa Duterte, and to ensure the continuous and effective delivery of public service, please be informed that you are hereby designated as Officer-in-Charge of the Department of Information and Communications Technology, effective immediately.

For your information and guidance. Signed by authority of the President, Salvador Medialdea.

So that’s Undersecretary Herminigildo V. Valle and Undersecretary Eliseo Mijares Rio, Jr.

Q: [off mic]

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: Come again? ERC? No comments about ERC, okay.

We are open to a few questions. All right.

Data as of Wednesday, 11th of October:

Enemies neutralized – 811 or plus 9

Civilians killed – 47

Civilians rescued – 1,750

Firearms recovered – 829, plus 2

Unexploded ordnance recovered – 40

Improvised explosive device (IED) recovered – 4

Killed-in-action – 160

Buildings cleared – 37.

Cash donations as of 3 PM, 11th of October 2017:

For the Marawi AFP casualties – P102,607,969.03

And for internally displaced persons – P1,136,595. ‘Yun po.

Joseph Morong (GMA): Sir, pang-background lang, sir. Sir, ‘yun pong order kahapon sa — na PDEA will be the lead —

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: Opo.

Mr. Morong: Does that mean, sir, that we are calling off the Oplan Tokhang? We are canceling that campaign?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: Ang nangyari po dito is that — na maging ano siya, that PDEA becomes the sole agency to conduct the anti-drug operations, all right.

So ang nangyari po, na-degrade ‘yung street distribution networks nung mga drug lords so we now target higher echelons of the syndicates as well as their protectors in government.

PDEA will now bring policy focus, expert performance standards, high-level coordination of oversight, and centralized intelligence collection to the war on drugs.

PDEA will also lead in the establishing… Establishing a broad anti-drug coalition, working with agencies, LGUs, civil society, the Church, business, academe and media to push prevention and rehabilitation initiatives.

Regarding High Court petitions, we welcome this opportunity to present the legal and policy basis for the nation’s war on drugs.

So ‘yun po. In other words, there is now an elevation of the campaign against illegal drugs and so, PDEA has now widened its scope.

Mr. Morong: But in operational sense, sir, will we still see mga policemen doing the rounds in areas of the Philippines?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: I believe that the lead agency will be PDEA and I… I believe, as far as his comment was they will be the ones solely, you know, solely operating.

Mr. Morong: So there should be no more mga nangangatok na mga pulis?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: As far as we understand it, PDEA will be the… PDEA will be in charge.

Mr. Morong: Is this, sir, an admission that there was maybe some failure on the part of the —

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: Sir, I believe… You know, this has been subject to… It’s not a question of failure, it’s a question of more effectivity, optimizing the efforts, and they are widening the scope of responsibility.

Mr. Morong: Okay sir, thank you.

Ina Andolong (CNN Philippines): Sir, you mentioned that there’s been — na-degrade na ‘yung…

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: The degrading of the street distribution efforts.

Ms. Andolong: Distribution. Does this mean that the President is satisfied with the results already of the PNP operations?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: I believe satisfaction but it should mean that we should be drug-free. On the other hand, it means that there’s been substantial advances in the — in addressing the street distribution so now, it’s time to upgrade the — not upgrade but to bring it to — bring the campaign to focus on the higher echelons of the drug trade.

Ms. Andolong: Sir, does the directive have anything to do with the President’s recent pronouncements that there are about 9,000 policemen involved in the illegal drug trade?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: I’m sure that there is certain factors there, I’m sure there are certain factors and so he… At this stage, the President feels that — not feels, he has made an informed decision to empower PDEA to do so.

Ms. Salaverria: Good morning.

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: Yes, ma’am?

Ms. Salaverria: Sir, what’s the basis of the assessment that the street distribution networks have been degraded? Was there a PNP report on this or statistics? Findings?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: I’m sure there’s a background situ — there’s a background… Based on results, they may have come to this conclusion that there is a substantial degradation of the street networks.

Ms. Salaverria: Sir, which results are these? Are these the 3,800 killed in drug operations?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: I don’t have… You know, I believe it’s not so much… You know, I think that’s framing it in a negative way.

It’s simply… I believe it… There are other factors, there are other indicators in making sure like for example, higher prices, higher drug prices so that — that indicates also that there has been — it’s being addressed. Not totally, but it’s being addressed.

JP Bencito (Manila Standard): Hi Spox, good morning po.

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: Yes?

Mr. Bencito: Sir, can we get a reaction from the Palace on the impeachment complaint or rather, the impeachment of Comelec Chairman Bautista?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: Well, Congress shall decide what to do, you know, with this impeachment in view of his resignation.

We acknowledge the services of the chairman and after his successor is named, we look forward to a smooth transition and preparations for Barangay and SK Elections next year for — and midterm polls, and if possible, BBL and Charter Change plebiscites in 2019.

So basically we have no comment regarding that.

Mr. Bencito: Sir, I would just like to get your opinion because apparently the chairman resigned yesterday but it seems that later in the day, bigla siyang na-impeach. Sir, do you think Congress still has time to push for the impeachment complaint? Also, won’t this impeachment be a hindrance to the priority bills of the administration?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: Sir, we don’t have any… That’s beyond our purview. That belongs to the Congress to decide on.

Mr. Bencito: Okay. Thank you, sir.

—END—

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