Press Briefing

Press Briefing by Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque with Department of Trade and Industry Secretary Ramon Lopez

Event Press Briefing
Location International Media Center, New Delhi, India


PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ROQUE: Good morning from New Delhi where we are part of the Philippine delegation to the ASEAN-India Commemorative Summit.

As you know last night, Philippine President Rodrigo Roa Duterte had a bilateral meeting with Prime Minister Modi of India.

The meeting lasted for one hour. And the two leaders agreed on expanding bilateral ties on all fronts. This includes business as well as security and even military cooperation.

No, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, of course, noted the growing business ties between the Philippines and India. He singled out in particular that Indian companies in partnership with Philippine companies won the bidding for two very big airport projects in Cebu as well as in Clark.

He called for further cooperation in the pharmaceutical industry as well as in business outsourcing industry.

Politically, the Philippine President described India as a “rising superpower” that has a moderating effect in international relations. The President emphasized the commonality between the Philippines and India and that is the pursuit of an independent foreign policy.

The President took sometime explaining his war on drugs to the Prime Minister and the Prime Minister responded very positively to the Philippines war on drugs.

In particular, the Prime Minister said that he realizes that the threat of drugs to young people is very, very serious. He said that he has in fact raised the issue of the drug menace in the G13 Summit emphasizing that drug traffickers used proceeds from their illicit trade to fund terrorist activities.

The Philippines, of course — the Philippine President, of course, highlighted that the threat to terrorism in the Philippines and in the region is also financed partly through the trafficking in drugs.

Now, aside from the political and the business, the Philippine President emphasized that ASEAN in addition to being an economic body must also cooperate even militarily in combating the threat of modern-day terrorism. Although the Philippine President used the term “terrorism”, he also emphasized that there was a threat to what is known as the Indo-Pacific navigation route pertaining to the threat of piracy that ASEAN countries must cooperate militarily to combat this form of terrorism.

Of course, the two heads of state agreed that relations while already very good will even be better and that there will be further bilateral negotiations on issues involving trade and even military cooperation in the next two months.

I’d like to turn over now the floor before I go to my briefing on other issues to Secretary Lopez. Secretary Lopez has been in India a day before we arrived and he has had meetings with Indian companies. And it will be good to at this point for Secretary Lopez to brief on the gains that we have achieved on this trip so far.

SEC. LOPEZ: Thank you, Secretary Harry. Good morning again everyone. We had a series of meetings with big and major conglomerates in India especially those with special interest in operating in the Philippines and those with intention either to expand or to enter the Philippines in terms of investments and, of course, this goes beyond the usual trading activities they have with the Philippines.

And part of the meetings, we entered into or they have submitted in total about seven Letters of Intent and two MOUs. So we had basically about nine agreements with them on how they can — or how we can both expand and strengthen our trade and investment relationship.

So in particular, special emphasis were given — aligned with what the President intends to achieve in this visit to strengthen the trade on pharmaceuticals to ensure that the Filipinos will have better, easier access to affordable quality drugs. Its highlighted that the medicines coming from India are not only affordable but also with high efficacy, very effective. They, in fact, are biggest exporters as well to — of medicines to the US and the EU.

And that is what we want to have that these kinds of medicines at these affordable prices to be accessible to many Filipinos.

Related to that the President as well and in our earlier meetings, we have emphasized the need for these India pharmaceutical companies to start manufacturing in the Philippines. They can make the Philippines as their toll manufacturing hub for medicines that they will supply to the Philippines or making it as a manufacturing hub to export also to their other export markets.

Health care is also discussed. Many of the Indian companies would have the technology to provide health care, wellness, preventive health care for the Filipinos and making it more affordable.

We covered also the areas of IT-Business Process Management. As you know, Indian companies there a lot of already in the Philippines and we are… We have talked to them. They intend to come in a bigger way.

They mentioned in the Letters of Intent their intention of expanding the number of seats. And for today, I won’t be summarizing of giving you a total of these investments and the number of seats because some of these are still being finalized and at the same time we don’t want to preempt the full report that will be given by our President.

So once — siguro once we finished the — this visit, we shall give you the total investment figure as well as the new jobs that will be generated.

But I will tell you that it is emerging to be a substantial commitment on the investment side as well as job generation side. And much of it will be coming from the IT-BPM, renewable energy and other infrastructure projects including pharmaceuticals.

The other aspect that — in the bilateral last night on top of what Secretary Roque mentioned is the — there’s a bit of discussion on the need to conclude RCEP or at least put forward — bring forward the discussions on the RCEP. And the two leaders recognized that this will be discussed in the plenary in the ASEAN today. I’m sure many of the leaders will be making the call to bring forward the discussions on the RCEP.

So, maybe in particular, I’d like to cite some of the companies that we met, just to give you a flavor. First on the MOU, this is at the agency level. The Board of Investment entered in a Memorandum of Understanding with the Invest India basically to facilitate direct invest, cooperation between the BOI — the Board of Investment and Invest India. To provide practical investment information to enterprises, assisting visiting investors, promotion of investments and many other initiatives that will facilitate investments.

The other Memorandum of Understanding is between the National Association of Software and Services Companies or NASSCOM of India and our IT Business Processing Association of the Philippines or IBPAP. And this pertains to the development and growth of the global IT-BPM industry in our country so this basically includes mutual assistance and cooperation for the promotion and development of the industry.

And, of course, together with that which we will report later would be the investments of several companies in the Philippines. So we talked to different groups Adani Green Energy and we will give you a copy later of the summary of the meetings yesterday.

So we met Adani Green Energy. Their plan is to expand its operation to the Philippines in particular focusing on the renewable energy, building solar panels. They are the biggest in India. And, of course, there is investment commitment and the jobs to be generated. So they are now looking for sites for the solar and the wind-based power generation.

Interglobe Air Transport, they would like to represent, for example, Philippine Airlines and promote tourism in the Philippines here in India.

Another LOI on Interglobe Technologies, in this case this is part of their business the Interglobe business is to expand its operation and build its presence when it comes to digital delivery centers, again related to the Philippine Airlines transaction that they want to have.

They will set up travel schools with core programs on management, customer services, digital contact solutions and the like.

There is — we talked also to KG Information Systems again on the IT consulting and service delivery. We also met with the IT BPAP of the Philippines where they are committing to increase their job generation by about 100,000 per year. This is also in discussion with the NASSCOM of India.

One Indian investor you are familiar with probably The Farm in San Benito in Batangas. So they intend to expand in Palawan and in Davao. So they are talking to two different partners there.

And then a big group the Hinduja Group, they are into many operations on automotive and infrastructure and other big businesses, but also they are big in IT-BPM. So they are known in the Philippines as HGS Hinduja Global Solutions. So they will also be expanding and increasing the number of seats by about 2,000 seats and that of course 2,000 jobs.

So, there are other groups but they did not enter yet into an LOI but definitely after meeting them, they work on exploring further expansion — expanding their business in the country. I’m referring let’s say with the Mahindra Group, which is another conglomerate here. They are already present in the Philippines and they are currently exploring the possibility of expanding in the country. That’s all for now.

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ROQUE: Of course, Secretary Lopez was being modest. The truth of the matter is even before the start of the ASEAN-India, DTI has already facilitated 1.250 billion dollars in new investments in the Philippines and expected to generate 105,500 jobs. 1.250 billion dollars expected to generate 105,500.

Since he was modest enough not to announce…

SEC. LOPEZ: Hindi ko naman muna tinotal (total).

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ROQUE: I did. [laughs] But in any case, two points on the bilateral last night that I forgot to mention. There was a commitment, in fact, for the Philippines to purchase Indian military hardware. And secondly, when the Prime Minister expressed his support for the ongoing concern of our President, Philippine President Duterte, against drugs, he in fact said that there might be a need for international cooperation to deal with the menace of drugs.

And the Prime Minister highlighted that it should be of the same scale and scope as the international cooperation that we have today on climate change.

Okay, let me now go to local issues before we asked questions?


Rey Pelayo (UNTV): Rey Pelayo po from UNTV.

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ROQUE: You have to use the mic please because otherwise you will not be heard, recorded.

Mr. Pelayo: Sir, good morning po, Secretary. Rey Pelayo po from UNTV. Sir, nakausap namin ‘yung ilan sa mga Filipino community dito sa India at sinasabi nila napakanda ng opportunity para sa mga OFW dahil ang taas ng sweldo. Around 100,000 to 400,000 para sa mga professional natin. Kaya lang sinasabi nila, sabi daw may agreement ang India at Pilipinas para sa deployment ng mga OFW para mas mapadali ‘yung pagkuha nila ng visa and renew ng visa po.

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ROQUE: Well, the Secretary of Labor is not with us on this trip but I will relay this information to him.

Of course, we noticed that India today has a very high standard of living and yes, given the economic boom in India, I understand that their economic growth was 7 percent and they are a population of more than a billion people.

Yes, we would look to further opportunities for our professionals — employment opportunities for Filipino professionals here in India.

Mr. Pelayo: Doon ba sa bilateral ba, sir, meron ba tayong nabanggit tungkol sa mga parang kapakanan ng mga OFW po natin dito?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ROQUE: Walang nabanggit doon. It was really an emphasis on military, political, foreign policy, as well as economic and business ties between the Philippines and India.

Mr. Pelayo: Sir, doon sa medicine, ano po ‘yung particular na napag-usapan po doon sa — can you give more details po sa medicine?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ROQUE: In the bilateral itself, it was mentioned that it’s an area of cooperation that the Philippines wants to prioritize together with business outsourcing.

But the conversation in the bilateral was in general terms. Of course, there was an indication that we want Indians to — Indian companies to invest in pharmaceutical industry in the Philippines. And we want to, of course, learn from the experience on — of India on how they are to produce cheaper medicine.

The Philippine President, in fact, making an example the case of antibiotics. The same — antibiotics of the same efficiency at a fraction of the cost when they are made by multinational companies.

It’s something that we want to learn from India companies and the Indian state in general.

Mr. Pelayo: Sir, meron na ba silang —

SEC LOPEZ: If I may add lang, on that particular aspect, I remember that the two leaders discussed the need to have that working group. Working group to work on this pharmaceuticals development, both on trade and investments.

And I think they were given — that technical working group was given about two months to give a report on how we can really strengthen the partnership, the relationship between Philippines and India on pharmaceuticals. That will be given.

And then we basically discussed on the bilaterals that we have with the — we met kasi the Indian export — Indian export — Pharmaceutical Export Council.


SEC LOPEZ: This was yesterday. This is not the leaders’ bilateral but our meeting, the DTI’s meeting. And we basically wanted them to focus also on key medicines that will be needed especially by the poor.

So medicine alternatives on anti-hypertensive, lodipin, anti-cholesterol, atorvastatin, anti-bacterial, anti-cancer, and then… So ‘yun, marami pala sa anti-cancer.

Mr. Pelayo: Sa dengue ba sir, meron po? Vaccine?

SEC LOPEZ: Wala dito, hindi nabanggit dito.

Maki Pulido (GMA-7): Yes, sir. I’m sorry, sir. I’m just confused. If you can explain. Don’t we have parallel importation because of the Cheaper Medicines Act?

SEC LOPEZ: No, we are doing importation already. So what we are just saying is that we would like to encourage more — siguro sourcing of cheaper medicine or what we say affordable medicines from more sources here in India.

But at the same time, encouraging now for them to look into manufacturing. So para — so that we don’t just rely on importation.

There are actually right now — pina-research din naming ito. The DTI by the way has been doing the legwork even before our visit, that’s the reason why we were able to meet these nine groups and came up with these LOIs and MOUs.

So we basically have — the report says that we have about four Indian pharmaceutical companies in the Philippines already. So we want to add on to that.

Ms. Pulido: Sir, so what failed? At least sa Philippine setting, what failed? How come medicine is still not accessible? How come it’s still more expensive as compared to —?

SEC LOPEZ: Hindi, hindi ito eh. So siguro —

Ms. Pulido: So that was supposed to be fixed by the law?

SEC. LOPEZ: Oo, so hindi — siguro “fail” is not the word. So it’s still a work in progress. These generics medicines are already present. Oo.

So we want basically just to have better access and more of these and more alternatives.

If you ask me, in fact the FDA, every quarter and in fact for that matter every month, but we meet every quarter, we come up with press monitoring report on these medicines that I mentioned especially cure for all these major illnesses.

So… And these are based on mga generics prices that are being watched by these maximum drug retail prices.

So it’s ongoing. So what we’re trying to do is just improving the situation and having more alternatives.

But what you cannot prevent also is, of course, there are those branded medicines and with the brand goes with, you know, high prices. And those are still present.

For those who can afford, they basically purchase the branded ones. And you know why those branded ones are more expensive, ‘di ba? Because they spend behind the brand and the advertisement et cetera.

So… But the generic drugs are already in the country. Oo. So we want to get more and, of course, India has been… In fact, our second major importation from India is medicine, ‘di ba? The first is I think oil — oil products, vehicle, and then medicines na ‘yung second.

Ace Romero (Philippine Star): I’ll just ask, was there a mention about direct flights from the Philippines to India.

SEC LOPEZ: Ah, yes, oo. Of course, talking to the Indian and the Indian companies, they would like to have hopefully to bring back the direct flights that will — that is part really of, you know, tourism promotion.

And some groups that we met, they want to — as they want to promote Philippines as a tourism destination in India, very important ‘yung having that direct flight.

Mr. Romero: So they want — ? Ano po ‘yung concrete development regarding that? Pag-aaralan pa?

SEC LOPEZ: So ang sa atin, it will have to be reconsidered by, of course, the airline companies, either Cebu Paci — from our end, the Cebu Pacific and the PAL.

Mr. Romero: Isa pang question, meron bang companies nag-express interest to join the Build, Build, Build program?

SEC LOPEZ: Yes. In fact, the… ‘Yung isang binanggit kanina, ‘yung GMR mentioned by Secretary Roque was the one that participated in the Clark Airport as well as in the Cebu.

They have started already with Cebu Mactan Airport and they I think submitted an unsolicited proposal for the NAIA.


Mr. Romero: Ilang companies ‘yun, secretary?


Mr. Romero: Ilang companies, Secretary? ‘Yung interested na Indian companies na —?

SEC LOPEZ: On the airport, GMR, but I am — may iba pang companies na interested din in the other parts basically on technology solutions.

Infrastructure, I have not heard anything on the rails and road projects. It’s mainly the airport.

DJ Yap (Philippine Daily Inquirer): Ah yes, sir. Could you just give kahit a rough breakdown of the $1.25 billion na expected to be — dollar expected to generate 105,000 new jobs. Ano ‘yung mga industries are we talking about and ano ‘yung mga jobs that will be created?

SEC LOPEZ: Sige, if I may ano ‘no, bale ang mas nag-concrete na nagbigay ng Letter of Intent, the one — the biggest part there is really the one for the renewable energy. ‘Yung — that Adani Green ‘no.

The others like for IT BPAP, hindi sila nagbigay ng number but they committed the employment growth. They are reluctant to give an actual number at least in writing. What they are committing is the expansion as well as the — they’re committing the number of jobs to be generated.

So kaya kung titignan mo, ‘yung malaki doon sa 1.2 billion is really the renewable energy. Kasi doon may ballpark figure talaga sila. But when it comes to the job generation, ang malaki naman ‘yung IT-BPM.

Mr. Yap: So sir, ‘yung 1.25 billion —

SEC. LOPEZ: Siguro ‘yung 1. — ‘yung about one billion dollars na pinaplanong gamitin for the renewable energy, it will generate only 3,000 jobs.

But much of the — and then, again, the other companies with Letters of Intent, they plan to expand but they did not want to give some numbers yet.

So we don’t want naman to put numbers na hindi sila ang nag-commit. Siyempre ‘yung isinasama lang natin ‘yung willing silang mag-commit.

Then ‘yung the likes of HGS, meron silang kinomit (commit) about $20 million creating 2,000 jobs. Merong ‘yung sa San Benito Farm, $30 million for 500 jobs. And then sa IT-BPM, ‘yun ‘yung maraming jobs, ang estimate about $100 million for that hundred thousand.

The commitment actually is just hundred thousand for one year but what they see happening is about 100,000 jobs per year for the next six years.

Mr. Yap: Sir, last na lang on my end. ‘Yun pong commitment on the part of the Philippines to purchase Indian military hardware, what are we talking about here?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ROQUE: Well, the Prime Minister actually said that they have expertise in ships and other military hardware.

President Duterte just manifested in the same way that he has decided to purchase weapons from China and Russia that he will also consider purchasing Indian weapons.

Of course in the beginning of the meeting, the President thanked India for its support in the Marawi effort and if I’m not mistaken, India gave actually cash‘no 500,000 towards rebuilding of Marawi and at the height of the conflict in Marawi.

Pia Gutierrez (ABS-CBN): Sir, how big is the business delegation na kasama dito, sir?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ROQUE: I think two groups actually eh from the PCCI, Indian Chamber, as well as the Federation of Indian Chamber of Commerce.

So I think each would have about 20. So around siguro close to 50 ‘yung total. Very small.

Ms. Gutierrez: Pero are there Filipino companies naman looking to expand or enter the Indian market naman?

SEC LOPEZ: From what I heard, there’s just a few who joined us and that are looking into exploring opportunities dito.

And in fact, they’re in the middle of mga meetings since yesterday. Hindi ko lang alam kung gusto nilang ipabanggit na.

Yeah, but they are.

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ROQUE: So I’ll proceed now to other matters. First is the clarification, we posted it on heads up.

I’d like to underscore the fact but it’s too basic, a mistake for me to make considering I taught International Law in UP and abroad.

When we talk of sovereign rights, it’s not only exclusive right to explore and exploit natural resources, it’s also the right, exclusive right to conduct scientific research, lay submarine cables and build artificial islands.

I understand there’s a possibility of miscommunication and not imputing anything to that article. I’m just clarifying that I could not have said that Filipinos cannot conduct research in the Benham Rise because this goes against the very definition of sovereign rights.

So I’d like to emphasize that what I was highlighting because of the series of questions on the grant of a license to conduct scientific research to Chinese companies is why it was given to a particular Chinese company.

But in any case, where I was mistaken was I did not know as of Tuesday that we have granted quite a number already of licenses for foreigners to engage in scientific research in Benham Rise. Apparently, the most number of licenses have been awarded to American corporations.

And so far, we have only granted one to China. We’ve also granted to South Korea and if I’m not mistaken, Japan. But Senator — well, Secretary Alan Cayetano actually had a very extensive interview with the Philippine Star yesterday ‘no which was published in the second page of Philippine Star.

And so far, we have only granted one to China. We’ve also granted to South Korea and if I’m not mistaken, Japan. But Senator — Secretary Alan Cayetano actually had a very extensive interview with the Philippine Star yesterday ‘no which was published in the second page of Philippine Star.

I will also try to get the figures and put it on heads up today on the actual number of contracts that we have. Not contracts but licenses that we have granted to foreign nationals to conduct scientific research.

I’m sorry for the miscommunication but again, I would like to highlight that, of course Filipinos are conducting research and Filipinos don’t need to get the consent of the Philippine state because the right to conduct scientific research is ours. That’s what I meant.

Now moving on, today is the National Day of Remembrance. Proclamation Number 164 declares January 25 a day of National Remembrance. The nation remembers the heroic sacrifice of the 44 uniformed personnel of the Philippine National Police – Special Action Force.

Three years after the tragedy of Mamasapano, the cry for justice for our fallen SAF 44 heroes remains alive — well, remains elusive ‘no.

President Rodrigo Roa Duterte does not wish a repeat of such a waste of lives and promising future of gallant Filipinos even as he vows to uncover the truth behind this botched operation and find a just closure for the bereaved families who lost a husband, father, brother, or son.

We call on all members of the police today to look back to the sacrifice of their fallen colleagues. Honor their memory by reliving their values of integrity and courage as you perform your duty to serve and protect the nation.

To our people, let us offer the most solemn prayer for our fallen SAF heroes. We also pray for their bereaved families that their grief may soon be appeased through the attainment of justice.

On Mayon, government continues to provide assistance to families affected by Mayon as alert level 4 remains.

As of January 24, 8 AM, a total of almost 29 million worth of assistance was provided by DSWD, DOH, OCD, LGUs and NGOs to the affected families in the province of Albay.

Also the DSWD prepositioned two tents at Bicol Regional Training and Teaching Hospital for possible influx of patients.

The Department of Agriculture, on the other hand, prepared 475 bags of hybrid corn seeds and 10 bags of corn grits for distribution at the affected areas.

As of January 24, 2018 6 PM, 15,624 families or 59,114 persons are taking temporary shelter in 59 evacuation centers in 6 municipalities and 3 key cites of Albay.

While 2,179 families of — or 9,058 persons are staying with relatives in Camalig, Daraga, Malilipot, and Sto. Domingo, Albay.

I’d like also to announce that I have contacted both Secretary Briones of the DepEd and Acting Secretary Leyco of DSWD and they have come to terms that they will build temporary shelter for evacuees so that the students can actually utilize the school buildings.

So they’re now in the process of coordinating so instead of building temporary learning facilities, they will build temporary relocation sites for the evacuees so that the children can go back to school in areas outside of the 8-kilometer danger zone.


Ms. Gutierrez: Sir, could you confirm ‘yung sinabi po ng Ambassador ng EU that the Philippines has formally rejected the Trade Related Technical aid, sir?


SEC. LOPEZ: ‘Di ako na ‘yan.

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ROQUE: I do not know about that. Now that’s —


[overlapping voices]

Ms. Gutierrez: 6.1 million Euros.

SEC. LOPEZ: No, no. Apparently the agreement… The draft agreement signed by EU was not signed by the Philippine side.

I think there were still issues on the language. Until it elapsed — ‘yung the deadline was reached ‘no, I think end of year. And they could not come to terms in terms of the language.

So I understand that the agreement was returned and signed. So in effect, the EU had no choice but to return that to the budget. They returned the budget basically.

Ms. Gutierrez: So it’s… Is it correct to say that the Philippines rejected the aid being offered by the EU?

SEC. LOPEZ: No agreement. So…

Q: So reject?


SEC. LOPEZ: It did not materialize, yeah.

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ROQUE: Acceptable pa ‘yung terms. So…

[overlapping voices]

SEC. LOPEZ: Hindi lang acceptable. We would like to have it but I think there was an issue on the language. The — siguro what’s written there ‘no.

Q: What was the particular language?

SEC. LOPEZ: I don’t know. I’m not familiar.

Again, the — what was still — what was being reviewed at the time was this particular aspect on keeping the Philippine sovereignty. Dahil ‘yun naman ang pinaka-critical part of the language eh that must be kept basically.

So kung hindi nagkaroon ng agreement doon, hindi naging acceptable ‘yung language.

Ms. Gutierrez: Pero, sir, were there efforts to correct the language?

SEC. LOPEZ: Yeah, they were talking. The two sides were talking. Kaya lang umabot na doon sa deadline.

Q: Follow-up question?

SEC. LOPEZ: On that one?


Ms. Pulido: If I understand it correctly, sir. No, I’m sorry I’m just clarifying. You said the sovereignty, there was a language problem on the sovereignty?

SEC. LOPEZ: Yes, yes. ‘Yung naka… It’s usually doon sa mga agreements eh ‘di ba kung ano ‘yung mga dapat mong gawin, ano yung — so…

Ms. Pulido: Pero ‘di ba, sir, the 6.1 was just for technical funding?

SEC. LOPEZ: Yeah, yeah. Pero when they give it, ‘di ba may mga conditionalities? ‘Yon ‘yung parating at question.

‘Yung mga conditionalities na nakasulat doon, kunware, ano ba ‘yung hinihiling doon? Ano ba ang language doon ‘no?

So parang may issue pa doon, that sorts of touch on sovereignty, ‘yun ‘yung issue that has to be resolved.

Q: [off mic]

SEC. LOPEZ: No, you talk to… I don’t know who you want to talk to… Basta doon sa conditionalities ‘yun eh. That’s been an issue eh parati.

Henry Uri (DZRH): Secretary, si Pangulo ho ba ay kailan at tuloy na ba ‘yung plano niyang pumunta sa mga biktima ng pagsabog ng Mayon?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ROQUE: May plano po pero siyempre everything is subject to whether or not it is actually possible to go to Bicol by air to begin with.

I do not know the status of Legazpi Airport now. I’m not at liberty to set the date but there’s a tentative date set already for the President to go to Legazpi.

Mr. Uri: Pangalawang tanong ho ‘yung Mahindra, meron pang I think usapin sa atin ‘no na tungkol doon sa biniling Mahindra vehicle ng PNP back in 2015. In fact may mga congressman na gusto pong paimbestigahan ito. Kahit may usapin, tuloy pa rin ang pakikipag-deal natin dito sa kompanyang ito?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ROQUE: I will defer to Secretary Lopez.

SEC. LOPEZ: I’m not familiar with the issue with the PNP acquisition.

Mr. Uri: Yeah, 2015 mayroong issue ng overpriced and some are defectives.

SEC. LOPEZ: I don’t know about the overpriced issue. But the Mahindra is a legitimate group. It’s a recognized and a major conglomerate here in — one of the biggest here in India.

So, of course, ‘yung mga particular transaction na ‘yun, we’re not privy or I’m not aware of that ‘no.

So but as a group, I can vouch that their vehicles, their operations are all in order. But pero ‘yung particular transaction, hindi ko alam. We are not aware ‘no.

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ROQUE: Well, I hope the Congress and the investigating authorities dig into it if there’s something wrong with it and people should be punished.

But all these contracts that are being questioned were all contracts of the past administration. We simply will not defend them because we don’t know what happened.

If there’s evidence of malfeasance or misfeasance, I hope evidence will come out so that the proper parties can be prosecuted. We can’t defend contracts that we did not enter into.

Ms. Pulido: Is the President going to accept the invitation by EU?


Ms. Pulido: Will —

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ROQUE: He will have to follow his own guidelines.

Ms. Pulido: But have you received the invitation?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ROQUE: Number one, if — yes, there was an invitation but the guidelines will be — we need to be very clear on what benefits the Philippines will get from such a visit. It must not be too expensive.

So pursuant to those guidelines, the President will make a decision.

Ms. Gutierrez: Sir, follow up lang po doon sa aid. So, sir, if we think about ‘yung interest kasi ng bansa and also about ‘yung if we talk about ‘yung kung ilan ‘yung matutulungan nitong aid na ito. Doesn’t the issue of language parang ang liit lang ‘yan na issue if you’re thinking about the benefits that this aid will bring to the Philippines?

SEC. LOPEZ: Hindi ko masasabi kung maliit — malaking issue usually ‘pag‘yung — when you talk about sovereignty eh ‘no and interference ‘no.

If there are still those hanging issues — to me those are major issues. So that has to be settled.

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ROQUE: I’d like to add to that, I think the general policy, direction of the President is we do not need aid that will interfere unduly with our sovereignty and that may result in interference in the running of domestic affairs.

Ms. Gutierrez: Thank you, sir.

Mr. Pelayo: Sir, may epekto po ba ‘yon kung sakaling hindi na tanggapin ‘yung aid nila, may epekto ba doon sa dapat na matulungan? Meron bang impact ‘yon sa dapat na matulungan nung aid po na ‘yon sa atin sa bansa?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ROQUE: Alam niyo po ang Pilipinas hindi umaasa sa bigay para bigyan ng katugunan ang mga pangangailangan ng taumbayan.

We are doing it as a country. We are providing for the needs of our people. We now have outstanding economic growth and this will enable us to give what our people will need.

Of course, there’s also the TRAIN which was intended to create more jobs and create more economic opportunities for our people.

Kaya po ng Pilipino bigyan ng solusyon ang problem ng mga Pilipino.

Mr. Pelayo: Thank you po.

Ms. Pulido: I was reading the transcript of the President’s departure message and he said something about wala namang nangyayari. I’m not — this is not verbatim, wala namang nangyayari sa mga ganitong summit? ‘Yung pagpunta niya, I think he was referring to international summits.

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ROQUE: Hindi po. Pero ito, itong pagpunta ni Presidente, inexplain nga niya ‘no na hindi na po nakarating si Presidente Aquino noong huling summit at tayo lang ang walang head of state na umattend nung huling summit sa panig ng India at ng ASEAN.

Kaya naman, nagkaroon nga ng mensahe ‘yung Ambahador na baka naman pupwede ngayon ay pumunta na ang ating Presidente.

So kaya naman talagang maski mas gusto niyang manatili sa Pilipinas lalo na dahil pumuputok ang Bulkang Mayon, eh itinuloy niya itong trip na ito. At gaya nga nung sinabi naman ni Secretary Lopez eh 1.250 billion naman so far ang kinita natin, hindi pa kinokonsidera ‘yung mga commitment ng mga companies na puro trabaho pala ang ipinapangako hindi pa binibigyan ng halaga ‘yung kanilang mga investments.

So lalaki pa po ‘yang biyayang makukuha natin dahil dito sa trip na ito.

SEC. LOPEZ: Definitely, definitely it will be higher than 1.25 billion dollars.


SEC. LOPEZ: Oo. Ngayon, ‘yung sa kung walang mangyayari, eh siguro let’s put it in context because the President agreed to come over, when he realized also na lahat nung leaders ng ASEAN ay pupunta.

And definitely in just meeting those leaders, malaki ang nagagawa sa mga relationship at sa commercial relationship natin sa lahat nung countries na ‘to within ASEAN and together with India.

In fact, the good will established ‘no ‘yung kahapon, malaking pasasalamat ng Prime Minister, the fact na sabi niya kahit na pumuputok ‘yung bulkan at may mga problema sa Pilipinas, itinuloy ng Presidente ‘yung bisita niya dito.

So ‘yun lang. That alone, you would know that this could lead to more positive developments in our bilateral relationship.

And, of course, in ASEAN, so many things are happening. Yes, it just takes time kasi mahahabang diskusyon ito kaya talagang minsan hindi mo nako-conclude kaagad sa isang summit pero alam naman natin na dito nagsimula sa mga summits na ‘to kaya nagkaroon tayo ng ASEAN Economic Community noong 2015.

And then hopefully we can reach an agreement dito sa mga RCEP na ‘to and so many other cooperation on security.

The President also highlighted the fact na ‘yung ASEAN should take a different platform or enhance the platform beyond economic and commerce.

He was saying to hopefully have more discussion on the security cooperation. So ibig sabihin napakaimportante rin nito, the fact that the President mentioned this ‘no.

So you know — we have to look at it at that perspective.

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ROQUE: Sa akin napakaimportante rin ‘yung solidarity ng dalawang leaders pagdating doon sa independent foreign policy at ‘yung pagkakilala ‘no na napakaseryosong problema talaga itong droga hindi lang sa Pilipinas kundi sa buong daigdig.

SEC. LOPEZ: In fact, nabanggit ni Prime Minister na gusto na niya ‘yung programa, ‘yung campaign natin sa anti-drug ibig sabihin — at saka anti drug campaign. And gusto niya ring to learn more about the urban warfare given our success in the Marawi siege ‘di ba? Gusto nilang mapag-aralan.

Q: Sir, he was referring to Tokhang?

SEC. LOPEZ: The campaign in general. The —

Mr. Uri: Secretary, may mga nagtatanong lang. Anong official function, anong katungkulan ni former speaker Sonny Belmonte, bakit kasama siya sa entourage ng Pangulo? Bakit of all the congressmen, he’s from Liberal Party, supporter of the former President. Why is he with the President in this trip, and, in fact, kasama rin siya sa Japan?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ROQUE: Well, mataas po ang respeto ni Presidente kay Speaker Belmonte. Nagsama po sila noong 11th Congress. Bagamat nung 11th Congress, nagsimula po si Speaker bilang minority leader at naging majority leader matapos nga mapalitan ‘yung pagiging — ‘yung speakership nung mga panahon na ‘yun ‘no.

Pero naniniwaal po ako na patunay ito na ang Presidente po is not engaged in a political witch-hunt kasi nung umalis po tayo eh meron daw effort na ilihis ang mga issue ‘no by adopting a policy na sinisisi ‘yung mga tao ng mga nakalipas na administrasyon.

Naku, kung totoo po ‘yan, bakit namin palaging kasama ang isang leading stalwart ng Liberal Party na si Speaker Belmonte. Hindi po totoo ‘yan..

Mr. Uri: Is the President —-

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ROQUE: Naniniwala po si Speaker — si Presidente na si Speaker still has stature and influence in the House.

And, of course, the fact that he’s part of the delegation is intended to bolster the relationship between the Executive and the House.

Mr. Uri: Is the President inclined to give the former Speaker a Cabinet post?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ROQUE: Wala naman pong pinag-usapan na ganun. Basta ang alam ko lang po ay malapit si Speaker Belmonte at si Presidente dahil very close po sila noong 11th Congress.

Ms. Gutierrez: Sir, follow up lang po sa question ni Maki kasi in the speech of President Duterte kahapon, he mentioned about talking to ASEAN leaders ‘yung possibility of coming up with a hardline policy or a platform to combat terrorism and piracy. What exactly does the President want to do, sir?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ROQUE: Well, that’s a point that the President raised anew with the Prime Minister of India.

He says that ASEAN should not just be an economic body, that ASEAN should consider being active militarily to combat the threat of modern-day terrorism. He was referring, of course, to both ISIS- type of terrorism which is a problem to the Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia, and even southern Thailand and he was talking about international terrorism at sea which is piracy in the Indo-Pacific navigation route.

So I think that’s a point — that’s the point that the President will highlight in this ASEAN-India Summit particularly on the issue of piracy because as you know, the oil — the supply of oil begins with the shipment originating from the Middle East going down to India — the Indian Ocean and finally to — down south to the Malacca Strait and onto the Pacific through the West Philippine Sea.

And next to the Gulf of Aden, it has the second highest incidents of piracy that requires joint military action on the part of ASEAN and India as well because the Indian Ocean, of course, is part of this Indo-Pacific route.

Ms. Gutierrez: Joint military action so parang it would go beyond joint maritime patrols, for example, sir?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ROQUE: I believe so ‘no because after all piracy is a crime against humanity.

And not only does it warrant cooperation, it probably also warrants joint action against this terrorist at sea.

Ms. Gutierrez: Sir, he also mentioned asking for China’s help in blowing up sabi niya pirates and terrorists? So ito po ba napag-uusapan na or nabanggit lang po niya?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ROQUE: It’s something that the President would like to push because as I said earlier, we should not just be — an economic body, we should be addressing actual military threats together.

Ms. Gutierrez: So it would entail, sir, ‘yung pagpapasok, for example, ng mga Chinese ships in, for example, in Philippine waters to patrol against pirates ganun po ba, sir?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ROQUE: Let me clarify that even in the Gulf of Aden, there are ships from all countries all over the world patrolling the waters — the Gulf of Aden against international pirates.

So it’s that kind of cooperation that we are contemplating ‘no. Hina-highlight ko lang na doon ‘yun sa Gulf of Aden pa na meron na talagang Indian, Chinese, Japanese, American, lahat sila engaging in the same purpose of trying to protect shipment particularly of oil from the threat of piracy in that part of the world.

Ms. Gutierrez: Could you tell us, sir, parang what exactly the President is planning in asking for Chinese help?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ROQUE: Wala pa, wala pang detalye. But it’s something that he wants to talk about with ASEAN first.

Ms. Gutierrez: Pero considering, sir, na very sensitive ang mga Filipinos dito lalo na on the issue of sovereignty. Don’t you think na parang it would have a big backlash kapag ituloy ‘yung mga ganitong plano like the joint maritime patrols, asking —

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ROQUE: Alam mo I dispute that because I dispute that the Filipinos are very worried ‘no.

We all know about the acceptance rating of President Duterte amongst our people and that includes his policy of opening up friendship ‘no, friendly relations with China.

So I’m submitting that that’s subject also to the acceptance of the Filipino together with the promise of the President that he will not give up even a single inch of Philippine territory to any other country.

So I think the problem is you have Sinophobists, alarmists, but people trust the Philippine President that he will defend Philippine sovereignty and advance our national interest in this new foreign policy initiative which he developed and which we described as an independent foreign policy.

Ms. Gutierrez: So tiwala lang, sir?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ROQUE: Tiwala and the fact na napatunayan na naman ni Presidente kakayanan. Hindi naman teka-teka, atras-abante itong Presidenteng ito — as we commemorate the SAF 44 today.

Ms. Gutierrez: Thank you, sir.

— END —
Source: PCOO-PND (Presidential News Desk)