Press Briefing

Press Briefing by Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque

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

OPENING STATEMENT:

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ROQUE: Good morning. We’ve just returned from Biliran. At least seven secretaries only returned literally this morning, having been stranded in Biliran.

But I think it was a good visit of the President. The President announced, among others, that 25,000 food packs are already in Biliran as we speak.

He asked members of the Cabinet to expedite the rebuilding of Biliran. Specifically, he asked the Secretary of Public Works and Highways to hasten the building of the damaged bridges in Biliran, in the town of Naval.

The town of Naval is not really isolated because it can still be reached through the circumferential road but it takes much longer without the two bridges ‘no.

President asked Secretary Villar to finish repair of the two bridges in less than a month because Secretary Villar said that it could be finished in a month’s time.

He asked DTI to be vigilant in monitoring whether or not there will be price surges. And of course, he instructed the DILG and the NDRRMC to intensify efforts to recover the still missing individuals ‘no.

Now, the mayors in the open forum told the President that it is not just Naval that is badly damaged. Grace Casil asked for delivery of food packs as soon as possible because she claimed that emergency food supplies will only last until yesterday ‘no.

And the good news, of course, is the food packs are already there and if they are not distributed fast enough, the President even committed that he will task the Air Force to airlift food packs to the different municipalities of Biliran ‘no.

Okay. So this afternoon, we will have the signing of the 2018 General Appropriations Act, as well as the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion. And perhaps let me read some of the salient provisions of the TRAIN which will be signed this afternoon.

Of course, the most important provision is that it will spare 99 percent of our population from the payment of income taxes, because those earning not more than P250,000 per annum will now be tax exempt ‘no.

So the minimum wage workers earning P12,000 will still be tax exempt. Clerks with monthly salary of P15,000 which used to pay P7,000 in taxes will now be tax exempt. Call center agents ‘no which used… which earns P21,000 monthly, used to pay P22,000 in taxes but will now be exempt. And a public hospital doctor, with P57,000 monthly salary used to pay P138,000 in taxes, now he will only pay P90,000 or a savings of P48,000.

Now, there’s also simplified taxes for small and micro taxpayers and that is a payment of a flat tax of eight percent on gross sales in lieu of income and percentage tax.

Now, of course to cushion the impact of indirect taxes, there is cash transfer provided in the law itself. Ten million households will receive cash transfers of P200 per month in 2018 and P300 per month in 2019 and 2020.

Estate taxes is now lowered. So lahat nung mga nagtatanong dati sa dati kong program about estate tax and you can’t imagine how many have not paid estate tax ‘no. Will now have to pay a fix rate of six percent for the net estate with the standard deduction of P5,000,000 ‘no.

Donors’ taxes is also now at a fix rate of six percent over and above P250,000 yearly. Now, value-added tax was also modified. There were 54 special laws repealed with non-essential VAT exemptions. Thereby, making VAT fairer. But exempting from VAT medicines for diabetes, high cholesterol, and hypertension. Purchases of senior citizens and people with disability continue to be exempted from VAT.

Oil excise taxes, there would be staggered increase of up to P6 per liter over a three-year period ‘no, with lower rates for essential such as diesel, kerosene, and LPG.

Now automobile excise tax, it’s four percent for vehicles up to P600,000; 10 percent from vehicles between P600,000 to P1,000,000; 20 percent, P1,000,000 to P4,000,000; and 50 percent for hybrid cars; and purely electric vehicles will still have zero excise tax.

Sugar-sweetened beverage, P6 per liter for drinks containing caloric or non-caloric sweetener; P12 per liter for drinks containing high fructose corn syrup, or combination; three-in-one coffee and milk will be exempt.

 There’s a new five percent gross receipt tax on cosmetic excise tax ‘no. Coal excise tax which had… which generated a lot of debates. The increase is from P10 per metric ton to P50; P100 and P150 respectively for 2018, 2019, and 2020, covering both domestic and imported coal. Okay? This will translate only to a very small increase in terms of the price of electricity.

I was told — a computation has been made that with P9 per kilowatt, the impact on Meralco electricity price of coal is just two centavos per kilowatt per hour ‘no.

Those consuming 100 kilowatts per month will pay P780 per month. Okay… those consuming 100 kilowatts per month and pay P780 per month will only pay P2 due to coal and P15 in total, additional ‘no.

 And those consuming 200 kilowatts per month, which… who are paying P1,920 per month will only pay P4 and P30 in total. P4 due to coal and P30 in total.

And those consuming 300 kilowatt per hour and pays P2,970 per month will only pay P6 due to coal and P45 in total.

Mining excise tax was doubled from two to four percent. Tobacco excise tax was increased from 31.2 per pack in 2018 to 32.5 between January to June; and then P35 per pack from July 2018 to December 2019; 37.5 per pack in 2020 and 2021; and P40 per pack in 2022 and 2023, followed by an annual indexation of four percent.

Doc stamps was doubled 50 to 100 percent increase, exempt for property, savings, and non-life insurance.

Foreign currency deposit units increased from 7.5 to 15 percent final tax on interest income. Capital gains of [non-traded stock?] increased from five to 10 percent to 15 percent final tax on net gains only ha. And stock transaction tax increased from 0.05 to 0.6 percent of transaction value. So it’s only 0.1 increase.

And then earmarking of incremental revenues, 70 percent to infrastructure, including military infrastructure; and 30 percent to social services and mitigating circumstances.

Now, there will be some line veto but the President will be the one to announce later on very minor line vetoes ‘no in the budget. The President will announce later.

Now, also by way of final announcement. We have opted to withdraw from the second Millennium Challenge and this is because it was deemed by our policy makers — the decision to withdraw was because of the urgent priority of the administration to rebuild Marawi ‘no.

So although the first compact was responsible for the implementation of secondary national road development project; the Kapit-Bisig Laban sa Kahirapan-Comprehensive and Integrated Delivery of Social Services; and Revenue Administration Reform Project of the Department of Finance.

It was deemed that for the time being, we will withdraw our application for the second cycle and we will focus instead on the rebuilding of Marawi. Although, we have invited the US government’s continued support and assistance for the reconstruction of Marawi.

We are confident that the US government fully understands the decision to reallocate our funding priority for this year and that this will not, in any way, adversely impact our eligibility for another round of compact assistance in the future because it calls for counterpart financing as well ‘no.

Okay. Questions?

QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS:

Pia Ranada (Rappler): How much are we talking about sir, in terms of the second Millennium Challenge? What’s the worth of the aid that we decided to decline?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ROQUE: Well, we withdrew ‘no. It’s not really an aid being given as of now ‘no. I forget the figure. I mentioned it once, I remember ‘no but I forget at the moment ‘no. I’ll tell you after the briefing.

Ms. Ranada: And sir, which condition or aspect of the package did we find objectionable?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ROQUE: Nothing. It’s just that we have to earmark funds also because these are projects with counterpart funds and of course, this will also focus on previously identified projects. And we have decided that our resources and our priority will be the rebuilding of Marawi for the time being.

Leila Salaverria (Philippine Daily Inquirer): Sir, what happens to the projects that were supposed to be funded by the Millennium Challenge?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ROQUE: Well, as I said ‘no, we have to reallocate our resources and our priority to the rebuilding of Marawi.

Ms. Salaverria: So we’re abandoning the other projects?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ROQUE: For the time being, for the time being.

Ms. Salaverria: For how long, sir?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ROQUE: Maybe until we have had some traction in the rebuilding in Marawi. And of course, as I told you, I’ve invited everyone. I have arranged for the transportation of the media ‘no to come to Marawi with us to witness the turnover of the first 580 temporary houses ‘no for Marawi residents.

Ms. Salaverria: Sir, this decision to withdraw from the Millennium Challenge have anything to do with any interference we’re seeing from the US?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ROQUE: No, none at all, not at all. Not this instance. It was really just that Marawi happened. We did not expect it and it’s going to be very costly rebuilding.

Ms. Salaverria: Sir, can you tell us what were the projects that were supposed to be funded under this?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ROQUE: Actually, wala pa naman eh. That’s how the Millennium Challenge Corporation works eh.

They will agree on the projects. But I don’t think the rebuilding of Marawi qualifies under the MCC. Okay?

Ms. Salaverria: Thank you.

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ROQUE: But we’re hoping that Americans can still contribute towards the rebuilding of Marawi in some other ways. Okay?

JP Bencito (Manila Standard): Hi Spox, good morning po. Sir, may we just know how the decision was made? Who were the persons involved, possibly agencies?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ROQUE: Economic team, primarily with Secretary Alan Cayetano of DFA.

Mr. Bencito: Thank you, sir.

Joseph Morong (GMA): Sir, on the TRAIN. ‘Yun pong tax exemptions, ‘yung increase in — or decrease sa mga taxes na babayaran ‘no, that’s good for those who have income. But some groups are saying that there’s 15.1 or .6 million who are in the informal sector, meaning wala itong regular income and they might be hit by the increases in say, for example, sweetened beverage, petroleum, LPG for example, that will cost them like — in 2018, parang dos or piso per liter?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ROQUE: That’s why the TRAIN itself allocates funds ‘no for cash transfer to the poorest 10 million of our population.

As I’ve mentioned, it is… it begins with [How much is it?] 200 in 2018; 300 in 2019; and 2020. So that’s monthly.

So we have provided for mitigation ‘no, realizing that the poorest of the poor would need some kind of assistance as a result of TRAIN.

Mr. Morong: And the 200 is enough to offset ‘yung mga increases, you think?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ROQUE: I believe so because as I read out the computation ‘no, many of the new excise taxes would not really amount too much because really, the amount of taxes that you pay is dependent on your consumption as well and if you are marginalized, the consumption is very low.

Mr. Morong: The 200 is regardless of the size of the family, whether you’re three or six or seven?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ROQUE: Yes, yes.

Mr. Morong: Process of availment? So you’re going to — Papaano sir ‘to, 4Ps ba ‘to? So you’re going to increase the base of the 4Ps?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ROQUE: I believe that will be addressed by the implementing rules and regulations.

Mr. Morong: Okay.

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ROQUE: But we already have the infrastructure because of the Conditional Cash Transfer under the DSWD.

Mr. Morong: So 4Ps under DSWD?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ROQUE: I think we will use, we will tap the same infrastructure.

Mr. Morong: And sir, how soon will this be effective, the… first, the TRAIN and then the consequent dole-outs?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ROQUE: Well, I believe it is upon publication in a newspaper of general circulation. If I’m not mistaken, it’s usually 30 days after publication in two newspapers of general circulation and publication in the Official Gazette.

Mr. Morong: In the bicam, meron doon sir provision for discount, I think, for jeepney drivers. We’re retaining that in the final version?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ROQUE: Discount for jeepney drivers…

Mr. Morong: Vouchers… in the latter part of the bicam report.

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ROQUE: I’m not sure now because it’s rather thick ‘no but I prepared these highlights ‘no. I’ll get back to you on that one, on the jeepney…

Mr. Morong: All right, sir. Thank you.

Elijah Rosales (Business Mirror): Hi spox. Good morning. The TRAIN is just the first package…

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ROQUE: Yes.

Mr. Rosales: …of the Duterte administration’s Comprehensive Tax Reform Program. What’s next for the next four packages? Paano po ba tatrabahuhin ‘to? Given that ‘yung first package, sir, nahirapan pa tayong pag-usapan?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ROQUE: Well, hindi naman ata nahirapan. It took us only a year to do it ‘no. So baka hindi naman nahirapan ‘no. But you’re correct, this is the first of five packages. 

Mr. Rosales: Sir, how does the Palace intend to [Tawag dito?] to accomplish all these five packages in… na mapasa before the term ends of… for the President?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ROQUE: We’re only on our second year. So we have really… [How many more?] Four years to go.

Mr. Rosales: Confident sir na matatapos ‘yung mga…

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ROQUE: We believe so. I think the fact that our — We have allies in the House of Representatives and in the Senate has proven invaluable ‘no in pushing for the tax reforms of this administration.

Mr. Rosales: Thank you, sir.

Ms. Ranada: Sir, just to clarify on the Millennium Challenge topic. Sir, you mentioned we’re withdrawing our application. So this is sir different from the five-year grant which — for which we were not renewed? Tama po ba?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ROQUE: No, there has not been any decision made. There’s only been a decision for the first cycle ‘no. And there hasn’t been any decision made on the second cycle

Ms. Ranada: Okay.

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ROQUE: And before any decision, we have opted to withdraw because we really cannot give any other priority other than to the rebuilding of Marawi at this point.

Ms. Ranada: So this is after the five-year, which expired —

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ROQUE: Yes, the first one has… was fully implemented. The first cycle was fully implemented and the projects funded between 2010 to 2016 include secondary national road development project of the DPWH; Kapit-Bisig Laban sa Kahirapan Comprehensive and Integrated Delivery of Social Services of the DSWD; Revenue Administration Reform project of the Department of Finance and BIR.

So for the second compact, that’s what — the decision of the policymakers is not to apply for second cycle or the second compact assistance.

Ms. Ranada: So sir nothing to do with the low rating that the Millennium Challenge Corporation gave the Philippines in terms of law and order?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ROQUE: No. No. As I said, we withdrew before any decision was made.

Mr. Morong: Sir, balik lang ako sa TRAIN. How much is this going to generate for the country?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ROQUE: 120 billion.

Mr. Morong: 120. And it said there that 70 percent will go to Build, Build, Build  ‘no?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ROQUE: Yes. And 30 percent for social and mitigating measures.

Mr. Morong: Sir, just as a sound byte, were the — the bulk of this 120 billion, once collected, will go to where?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ROQUE: Papunta po ito sa Build, Build, Build at ang 30 porsyento po ay para sa serbisyo sa publiko at para po maibsan ‘yung epekto ng TRAIN sa pinakamahihirap na ating mga kababayan.

Mr. Morong: All right. Thank you.

Ace Romero (Philippine Star): Secretary, may we get more information about the plan of the President to fire about 90 policemen over alleged corruption?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ROQUE: I know as much as you do. He announced it in Davao.

But I’m sure there is a process and the figure of 90 must be as a result of the process, investigation already conducted. Because as you know, the employees are entitled to due process ‘no.

I think the 90 that he gave are individuals who are apt for termination after observance of due process.

Mr. Romero: So investigations are already ongoing?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ROQUE: I believe so.

Mr. Romero: Ano po ‘yung mga transgressions nila?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ROQUE: Ay naku, madami po diyan. From being…

Mr. Romero: Pero like what?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ROQUE: For being coddlers of narco-politicians, to engaging in other crimes themselves ‘no.

 You see, there are many forms by which we can discipline our men in uniform.

There’s the NAPOLCOM, there’s the PLEB, there’s the Internal Affairs Service of the PNP; there’s the Ombudsman for the Armed Forces and the Police ‘no.

So all these 90 individuals — I take it ‘no, have already been investigated because the President is ready to terminate them.

Mr. Romero: So, they are being accorded ‘yung due process?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ROQUE: I believe so…

Mr. Romero: ‘yung rights nila…

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ROQUE: It’s indispensable. It’s a requirement.

Mr. Romero: So ‘yung highest ranking po nila is?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ROQUE: He mentioned colonels, ‘di ba? 

Mr. Romero: Colonels.

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ROQUE: He mentioned colonels.

Mr. Romero: Okay.  Thank you, Secretary.

Ms. Andolong: Sir, doon sa Millenium Challenge, can you explain to us, sir, slang in simple language, how the government’s made to prioritize or to re-allocate resources for the Marawi rehabilitation, will be a factor in our application which in the end would give us aid?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ROQUE: Well, unang-una kasi ito’y para sa mga proyekto ‘no na i-implement din ng ating bayan ‘no. 

Pangalawa, meron din ‘yan mga kahit papano mga counterpart na kinakailangan bigyan ng ating taumbayan — ng ating estado ‘no.

Kaya ang naging desisyon, unang-una, nabago ang ating prayoridad. Siyempre, pagdating sa imprastraktura, ang ating prayoridad ngayon ay makabangon ang Marawi ‘no.

So ‘yung mga ibang proyekto ay siguro pupwede muna nating isantabi at ibuhos muna ang ating resources at atensyon dito sa pagbabangon ng Marawi.

Ms. Andolong: But sir, hindi po ba tayo makakakuha nga ng aid for, as additional…

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ROQUE: Not under the MCC. Not under the MCC.

Ms. Andolong: A grant?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ROQUE: Not for the rebuilding of Marawi because MCC exist for other objectives ‘no. They do not exist for rebuilding because of natural or man-made calamities.

Ms. Andolong: And we don’t see any — kung baga hindi tayo masasayangan doon sa kung ano man pong proyektong ang posibleng mapondohohan nung MCC?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ROQUE: Hindi naman because as I said this is temporary. We will probably apply again some other time.

But for now, our resources, attention and energies are focused on the rebuilding of Marawi and for obvious reasons.

Ms. Andolong: Another topic, sir. The President last June signed ‘yung ban on firecrackers.

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ROQUE: It’s not an absolute ban. It’s regulating ‘no. 

Ms. Andolong: Okay.

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ROQUE: Among others, local government units are now tasked to designate…

Ms. Andolong: Yes.

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ROQUE: Areas where the public can still…

Ms. Andolong: This would be the first time sir na mai-implement siya…

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ROQUE: This would be the first year of implementation.

Ms. Andolong: Itong New Year na ito.

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ROQUE: Yes.

Ms. Andolong: Ano ang expectations sa Malacañang? Are you going to be strict about it? Will — I don’t — law enforcers be instructed to make sure that this or that this regu… these rules would be followed?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ROQUE: Well, that’s the order of the President to all LGUs and all personnel of the Philippine National Police.

Ms. Salaverra: Sir, there’s a recent report that the Palace has been… seems to be sitting on ecozone applications and holding up more than P60 billion worth of projects. Can you tell us what was the reason for the delay in the approval of the application?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ROQUE: I do not know if we are sitting on them because the desired goal of the government is to attract foreign investments ‘no. And I supposed many of these projects in these ecozones involve foreign investments as well ‘no. 

But I will look into it. Maybe there’s just delays because of environmental clearances required. But I can’t imagine having a policy where sit on approval of ecozone projects. That must — that’s impossible. I’m ruling it out.

Ms. Salaverra: Maybe not sitting sir. But delaying…

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ROQUE: I don’t think there’s a policy to delay these ecozone projects because as I said it’s always been our objective to attract new investments into the country.

Ms. Salaverra: Okay. Exactly sir. Why haven’t been… why hasn’t… haven’t been these applications been approved sir after many months?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ROQUE: I will look into it because I do not know if it is true that it is… I do not know if it is true that there are delays ‘no.

Now, I was going to ask for my phone because I got a copy of a directive from the President on the entry of the third telecoms player.

And the President has instructed DICT and the National Telecoms Commission to ensure that the third telecom provider will be up and about by the first quarter of 2018, the first three months of 2018.

And the NTC and DICT were tasked to approve all applications and licenses within seven days only upon complete submission of requirements. And that if it is not approved within seven days, it is deemed approved. Okay? 

So, that’s how serious the President is on the entry of a third telecoms player. This was a directive issued to DICT OIC and the chairman of the NTC. 

Now, let me see. I will read to you the directive because I think it’s instructive of how much priority the President has given the entry of the third provider.

Of course, I can’t find it now when I need it. Okay… I don’t know where it is now. But anyway, that’s the gist of the directive. They have to be up and about first quarter of 2018, seven days to approve all applications when they are submitted.

Q: [off mic]

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ROQUE: Yes, yes.

Ms. Salaverria: Sir, but this is a foreign player, so how about the constitutional restrictions on public utilities?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ROQUE: They will have to be observed. And I think the scheme that they agreed upon is, while China Telecoms will have 40 percent, there will be a consortium of Filipino companies that will own 60 percent.

Ms. Ranada: Sir, how about concerns that this is being rushed?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ROQUE: It is being rushed because we need, desperately, to have better telecoms in this country ‘no.

Ms. Ranada: But, sir, there are concerns that…

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ROQUE: My my phone lines at my residence are not working again. Again, calling again the attention of my provider, it’s not working again.

Nagagalit nga sila ‘no. Gusto nung isa, i-announce ko. ‘Yung isa, ayaw i-announce.

Ms. Ranada: Sir, how do we ensure that the contracts, what we get from the telecom provider that all of these would be above board and there are also issues on security on China?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ROQUE: I was assured by the OIC of DICT that they will be absolutely transparent in the bidding process ‘no. The public will know what’s happening.

Q: [off mic]

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ROQUE: No, they will be. They will be because they will have to be frequencies awarded and all that ‘no.

So the OIC, Rio, has assured me only this morning ‘no of absolute transparency in this regard.

Now, may isa pa pala. [Ano pa ba ‘yung isang sinabi?] Hindi ko kasi mahanap eh ‘no. On national TV, I can’t find it. But anyway… Anyway, maybe on Thursday, if I remember.

Ms. Ranada: Sir, sorry. I just wanna clarify again, doon sa Millennium Corporation Challenge because — Kasi, sir, you’re saying we declined, we’re withdrawing from this, from applying, but then the US already did not renew us for the next cycle. So…

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ROQUE: No decision has been made yet.

Ms. Ranada: No, sir, meron na po. ‘Yung after the five-year grant expired, the States said it will not renew a major aid package to the Philippines because of significant concerns about the rule of law. So —

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ROQUE: No. There has not been any board decision made by the MCC and I’m positive of that.

Ms. Andolong: Sir, doon lang sa process ng application for MCC. Is it not — you mentioned though that MCC does not cover parang mga rehab projects like what we need for Marawi. But is it not possible for us to apply kung baga and mention that we would want help for, specifically for Marawi or a rehabili…

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ROQUE: I think the guidelines of MCC and they’re published on the net, preclude us from applying for funds for the rebuilding of Marawi.

Ms. Andolong: Okay.

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ROQUE: I, more or less, know something about this because I thought we could file when I was in civil society  project proposal but the guidelines are very specific.

Ms. Andolong: Okay. Thank you, sir.

Ms. Salaverria: Sir, going back to the security concerns about bringing in a foreign player in the telecoms industry. How can we secure our telecommunications network? Because even if it will be a minority partner, we’re still giving a foreign party access to our network?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ROQUE: Well, number one, it’s not as if foreigners don’t have access right now, because the minority shareholders of our providers are also foreign. Okay? So there’s always a foreign partner involved.

Number two, it is a priority of the administration to improve our cyber security and that’s why I’m sure policy makers will have built-in measures to protect us, ‘no.

Number three, as you know, it’s Western telecoms players that have actually sacrificed right of privacy of consumers in Europe and in the United States.

Ms. Salaverria: So we have no problem with China?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ROQUE: Well, right now, all I can say is we’re beefing up. We’ve given priority to our cybersecurity and I’m sure there would be measures ‘no to protect us, to protect our privacy and our national security interests.

Please note that there’s always a foreign player in any telecoms provider. Okay? They always have partners, okay, who are foreign, okay?

Ms. Salaverria: Ay sir, ano na lang, last na lang, follow up lang. Sir, what has happened to the President’s offer to Efren Peñaflorida to takeover the PCUP?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ROQUE: Well, as I clarified, it hasn’t really been an offer because it hasn’t been personally made, as of last Saturday, okay? When he announced it in Davao, ‘no, on the occasion of the Davao media party.

In fact, the President did not even mention his name. What he said was: I need someone na galing sa hirap, may puso sa mahirap at magaling. Gaya nung teacher na may kariton. ‘Yung nanalo ng CNN award. Bong, hanapin mo nga ‘yun.

Okay? But just to be more precise about it. We all know that he must have been referring to Efren, ‘no. So I do not know if that can be called an offer, more like it’s an intent to offer ‘no because it hasn’t actually been offered to him ‘no?

Q: [off mic]

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ROQUE: Well, I know that at least three people have provided the Special Assistant to the President phone numbers of Efren.

Q: [off mic]

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ROQUE: But you know, he’s actually a very good choice for PCUP ‘no. I think you will all agree ‘no, that if it is offered and finally accepted, he would be a great asset to the Duterte administration.

Ms. Salaverria: So in short, sir, hindi pa siya mahanap?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ROQUE: I do not know. [laughter] I do not know. [laughs]

Q: [off mic]

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ROQUE: I do not know. Maybe I’ll just call him myself. [laughs]

Q: [off mic]  [laughter]

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ROQUE: Okay. Okay, no further questions? Thank you.

 

— END —

 

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