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. First item is as of 9:50 this morning, the Executive Secretary and I conversed and the Executive Secretary confirmed that the ceasefire, decided upon by the President, is now from December 23, 6:00 p.m. until December 26, 11:59 p.m and from December 30, 6:00 p.m. to January 2, 11:59 p.m. That answers the question of Philip Tubeza yesterday.

Now, on the DAP President’s expired term and its OIC, I confirm that the appointment of Ms. Elba S. Cruz has expired and that this was not renewed.

Now, Deputy… Senior Deputy Executive Secretary Menardo Guevarra will designate an officer-in-charge.

Good news. BOI recorded record investments in the country. In fact, this is a record in the agency’s 50-year history ‘no, where we received P616.7 billion in new investments. This is 39.5 [percent] higher from last year’s P442 billion and 23.5 percent higher over the target at the start of 2017, which is, P500 billion ‘no.

With the increase in investment approvals, the number of projects has also increased by 13 percent from 378 projects in 2016 to 426 projects this year ‘no.

So there will be more work available to Filipinos with 76,065 jobs to be created upon full operation of these projects ‘no. This shows that the Philippines under the administration of President Rodrigo Roa Duterte has generated high business and investor confidence.

Note also that these record investments were not made in Metropolitan Manila. 65 percent increase in investment was in non-NCR areas. Topping the list is Region IV-A, Calabarzon; next is Region III, Central Luzon; and then followed by NCR.

Power is the top performing sector, followed by infrastructure, manufacturing, real estate [and] transportation, logistics came in third, fourth, and fifth, respectively.

Now, I’d like to address the story on the ‘Davao Boys.’ I’d like to explain that the foreign correspondent asked for our comment on our last press briefing. And Asec. Queenie explained that I could not comment because at 11:00 we had a regular press briefing.

She gave me an ultimatum of one hour. I did not meet the ultimatum. And therefore, I would not comment on the story because that’s bad journalism. You don’t write a story and give government a timeline to respond, otherwise, they will go ahead and publish a story. I though that was really foul.

Yes, questions please.

QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS:

Dexter Ganibe (DZMM): Sec, good morning. Sir, nabalitaan niyo na po ‘yung decision ng Ombudsman? Suspending one year lahat ng mga commissioner ng Energy Regulatory Commission.

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ROQUE: Well, I actually checked ‘no. I’ve not read any information. But if that is true, well they continue… remains in existence. The chairman of the commission is its CEO under EPIRA law.

So the day-to-day affairs of the Energy Regulatory Commission will continue. Although, if all the commissioners other than Chairman Devanadera are suspended, then they cannot agree on policy issues because they are collegial body according to the EPIRA law.

Mr. Ganibe: Sir, maglalagay ba ng kapalit ang Malacañang?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ROQUE: Well, as I said ‘no, we have not formally received the information on the Ombudsman’s decision. We’ll cross the bridge when we get there.

Mr. Ganibe: Copy, sir.

Shiela Frias (IBC): Good morning, Sec. Just for Palace reaction. CPP Founder Joma Sison called the declaration of President Duterte of unilateral ceasefire as a sham. Your comment about this?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ROQUE: How do you comment to someone who says that wanting peace during Christmastime is sham? We leave it to the people to conclude how we should react to that statement of Joma Sison.

I stress though that as the President himself declared in Aguinaldo, he wanted the people to have less to worry about ‘no and that is why he implemented or he will implement this ceasefire.

Celerina Monte (Manila Shimbun): Sir, good morning. I just want to clarify kasi yesterday there was this confusion nga regarding the declaration of ceasefire. So I’m wondering where did you get that December 24 to January 2 na initial na supposedly ceasefire declaration?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ROQUE: Well, the President asked me to announce it on our Cabinet Christmas party. But it is always the President’s prerogative to change his decision. That’s part of Executive power.

Ms. Monte: What probably prompted the President to change his decision na staggard or merong intervening… [Ano ba ‘yun? How do you call it?] Merong hindi kasama na…

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ROQUE: I have no information on why the dates were altered.

Ms. Monte: Was it because… because yesterday he met with the officials of the AFP was — Could it be because of that?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ROQUE: The President doesn’t have to explain. In fact, Joma Sison is calling it a sham. We should be thankful that the President is pushing through with the unilateral ceasefire altogether. He could have ignored it completely ‘no and not declared anything.

But I felt that it was a right decision because finally, I personally felt it’s Christmas with the announcement. If Joma Sison did not feel any spirit of Christmas because of the [SOMO]. Well, I feel sorry for him. SOMO… I feel sorry for him then. That’s what happens when you’re not here in the Philippines anyway.

Q: [off mic]

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ROQUE: That’s enough. [laughs]

Maricel Halili (TV 5): Hi, sir. Good morning. Sir, the President has been very vocal in saying statements against the NPA to the point that he even declared NPA as terrorists. So what made the President change his decision to have a Christmas truce with NPA considering that he did not declare any ceasefire with other terrorist groups like Abu Sayyaf?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ROQUE: I think the President answered that in Aguinaldo. He did it for the Filipino people. Okay? He wants the Filipino people to have less things to worry about because Christmas is a time for celebration.

Ms. Halili: Sir, why just NPA? Bakit hindi po kasama ‘yung ibang terrorist groups?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ROQUE: I do not know but I can’t imagine declaring cessation of combat activities against the Maute ‘no. So that must be the reason.

Ms. Halili: Sir, just for the record. Paano po natin idi-differentiate ‘yung SOMO from suspension of combat operations?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ROQUE: Well, I was hoping that Col. Arevalo would be present ‘no to explain the difference. But I understand that the cessation of combat operation would simply mean there would be no fighting but they could still apprehend members of the NPA. And of course, there’s no backing out from the declaration that the NPA is a terrorist group.

Ms. Halili: Thank you, sir.

Ace Romero (Philippine Star): Secretary, does this declaration of ceasefire mean that the President is somehow still open to resumption… resuming the peace talks with the communists?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ROQUE: Well, your guess is as good as mine. What is important is the President said in Aguinaldo, he’s doing it for the Filipino people. Not for the NPA.

Mr. Romero: So what’s that guess?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ROQUE: I do not know. But as you know, he cancelled the peace talks altogether because he felt there was lack of sincerity of the part of the NPA.

Just recently, the President mentioned that one of the factors that made him pull out of the peace talks is the injury sustained by one of our soldiers who was not an active combatant at that time ‘no. That soldier received 33 gunshots ‘no. So he cannot understand how the NPA can shoot one soldier 33 times at the time when we were talking peace.

Mr. Romero: For now, you cannot say whether the President is still open to resuming the negotiations?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ROQUE: Only the President can answer that.

Mr. Romero: Thank you, Secretary.

Mr. Ganibe: Sec, curious lang. May pagkakaiba ba ng pagpapatupad ng ceasefire sa Mindanao na umiiral ‘yung martial law?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ROQUE: Wala naman po kasi this is cessation of combat operations ‘no so it applies nationwide. The only difference of course is the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus remains suspended in Mindanao.

And make no mistake about it, we will not fire but if fired upon, of course, the Armed Forces has every right to defend itself.

Ms. Pia: Hi, sir. Good morning. Sir, the President has been very vocal in saying statements against the NPA to the point that he even declared NPA as terrorists. So what made the President change his decision to have a Christmas truce with NPA considering that he did not declare any ceasefire with other terrorist groups like Abu Sayyaf?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ROQUE: I think the President answered that in Aguinaldo. He did it for the Filipino people. Okay? He wants the Filipino people to have less things to worry about because Christmas is a time for celebration.

Ms. Halili: Sir, why just NPA? Bakit hindi po kasama ‘yung ibang terrorist groups?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ROQUE: I do not know but I can’t imagine declaring cessation of combat activities against the Maute ‘no. So that must be the reason.

Ms. Halili: Sir, just for the record. Paano po natin idi-differentiate ‘yung SOMO from suspension of combat operations?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ROQUE: Well, I was hoping that Col. Arevalo would be present to explain the difference. But I understand that the cessation of combat operation would simply mean there would be no fighting but they could still apprehend members of the NPA. And of course, there’s no backing out from the declaration that the NPA is a terrorist group.

Ms. Halili: Thank you, sir.

Ace Romero (Philippine Star): Secretary, does this declaration of ceasefire mean that the President is somehow still open to resumption… resuming the peace talks with the communists?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ROQUE: Well, you’re guess is as good as mine. What is important is the President said in Aguinaldo, he’s doing it for the Filipino people. Not for the NPA.

Mr. Romero: So what’s that guess?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ROQUE: I do not know. But as you know, he cancelled the peace talks altogether because he felt there was lack of sincerity of the part of the NPA.

Just recently, the President mentioned that one of the factors that made him pull out of the peace talks is the injury sustained by one of our soldiers who was not active combatant at that time ‘no. That soldier received 33 gunshots ‘no. So he cannot understand how the NPA can shoot one soldier 33 times at the time when we were talking peace.

Mr. Romero: For now, you cannot say whether the President is still open to resuming the negotiations?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ROQUE: Only the President can answer that.

Mr. Romero: Thank you, Secretary.

Mr. Ganibe: Sec, curious lang. May pagkakaiba ba ng pagpapatupad ng ceasefire sa Mindanao na umiiral ‘yung martial law?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ROQUE: Wala naman po kasi this is cessation of combat operations ‘no so it applies nationwide. The only difference of course is the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus remains suspended in Mindanao.

And make no mistake about it, we will not fire but if fire upon, of course, the Armed Forces has every right to defend itself.

Mr. Ganibe: Okay. Sir, other issue —

Pia Gutierrez (ABS-CBN): Hi, sir. Sir, the President has always spoken about the parang treacherous nature of the NPA. Sinasabi niya palagi, they are waging offensives against the military kahit ongoing ‘yung peace talks. So why does the President think that this time, the NPA will at least respect the suspension of combat operations and that it will not jeopardize the security of the country?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ROQUE: Well, he has no expectations whatsoever. He’s hopeful. But if not, then it will prove what he has been saying all along that the NPA are treacherous. So the ball is in the court of the NPA.

Leila Salaverria (Philippine Daily Inquirer): Good morning, sir. ‘Yung sa Reuters story, are we not going to hear anymore explanation talaga from the Palace about it? Kasi wouldn’t it be… benefit the administration and better inform the public if the administration will respond to the allegations made in the report?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ROQUE: That’s bad journalism. She went ahead and published it without my statement and how dare anyone give anyone a deadline to respond, knowing fully well I was about to face the Malacañang Press Corps.

Ms. Salaverria: But sir —

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ROQUE: Now, I understand why you insist on exclusivity in the Malacañang Press Corps.

Ms. Salaverria: But sir, in… about the idea of better informing the public sir, you don’t think it would serve you well if you respond?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ROQUE: I do not know because she did not give us the opportunity to speak and it was really rather arrogant. You give me your… you respond within the hour, despite the fact that we explained that we’re about to have our regular press briefing.

So as far as I’m concerned, that’s very bad journalism. I will formally write to Reuters. As an advocate of press freedom, I thought that was really foul.

Ms. Salaverria: But sir, were — if we ask you now about your comment on the allegations in the report, for instance —

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ROQUE: I do not know. Because you know, she wanted me to comment on something that I do not know about and she gave me a deadline minutes before I was scheduled to face you here in Malacañang Press Corps.

I’ve not even seen her request to comment because my instinct was, “I can’t do anything right now, I’m about to do a press con.”

Ms. Salaverria: But have you since read the report, sir?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ROQUE: No.

Mr. Romero: Well, nasabi na ni Secretary hindi pa niya nabasa. So you haven’t read the report? Because the report is already out, so you now have the opportunity to read it and answer it.

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ROQUE: Yeah, it’s out but that’s bad journalism. I don’t comment on bad journalism.

Mr. Romero: So no comment? Thank you.

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ROQUE: No, I don’t comment on bad journalism. It’s different from “no comment.”

Mr. Romero: Okay. Thank you, Secretary.

Joseph Morong (GMA): I’ll try to press the matter. In the story, the storyline there is that there’s a Patay ‘no? There’s a policeman from Davao who was transferred here in Quezon City and who allegedly was the… [What do you call this?] the “killing group” and Station 6 was dubbed as the most… [Was that the term?] “The most dangerous police station.” Station 6, “Most lethal police station.” Station 6, Batasan. You’re familiar with the… malapit lang sa Congress ‘yun ‘di ba? So ‘yung comment that there’s a group of policemen from Davao who’s doing the dirty work for the drug war.

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ROQUE: What I do know is there is a Writ of Amparo issued by the Supreme Court against the police station. So the response is we’re not taking it sitting down. Government, when that petition for Amparo was filed in the Supreme Court, did not oppose the petition and that’s why the Supreme Court issued the Writ of Amparo.

So question: Is the government sanctioning the alleged operations of this Davao group? Clearly not because in that petition, government did not oppose it. In effect, government agreed with the allegations of the petition and that’s why there was a writ of protection issued.

That’s why I’m very, very upset at that really bad journalism of Reuters.

Mr. Morong: All right. So that’s what you should have… could have told Reuters if they… had more time.

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ROQUE: And it’s a matter of record. The Writ of Amparo was directed against the same police station that she wrote about.

So the only issue here in terms of human rights is that — is the state well, undertaking its treaty obligation to protect and promote the right to life ‘no. Were there allegations of extra-legal killings ‘no.

And the obligation of the state is to investigate, punish, prosecute, and give the victims adequate domestic legal remedy.

We did. The Supreme Court and the OSG did not oppose, issued the writ of protection, Writ of Amparo, which includes the duty to investigate alleged perpetrators of human rights violations. That’s a matter of record. There’s the decision of the Supreme Court, in this regard.

Mr. Morong: Sir, wala ‘yung parang may inuutusan na particular group ‘no?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ROQUE: Well, the point is, there’s protection ordered by Supreme Court, which government did not oppose.

Government is obligated to investigate; government is obligated to punish the perpetrators thereof, that’s how a Writ of Amparo operates.

A Writ of Amparo will not provide for criminal sanctions against the respondents. What it will do is it will prompt the respondents to investigate and the PNP right now is under obligation to investigate and confirm the reports of the petitioners in that Writ of Amparo.

And I stress ‘no, this Writ of Amparo was precisely against the same police station mentioned by this reporter.

Mr. Morong: Sir, down the line ‘no, assuming may — na-grant ‘yung Writ of Amparo and then may investigation that proves that you know, may certain liability ‘yung mga policemen that were mentioned in the report. What’s going to happen to them in light of what the President said na lahat ng mga pulis na nagkakaroon ng ganyang operation, if they are defending themselves, sa akin ‘yan?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ROQUE: Yes. Well, that’s why if the investigation concludes that the police operation complained about was pursuant to the law, then the President will stand by the policemen.

But as in the case of Kian, if it is proven that there was excessive use of force and that the use of force is tantamount to murder, then the President will order their prosecution.

Now, the nature also of the Writ of Amparo is that the court itself will inquire from the PNP regularly what is the status of the investigation, what can you tell us about the truth or falsity of the claims made by the petitioners.

Mr. Morong: All right. Thank you.

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ROQUE: You know, I hastened to add, had she only checked her facts, she should have known about the Writ of Amparo. It shows you the quality ‘no.

Mr. Ganibe: Sir, other issue. May — Ano po ang pananaw ng Malacañang doon sa 6 million Christmas party ng PCSO?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ROQUE: Well, number one, I have no information yet because media reported that this was a statement attributed to Directress Sandra Cam.

Number two, well I think you know that the President does not tolerate extravagance. So we do not know yet ‘no. I’m sure the President will look into the matter.

As you know, he’s very sensitive to what is reported by his own people ‘no, in the different branches of government.

Mr. Ganibe: May utos ba sir na dahil may nagbunyag na director din ng PCSO?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ROQUE: Let’s just say that with or without an order, the President takes heed.

Ms. Gutierrez: Sir, on the GAA. What parts of the national budget did the President veto?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ROQUE: In my same conversation with the Executive Secretary, I inquired on the veto message and he said that he will furnish me in due course. So I will answer you in due course when I have the written document, which is the veto message, that’s coming from the President of course.

Philip Tubeza (Philippine Daily Inquirer): Sir, good morning. On the entry of the telco player from China. Senators Drilon, Lacson, and De Lima said that we should be wary about its entry. Senator Drilon said… pointed out that China Telecom is owned by the Chinese government. Could we have your comment, sir?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ROQUE: Well, they shouldn’t worry because government is already worried. That’s why in the last Cabinet meeting, when Secretary Rio reported on the steps taken on the third telco, the marching order really is to ensure the country’s cyber security ‘no.

So other than the fact that we will take steps to protect our cybersecurity with the entry of China Telecoms, I can’t say anything else.

Mr. Tubeza: Will they be required? I mean, the telco and its local partner, to secure a legislative franchise from Congress? ‘Cause the President said it’s going… it should be up and going by the first quarter?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ROQUE: Well, I think the fact that they’re only entitled to minority shares would mean they would have to partner with a Philippine corporation with an existing franchise.

Q: [off mic]

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ROQUE: ​We do not know. The previous position of DICT is to form a consortium of Filipino companies.

Mr. Tubeza: So that first quarter target is still doable?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ROQUE: ​That’s the order, the marching order of the President.

Mr. Tubeza: Thank you, sir.

Ms. Monte: Sir, during my interview with Secretary Rio the other day, he told me…

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ROQUE: ​Rio?

Ms. Monte: Yeah. The DICT Secretary. He told me that it doesn’t follow daw na it’s the Chinese Telecom which will enter the Philippines — Parang there will be a criteria that they will be presenting and it would be up to the consortium to choose which partner, foreign partner. So like for instance daw Telstra. So, ganon ba talaga sir or China na talaga?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ROQUE: ​Well, all I can say is that in the bilateral with the Chinese Premier, the President invited China to provide the third telecoms player.

As to the details, I do not know. The latest instruction of the President, a copy of which I furnished all of you, is that it must be up and about in the first quarter of 2018.

Ms. Monte: So right now it’s really China? Wala ‘yung ibang countries? Hindi sila pwede?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ROQUE: ​All I know is that China has since nominated China Telecoms. But again, you know there is, of course, freedom to contract. What we will select will be the 60 percent consortium. And that’s where Secretary Rio promised absolute transparency.

Ms. Salaverria: Sir, on the BBL. Can you tell us at least some of the provisions that the President considers constitutionally infirm?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ROQUE: ​Actually I heard him, with the rest of you, when he mentioned that there’s some which might contravene the Constitution. But I’ve not since had the occasion to sit down with him and ask him which provisions these are.

Although, Senate President did single out ‘no, that you can’t have a different form of government within the Bangsamoro entity ‘no, different from the Presidential form of government. That’s what Senate President Koko Pimentel, our bar top-notcher, observed ‘no which we, of course, agree with.

Ms. Salaverria: But sir, were these constitutionally questionable provisions only belatedly realized? Kasi Malacañan submitted the draft BBL to Congress in August. So wala bang study before it was sent in August?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ROQUE: Well, remember there are, if I’m not mistaken, three or four versions of the BBL. And that’s why Congress…

Q: [off mic]

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ROQUE: Yeah, but there are other versions as well ‘no. They have to consolidate it ‘no. In the process of consolidation, I’m sure Congress asked the Supreme Court [inaudible] knows what it is doing and they will evaluate the provisions very closely. Jud…

Well, being guided by the prior decision of the Supreme Court on the ancestral domain, on the memorandum on ancestral domain.

Ms. Salaverria: Sir, but the BTC version, the one that Malacañang submitted to Congress, did it undergo thorough study?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ROQUE: I wasn’t in Malacañang yet at that time. I was in Congress ‘no. So I do not know ‘no. But as I said it’s now an obligation of Congress to act on the pending bills and we trust Congress will decide correctly.

Mr. Morong: Sir, on the BBL. That statement from the President, he said na, I don’t think it will hurdle constitutional barriers. Does it not take the wind out of the sail of BBL? And you know how arduous to push last administration. Now he has the political capital to do that but he’s saying these things. Does it not take the wind out of the sail? And that’s going to be potentially the problem.

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ROQUE: Well, you see, because of separation of powers he can’t predict how the other branches of government will act ‘no, on the BBL, as soon as it is passed by Congress ‘no.

And that is why, construing his latest statements with his previous statements, he also said that we better be prepared for an alternative. And he did say that if it doesn’t pass the test of constitutionality, then we can resort to further autonomy ‘no.

And of course, there is still federalism. Because obviously, if it is declared unconstitutional then the remedy is to amend the Constitution ‘no.

So it’s something that stakeholders must consider also whether or not they will insist on the BBL first or wait until the Constitution has been amended ‘no. But the President is being true to his promise to everyone that he will pursue BBL.

Mr. Morong: Sir, anyway. I’ll leave the topic. Sa Sandra Cam na lang, sir. Do you think that six million budget, according to the PCO, is an extravagant budget? PCSO.

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ROQUE: Well, number one, I do not know if it’s six million. That’s why we will have to verify. It’s according to Sandra Cam. So we…

Mr. Morong: Sandra Cam says it’s 10. The PCO says — PCSO says it’s six. Still in the millions for a party.

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ROQUE: I do not know yet ‘no. But remember PCSO is nationwide ‘no. So we’ll have to verify because the information just came out yesterday, if I’m not mistaken ‘no. I will formally communicate with both the General Manager and Director Sandra Cam.

Mr. Morong: If true, six million is extravagant or not?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ROQUE: We don’t know. Because we don’t know… we do not know how big that party was considering that PCSO is a nationwide organization.

Let me check first, okay? What the breakdown of six million is and let me confer with the President. Anyway, we will see each other ‘no in Marawi.

Ms. Monte: Sir, regarding the complaint of these 24 congressmen who did not receive daw this allocation from the budget. Would this be the policy now of the administration, na if you’re against the administration you would receive zero or less budget for your constituents?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ROQUE: I’m sorry but that question is based on the wrong premise that we control Congress. There is separation of powers. Congress has exclusive and primary jurisdiction in the preparation and approval of the budget.

We had nothing to do with whatever decision both houses of Congress had on the alleged deprivation of projects as far as opposition congressmen are concerned. That’s something that should be addressed to the leadership of both houses of Congress.

Ms. Monte: But, sir, what will happen to the constituents to these places where they will be deprived of their… like infrastructure projects?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ROQUE: As I said, number one, since it’s not our business, we do not know if it’s true. Number two, even if it’s true, we can’t do anything about it because of the separation of powers. That’s something that Congress alone can decide.

Ms. Monte: So the national government, like the Executive, since the different departments is under you, you would not provide any project or allocation for them?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ROQUE: It’s not a decision that we make because all public funds must be supported by an expenditure law. So it’s not for us, a decision for the Executive to make, it’s a decision that Congress makes.

Ms. Monte: So do you think these congressmen, just your opinion, these congressmen should not oppose whatever the administration would push?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ROQUE: I can’t comment because I do not know, number one, if it’s true.

Even if it were true, I can’t comment because we have nothing to do with that, since that’s an exclusive prerogative of Congress itself.

Thank you. Merry Christmas!

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

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