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, ladies and gentlemen. And these are the good news for good news Monday.

First, on the gains that we realized as a result of our ASEAN hosting, in addition to the goodwill and rapport, we have the following:

From the United States, US$14.3 million for the rehabilitation of Marawi City and US$2 million to support our ongoing drug war.

For China, 14 cooperation agreements on areas such as the economy, infrastructure, transportation, environment, intellectual property, national security and finance.

From Japan, the first phase of the Metro Manila Subway, a total of P46 billion will be provided by the Japanese government while a loan amounting to a further P4 billion will be provided to cover the construction of a bypass road along the Philippine-Japan Friendship Highway in Plaridel, Bulacan.

Further, the Japanese government committed an additional billion for the procurement of equipment, materials for counterterrorism such as coast watch radars and reconstruction of Marawi. All currency in Philippine peso.

From Russia, eight bilateral agreements on such areas as criminality, extradition, energy, communication, education, intellectual property, audits and accounts.

From Canada, $17.8 million for the sexual health and empowerment projects for women in the Philippines.

From New Zealand, three agreements on education, tourism and the geothermal industry.

We were likewise able to push mutual interests such as: Generalized System of Preferences with the United States and to start exploring talks on FTA or a Philippines-US Free Trade Agreement.

We were able to improve market access for Philippine bananas in Australia, Japan and Korea.

We had talks on producing cheaper medicines with India and talks with pharmaceutical companies to set up in the Philippines, and cooperation against sea piracy threat in Sulu with Australia.

On further good news, the Cagayan de Oro Coastal Road opens after 20 years:

The DPWH led the opening ceremony of the 12.77-kilometer Cagayan de Oro Coastal Road last November 10 which is expected to lessen the travel time by 20 minutes from Laguindingan [Airport] to Cagayan de Oro.

The is a 4-billion coastal road which will serve as a bypass [road] starting from Barangay Gusa in the eastern side all the way to the western side in Barangay Igpit, Opol in Misamis Oriental, connecting six barangays in the city and two barangays in Opol.

More good news, we have the New Bohol Airport’s first test flight:

DOTr, NEDA and the Office of the Cabinet Secretary successfully conducted the first test flight of the New Bohol Airport in Panglao last November 6.

The [new] Bohol Airport is now at 53.38 [percent] completion. It’s on track to be finished by June 2018.  We have scheduled for commercial operations by August of 2018, the P7.8 billion airport can accommodate seven aircrafts, both domestic and international.

This is funded by JICA under the Official Development Assistance and is designed to be the country’s first eco-airport and “Green Gateway to the World.”

Two news materials. First, during the bilateral talks between President Duterte and the Chinese Premier, President Duterte offered to the People’s Republic of China the privilege to operate the third telecom’s carrier in the country.

This comes after the Philippine government signed with an affiliate of Facebook a project entitled the “Luzon Bypass” of the Pacific Light Cable Network which will provide bandwidth of two terabits per second.

These two terabits is equivalent to the current capacity of the duopoly operators today.

I was also asked to explain that the process of breaking this duopoly should have been sooner.

This agreement with the subsidiary of Facebook should have been signed as early as December 2016. It was not signed by the former Secretary of the DICT. And this was one of the areas pinpointed by Cabinet investigators as an area of conflict of interest for the former Secretary of DICT.

It was further reported by the special investigating committee that the former DICT Secretary likewise may have prevented the earlier breakup of the duopoly by delaying the use of satellites as viable option.

There was a realization period of almost five years. And meanwhile, this leaves the duopoly — thispreserves for the duopoly the market ‘no.

It was also observed that the initial costs for a national broadband plan appeared excessive at 200 billion because the recommendation did not consider the contribution that could be made by existing broadband providers such as the National Grid Corporation (NGCP), the National Transmission Corporation, Fiber Optic Alliance and the Philippine National Railway Communication Project.

Now, it would appear also that the — under the scheme being pushed by the former Secretary of DICT, the NBP terrestrial backbone would still have left the duopoly with the right to connect the end users to the backbone ‘no.

And this after government would have spent already P77 billion ‘no.

So the good news is, the consumers can look forward now to better telecommunications, not just in terms of cellular technology but also in terms of internet speed as well as access.

This is the latest instance of the President proving that he has the political will to do what is necessary to benefit the Filipino people.

I repeat, the announcement is that duopoly, that telecom’s duopoly is about to end with the entry of the Facebook subsidiary as well as the offer by the President of the People’s Republic of China to operate the third telecom’s carrier.

The Philippine President is so serious about this that he has instructed that all applications be filed and acted upon directly by the Office of the Executive Secretary.

On another issue, I would like to confirm that General Santiago was let go by the President not only because of his statements on the Mega Rehab Centers being a mistake.

He was also let go because of complaints that General Santiago was using taxpayers’ money for junkets abroad.

One of the complaints that reached the President was a trip to Austria, where in addition to bringing family members, General Santiago brought six of his closest personnel including a girl Friday.

There were also complaints that General Santiago may have accepted consideration from major drug players.

Well, the complaints specified, although this is only from a complaint that General Santiago may have benefitted from a house which may have been given to him by the late Parojinog.

That’s a complaint on file with the Office of the President. It was by the union of PDEA.

Okay that concludes our press briefing this afternoon. [laughter]

QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS:

Pia Ranada (Rappler): Sir, sorry. What’s the name of the Chinese company who will come in?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ROQUE: None yet.

Ms. Ranada: Ah, wala pa.

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ROQUE: It was an offer for the People’s Republic of China to operate the third carrier. There has not been a designated company that will act as the third player.

Ms. Ranada: And this Facebook subsidiary is not the same as this…

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ROQUE: No, it is not. The Facebook subsidiary is about a backbone infrastructure project for the internet.

It’s about the laying actually of cables that would give us two terabits of connectivity ‘no. That’s equivalent to the current capacity of the duopoly.

Joseph Morong (GMA-7): Let’s go to General Santiago. So he’s the only one that who will be — who was fired because of junkets, there are no others?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ROQUE: It’s a very strong message to the bureaucracy, the President will not tolerate junkets, unnecessary travels abroad.

Mr. Morong: All right. First, when did he take the Austria trip?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ROQUE: The what?

Mr. Morong: The Austria trip?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ROQUE: According to the complaint received by the Office of the President, I will quote so that I will not make a mistake.

Okay. Travel to Vienna, Austria ‘no. The complaint was dated October 25, 2017. There was no mention of the date. Oh, yeah…

And then, there was also mention of a trip to the United States indicating last month, meaning one month before October, a trip to the United States where he, “allegedly bringing with him his mistress and selective favorite DDB employees.”

Mr. Morong: All right, sir. And then the other one, the house given by Parojinog, when was this given if the complaint so states?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ROQUE: Again, I’m just quoting from the complaint.

“We believe, our Chairman, General Santiago is a liability to administration previously as aired on TV5 Aksyon Sa Tanghali news by Mr. Gary de Leon last August 2017 reportedly said that he was a recipient of big Ozamiz mansion given by the Parojinog family during his tint as Director of PDEA.”

Now, take note that I’m only quoting from the complaint. Okay? So this is the complaint filed against General Santiago.

And it is — it is our position that although the stated reason for the fact that he has ceased to be director of the agency is because of his complaints about the mega rehab being a waste of money that there were also complaints — one complaint against him filed by the union of PDEA, which of course had to be looked into.

Mr. Morong: Sir, the Austria trip, you said that he included the family members plus six closest friends and a girl Friday, you mean what? By girl Friday, what do you mean by that?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ROQUE: [Ms. Edith Julie B. Mendoza?], his girl Friday and coffee server.

Mr. Morong: [Edith Julie Mendoza?]?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ROQUE: Yes, his girl Friday and coffee server.

Mr. Morong: Coffee server?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ROQUE: Coffee server.

Mr. Morong: [laughter] Okay.

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ROQUE: Now, questions?

Mr. Morong: Sir, ito ‘yung sinasabi ni Presidente na even a whiff is enough to — for him to decide to fire you, right?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ROQUE: Yes. That shows his resolve against graft and corruption. As far as he is concerned, you don’t even have to be proven.

If you’re tainted in anyway by corruption, he will not hesitate to fire individuals.

He has done so many times in the past, and General Santiago is only the latest of them.

Mr. Morong: Okay, thanks.

Ina Andolong (CNN Philippines): Sir, balik po muna dun sa DICT. We know that the former Secretary is no longer around, I mean, in office, but will actions be taken against him considering ‘yung binabanggit niyo na he delayed ‘yung pag-break supposedly nung duopoly or meron po bang any liability on his part na baka habulin pa po sa kanya?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ROQUE: We leave that to the Ombudsman and to the Anti-Graft Commission, which was created by the President. It’s without prejudice.

Ms. Andolong: And also, you mentioned that the EOS will basically be processing or helping out ‘yung Chinese company who may come in, did the President give any deadline as to when or how soon he wants this third player to—?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ROQUE: He mentioned upon submission of documents, it will take 45 days to decide whether or not it’s a go or no go.

That’s how serious the President is in allowing a third party carrier to come in.

Ms. Andolong: Sir, and dun sa — kay Joseph, ‘yung sa complaint naman po filed against Mr. Santiago, was this investigated or verified or again, I mean, what, if ever, what due process was he given based — dahil dun sa complaint?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ROQUE: Let’s just say that the complaint was overridden by — overtaken by events because the President himself said that he decided to fire General Santiago because of his statement that the mega drug facility is a mistake.

He, in fact, said that General Santiago should have taken this up privately with him. He would have listened. But it was wrong for General Santiago to make this public.

Ms. Andolong: Thank you, sir.

Deo de Guzman (RMN-DZXL): Sir, sinabi po niyo — good morning po, sir — nasibak si General Santiago. Meron po bang susunod na kaso dahil meron siyang — may reklamo, meron po bang isusunod na kaso against General Santiago? Kasi po, during the previous years or year dun sa nasibak po si ano, si DILG Secretary Mike Sueno, wala naman pong kaso na sumunod and all others na — na government officials na sinibak ng Presidente dahil daw po a whiff of corruption, pero wala naman pong kasong naisampa laban sa mga ito, pero kung meron man po papano — pwede niyo po bang maibahagi sa amin ‘yan?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ROQUE: Again, this is without prejudice to further criminal investigation. But as you see, the Office of the President only has jurisdiction over the administrative aspect of the case.

The criminal aspect will have to be taken up by the Ombudsman given that all these officials are within the jurisdiction of the Sandiganbayan.

Mr. de Guzman: Pero wala po bang isasampa na kaso ang Executive department sa Ombudsman laban dun sa mga tao na ‘yon?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ROQUE: That’s without prejudice. As I said, the most that we could do in the Executive, as part of the administrative process is to fire them, which is the ultimate sanction ‘no but without prejudice to criminal liability.

The matter could also be sent to the DOJ but they have an understanding between — there’s an ongoing understanding between the Ombudsman and the DOJ that if it is cognizable by the Sandiganbayan, even if the DOJ conducts preliminary investigation, the result of the investigation must still be turned over to the Ombudsman.

In other words, it’s ultimately the Ombudsman that will conduct the preliminary investigation.

Mr. de Guzman: Thank you, sir.

Ms. Andolong: Sir, you’ve been stressing that a whiff of corruption hindi nga po ito-tolerate ng Pangulo. But how then would you explain, I believe, a few weeks ago it was reported that two former Customs officials linked to the P6.4 billion illegal drug shipment from China was basically moved at ngayon ay working sa DOTr na po? How then would you explain that?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ROQUE: What I do know is that the DOJ has already concluded its preliminary investigation on this 6-billion drug haul.

So they will be filing information in court and I have no information if the two individuals you are referring to will also be charged.

Ms. Andolong: Thank you, sir.

Elijah Rosales (Business Mirror): Good morning, Spox. MRT Chairman Robert Sobrepeña said the government is suffering from lack of management expertise in handling the MRT and proof to that is the string of operation breakdowns of the railway facility in the past weeks. I would like to ask the side of Malacañang, is the administration open to returning the management of the MRT to the private sector?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ROQUE: Well, unang-una po, hindi tayo naghuhugas ng kamay. Tinatanggap po natin ang paghamon diyan sa MRT na ‘yan at ang Presidente na mismo ang humingi ng paumanhin dahil nga dun sa palaging pagsira ng ating MRT.

Gayunpaman, alam po natin na nagsimula ang problema sa dati pang administrasyon.

Gumagawa po ng hakbang ang ating Presidente para maibsan ang pagdurusa ng ating mga mananakay diyan. Sinimulan na po ‘yan sa pagsibak dun sa Busan bilang contractor ng MRT.

At sigurado po ako na ang DOTr ay — araw na lang po siguro ang binibilang at magsasampa rin sila ng mga kasong kriminal laban dun sa mga tao sa nakalipas na administrasyon na talaga naman pong sila ang dahilan sa paghihirap ng ating mga mananakay ngayon.

Gayunpaman, with the President assuming that he will be responsible for the MRT, let us give the President the opportunity ‘no to rectify the many problems that his administration inherited from the past dispensation.

But we accept the challenge. We are moving forward and we promise better MRT to our riding public ‘no.

We will show the same political will that the President has shown in his fight against illegal drugs, in his fight against corruption, in bringing this vital service of transportation to the people as well.

Mr. Rosales: Thank you, sir.

JP Bencito (Manila Standard): Hi sir, good morning. Sir, on MRT pa rin. Sir, there are two congressmen who are calling for the — who are demanding for the ouster of Transportation Chief Arthur Tugade, can we get a comment from the Palace on this one?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ROQUE: Well, gaya po ng sinabi ko ‘no,  ang mga problema po ay namana. At kami naman po ay nagmamasid at nag-oobserba sa mga hakbang na ginagawa ni Secretary Tugade.

Tingin ko po hindi pa po dumarating ‘yung pahanon na kinakailangan na tanggalin si Secretary Tugade. He enjoys the full trust and confidence of the President.

The President has said he will back up Secretary Tugade in whatever he may need to effect immediate reform of the MRT.

Mr. De Guzman: Good morning again, sir. Sir, ang sabi po ni Senator Poe hindi naman po dapat na hanggang ngayon ay sinisisi pa rin sa past administration ‘yung problema sa MRT. At mahigit isang taon na rin po ang Duterte administration na dapat daw po ay gumagawa na rin ng o nakagawa na rin ng paraan para masolusyunan ang problema na ito. Any reaction on that, sir?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ROQUE: Tama naman po ‘yun. Kaya nga po sinabi ko na — sinabi ko kanina na tinatanggap po ng Presidente ang responsibilidad para magkaroon ng malawakang reporma diyan sa MRT na maibsan ang problema ng ating mga mananakay.

Humihingi lang po kami ng panahon dahil unang-una ‘yung mga kontrata po na ipinasok ng administrasyon, unang-una na po diyan ‘yung kontrata ng Busan, kinakailangan po ‘yang ma-rescind, kinakailangan po ‘yang mapawalang-bisa.

At asahan niyo po, magkakaroon pa ng napakadaming demandahan diyan dahil hindi naman papayag ang Busan na bilyones ang kanyang kontrata, bigla nalang tatanggalin sa kanya.

Kaya nga po ang sabi ni Presidente noong una ‘no, kung kinakailangang magkaroon pa special powers para dito sa MRT ay ‘yun ang kanyang nais magkaroon ‘no. At ang Kongreso naman po ay patuloy ang proseso para mabigyan siya ng ganyang mga kapangyarihan.

Pero uulitin ko po, we are not resorting to finger-pointing. Sinasabi lang po namin lahat nung mga naging problema, ‘yung pagpapalit ng maintenance provider at pagtatalaga ng Busan. ‘Yan po ay ginawa sa nakaraang administrasyon. Hindi naman po pupwedeng overnight na mapawalang-bisa ‘yan.

Sa katunayan po, dadaan pa ‘yan sa legal na proseso. Inaasahan po naming lalaban ang Busan pero gagamitin po natin ang political will para mapabuti ‘yang — ang MRT na ‘yan.

Kaya naman po gobyerno na ang nag- take over kasi nga po kung magtatalaga ng bago, eh ‘di patuloy pa ang demandahan.

Samantalang gobyerno na ang nag-take over, bagama’t pwedeng magdemanda ang Busan, eh anong reklamo niya? Hindi naman ibinigay sa kahit ibang pribadong kumpanya. Walang reklamong ng korupsyon din na pupwedeng maibato sa gobyerno.

Rosalie Coz (UNTV): Good morning, sir. Following the statement of the President on Saturday na pagka lumala po ang suliranin sa droga ay maaari po ulit maibalik ang lead ng anti-drug war sa Philippine National Police. Do we expect this anytime soon po, sir?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ROQUE: Well, ‘yan po ay sinabi ni Presidente, hindi naman niya sinabi na sa lalong mabilis na panahon ‘no.

Sa tingin ko pinag-aaralan pa rin ‘yan ni Presidente. Pero, meanwhile, nakakakuha po kami ng reports from PDEA na record po yata ‘yung mga nakakalap na ipinagbabawal na gamot ng PDEA.

Bukas po dadalhin ko ‘yung pigura na ‘yan ‘no. Pero ang reports na natatanggap eh record hold po ang PDEA in terms of actual seizure of prohibited drugs.

Ms. Coz: Sir, isang topic pa po, wala po ba tayong update regarding po sa recommendation ng MICC na i-lift ‘yung open pit ban?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ROQUE: I verified this personally with the President, he says that the ban on new open pit mining remains.

Pia Gutierrez (ABS-CBN): Sir, ‘yun doon po sa offer ni President Duterte sa China, did the President give any explanation why the offer was made to China and not to any other country, sir?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ROQUE: Well, the President said that China has the capital and the technology to provide efficient telecom service.

With the number of subscribers that Chinese telecoms company have in China, there can be no doubt that they are amongst the biggest in the world.

Consider also the proximity and the fact that we want to avail of as much economic advantage that we could arising from the renewed friendly ties with China.

Ms. Gutierrez: Sir, on another topic kasi matatapos na ‘yung taon, but is the Palace confident that the tax reform bill can be passed before the end of the year?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ROQUE: We believe so ‘no. Dahil alam naman po ng ating mga senador at ‘yan po ay nag-aantay na lamang ng aksyon ng Senado na ‘yun ating Build Build Build program po ay nakasalalay dito sa tax reform bill na ito.

So naniniwala po ako na hindi naman matatapos ang taon na hindi maipapasa ‘yan ng Senado.

Ms. Gutierrez: Thank you, sir.

Mr. Morong: Sir, just very short on the US assistance. ‘Yung two million in what form po ito?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ROQUE:  Well, it was said to be — to support the ongoing war on drugs.

Mr. Morong: Like what sa law enforcement? Training for our police?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ROQUE:  Well, it hasn’t been specified. But it was a two million grant ‘no. It’s not a loan in support of the drug war.

Mr. Morong: All right, sir. Si Chief Justice Sereno, you have answered the question before but she’s — merong interview ulit sa Bawal ang Pasaway later. He said — she said that ‘yung impeachment is “an attack on democracy” and not just her because there are trumped-up charges against her and if the President or the government can do this to her, it can be done to any ordinary citizen. Your comment on that?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ROQUE: Kaya po meron tayong proseso sa impeachment para malaman ng taong bayan ang katotohanan.

So kung trumped-up charges po ‘yan, lalabas at lalabas naman po ‘yan sa Kongreso, unang-una, at sa Senado. So hayaan na po natin ang proseso na magpatuloy.

Philip Tubeza (Philippine Daily Inquirer): Sir, good morning. Follow up lang po dun sa open pit mining. Na-present na po ba yun sa Gabinite ‘yung MICC recommendation to lift the ban?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ROQUE: Well, unfortunately po I had Christiane Amanpour on my first Cabinet meeting, I had to leave. I was not able to finish the Cabinet meeting.

But I assure you that I’ve… This is one of the instances when I personally asked the President ‘no if there’s been a change in policy and he says, that there is still no new policy on this, there is still a ban on new open pit mining.

Mr. Tubeza: So he is rejecting the MICC recommendation?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ROQUE: That’s the response I got. I’m not sure about whether or not the MICC recommendation has reached the President. I will verify.

Mr. Tubeza: Thank you, sir.

Maricel Halili (TV5): Hi, sir, good morning. Sir, just a clarification on the President’s statement last Saturday saying na balak i-declare and NPA as one of the terrorist groups in the country. How will it affect, sir, ‘yung peace talks between the government? I understand that suspended na. But I recall the President also said that he supports the effort of Mayor Inday Sara to talk with the NPA. So how do you reconcile that, sir?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ROQUE: Well, to begin with, ‘yung plano pong deklarasyon na terorista ang NPA, hindi po ‘yan bago.

Ang Estado Unidos po noong isabatas ang Patriot Act, isa sa pinakaunang na-classify as terrorist groups ay ‘yung NPA.

Ang European Union Council po ‘no ay na-classify na rin ang NPA bilang isang terrorist group. Kung magdedeklara ng ganyan po ang Presidente, eh ibig sabihin sumasang-ayon na ang Presidente na talagang terorista ang mga NPA.

Matapos kasi ‘yung lahat nung kanyang mga ginawang hakbang upang magkaroon ng kapayapaan ‘no sa pamamagitan ng usaping kapayapaan nga sa NPA na sa tingin niya ay dapat nang itu — panandaliang itigil dahil habang nakikipag-usap ng kapayapaan ang gobyerno, wala namang tigil ang NPA sa pag-atake sa ating mga kasundaluhan.

So hanggang hindi niya nakikita ang sinseridad sa parte ng CPP-NPA na talagang nais nila nang pangmatagalan na kapayapaan, tuloy po ang laban sa NPA.

At itong deklarasyon ni Presidente na ika-classify niya ang terrorist groups na — ang NPA bilang isang terrorist group, is an indication po that for now, peace negotiations are suspended.

Ms. Halili: Pero, sir, how do you reconcile that because like what I mentioned earlier po sabi rin ni Presidente kasi na sinusuportahan niya ‘yung efforts ni Mayor Inday Sara for a peace talks locally with the NPA. Does it mean binabawi na rin ‘yung position na ‘yon, sir?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ROQUE: Hindi naman po. Hayaan natin na magtuloy ‘yung pag-uusap nila Mayor Sara ano at kung magtagumpay naman ‘yan ay baka pupwedeng maging modelo ‘yan na ang usaping kapayapaan ay magiging lokal.

Ms. Halili: Sir, just one last po. Patanong lang po ni Prince Golez. Sir, pwede daw maka — phone-in question, sir. Pwede raw po bang makahingi ng reaction with regards dun sa CA ruling affirming Mabilog’s dismissal from service?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ROQUE: Well, of course, that’s an affirmation of the earlier decision of the Ombudsman ‘no dismissing Mabilog from the service.

That’s a judicial affirmation which we respect and we agree with.

Mr. Bencito: Hi, sir. Just… Balik lang po sa Reds. Sir, following the President’s pronouncements, won’t this run contrary to the spirit of the Anti-Subversion Law which outlawed the membership to the CPP and all that links to the communists, sir?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ROQUE: Not really because of the Human Security Act. The Human Security Act imposes criminal responsibility on those that will perpetrate acts of terrorism.

So they are not punished for mere membership. And you are correct, mere punishment on the basis of mere membership was declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court.

But they are being punished because of acts of terrorism being conducted by the NPA, including attacks on civilians.

Jopel Peleno (DWIZ):  Sir, ibang issue po. Regarding po sa transport sector. Kumusta, sir, ‘yung ano ng gobyerno sa — sa transportation modernization program? Kasi may issue na lumalabas, sir, ‘yung regarding sa Euro-4 and dito sa solar e-jeep. Mas okay daw po kasi, sir, ‘yung solar e-jeep. Ano pong stand ng Malacañang regarding this issue?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ROQUE: Tuloy po ang modernization ng ating mga jeepneys. ‘Yung detalye po niyan ay bahala na po ang DOTr diyan.

Pero ang huling binitawang salita po ng Presidente, gusto niya as early as next year ay matuloy na itong proseso ng modernization.

Tuesday Niu (DZBB): Hi, sir. ‘Yung nabanggit po ni Presidente last Saturday na itong week daw na ito, masusundan pa po ‘yung pagsibak niya sa iba pang government officials dahil sa junket. Ito pa po bang kay General Santiago is isa na ‘yun? Sino po pa kaya ‘yung naka-linya for this week daw po?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ROQUE: Well, unfortunately, hindi ako sinabihan pa ni Presidente. Ang sinabi lang sa’kin, isiwalat na na merong natanggap na reklamo rin laban kay General Santiago dahil sa kanyang mga junkets.

Ms. Niu: So antayin nalang namin, sir?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ROQUE: Antayin nalang po natin ‘yan.

Ms. Niu: Thank you, sir.

Mr. Morong: Sir, ‘yung sa NPA ‘no. All right. So they will be classified and will be treated as terrorist only if they commit acts under the HSA, correct?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ROQUE: Yes.

Mr. Morong: Pero wala ba siyang effect na parang red-baiting ka na ngayon because you will be declaring them as terrorist organizations and therefore in an operational sense, you can — papaano ‘yan? If they do not commit any crime under the HSA, wala lang? Parang ganun?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ROQUE: Eh kasi naman ‘yung HSA may mga predicate crimes din na kinakailangang gawin with the additional element that their intention is to create terror in the mind of the general public.

So it cannot be red-baiting because there must be overt acts committed ‘no which are already penalized by the Revised Penal Code and special laws.

Discharge of explosives ‘no, ‘yung mga ganyan ‘no, murder, that’s already part of it ‘no.

Nagiging… Punishable lang siya under HSA when as already existing felonies at ‘yung mga crimes na punishable under the Revised Penal Code are referred to as felonies are committed in furtherance of spreading terror in the minds of the general public.

So there is no such thing as a separate act of terrorism. It refers to an already existing crime committed in pursuit of promoting terrorism in the minds of the general public.

Mr. Morong: So if and when the President declares the NPA-CPP as — you’re referring this to the NPA or the whole triumvirate?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ROQUE: I think the President mentioned the New People’s Army as the armed group itself ‘no.

He has not referred to the CPP per se, because that’s covered already by a Supreme Court decision.

Mr. Morong: So, sir, is it a crime to be a communist or to be left-leaning in this government?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ROQUE: No, it is not a crime. It is a crime when you take up arms.

Mr. de Guzman: Last question, sir. Last Saturady, sir, lumabas po ang pangalan niyo doon sa sinabi nitong si House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez na kayo daw po ay isa sa mga tatakbo under the PDP-Laban slate for the senatorial candidates on 2019?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ROQUE: I think I already issued a clarification in this regard. I thank Speaker Alvarez for his continuing trust and confidence in me.

However, I’m focused on my current job as a spokesperson.  I’m not at all thinking about 2019. To tell you the truth, I go day to day.

This job entails surviving everyday as it comes ‘no. So let me focus on this very delicate undertaking that I agreed to accept from the President.

So I will be focused on doing my absolute best as spokesperson for the President.

Mr. De Guzman: Thank you, sir.

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ROQUE: Thank you very much and I hope you enjoyed our good news Monday.

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