Press Briefing

Press Briefing of Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque

Event Press Briefing
Location Press Briefing Room, New Executive Building, Malacañan Palace


ROCKY IGNACIO/PTV4:  Good morning, Malacañang Press Corps and guest. Happy Monday briefing with Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque. Good morning sir.

SEC. ROQUE:  Good morning Pilipinas, and good morning ladies and gentlemen of the Malacañang Press Corps.

Let me begin by saying that the President regrets that he will be unable to attend the ASEAN Australia summit this month. Developments at home continue to require the Presidents’ presence in the Philippines as in fact one affair that he has to attend is the PMA graduation and to the President attending the PMA graduation is an opportunity to have a dialogue with the younger elegance of military particularly on the (signal cut). The special designation will help to ensure that the Philippines continues to be engaged with ASEAN and Australia in advancing shared interest in the region and moving forward a common agenda for greater security, stability and inclusive and sustainable development in the region.

Good news: The Philippines will now be a party on the Budapest Convention on Cybercrime along with 56 other countries. President Rodrigo Roa Duterte is signed the instrument of accession for the Budapest Convention last December 2016 to which the Senate concurred last February. With the landmark signing of this convention, the Philippines can now squarely address the issues brought about by Cybercrime at both the domestic and international levels including its facilitation, investigation and prosecution.

There is—we are pleased to announce that the Department of Science and Technology will finance the construction of 76 million hybrid trimaran cargo vessel. According to the DOST, the hybrid cargo vessel is expected to improve the maritime industry in the Philippines with its modern design and environment friendly features that can harness energy from the ocean waves. Steel will be used in building the vessel in order to guarantee higher structure efficiency and better wave resistance.

In addition the Aklan State University will implement the project in partnership with the Maritime Industry Authority and Metallica Shipyard. Marina will ensure the compliance of the vessel with international safety and emissions standards; while Metallica shipyard will provide a design and specification of the vessel. The hybrid cargo vessel is projected to be completed by 2020 which can accommodate a hundred passengers, 4 vans and 15 motorcycles.

Were furthermore pleased to announce that the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation through its Z Benefit has now a comprehensive social health insurance coverage to address mobility impairment among Filipino children below 18 years of age who were affected by Musculoskeletal and Neuromuscular disorders. Some of the grants comprising the Z Benefit include the mobility impairment requiring assistance devices from upper and lower extreme prosthesis, lower extremity orthosis and special spinal bracing with the range from 12,730 pesos to 163,540 pesos.

We thank the European Union likewise for offering 3.8 million Euros aid to fund the drug rehabilitation centers in the country. The President as we all know is amenable to accepting any aid but without any unilateral conditions. He will reject, as he did in previous occasions, offer of assistance with any condition that would interfere with our domestic policies. The President will not compromise the nation’s dignity over any amount of foreign aid. That being said that EUs’ desire to support our drug rehabilitation centers runs parallel with the Duterte administrations holistic approach to the drug problem by treating it not just a national security issue but a public health concern as well including rehabilitation and reintegration of the drug dependents. Certainly their assistance, without conditionalities, will be channeled to the Department of Health and will be a big boost to our drug rehabilitation program.

I have a PowerPoint Presentation and this is to—

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7:  Sir, walang audio iyong first part iyong sa Australia, can we repeat that, iyong first part?

SEC. ROQUE:  Walang audio?

Q:  [off mic]

SEC. ROQUE:  Ah okay.

Q:  [off mic]

SEC. ROQUE:  Tanungin ninyo na lang ako ulit. Hindi na nga basahin ko—ulitin ko na naman, nakakahiya naman ito.

Q: [off mic.]

SEC. ROQUE:  O sige.

Australia-ASEAN Summit: The President regrets that he will be unable to attend the ASEAN-Australia Summit this month. Developments at home continue to require the Presidents’ presence in the Philippines. One occasion that the Philippines will be attending will the graduation of the Philippine Military Academy since he considers this graduation as an opportunity to dialogue with the younger military officers particularly on the manner by which the Philippine government and the military will dwell with or will deal with the problem of modern day terrorism. The President however considers the summit very important and has designated Secretary of Foreign Affairs Alan Peter Cayetano as his special personal representative.

The special designation will help to ensure that the Philippines continues to be engaged with ASEAN and Australia in advancing shared interest in the region and moving forward the common agenda for greater security, stability and inclusive and sustainable development in the region.

Okay? I have a PowerPoint presentation. Is the PowerPoint presentation ready?

Well this PowerPoint inspiration gives you some examples of joint exploration agreements which are ongoing in different EEZs.

First of which, there is an ongoing – believe it or not – joint exploration being conducted by Vietnam and its archrival China. This is a joint exploration of blocks in South China Sea by ONGC India and Petro Vietnam. There is also one joint exploration of the (unclear) Gulf conducted by CNOOC, a Chinese company, and Petro Vietnam.

First is Vietnam, there’s at least two between India and Petro Vietnam, between CNOOC which is a Chinese-owned State Corporation, its—and Petro Vietnam. There’s one between Iceland and Norway license for joint exploration for oil and gas in the RERI region which also CNOOC is involved in, including the national oil companies of both Iceland and Norway. There is a joint exploration agreement entered into by Kenya and this is again CNOOC and Kenyan government; even New Zealand has a joint exploration with the Chinese Oil Company CNOOC and Shell Petroleum New Zealand as well as Papua New Guinea joint venture agreement for shale oil and gas in Papua by PNG, LNG and Exxon Mobile.

Now there are also other joint development management or exploration agreements, not necessarily involving CNOOC but two of which also involved CNOOC.

Indonesia, 2008 joint exploration development and operation agreement East Java by Hasky Canada, Mandura and CNOOC. Malaysia unitization framework agreements to jointly develop oil fields between Petronas and Petroleum Brunei. As well as Brunei, there’s a joint venture agreement on oil field services by Brunei by CNOOC, the Chinese company, and Petroleum Brunei.

All this joint exploration agreements means that if ever we enter to a joint exploration and development agreement, it wouldn’t be the first in the world as in fact CNOOC already has existing joint exploration agreements even with Vietnam and in fact we could look to the Vietnamese, Chinese treaty on joint exploration and development as a model for possible relationship between the Philippines and China.

Also I understand that this is a reply to a question made by Pia Ranada that Justice Carpio disputes that La Bugal is applicable to a joint exploration in the EEZ. Well my response is, I have a digest of the case decision, you can read also the original of the case decision. The decision is correct, it’s about mining in land territory. But you see even if it is mining in land territory, the decision said, you could allow foreigners to engage in exploration and exploitation of mineral resources even in areas subject to complete sovereignty. And that is the decision of the Court. How much more in an area where there is only sovereign rights?

So, I would say, that if you can conduct… if you will allow foreign companies to conduct mining in national territory, including land territory, more so, will there be a legal basis if the state allows it ‘no, because this is an aspect of sovereignty. It is for the State to determine if it wants to share what should otherwise be exclusive.

So if the ruling applies to land territory, I don’t think there is any reason for it not to be applicable in an area where there is only sovereign rights. Okay?

Now I will ask my Office to give you copies of this digest, but let me read from the decisions. This is the rationale of the Court in the case of La Bugal versus Ramos: “Given the inadequacy of Filipino capital and technology in large scale mining activities, the State may secure the help of foreign companies in all relevant matters especially financial and technical assistance provided that the State maintains its full right of control.”

The key is that the State must exercise full control and supervision over the exploration, development and utilizations of natural resources.

However, the Court was careful to state that full control and supervision cannot be taken literally to mean that the State controls and supervises everything down to the minutest detail and makes all required actions.

Government need not micromanage mining operations and day to day affairs of the enterprise be considered as exercising full control and supervision.

The Court went on to find that: “the Constitution should be read in broad, life giving strokes. It should not be used to strangulate economic growth or to serve narrow parochial interest.”

So the voting record is 10-4, with one abstain, in favor was the ponente, Chief Justice Panganiban, Davide, Sandoval, Gutierrez, Austria-Martinez, Garcia, Puno, Quisumbing, Corona, Tinga, Chico Nazario. Dissenting where, of course, Justice Carpio, Carpio-Morales, Calleja Sr. and Ynares-Santiago

Again, I’d like to reiterate the views of Justice Carpio was the minority view, he voted and submitted a dissenting opinion to the majority opinion in La Bugal, the voting pattern of which was overwhelmingly in favor of allowing foreign corporations to participate in exploration and development of natural resources. 10-4, 10 votes in favor, 4 against. That should be crystal clear.


JOSEPH/GMA7: Sir, doon po sa examples na binigay ninyo, those are explorations. How many of those are in the EEZs?

SEC. ROQUE:  All, all in the EEZs.

JOSEPH/GMA7:  And in your examples, how many are those that are between countries with contesting claims?

SEC. ROQUE:  It will be with Vietnam, Malaysia and Brunei. But Malaysia is pala doesn’t involved CNOOC, but Brunei does.

JOSEPH/GMA7:  So, Vietnam, Brunei with CNOOC, right?


JOSEPH/GMA7:  And then under these agreements, the CNOOC is contracted by—is it contracted by any country, let say for example, Vietnam or Brunei?

SEC. ROQUE: What happens is first there must be a bilateral treaty between the states that would enable its nationals to engage in joint exploration. Once that treaty is signed, then the service contracts are awarded in favor of corporations of the contracting states. So, that’s why here, it’s between CNOOC and other national owned gas corporations, such as Petro-Vietnam.

JOSEPH/GMA7:  All right. So ang sinasabi kasi sir nila Professor Batumbakal is that the reason why you need as corporation to do the exploration is that they can be subsumed ‘no, or they can be prevailed upon by the state laws, right?

SEC. ROQUE:  I am not disputing that. But they are wrong in saying it’s not allowed under our Constitution. And they are also wrong in saying that you’re compromising sovereignty. Our point being, it’s being done. You know, this is just a few examples.

Earlier, I was a bit upset, because I wanted to tell my staff give me as many examples as you can, because we now have many joint explorations involving what is known as straddling resources.

What are these straddling resources? Well, under the ground, when you have oil deposits in the Middle East, it’s not as if you can specify the meats and bounds of the boundary of adjacent state that have… that own in common oil reserves.

So—in under those circumstance, they have to enter into a joint exploration and joint development agreement between the states. So there’s actually so many of these kinds of agreements now. It actually a common accepted practice for sovereign states to enter into these treaties allowing joint development and allowing different corporations to enter into service contracts.

JOSEPH/GMA7:  Another point of that… that they are making is that, this will make—parang this will open the floodgates to China exploring other areas of the country including those that maybe exclusively of ours, with regards to sovereign rights.

SEC. ROQUE:  But that’s the decision of the Supreme Court, what can we do 10-4. Justice Carpio was only one of the four. Yes—you know, the original decision of La Bugal was foreign companies cannot participate except through FTAAs.

On reconsideration, the Court came up with the majority opinion, saying ‘no.’ And as I said, you cannot be myopic about it; you cannot strangulate economic development because of myopic views.

So that’s the majority opinion. If that happens, so be it. It’s been decided by the Philippine Supreme Court.

LIELA SALAVERRIA/PDI: Sir, in these joint explorations, what are the standing of the two countries? Do they have equal standing or parang… will there be sort of an employer-employee?

SEC. ROQUE:  Of course not, when you agree on joint development, you enter to a treaty, which under international law is defined as a written contract between two states governed by international law. So they contract as sovereign equals. They observed the principle of equality under international law.

LIELA SALAVERRIA/PDI:  Kasi sir, one of the areas you mentioned was Service Contract 57, which is not under dispute.

SEC. ROQUE:  It’s not under dispute. That is why La Bugal applies, we can allow foreign corporations to explore and exploit if we want to.

LIELA SALAVERRIA/PDI:   So meaning, we will have equal standing with China.

SEC. ROQUE:  No, they will have to comply with La Bugal. As far as 57 is concerned, they will comply with the decision in La Bugal.

LIELA SALAVERRIA/PDI:  Parang we just contracted their services ganoon po ba iyon?

SEC. ROQUE:  No, well they can participate in explorations and exploitation provided, as the decision says, we have ultimate control over the exploration and the development.

LIELA SALAVERRIA/PDI:  Sir, how do we manifest this full right and control. You mentioned in doesn’t necessarily mean micromanaging. So how do we intend to?

SEC. ROQUE:  Maybe you should read the decision. It’s a rather lengthy decision. But among others, you make sure that all our mining laws are complied with, you make sure that the share which pertains the state or revenues otherwise earned from natural resources will be paid to the state. Because they are—you know they are payables, revenues in the same way that Malampaya has to pay for, you know, the share of the national government as far as all revenues earned from the oil field are concerned.

So, and of course, you have DENR, ultimately, through the Mining Bureau ultimately having control and supervision about the everyday activities of the joint explorations or the development involving foreign companies.

LIELA SALAVERRIA/PDI:   Sir, last na, iyong sharing will it be 50-50?

SEC. ROQUE:  Let me just read this: “control as utilized in Section 2 of Article 12, must be given, must be taken to mean a degree of controls sufficient to enable the State to direct, restrain, regulate and govern the affairs of extractive enterprises. Control by the State maybe of a micro level through the establishment of policies, guidelines, regulations in re: standards and similar measures. Such a degree of control would be compatible with permitting the foreign contractor sufficient and reasonable management authority over the enterprise it has invested in to ensure efficient and profitable operation.”

That squarely answers your questions. It’s in the decision itself.

JOSEPH/GMA7:  Sir, having said that, okay fine. But I think the question is: Is CNOOC with regard to 57 or even 70-72 right?


JOSEPH/GMA7:  Will the CNOOC be subject to our laws when they do explore and exploit our resources?

SEC. ROQUE: They will be absolute be subject to Philippine Law, if it is 57. As to 72, the agreement on joint exploration will be governed by international law, because there has to be a treaty to be signed between the Philippines and China first on the joint exploration before it can be implemented by juridical entities of the contracting states.

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: All right. With regard to 57, assuming we find oil or gas there, who dictates the terms of sharing?

SEC. ROQUE: It will have to be the Mining Code. The domestic law of the Philippines will prevail on 57.

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: So in that sense, China is under our control?

SEC. ROQUE: Yes, they are only a foreign entity engaged in exploration and development. But they have to do it under Philippine laws.

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: It cannot be the same with 72 because—

SEC. ROQUE: No. In 72, you have to thresh out these details because it will have to be agreed upon.

Now, again, that’s on the assumption that 72 is contested territory. Of course, our position is it’s part of our exclusive economic zone; China claims the same way. And that is why if we enter into an agreement, we’ll have to spell out the respective rights and obligations of the parties by way of a compromise.


SEC. ROQUE: No, we’re not. In fact, we have no agreement as of yet. We have no treaty on joint exploration as of yet. But we can look to the treaty between Vietnam and China as a model.

VIC SOMINTAC/DZEC: Secretary, magandang hapon po. Kanina po ay nag-file na ng quo warranto to petition sa Supreme Court si Solicitor General Jose Calida. Ano pong take ng Palasyo dito?

SEC. ROQUE:  Well, we have consistently taken the view that we leave it to Congress to remove the Chief Justice if there are grounds to do so. Now that a petition has been filed in the court—I think there are two petitions now pending in court, we leave it to the Supreme Court to resolve these two separate petitions.

However, we stand by our Constitutional duty that we will enforce the decision of the Supreme Court whatever it may be.

VIC SOMINTAC/DZEC: So as a lawyer, ano ang tingin po ninyo, kasi may mga nagsasabi na iyon lang impeachment ang puwedeng mag-alis sa sitting Chief Justice?

SEC. ROQUE: Well, let’s just say, this is unprecedented. While the normal rule is that impeachable officers can only be removed through impeachment, the petitioners who, I believe, are fully cognizant of this doctrine, probably feel that under the circumstance, the general rule should not be applicable. So let’s wait for the decision of the Supreme Court.

PIA GUTIERREZ/ABS-CBN: Sir, the term of SEC Chair Teresita Herbosa is set to expire this week. Mayroon na po bang nakikitang kapalit sa kaniya si President Duterte?

SEC. ROQUE: Wala pa po. But of course, we have nothing but respect for Chair Herbosa.

PIA GUTIERREZ/ABS-CBN: Will the President name a replacement kaya later sa Cabinet meeting, sir?

SEC. ROQUE: I don’t think it will be done in today’s Cabinet meeting, but he will be the appointing authority anyway.

LEILA SALAVERRIA/PDI: Sir, going back to the Supreme Court. How does the Palace see this affecting the judiciary… the justice system, the dispensation of justice in the Philippines?

SEC. ROQUE: Well, I know that the cases pending in the Chief Justice’s office will probably be… remain unacted upon ‘no, because aside from being Chief Justice, she has a case load. And because she has gone on indefinite leave, I guess we can say—safely conclude that there will be decisions that will be unwritten because she has gone on indefinite leave.

But other than that, as an institution, the court acts as a collegial body. She is first amongst equals, but she only has administrative duties which Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio can now fulfill in view of the Chief Justice. So there should be no major hindrance to the court performing its job.

LEILA SALAVERRIA/PDI: So you don’t have any concern about this affecting the perception of the justice system in the Philippines?

SEC. ROQUE: Well, I would say that, on the contrary, it proves that the justice system works. When 13 of the magistrates themselves vote that the Chief Justice should go on an indefinite leave that means the justice system is well and healthy and alive in the Philippines. Probably it should be heeded.

LEILA SALAVERRIA/PDI: Sir, how does the Palace prefer for this matter to be resolved? Through a trial or through the quo warranto petition?

SEC. ROQUE: As I’ve said, we have no preference either way. We will enforce whatever decision the Supreme Court or the Senate may have sitting as an impeachment court.

MARICEL HALILI/TV5: Sir, just one question. You mentioned this before that it will be better for CJ Sereno to resign. Is it still the same, sir, following all the proceeding which rather have CJ Sereno resigned so as to save the government all of these proceedings?

SEC. ROQUE: Well, I’m sorry to say that since we made the recommendation, it has since been rejected. So we said, henceforth, our position will be: we leave it to Congress to decide. The position has remained the same. Four or five months ago, we made a suggestion; she rejected, so be it.

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: Just so I don’t mishear you. You said iyong the decision ng 13 justices should be heeded?

SEC. ROQUE: I believe so.


SEC. ROQUE: That’s a unanimous decision of everyone present in the Supreme Court, that because of the controversies hounding the Chief Justice, she should go on indefinite leave.

To me, that is a form of a message which the Chief Justice should heed.

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: Message that what?

SEC. ROQUE: I’m not sure. But definitely, that her continued stay in office may not be good for the institution.

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: What is the Palace’s or the President’s duty? Is it to enforce the decision of the 13 Justices, or to uphold the Constitution which says that the only way to remove a Chief Justice is through impeachment?

SEC. ROQUE: Well, the President took an oath to uphold the Constitution and the laws of the land.

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: You do not see the quo warranto petition being granted as violating the constitutional provision that, you know, about impeachment?

SEC. ROQUE: That’s now within the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court, and that’s why the President defers to the decision of the Supreme Court.

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: So when he defers to the decision of the Supreme Court when they say, I think it’s a foregone conclusion. If it goes up to the (unclear) and it has 13, mukhang iyon na iyon ‘di ba?

SEC. ROQUE: Again, it is would be a contumacious act if we speculate on how the Supreme Court will decide either way. So let’s stop there.

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: Cabinet meeting, nakauwi na po si Secretary Cimatu? Will he be making the recommendation after his return from Boracay?

SEC. ROQUE: I believe all members of the Cabinet will be present unless they have very urgent reasons not to be present this afternoon.

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: Sir, kapag may sinabi ha?

SEC. ROQUE: Of course I will be reporting tomorrow. Tapos na kasi iyong balita by the time we begin the meeting. I will talk to the Agriculture Secretary and tell him, please wait for me to make the announcement at 11 o’clock tomorrow morning.

HANNAH SANCHO/SONSHINE RADIO: Sir, good morning. Sir, reaction lang po doon sa ilang mga netizens po, they took a picture po ng isang fan na may mukha ninyo. They’re saying that, apparently, ginagamit ninyo daw iyong posisyon ninyo sa pagbiyahe ninyo po, sa pag-conduct ninyo ng press briefing para po daw doon sa plans ninyo sa 2019 na tumakbo as senator. Is this true, sir? What is your reaction?

SEC. ROQUE: Well, I think the issue is: Who paid for the fans? I’ll answer that: Deputy Speaker Gwen Garcia, as in fact all the fans are in Cebu. I want her to send a lot more fans here. But it is too expensive, ang binigay niya lang sa akin fan, hindi niya sinagot iyong pagta-transport sa Manila.

So I’ll make the suggestion: Can you also pay for transporting the fans to Manila?


SEC. ROQUE: I do not know. I mean, that was given to me by Gwen Garcia. It’s too much of a waste not to distribute it especially since we first distributed the fans in Cebu. And it was also for an occasion involving a cooperative founded by the mother of Deputy Speaker Gwen Garcia – Cebu CFI.

HANNAH SANCHO/SONSHINE RADIO: Sir, you are not using your position, sir, sa pagpunta ninyo doon?

SEC. ROQUE:  I do not think so. What I do know is that the journalists all over the country appear to be very appreciative. In fact, in Tarlac, I was asked a question which for the first time I could not answer. It has not really happened here in Malacañang Press Corps, but it happened to me in Tarlac.


SEC. ROQUE: That’s different. But in Tarlac, I was asked a question that I was like could not answer and say, “I cannot answer that. I don’t know the answer.”


SEC. ROQUE: I forget now. I said I will research on it, but I will review the transcripts.

ROCKY: Okay. MPC, no more questions? Okay na. Okay, thank you, Malacañang Press Corps. Thank you, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque.


SOURCE: PCOO – NIB (News and Information Bureau)