ROCKY IGNACIO/PTV4: Good morning, Malacañang Press Corps and guests… our guests from Kalinga. Welcome sa regular press briefing ni Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque. Good morning, sir.
SEC. ROQUE: Good morning Philippines and good morning to the ladies and gentlemen of the Malacañang Press Corps. Let me begin with the good news, of course you know about this already.
We thank the US News & World Report for its survey which indicates that the Philippines is the best country, the number one country to invest in for 2018. The Department of Finance attributes our being number one to our young and hardworking workforce; an excellent inclusive growth momentum; an expanding middle class fiscal discipline; stable monetary policy; membership in ASEAN; an achievable infrastructure program; improved revenue collection; a strong anti-corruption drive; political stable government; and a strong and popular leadership who has exhibited political will to uplift the life of our countrymen.
We assure our investors here and abroad, that the government will continue to implement sound economic policies to improve the country’s ease of doing business performance and further sustain the growth momentum of the Philippine economy. In fact, in pursuance to this, we have recently enacted the Anti-Red Tape Law, giving fixed periods for local governments to act on pending applications lodged with them.
More good news. BCDA’s 8 billion contribution for AFP modernization: We are pleased to announce that the Bases Conversion and Development Authority on 1 March 2018 has provided a record-high 8 billion pesos contribution to the Armed Forces of the Philippines Modernization Program. The 8 billion contribution is equivalent to 20% of the total 40 billion received by the men and women in uniform from BCDA since 1992. According to the BCDA, the amount is expected to increase in the coming years. We guarantee that the Duterte administration through the BCDA and AFP, as partnership for change will build great cities that will become centers of economic growth and in turn, provide a secure and comfortable life for every Filipino.
More good news – Welcome to the Philippines MV Costa Atlantica. MV Costa Atlantica docked at the Alava Pier at 6 A.M. this morning with 3,500 passengers and crew. MV Costa Atlantica’s visit is the first of some 15 cruise ships which are expected to visit the Subic Bay Freeport for the year. We’re excited with this good news as we prepare ourselves to meet the demands of the cruise tourism market and make Subic Bay Freeport the next cruise ship playground.
We are pleased to announce that more than 40 airports, air navigation facilities and air traffic control facilities in the Philippines now have new Communication Navigations Surveillance/Air Traffic Management, CNS/ATM system. The installation of the new CNS/ATM system includes en route surveillance radars in Aparri, Laoag, Cebu, Mt. Mahik Quezon, Palawan and Zamboanga. Airport surveillance radars in NAIA Terminal 2, Mactan, Bacolod, Kalibo and Davao which is expected to reduce flight delays as well as improve the country’s air traffic safety. The Department of Transportation noted that a 1 star rating was given by the Official Aviation Guide to 8 Philippine airports for on-time performance reflecting the country’s performance rating of 71% which is higher than the regional average of 64%.
As promised, let me give you some of the highlights of the Cabinet Meeting yesterday. The President reiterated that the only right that foreigners can exercise in Philippine Rise is the right to innocent passage. Exploration for natural resources, conduct of scientific research, laying of submarine cables and building of artificial islands in the Philippine Rise are reserved for Philippine nationals. The President and the Cabinet also noted that we should invest in maritime survey ships so that we could better assess the resources that we can exploit in the Philippine Rise.
Now, there were also ways forward identified for MTR 3 – the short term is to purchase all necessary spare parts; the medium term is to enter into a maintenance contractor with the original maintenance contractor Sumitomo; and the long term, is to change the ownership of MRT 3 Corporation, which appears to have contributed to problem of MRT 3 as well ‘no. There was a decision that cases will be pursued for those behind the miserable performance of MRT 3, there are pending complaints for plunder against officials of the previous administrations, specifically for awarding the maintenance contract to a company with absolutely no track record.
Now the Philippine National ID was also discussed, and there was also discussion on NFA and the rice situation. The NFA Council briefed the Cabinet that there’s absolutely no shortage of rice, that the reported shortfall or the reported stockpile available for the country which allegedly was only for 1.5 days is absolutely untrue. The 1.5 day stockpile is if we did not have any other source of rice other than NFA. Meaning, if we only had NFA in our possession, we would only have 1.5 days worth of supply. But the reality of course, is that NFA constitutes a minority for our rice supply, bulk of our rice supply consist of commercial rise and that henceforth, it will be the NFA Council that shall speak on the current rice situation.
Now on Boracay, the President said that while we are in the process of legal and factual fact-finding, that the initiatives as far as local government officials that allowed the many violations in Boracay shall be led by the Department of Interior and Local Government; whereas, the compliance with environmental laws will be led by the DENR. There were no specific course of actions discussed in yesterday’s Cabinet Meeting on Boracay.
I think that sums it up. Questions?
JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: Sir, elaboration lang doon sa plunder charges against the previous officials… previous administration officials. Would you know… will you be able to specify who these officials will be?
SEC. ROQUE: I think we know already that it includes the former Transportation Secretary, that includes even Mr. Mar Roxas, it includes Budget Secretary Butch Abad and among others this is for the award of the contract to a company with absolutely no track record; a company that was obligated to repair 26 coaches and they only delivered 2; and they even supplied the wrong signaling system ‘no.
But in any case, that’s just part of the solution. Accountability is part of the solution. Government has taken steps, while it is currently operating the MRT to procure much needed spare parts and they have taken steps now to enter into a contract with Sumitomo to be the maintenance provider as well, and this has been facilitated by the signing of an agreement between the governments of the Republic of the Philippines and Japan.
JOSEPH/GMA7: How soon will these charges be files?
SEC. ROQUE: I think, it’s been filed. So we are just awaiting action from the Department of Justice.
JOSEPH/GMA7: Ombudsman, sir ‘no.
SEC. ROQUE: I think it was the Department of Justice. I don’t know where it’s been filed. But, it’s been filed.
SEC. ROQUE: Yes, it was a complaint for plunder.
CELERINA MONTE/MLA SHIMBUN: Good morning, sir. Regarding Sumitomo. When can we expect Sumitomo to take over the operation of MRT?
SEC. ROQUE: They have concluded already the survey of what needs to be done and from what I understand, Sumitomo found out that it was worse than they expected. But they have fixed time table. Unfortunately I do not have the power point presentation with me. But there is a date already specified.
There’s already a government-to-government contract entered into by the Philippines and Japan that would enable Sumitomo to come back.
CELERINA/MLA SHIMBUN: Sir, regarding the long term solution, which is a change of ownership. Are you referring to the operation and maintenance only or—
SEC. ROQUE: The ownership of MRT 3, because as you know the ownership of MRT 3 is a private corporation. So, they are thinking of changing the owners, because we have had many problems with the current owners.
CELERINA/MLA SHIMBUN: So, not ONM only.
SEC. ROQUE: No, not just the maintenance. That’s the long term solution, is to change the ownership of the MRT 3 Corporation that owns the MRT.
CELERINA/MLA SHIMBUN: So can we expect this like within this administration?
SEC. ROQUE: Definitely. There were time tables presented to the Cabinet, there’s already unsolicited proposals and there will be an award to be made soon.
CELERINA/MLA SHIMBUN: Ano iyong time table, sir, if ever?
SEC. ROQUE: Unfortunately, I did not get a copy of the timetable. But I know, there’s already an unsolicited proposals received by the DOTr.
CELERINA/MLA. SHIMBUN: From where?
SEC. ROQUE: They did not identify.
ROCKY: Itanong ko lang iyong kay Bella, sir. From Bella Cariaso, kung puwede daw sabihan and DOTr to implement ‘Tanggal-Usok, Tanggal-Bulok’ on PUVs not during rush hours, kasi nagkaroon daw po ng mga sobrang traffic at maraming na-stranded na commuters.
SEC. ROQUE: I can only relay that information. But I will.
INA ANDOLONG/CNN PHILS: Sir, this is just a clarification. Kasi iyong plunder case merong pinayl last November eh. Iba pa ito or are you saying that another case will be filed?
SEC. ROQUE: I know there was already a case filed for BURI. But there could be other cases filed as well.
INA/CNN PHILS: New ones, you’re talking about this?
SEC. ROQUE: There could be other new ones. Because apparently, the problem lies not just with BURI, the problem also lies with the current owners of MRT3.
INA/CNN PHILS: Who was tasked, sir, in the Cabinet meeting yesterday to look into or to study possible cases or charges to be filed?
SEC. ROQUE: The President asked SolGen Calida to look further into this matter.
INA/CNN PHILS: Okay. Sir, doon naman po sa NFA. Was anyone reprimanded for coming out with the statement na may less than two days worth of stocks lang iyong NFA yesterday? Because after the pronouncement, I mean some believed that it was what caused… what may have caused the increase in prices back then.
SEC. ROQUE: In fact, that was discussed rather extensively. And that was why the President said that henceforth all information on the country’s rice supply must emanate from the NFA Council.
There was an acknowledgement that statements made by the NFA administrator caused panic, which probably caused prices to rise. There was some disagreement on the figures presented yesterday by the NFA Council, but ultimately it was agreed that there is no rice shortage, because the figure of only 1.5 days worth of supply of rice was misleading. That was—again, the 1.5 days is only if it is NFA that is the only supplier of rice in the Philippines, which is not the case, because as I repeat, they supply a minority of our rice requirements.
INA/CNN PHILS: Mr. Aquino was there yesterday, sir?
SEC. ROQUE: No, he was not. The President instructed that there be a cluster cabinet meeting for about two hours in the next cabinet meeting next month and Mr. Jayson Aquino to that meeting.
INA/CNN PHILS: But the decision yesterday was basically sir, si Cabinet Secretary Evasco na lang, because he is the head of the NFA Council to speak on NFA-related issues?
SEC. ROQUE: It is the NFA Council. There was no specification of CabSec Evasco. It is only the NFA Council henceforth that will speak on the current supply of rice in the country.
ROSE NOVENARIO/HATAW: Sir, may report po na meron pong bagong IS Emir sa Maute Group. Na-tackle po ba iyong tungkol sa anti-terror drive po ng administration sa Cabinet meeting kahapon?
SEC. ROQUE: Hindi po. Pero kahit sino pa ang mag-take over diyan, eh pupulbusin po sila ng gobyerno.
ROSE/HATAW: Sa tulong po ng iba’t-ibang bansa na mayroon tayong defense agreement?
SEC. ROQUE: Ngayon po, sa tulong po ng mga bansang nagbigay ng baril sa atin, at sa tulong din ng mga intelligence information na binibigay din ng ilang mga bansa.
ROSE/HATAW: Sir, puwede n’yo nang tukuyin kung sino iyong sinabi ni Presidente na nagbigay ng 5,000 firearms na isang friendly country?
SEC. ROQUE: Hindi naman po sinabi iyan. Pero sa mga ibang pagkakataon ay nagpasalamat naman po ang Presidente sa mga bansang Tsina, bansang Russia dahil sa mga baril na binigay nila sa atin nang pumutok po ang Marawi.
TINA MENDEZ/PHIL. STAR: Sir, can you please share us details regarding the President’s meeting with the country’s top conglomerates or businessmen to include MVP, Mr. Razon and Mr. Lucio Tan.
SEC. ROQUE: Kailan po iyan, iyan ba iyong Japan?
TINA/PHIL. STAR: No, we have a picture kasi, sir.
SEC. ROQUE: Hindi ko nga alam kung iyan iyong sa Japan or kailan lamang. Kasi wala naman sa schedule iyan.
TINA/PHIL. STAR: Wala nga po sa schedule.
SEC. ROQUE: Ang tingin ko lumang picture na iyan, baka iyan yung Japan kung hindi ako nagkakamali. But I could be wrong. I haven’t seen the picture ha. Pero the last time the tycoons were here was in connection with the Japan meeting with the taipans. That was really not a government-to-government meeting; that was more of a business meeting which government organized.
And I think I made the statement that the President reaffirmed our commitment as an investment destination for Japanese capital and he invited the taipans to underscore the fact that we will have—There will be no shortage of Filipino businessmen that they can partner with in their projects.
ACE ROMERO/PHIL STAR: Secretary, can you elaborate on the Cabinet discussions regarding the national ID system?
SEC. ROQUE: Napakahaba po noong discussion.
ACE/PHIL. STAR: Iyong salient points lang, sir?
SEC. ROQUE: Well, hindi pa po talaga natapos ang discussion, because we will resume discussion in the next Cabinet meeting noting that there are pending legislation in both houses of Congress. So they wanted really to find out what the final legislative output will be before a decision could be made.
ACE ROMERO/PHIL. STAR: Pero may initial proposals na, Secretary?
SEC. ROQUE: Well ang proposal lang is kinakailangan ba smart ID o hindi. So may mga ganoong—kailangan ba multipurpose na iyong ID o talagang just for purposes of identification.
ACE/PHIL. STAR: So when do we expect to complete the discussion?
SEC. ROQUE: Well sana po sa susunod na Cabinet meeting, dahil hinihintay nga po iyong final output ng Kongreso.
ACE/PHIL. STAR: So walang sinabi si President Duterte regarding the national ID for—
SEC. ROQUE: Well in the report it was duly noted, it was presented by NEDA and iyon nga lang po iyong mga discussion, iyong mga options on how this ID system will actually be implemented.
ACE/PHIL. STAR: Thank you, Secretary.
SEC. ROQUE: Si Catherine ba nandito of Manila Times? Bakit hindi mo itanong iyong mga tanong mo ha? Nagtatanong ka sa text, itanong mo na ngayon.
LEILA SALAVERRIA/PDI: Sir, mabilis lang iyong akin. Sir, what triggered the President’s statements on the freedom of navigation in the Philippine Rise? Do we see any threat to the area or any attempted incursion?
SEC. ROQUE: Well the President noted that foreigners have been doing a lot of research and he noted that overwhelming number of researches have been—are undertaken by American firms whereas there were only two licenses given to Chinese firms. So he has said that he will absolutely prohibit all the scientific researches in the area now. And when he said that it was not directed against China, it’s because as far as we know China has only had two scientific researches in the area.
LEILA SALAVERRIA/PDI: So that has it sir? Walang threat? Hindi?
SEC. ROQUE: Wala naman because it was again said at the beginning of the meeting, it was not in the agenda, it was more of declaration, a presidential directive reiterating his previous order to limit the exercises of sovereign right to Filipino nationals in the undisputed Philippine Rise.
LEILA SALAVERRIA/PDI: Sir how solid is the President’s directive or—the plan to buy maritime survey ships? Mayroon ganoong project?
SEC. ROQUE: Well… Secretary Piñol noted that they have been conducting research on the Philippine Rise for the past decade. It’s now very solid, there was an initial proposal to buy using Malampaya funds but it was noted that they may be legal questions because the Malampaya funds, in a case that I filed, there was a TRO issued—permanent injunction issued by the Supreme Court that Malampaya funds could only be utilized for energy related projects.
And so it was Secretary Dominguez who said, we have the money anyway we will buy even if we do not have to use Malampaya funds. So the government will buy more research vessels.
LEILA SALAVERRIA/PDI: May budget na sir—ah sorry. May budget na? May amount na?
SEC. ROQUE: There’s always budget in the—you know, we have 3.7 trillion.
LEILA SALAVERRIA/PDI: (overlapping voices).
SEC. ROQUE: I forgot the amounts. I should write this down when I listen next time. Okay?
CELERINA MONTE/MANILA SHIMBUN: Sir, there was this statement from acting Chief Justice Carpio regarding the joint exploration. He mentioned that China or the CNOOC or any Chinese company should first recognize that the Philippines own those areas to be explored. Does Malacañang agree with that statement?
SEC. ROQUE: No. That’s his personal opinion. Because as we said, the Supreme Court allows aliens to take part in exploration and exploitation in La Bugal and I hope you read the case digest. You can read also the case in its original to find out that yes, that decision had to do with land territory. But the point is, we have absolute sovereignty in land territory. And if foreigners can participate in exploration and exploitation in land territory were we have complete sovereignty, more reason they could in the EEZ where we only have sovereign rights. Number two, you know a dispute under international law in the Mavrommatis case decided by the ICJ is defined as a disagreement on any fact or law, the issue of law involving the issue of international law.
So while under Philippine domestic law we are convinced and also under the International law, it is clear that the waters around the three artificial islands are undisputed because they are clearly within the Philippine Exclusive Economic Zone. 72 is not in the area of the artificial islands. So the tribunal, you know did not exactly rule on the nature of the waters were 72 is. Well, even if the tribunal rule that it is undisputed to be Philippine EEZ, the fact is there remains to be a disagreement under International law which must be resolved.
So that is the only reason why sometimes we refer to a statement of fact that there is a dispute in the West Philippine Sea but under our domestic law, there’s absolutely no dispute because it’s clearly ours by way of the Exclusive Economic Zone. So I hope I’m clear on this, but I think we should let go of the issue too, because every day it’s a running debate already. I don’t mind because this is how we educate our people on an otherwise obscure provision of International law so I welcome it. But come on, we’ve got to move on.
CELERINA MONTE/MANILA SHIMBUN: But sir, how would we reconcile na anything that we should do in that area should be within the Philippine Constitution as stated in the La Bugal Case?
SEC. ROQUE: Well you know ang sinasabi nga natin doon is for as long as it was acceded to by the Philippines because we are a sovereign nation, we can share what otherwise is exclusive to ours.
Ang mali diyan is if we don’t consent and a third state goes ahead and explores and exploits, that would be violation of our EEZ. But if you consent who is to complain, but if the state itself consents to it. And of course the decision whether or not we will consent to it, is an issue of either policy which is the realm of Congress or enforcement of the law which is realm of the Executive.
CELERINA MONTE/MANILA SHIMBUN: So sir sorry ha, last na. So ibig sabihin kailangan pa ring i-recognize ng whichever—noong company na iyon, foreign company na they are working under the Philippine Constitution na under the Philippine—
SEC. ROQUE: Dalawa po kasi iyan, iyong undisputed na 57—
CELERINA MONTE/MANILA SHIMBUN: Hindi sa 72?
SEC. ROQUE: Okay. Sa 72, sa akin po hindi kinakailangan iyon. Kasi nga po itong joint exploration ay by way of compromise na huwag na nating pag-awayan muna iyong issue kung sino ang mayroong sovereign rights diyan, makinabang na muna tayo. At sa akin ang sinasabi ko lang po, walang mali diyan dahil tayo naman, dahil mayroon tayong exclusive na karapatan na kumalap ng tanging yaman diyan, pupuwede tayong pumayag na magkaroon ng joint exploration kasama ang mga dayuhan, desisyon po iyan ng isang soberenyang bayan.
CATHERINE VALENTE/MANILA TIMES: Sir, good afternoon po.
SEC. ROQUE: Si Assange, ‘di ba ikaw ang nagtanong?
CATHERINE/MANILA TIMES: Yes opo sir. Hingiin lang po namin iyong comment ninyo doon sa statement ni Wikileaks founder Assange slamming Rappler for their article parang—the Rappler is linking him to the suppose Russian involvement daw po—
SEC. ROQUE: Can you please for the record repeat how Assange describe that article?
CATHERINE/MANILA TIMES: Okay. Sabi niya po, he is slamming Rappler for producing what he said was the stupidest article he had ever read.
SEC. ROQUE: Stupidest article. We will not dispute that because that is his opinion. That’s Assange, the world famous activist Assange describing an article in Rappler as the stupidest article. We will not dispute that because Mr. Assange is entitled to his opinion. We have described Rappler in many ways, none the less we have not described any article there as the stupidest article. But Assange, given his stature, is entitled to make such a conclusion.
ROSE NOVENARIO/HATAW: Hi, sir. Good morning po uli. Sir, sabi po ni Congressman Umali, puwede raw pong simultaneous iyong pagdinig ng Supreme Court doon sa quo warranto petition laban kay CJ Sereno at iyong impeachment din po sa Kongreso. Sakali pong magkaiba iyong kanilang desisyon, posible po bang magkaroon ng constitutional crisis?
SEC. ROQUE: Hindi po. Dahil imposible pong magkaroon ng constitutional crisis dahil ang magpapatupad naman diyan ay ang Ehekutibo. Hindi po papayagan ni Presidente na magkaroon ng constitutional crisis. Magtiwala po kayo sa Presidente na pinagtitiwalaan ng pinakamataas na numero ng mga Pilipino sa nakalipas na dalawampu’t-walong taon.
ROSE NOVENARIO/HATAW: So ano po iyong—halimbawa pong magkaiba iyong desisyon ng Supreme Court at saka po ng Kongreso, ano po iyong ipatutupad ng Executive branch?
SEC. ROQUE: Naku, masyado namang haka-haka na iyan. Antayin muna natin kung ano ang desisyon bago natin tanungin kung anong ipatutupad ng Ehekutibo.
JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: Sir, was the Sereno issue discussed in the Cabinet?
SEC. ROQUE: Not at all.
JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: Ah ganoon. Bakit?
SEC. ROQUE: Wala. Bakit naman namin idi-discuss? Who’s she?
JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: Ang taray naman.
SEC. ROQUE: Who is she to occupy the time of the Cabinet. Come on.
JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: Hindi nag-update si SolGen? Wala. Okay. So, sir, si SAP, mukhang may pinost din si Secretary Piñol. I was wondering what kind of—
SEC. ROQUE: Sinasabi lang ni Presidente na kapag binastos nga iyong mga miyembro ng Gabinete or ng Armed Forces, sasabihin niya, tumayo at umalis. At kung ayaw paalisin at kinulong, sabi niya, “SAP, kumuha ka ng armored vehicle. Huwag marami, dalawa lang. Tingnan natin kung hindi lalabas iyan.”
Pero… alam m0, it’s just the resolve of the President kasi nga, this had to do with … he was addressing Secretary Duque. I guess in the Senate investigation, there were also unpleasantries directed at Secretary Duque. And so ang sabi niya, kapag ikaw binabastos, just leave because I will not allow any of my Cabinet men or my military officers na bastos-bastusin ng co-equal branch of government. Puwedeng mag-imbestiga but we should do within the bounds of civility.
JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: Yeah, but will he be joining you in the Senate slate?
SEC. ROQUE: Well, Bong Go also assured me yesterday, “Huwag kang mag-alala, wala talaga akong plano. Ikaw lang,” sabi niya. Sabi ko, hindi nga ako sigurado eh. [Laughs] So walang mga sigurado. Hindi donasyon. [Laughs]
JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: Pero ano ang sabi ni Presidente when it was like broached?
SEC. ROQUE: Wala. No, no, it wasn’t broached. It was SAP Go who reiterated that he is not interested in a Senate run.
JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: Are you threatened by SAP Bong Go?
SEC. ROQUE: Of course not, because I have no plans for myself either.
BERNADETTE NICOLAS/BUSINESS MIRROR: Sir, itatanong ko lang po, sa inflation po. Sir, baka may Palace reaction po. Is the government concerned po on February inflation hitting new three year high at 4.5%. If yes, why? If no, why not?
SEC. ROQUE: Well, lumang balita na po iyan ata dahil-
BERNADETTE NICOLAS/BUSINESS MIRROR: Hindi, sir. Kaninang umaga lang po iyan.
SEC. ROQUE: Well, ang sagot po diyan ng Finance department ay iyong inflation naman po ay imposibleng nanggaling lang iyan dahil sa TRAIN. Unang-una po, napakataas talaga ng pagtaas ng halaga ng petrolyo at ito naman ay dictated ng market forces. Tapos napakataas din ng koleksiyon natin ngayon doon sa tobacco products dahil ito nga po ay nangyari doon sa pagse-settle at pagbabayad ng tamang buwis nung dating mga kumpaniya na nandadaya sa kanilang buwis.
So ang estimate pa rin po ng gobyerno ay hindi nagbabago, .7 lang po ang magiging contribution ng TRAIN sa ating inflation.
Oo nga pala ho, sinabi rin sa akin ni OIC Leyco na ire-release na po nila sa sampung milyong beneficiaries ng 4Ps iyong P200 a month na nakasaad sa TRAIN Law. At ire-release po nila in a lump sum iyong 2,400 sa ten million beneficiaries para po maibsan ang epekto ng TRAIN doon sa pinakamahihirap na ating mga kababayan.
ROSE NOVENARIO/HATAW: Sir, nagpapatanong lang po si Henry Uri. Sir, sabi raw po ng Spokesman ni CJ Sereno kaninang umaga, wala raw pong katuturan iyong SALN at it can’t be used daw as ground to impeach CJ.
SEC. ROQUE: Sabi niya iyon, eh kaso hindi naman siya miyembro ng Kamara. Iyong Kamara ang magdedesisyon diyan. Sorry na lang siya.
REYMUND TINAZA/BOMBO RADYO: Sir, going back to Chief Justice Sereno whom you called as ‘who is she.’ Sir, what if there will be a render of acquittal to her, will you also openly accept?
SEC. ROQUE: Hindi nga kami nanghihimasok, siyempre tatanggapin namin iyon, kung anuman ang desisyon ng Kongreso at ng Senado sitting as an impeachment court.
REYMUND TINAZA/BOMBO RADYO: Sir, Senator Leila De Lima also wants to join the impeachment trial. Will you be happy to see her at the impeachment court?
SEC. ROQUEL: My advice to her: Libreng mangarap. Manood na lang siya ng TV kung mayroon siyang TV sa kulungan.
TINA MENDEZ/PHIL STAR: Sir, again, earlier today sa CNN Philippines, you were quoted as saying that any talks on Alvarez removal is wishful thinking. What is your basis for saying this? Does he have a stronghold sa Speakership?
SEC. ROQUE: Because he continues to have the full trust and confidence of the President. And I think in the House, the allies will act as one on their choice for Speaker.
TINA MENDEZ/PHIL STAR: Sir, can you confirm reports that the President met with Congresswoman and former President Arroyo today regarding the Speakership also?
SEC. ROQUE: I cannot confirm that because it’s not in the schedule.
TINA MENDEZ/PHIL STAR: Nonetheless, it might have happened?
SEC. ROQUE: I do not confirm that. I have no knowledge of any such meeting.
TINA MENDEZ/PHIL STAR: Can we have an update within the day, sir?
SEC. ROQUE: I will. But I think you know the schedule of the President, he is very busy today. Starting at Go—ano ba iyon, iyong kay Joey Concepcion? Go Negosyo, ending very late with the dinner with former rebels here in Malacañang.
TINA MENDEZ/PHIL STAR: Sir, I’m sure kaya ninyo naman iyan. Kayang-kaya. We’ll wait for your update. Thank you po.
SEC. ROQUE: Puwede bang kayo na ang magtanong.
Okay, thank you very much. See you on Thursday.
SOURCE: PCOO – NIB (News and Information Bureau)