Press Briefing

Press Briefing of Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque

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


ROCKY IGNACIO/PTV4:  Good morning, Malacañang Press Corps and sa mga guest natin from Iloilo City and Kalinga; and siyempre kay Mrs. Roque, good morning. Good morning, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque.

SEC. ROQUE:  Magandang umaga Pilipinas, at magandang umaga to the ladies and gentlemen of the Malacañang Press Corps.

Well for our good news… first, I’m pleased to announce today, March 8, International Women’s Day that the Philippines tops the Women In Business 2018 where our country was ranked as having the most number of women executives. This according to Grant Thornton International – one of the world’s largest professional services network of independent accounting and consulting member firms – when it surveyed 4,500 senior executives across 35 countries.

The report reveals that 46.58% of Filipino women in the workplace hold senior management roles, a proportion that is way above the global average of 24.14%. It attributed our country’s top ranking to non-discriminatory policies for recruitment, paid parental leave and flexible hours as among the practices. The Duterte administration continues to improve the lives of Filipino women in all spheres: economic, social and political. Women and men are equal partners in the pursuit of the country’s development as we all vow to fully implement the Magna Carta of Women this International Women’s Day.

And secondly, the Duterte Spouses Association, Inc. recently visited Albay to conduct assistance to communities displaced by the eruption of Mayon Volcano. The Duterte Spouses Association, Inc. distributed relief assistance in partnership with Foreign Chambers of Commerce, RAM and local associations. The Duterte Spouses Association, Inc. also participated in a relief effort for 4,000 women displaced by the fighting in Marawi.

Nais namin ipaalam sa publiko na ang TESDA po ay magbibigay ng libreng construction workers’ training sa higit kumulang 100,000 katao para maisakatuparan ang ating Build, Build, Build infrastructure plan. The project has already received application forms in 122 TESDA Training Centers on February 27 and 28 for the national technical-vocational education and training, enrolment and jobs bridging.

Graduates of the skills training especially the indigenous peoples, the poor, the rebel returnees will be recruited to play a vital role in the development of infrastructure projects such as the construction of roads, bridges and establishments. Of course we have to do this, because apparently the Build, Build, Build program has already resulted in some kind of a shortage for construction workers here in the Philippines, ‘no.


IAN CRUZ/GMA7:  Good morning po, Secretary. Sir nabanggit ni UN Human Rights Chief Al Hussein na kinalulungkot daw niya iyong nabanggit ng Pangulo. Noong nasa Davao kami sinabi ni Presidente na, huwag magsasalita iyong mga pulis o iyong mga sundalo kapag may mga mag-iimbestiga kahit daw doon sa mga taga-UN. Sabi niya may duty raw ang estado, ang pamahalaan na i-uphold ang human rights at kailangan i-engage ang mga tao na ina-appoint ng kanilang council.

SEC. ROQUE:  Ay hindi ko po dini-dispute na may obligasyon ang gobyerno ng Pilipinas sa batas sa pangtao. Pero ang sinasabi lang namin, eh hindi naman po binabale-wala ang soberenya pati po diyan sa UN Human Rights Council. Kinakailangan po pumayag ang mga bansa kung nais mag-imbestiga ng rapporteurs. Ang hindi po mapatawad natin eh si Callamard, pumasok ng Pilipinas uninvited and made her conclusions na para bagang nag-imbestigasyon na siya.

Siguro po matatagalan bago mahilom iyong mga sugat na nagresulta doon sa ginawa ni Callamard. Ang masakit po diyan kay Callamard pa ‘no, she came here unannounced at that time when we were in the process of negotiating her investigation. So this is what happens when the UN Human Rights Council does something that would cause member-state of the UN to lose trust in some of its rapporteurs.

My reply to His Excellency, the Prince of Jordan is it’s a two-way street – the entire human rights mechanism of the UN is built around sovereignty, and it will not work if rapporteurs become untrustworthy as far as sovereign states are concerned.

IAN CRUZ/GMA7:  Sir may nabanggit pa siya ‘no, concerned daw siya sa ‘deepening repression and threats doon sa mga individuals with independent views or dissenting views.’ Na-mention niya nga po ano, si Senator De Lima na nakakulong daw for over a year na arbitrarily kahit na walang clear case.

SEC. ROQUE:  Well His Excellency is a national of Jordan ‘no, we do not know how the legal system works in Jordan. But in the Philippines, the Judicial Branch of government is independent and no one – not the Executive, not the Legislature – should intervene. So Your Excellency, I do not know what kind of a system that you have in Jordan, but in our system we respect the independence of the Judiciary; we will allow the Judiciary to proceed and decide on the case of Leila De Lima. And I’m sorry if our legal system is vastly different from your legal system in Jordan.

LEILA SALAVERRIA/INQURER:  Sir, good morning. Sir, na-mention ninyo matatagalan bago maghilom iyong mga sugat, does this mean we won’t be open to any investigation while we’re still feeling hurt over the actions of Callamard?

SEC. ROQUE:  Well you know the last word that I had with the SFA in this regard is, apparently the UN Secretary General said that they will be proposing names. We’re awaiting the names.

LEILA SALAVERRIA/INQURER:  Names of new rapporteur?

SEC. ROQUE:  Possible rapporteurs ‘no. So, that’s where we are.

LEILA SALAVERRIA/INQURER:  Awaiting names for new rapporteurs—?

SEC. ROQUE:  Yes, definitely. You know, the special rapporteur in extralegal killings is only one of the special rapporteurs under the thematic rapporteur system of the UN Human Rights Council. There are other rapporteurs.

LEILA SALAVERRIA/INQURER:  Sir, how about your recommendation for rapporteur?

SEC. ROQUE:  Well, I withheld my recommendation when I found out that there was already communication between the UN SecGen himself and our Secretary of Foreign Affairs. Let’s await the list of possible names to be given by the UN Secretary General.

ROSE NOVENARIO/HATAW:  Sir, ibang issue. Sir reaction lang po doon sa nangyari po sa House Justice Committee na may probable cause daw po iyong impeachment complaint laban kay Chief Justice Sereno.

SEC. ROQUE:  Patunay na naman po ito na gumagana iyong ating mga proseso na nakasaad sa ating Saligang Batas. Lalo na iyong proseso ng impeachment na proseso para mapanagot iyong pinakamataas na mga opisyales ng ating bayan. So nagagalak po kami na nakita natin na gumagana muli ang ating institusyon.

TED TUVERA/DAILY TRIBUNE:  Good morning, Secretary. Secretary, may nabanggit po kayo yesterday about this Pangasinan group sa MRT; and you said that iyong one-third napupunta sa political machinery. Would we know kung nabanggit po ba noong mga whistleblowers na sinasabi ninyo kung sino iyong political machinery—?

SEC. ROQUE:  It’s now in the process of investigation, and this is what I promised to do ‘no. I have some documentary evidence already. Perhaps beginning next week, I will devote one day a week in disclosing facts and details about the plunder of MRT 3. But I have documents already! I’m just giving notice to the NBI and DOJ before I go public with the documents. But I promised that this will be a continuing activity that we will have here, and which is dissecting the plunder of MRT 3.

TED TUVERA/DAILY TRIBUNE:  Who will initiate the filing of charges? Because last briefing here, you said that there could be new charges against the previous officials of DOTC.

SEC. ROQUE:  We’ll see, because I’m directly turning over documents to the NBI and the DOJ, so we will see what they will do with the documents. But in due course, after I’ve submitted the documents, we could release even some of these official documents in the following weeks.

INA ANDOLONG/CNN PHILIPPINES:  Hi, sir. Sir, can you give us maybe an idea on who these whistleblowers are? Did they used to work with officials of the previous administration, that’s why they know—?

SEC. ROQUE:  Of course, the nature of whistleblowers is they are always insiders – that’s why they are whistleblowers.

INA ANDOLONG/CNN PHILIPPINES:  And, when did they start coming forward to Malacañang – to you or government sitting officials?

SEC. ROQUE:  Well, I got my first batch of documents today. But I have gotten information as… possible I think it’s about 3 weeks ago.


ROSE NOVENARIO/HATAW:  Sir, possible po ba iyong parallel investigation ng NBI at Ombudsman diyan po sa plunder case po ng dating MRT officials or dating Aquino administration officials?

SEC. ROQUE:  That’s without prejudice. And we are hoping that the Ombudsman is conducting its own parallel investigation because an official complaint has already been filed. Alam mo ang diperensiya naman po sa Ombudsman, kung may kakulangan na ebidensiya puwede namang ang Ombudsman na ang kumuha ng ebidensiya kung gusto ng Ombudsman; kung ayaw ng Ombudsman wala tayong magagawa.

Kaya nga inaasahan natin na magiging patas ang ating Ombudsman bagama’t siya po ay kaalyado ng nakaraang administrasyon, naniniwala naman ako na kung may ebidensiya dapat lalo pang paigtingin ng Ombudsman ang imbestigasyon ay gagawin niya. Dahil napakadami naman po talagang nagdusa dito sa MRT, mula po doon sa 500,000 na sumasakay sa MRT ay ngayon 200,000 na lang po ang sumasakay.

ROSE NOVENARIO/HATAW:  Thank you po sir.

IAN CRUZ/GMA NETWORK INC.:  Secretary, puwede na bang pangalanan sino-sino iyong mga Pangasinan group?

SEC. ROQUE:  Hindi pa po, ongoing investigation.


SEC. ROQUE:  Although, I’m sure nanonood sila. Malapit na po makahabol ang katarungan sa inyong lahat.

IAN/GMA NETWORK INC.:  Pero Secretary, kanino sila lumapit na agency? Sa inyo mismo o kay Presidente? Iyong mga whistle blower po?

SEC. ROQUE:  Well ako po ang linapitan at ako po ang binigyan ng dokumento ngayon na ipo-forward ko naman sa NBI.

Q: Sir, ilan po iyong whistle blowers na lumapit sa inyo?

SEC. ROQUE:  Dalawa na po.

Q:  Ah dalawa. They are from the DOTC?

SEC. ROQUE:  Directly involved po sila sa MRT 3.

Q:  Ah okay. Are they connected—

SEC. ROQUE:  Hindi na yata, hindi na.

ALVIN BALTAZAR/RADYO PILIPINAS:  Sir, kasama po ba doon sa dalawang whistle blower si dating GM Al Vitangcol?

SEC. ROQUE:  Hindi pa po. [laughs] Hindi pa po.

ALVIN/RADYO PILIPINAS:  Ah hindi pa sir? Sir, may feelers ba na lalapit din siya?

SEC. ROQUE:  Matagal na naman nagsasalita si GM Vitangcol. Let’s just say that with independent information being furnished me right now perhaps I should go out of my way and refer GM Vitangcol also to the NBI.

TINA MENDEZ/PHIL. STAR:  Sir, good afternoon. Sir, with the current ban on foreign entities sa Philippine Rise… iyong marine research. Ano pa iyong ibang plano ng administration on the issue of food security and national security?

SEC. ROQUE: Well gaya po ng napagpulungan sa Gabinete noong Lunes, bibili na tayo ng sariling research vessel natin; pero mayroon naman po tayong nagagamit na research vessel din. Kaya nga po ang sabi ni Secretary Piñol ay isang dekada na tayo na nagkakaroon ng scientific research diyan sa Philippine Rises. So talaga pong tinututukan iyan ng Department of Agriculture dahil doon sa tanging yaman sa pangingisda at tinututukan din po iyan ng DENR dahil iyan naman po ay kinukunsidera nating kabahagi ng ating tanging yaman o natural resources na kabahagi rin ng katungkulan ng DENR.

TINA/PHIL. STAR:  Sir, mayroon bang plans na i-open ito for commercial fishing by Philippine companies or to our local fishermen kasi we have already ascertained our rights then wala na sigurong makikialam kung magpi-fishing tayo doon.

SEC. ROQUE:  Hindi na po kinakailangang pagplanuhan iyan dahil iyan po ay kaparte ng EEZ, bukas na po talaga iyan sa pangingisda para sa mga Filipino. Wala pong kinakailangan na deklarasyon dahil iyan po talaga ay karapatan ng Filipino na mangalap ng tanging yaman sa mga areas na classified as Exclusive Economic Zone.

Lilinawin ko lang po ha, iyong Exclusive Economic Zone iyong karagatan, iyong continental shelf iyon iyong lupa iyon sa ilalim ng karagatan. So natural hindi ka pupuwedeng mangisda sa continental shelf dahil wala pong isda sa continental shelf.

ALVIN BALTAZAR/RADYO PILIPINAS:  Sir, patanong lang ni Leo. Sir reaksiyon lang doon sa pagsasampa ng tax evasion against Rappler ng BIR?

SEC. ROQUE:  Well, ano pong reaksiyon natin diyan kung hindi ang batas pinapatupad. Kung mayroon talagang hindi nabayarang buwis dapat managot at kung ako naman ay nakatanggap siguro ng ganoong kalaking halaga na 1.5 million dollars, ako mismo magbabayad na ako ng buwis.

TED TUVERA/DAILY TRIBUNE:  Secretary, binanggit ninyo po kahapon sa Press Briefing sa Palawan na the President is willing to disclose his bank accounts to the public. Kasi the other day sinabi niya na he is willing to disclose it sa PACC and not on Senator Trillanes. Bakit sir hindi puwede si Senator Trillanes?

SEC. ROQUE:  Unang una lilinawin ko po, kasi nakatanggap ako ng mensahe according to the chair of the VACC na hindi raw totoo iyong kumalat na balita na ibibigay ni Presidente iyong kapangyarihan sa PACC mismo—sa Presidential Anti—PACC.

So mayroon akong nakuhang mensahe doon sa Viber group namin – inter department na Viber group – na hindi raw totoo iyong ganoong impormasyon. So iyon lang po ang nakita ko.

Pero kagabi doon sa Clark inulit na naman ni Presidente na matagal na niyang hinahayaan ang publiko na tingnan ang kaniyang mga account dahil matagal na niyang sinasabi na hanggang 40 million lang ang laman ng kaniyang account, kung mayroong makuha in excess of 40 million ay siya daw po ay magre-resign. Hindi na niya papayagan si Senator Trillanes.

TED TUVERA/DAILY TRIBUNE:  What about other opposition personalities—

SEC. ROQUE:  Sabi po niya kahit sino puwedeng tingnan ang kaniyang bank account para ikumpirma na hindi po hihigit sa 40 million ang laman ng kaniyang mga bank accounts.

TED/DAILY TRIBUNE: So si Senator Trillanes lang talaga iyong bawal sir?

SEC. ROQUE:  Ayaw niya talaga kay Senator Trillanes.


Q:  Sir, mabalik po doon sa impeachment sir. Ano pong ine-expect natin sa pagpunta noong impeachment case sa Senate po?

SEC. ROQUE:  Hindi pa naman po, dahil pagbobotohan pa iyan sa plenaryo. So ang naaprubahan lang po ngayon sa committee level. So nakita naman natin ang nangyari kay Chairman Bautista kung anong desisyon ng committee puwede pa ring mapabaliktad sa plenary. So hintayin muna natin ang boto sa plenaryo dahil iyon ang magiging susi para umusad iyong impeachment complaint na ito at maging impeachment case sa Senado sitting as an Impeachment Court.

REYMUND TINAZA/BOMBO RADYO:  Sir, doon lang sa election fraud expose ni Senator Sotto. Sir, do you think this is already water under the bridge considering na mag-e-election na naman at nakailang taon na iyong mga nakaupo, supposedly mga nanalong kandidato?

SEC. ROQUE:  Well hindi na siguro… kagaya ng sinabi ko kahapon, hindi maapektuhan iyong term of office ng mga nakaupo except for the Vice President and twelfth seat in the Senate ‘no, dahil lahat po ng election protests na pupuwedeng maging dahilan na mapatalsik ang isang nakaupong opisyales ay tapos na iyong time frame within which to file an election protest.

Pero importante po ito dahil Smartmatic pa rin ang kinontra ng Comelec para magbigay na o mag-provide ng automated election services sa susunod na namang halalan. So kung tama ang sinasabi ni Senator Sotto na sa Smartmatic mismo nanggaling iyong dayaan ay dapat malaman natin ang katotohanan dahil baka mamaya ay magkaroon na naman tayo ng dayaan sa susunod pang eleksiyon. At ang sabi naman ng Pangulo habang siya ay Presidente hindi niya papayagan ang dayaan sa eleksiyon. At nagagalak naman po ako na tinanggap ng Comelec ang hamon, iimbestigahan daw nila itong mga bagong impormasyon na nilathala ni Senator Sotto sa Senado.

REYMUND/BOMBO RADYO:  Yes speaking—but do you expect reliable result of the probe to be done by Comelec? Considering Mr. James Jimenez is now saying na parang wala naman daw nangyaring dayaan, for now, walang proof. At saka iyong sinasabi daw na parang early transmission ay parang bahagi ng parang dry run or testing ng mga—from the precinct iyong mga botohan.

SEC. ROQUE:  Siguro naman po dahil anytime now the President will appoint two commissioners and I understand there will be a third vacancy. So the President would have appointed three commissioners before the conduct of the next elections and it’s a different Comelec altogether na.

REYMUND/BOMBO RADYO:  But categorically you say na in one way or the other the President did not benefit from the alleged election fraud if ever if it is true?

SEC. ROQUE:  If you are have to ask some of the diehard supporters of the President in the last election, they feel that they got more votes. So it is not as if they benefited, they lost votes according to his supporters. But the President is happy with his almost 6 million edge over his closest political rival.

REYMUND/BOMBO RADYO:  Thank you sir.

ROCKY IGNACIO/PTV4:  Okay questions? Okay no more. Thank you Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque.

SEC. ROQUE:  Thank you. See you next Monday.

ROCKY IGNACIO/PTV4:  Okay. Thank you, Malacañang Press Corps. Back to main studio sa Radyo Pilipinas and People’s Television Network.


Source: PCOO-NIB (News and Information Bureau)