Press Briefing

Press Briefing of Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque

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


SWEEDEN VELADO/PTV: Good morning, MPC. Welcome to our regular press briefing with Secretary Harry Roque, Presidential Spokesperson. Good morning, sir.

SEC. ROQUE: Good morning. Let me begin with good news.

We are pleased to announce that the Bureau of Internal Revenue and Bureau of Customs achieved significant accomplishments in their 2017 collections. A total of 1.777 trillion was collected by the Bureau of Internal Revenue, which is 97.18% higher than its revenue goal of 1.829 trillion. Meanwhile, 457.553 billion was collected by the Bureau of Customs which 97.7% of its 467,896 billion revenue target. So they are almost a 100% of their target ‘no. Revenue generated will redound to better anti-poverty and infrastructure programs for the country.

Another piece of good news – Agriculture production recorded an increase of 3.95% for the entire 2017. The crops subsector contributed the highest percent in the total production of 51.20%, followed by livestock subsector with 17.78%, and poultry subsector with 15.4%. The growth in the agricultural production has a gross value of 500.4 billion, which is 9.27% compared to 2016 gross value.

We have also allotted 2 billion for MSMEs development ‘no. This is to inform our entrepreneurs or those who wish to open small businesses that a total of 2 billion will be allotted for 2 programs of the Department of Trade and Industry focusing on the development of micro, small and medium enterprises. These programs, “Pondo sa Pagbabago at Pag-asenso,” micro loan program and shared service facilities, equipment project will each receive 1 billion pesos. The DTI noted, the 1 billion allocation for the 3 programs, the agency’s flagship micro loan program with the goal of reducing 5-6 lending scheme will be used to generate more loan packages for micro entrepreneurs.

Update on Mayon – As of January 23, 8 A.M., bulletin of PhilVolcs, a total of 2 explosion-type earthquakes corresponding to vertical column eruptions, 15 tremor events, some corresponding to lava fountaining episodes, 35 rock fall events and 2 pyroclastic density current of PVCs from lava collapse were recorded by Mayon Seismic Monitoring Network within 24 hours. I repeat, the danger zone is now extended to 8-kilometer radius. We ask residents in the 8-kilometer radius to please temporarily vacate the area.

Likewise, the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines released an advisory stating that Legazpi Airport is temporary closing operations effective 2:21 P.M., January 22 due to massive ash clouds brought about by recent eruption of Mayon Volcano.

Thus far, DSWD recorded that a total of 12,214 families or 48,614 persons in 39 barangays have been affected. As of January 23, 6 A.M., 7,455 families or 28,846 persons are taking temporary shelter in 29 evacuation centers in 5 municipalities and 3 cities of Albay, while 1,518 families or 6,850 persons are staying with relatives in Camalig, Daraga, Malilipot and Sto. Domingo, Albay.

I’d like also to announce that the DBM confirmed that as of yesterday, Monday, they released the IRA for Albay ‘no, so that the different local governments of Albay can tap their 5% contingency funds and this release has been confirmed by Governor Bichara. Now as of January 23, 6 A.M., we have provided a total of P19,391,288 to affected families and individuals of which, P16,221,000 came from DSWD, while a P124,000 came from the LGUs. P3,045,000 came from NGOs.

As of January 23 as well, DSWD-FOV released second augmentation to PLGU Albay amounting to P10,809,000 consisting of 6,503 family packs and P2,483,000 pesos worth and 6,503 dignity kits valued at P7,023,000; 2,000 toys valued at a P194,880; and 6,503 blankets equivalent to P1,107,000. Members of the DSWD Field Office V Quick Research Response Team in coordination with the LGU social workers conduct daily visits to various evacuation centers to monitor the situation, to further determine other services needed by the evacuees.

Now on the SWS survey on self-rated hunger – Of course, we view this latest survey with concern, showing 15.9% of Filipino families experiencing involuntary hunger at least once in the past 3 months. The Duterte administration is working hard to reduce the vulnerability of families including hunger. We’re expanding economic opportunities in agriculture, forestry, fishery sector to address the challenges of food security, while improving our people’s income earning ability, enhancing workers’ employability through TESDA’s skills upgrade program. We will likewise continue to provide educational, livelihood and health assistance to poor and marginalized families; social pension for indigents, senior citizens; and supplementary feeding program to augment the meals of poor students.


ROSE NOVENARIO/HATAW: Sir, good morning. Sir, reaction lang po doon sa petition ng SolGen sa Court of Appeals para sa re-arrest po ni Governor Joel Reyes ng Palawan.

SEC. ROQUE: Well tama po naman iyong desisyon na iyan ‘no. Kahapon ay nakita ko iyong motion for reconsideration ng SolGen doon sa naunang desisyon na nagsasabing walang probable cause ‘no. At ginagawa naman ng gobyerno ang lahat ‘no para makamit ng People of the Philippines ang katarungan dito sa pagkapatay kay Doc. Gerry Ortega.


JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: Sir, iyong IRA sa Albay. How much is it?

SEC. ROQUE: Hindi ko alam iyong detalye, pero when I was in Albay parang may temporary delay iyong in the release. Because I was in Albay…when was that? I think it was last Thursday ‘no. So they haven’t received the IRA for the month of January. So this is something that I relayed to DBM and PMS and immediately on the same day, they said that steps were taken and that the IRA could be withdrawn as of Monday, yesterday.

JOSEPH/GMA7: Yesterday. IRA for January lang?

SEC. ROQUE: IRA for January yes.

JOSEPH/GMA7: Mayroon pa ba silang ano—what you called the fund?

SEC. ROQUE: Contingency fund. That’s part of the IRA, 5% is contingency fund.

JOSEPH/GMA7: Ah, sir baka may Albay pa.

Q: I’m Lito from Manila Standard. Since President Duterte will be attending the India’s ASEAN Summit. Is there any possibility that he will discuss the Benham Rise issue, Scarborough issue?

SEC. ROQUE: What’s there to discuss on the Benham Rise issue? There’s no dispute that we have sovereign rights over Benham Rise.

Q: So it will not be discussed?

SEC. ROQUE: There is no controversy in Benham Rise, there is no country disputing that we have sovereign rights over Benham Rise.

Q: Okay, thank you.

SEC. ROQUE: Even the latest pronouncement of the Chinese government recognizes that we have sovereign rights over Benham Rise.

LEILA SALAVERRIA/INQUIRER: Sir, the President again reiterated yesterday that he doesn’t intend to extend his term?

SEC. ROQUE: Barilin daw siya kapag siya ay nag-extend ng term. O iyan, naniniwala na kayo na ako ay nagsasabi ng totoo ha na sinasabi ko iyong mga damdamin ni Presidente. Ngayon ang instruction barilin ninyo ako kapag ako ay nag-extend ang term.

LEILA/INQUIRER: So what does the Malacañang expect Congress to do after the President’s categorical statement?

SEC. ROQUE: Ano bang gagawin nila? Nothing. Eh ‘di kung ano man ang mangyayari na transitory provision, consider him out of the question ‘no. I don’t think majority would want constitutional succession, so they better provide for a transition that would mean that the President will step down in 2022.

LEILA/INQUIRER: So you expect his allies naman to listen to him?

SEC. ROQUE: Kapag hindi pa naman sila nakinig sinabi na ni Presidente sa mga sundalo, ‘Barilin ninyo ako kapag ako nag-extend ng 2022.’ Ano pa ang gusto nila? Hindi ko na alam.


JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: So sir doon sa sinabi mo na majority does not want constitutional succession. Ano iyong elaboration noon?

SEC. ROQUE: Ano iyon? Ano iyon?

JOSEPH/GMA7: Sabi ninyo sir kanina the majority does not want constitutional succession.

SEC. ROQUE: Sinabi ko ba iyon?

JOSEPH/GMA7: Yes you did.

SEC. ROQUE: Sinabi ko lang na unless na gusto nila na si Leni Robredo ang mag-take over as transitional leader, eh ‘di gumawa sila ng transitory provision that would—for all intents and purposes, make sure that we would have a new President in 2022.

JOSEPH/GMA7: Okay sir. When we transit into a new constitution… Do we follow the provisions in the 1987 as far as the hold over officers are concerned or entirely different ball game?

SEC. ROQUE: That’s speculative, because the transitory provisions will have to be provided in the new constitution itself.

JOSEPH/GMA7: And it doesn’t have to stem from the 1987?

SEC. ROQUE: No, obviously it will not because they can provide for new transitory provisions. But the latest pronouncements of the President is clear: He’s out of office by 2022; unless they want Leni Robredo to take over, we better have a new leader by 2022.

JOSEPH/GMA7: Does the Palace want her to—

SEC. ROQUE: I do not know but the President has said he doesn’t want to extend his term. Neither should anyone expect or aspire to extend their terms.

LEILA SALAVERRIA/INQUIRER: But sir does Malacañang have a problem if other officials extend their term as part of the transitory provisions?

SEC. ROQUE: Right now the only thing the President is clear about is he will not extend his term. So let the others speak for themselves.

LEILA/INQUIRER: So does the Palace have a problem with constitutional succession?

SEC. ROQUE: None. He has said so. ‘Di ba in Vietnam. O sabi nila gusto nila si Leni Robredo. He has no problems with that. He said that in Vietnam, ‘di ba?

REYMUND TINAZA/BOMBO RADYO: Sir relatedly. Natawa ba kayo doon sa sinabi ni Speaker Alvarez na iyong kaniyang sinabi sa mga anti-federalism politicians na zero budget ay joke?

SEC. ROQUE: Hindi naman ako natawa, pero ang aming posisyon diyan ay hinahayaan namin sila dahil gawaing Kongreso iyan. Pero malinaw naman kami na inaasahan namin na magkakasundo ang parehong kapulungan ng Kongreso at ang nais ng Presidente ay bumoto ang taong bayan sa pederalismo dahil alam nila iyong mga issues at naniniwala sila gaya ni Presidente na pederalismo ang kasagutan sa maraming problema ng ating bayan.

REYMUND/BOMBO RADYO: Pero how do you view considering na the federalism or the charter change is a very serious concern of the estate. And here comes Speaker Alvarez making a farce, a joke out of it?

SEC. ROQUE: I cannot comment on what’s Speaker Alvarez has said because he has his own Spokesperson ‘no. But I will say that we welcome that remark ‘no kasi ang gusto naman namin informed choice iyong pagboto ng taong bayan para sa pederalismo.

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: Sir okay sinabi mo naman na iyong whatever procedure the both House follows as far as changing your constitutions concerned it’s up to them – the legislative branch ‘no. Pero what do you think of Speaker Alvarez’s position that in the constitution wala doon iyong constituent assembly. It just says three fourths of Congress?

SEC. ROQUE: Mali ka, ang sinasabi niya is iyong—ang constituent assembly kasi is a mode. Number one, proposing revisions or amendments to the Constitution. So it is provided in the Constitution.

JOSEPH/GMA7: Con-ass with Senate?

SEC. ROQUE: Well ang tinatanong mo is iyong position nila na joint voting. ‘Pag ikaw ay nag-convene as con-ass ang tinatanong mo is his position is literally the Constitution provides for joint voting. Well literally that’s what the Constitution provides ‘no. But I think it is also clear that there was drafting error that’s why the Speaker was blaming the drafters ‘no for the drafting error. And I reiterate my point that there are two views here. One is literal interpretation of the Constitution in which case they have to joint vote…they have to vote jointly. The other is…discerning the true intent of the framers and the people when they ratified in which case it should be separate. The issue will be submitted to the Senate for—not the Senate, to the Supreme Court for adjudication.

JOSEPH/GMA7: So right now, you can’t say the position whether it’s—

SEC. ROQUE: Both are equally feasible, both are equally tenable and I can argue both sides equally.

JOSEPH/GMA7: All right, rephrasing my question. Can Congress, meaning the House—can the House of Representative proceed with amending the Constitution without the Senate participating?

SEC. ROQUE: Well, I think that is something both houses of Congress must discuss. From my brief experience in Congress, Congress is not just deliberative, it’s consensual, you need to build consensus and I have the same consensus building will have to be resorted to between the House and the Senate on the issue of how to move forward with constituent assembly.

JOSEPH/GMA7: Sir, just last on this subject. May instructions ba si Presidente at least sa House to maybe fast track the process?

SEC. ROQUE: Of course, it is the priority of the President. It is an administration initiated bill. But the President has not said how to do it, ‘no. We leave it to the leadership and the members of Congress.

JOSEPH/GMA7: So, kaya medyo aggressive itong si Speaker Alvarez, it’s because of that direction from the President?

SEC. ROQUE: Again, I can’t speak for Speaker Alvarez, but I reiterate and confirm that this is a priority of the administration.

DEO /RMN: Sir, sinabi n’yo po sir na priority ng Presidente iyong pagpapalit ng ating Saligang Batas and yet meron po tayong hindi magkasundo na Senado at ang House of Representatives regarding the mode and all other things. Papaano po mai-strike ng balance ng Malacañang iyong rift na iyon between the Senate and the House of Representatives and paano po bang kakausapin ng Presidente iyong kanyang mga allies para magkasundo sa isang adhikain.

SEC. ROQUE: Well, unang-una po, talaga pong independiyente ang Kongreso sa Ehekutibo. So hahayaan po namin silang magresolba ng hindi nila pagkakasundo dito sa isyung ito. Ang Ehekutibo naman po ang implementation lang kung ano ang mapagkasunduan ng Kongreso. So, sa usaping ito po, pati ilang mga mahistrado ng Korte ng Suprema ay nagsasabi na baka baka pati Hudikatura hindi pupuwedeng maghimasok sa isyung ito. Talagang tanging Kongreso lang ang dapat magresolba ng isyung ito at iyan po ang paninindigan ng Palasyo.

REYMUND/BOMBO RADYO: I think this morning, you were quoted as saying na iyong allegation na intervention diumano ni Secretary Bong Go sa Frigate deal as you were quoted as saying parang part ng destabilization against the administration. Can you expound, sir?

SEC. ROQUE: Saan po ako na-quote niyan?

REYMUND/BOMBO RADYO: Parang may nakita akong story kanina na parang may koneksyon doon sa possible destabilization against this administration.

SEC. ROQUE: Ang sinabi ko po ay lumabas iyong isyu na iyan right after the issue of Rappler and as you know it was raised here first. I was not aware that there was any earlier write up as pointed out by Leila. I did not know about that. So as far as I am concerned, it was first raised here, in this press briefing by the reporter of Rappler. And what I was said is apparently in an effort to make their money-making scheme which the SEC declared as violative of the Constitution in their effort to make this into a press freedom issue, they have resorted to offense as a best defense and that’s why it was Rappler, the Rappler reporter that brought up the issue here, as far as I am concerned for the first time. I was not aware, it was raised previously. I checked the printed edition of Inquirer for the day that it was allegedly it was first raised, it was not there. It was I think online ‘no.

REYMUND/BOMBO RADYO: So categorically just to clarify na you are not saying that there is a concrete or possible connection of the Frigate deal to the alleged destabilization?

SEC. ROQUE: Well, ako naman po personal na obserbasyon, parang kung sinasabi nila na naging press freedom isyu iyan dahil nagkakasabay-sabay daw ang mga pangyayari. Puwede ko ring sabihin iyon, na ang mga issues na binabato ngayon sa mga administrasyon nagkakasabay-sabay at nagpapakita na parang may hirit na naman na i-discredit itong ating administrasyon. Eh kami naman, pagdating naman dito sa communication, bumato sila, sasagot kami.

At ang aming sagot diyan kay—sa isyu ni Secretary Bong Go, eh unang-una nga tapos na iyang kontrata na iyan panahon pa ng Aquino administration. Pangalawa, kapag may reklamo po talaga naman pong binibigyan ng atensyon ng Palasyo iyan, hindi po pupuwedeng isantabi. At kaming mga nasa Palasyo po—I feel strongly for this issue, because I similarly situated, dahil wala kaming mga portfolio, all that we can do is to refer any and all complains to the line agencies; at iyon naman po ang ginawa ni Secretary Bong Go at ng kanyang opisina

Q: Follow up lang, sir, sa Benham po. Kahapon si Senator Pangilinan asked kung ano daw po ang makukuha nating gain by allowing China to conduct research?

SEC. ROQUE: Ano bang nakukuha na gain kapag nagkakaroon ng scientific research? It brings us closer to the truth; gives us a better understanding of what Benham Rise has; gives us a better understanding of how we can better utilize the resources of Benham Rise.

Q: Bakit daw po kailangan China pa iyong mag-conduct ng research?

SEC. ROQUE: Because only China has qualified so far. There are other applicants, unfortunately they did not qualify according to fixed guidelines already set by the government.

Q: Bakit daw po hindi Filipinos, on our own?

SEC. ROQUE: Because no one has a plight. And no one can do it because, apparently, it’s capital intensive. You do not need a permit for any Filipino corporation to conduct scientific investigation in Benham Rise because it is ours so that’s not something that a consent has to be given by the government.

ALVIN BALTAZAR/RADYO PILIPINAS: Secretary, magandang umaga po. Sir, reaction lang po doon sa sinabi ni Senador Antonio Trillanes na iyong increase daw sa salary ng mga pulis at saka sundalo was not through the efforts of President Duterte kung hindi ng nakaraang administration?

SEC. ROQUE: Nakakatuwa po iyan. Pangalawang taon na po na wala na ang administrasyong nakalipas bago po naibigay iyan. So ako po’y natawa sa kaniyang sinabi dahil tanging si Presidente Duterte lang naman ang nangako na doblehin, at nagkaroon naman po ng katuparan doon sa kaniyang pangalawang taon sa panunungkulan.

SHEILA FRIAS/ABC13: Sir, good morning po. Just on the Philippine economy. The fourth quarter of 2017, it grew by 6.6%; and for the whole year of 2017, it grew by 6.7. However, it is lower compared to the 2016 which is 6.9%. Palace reaction po?

SEC. ROQUE: Well, it’s still the second fastest growing economy in the whole of Asia. It’s still something that we’re very porud of. And I’m sure, this economic growth has contributed to the sense of optimism, 96% Filipino view the new year with optimism; and it’s also responsible to the all-time high acceptance rating of the President, approval rating of the President.

SHEILA FRIAS/ABC13: Sir, but why is there a slight decrease …

SEC. ROQUE: Well, to begin with, it’s negligible ‘no. It’s .2. Okay, 6.9 to 6.2 ‘no. So it’s negligible but we met the target. So even the target really was lower than the actual performance. So there’s nothing wrong with that. We’re elated.

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: Sir, just on the PDAF. Si JLN had a … I think she had a birthday yesterday. And then she had a letter where she alleged that she gave Senator Drilon some 10 million pesos before in the campaign ____. First, your reaction on that?

SEC. ROQUE: Well, I think it is something that should be investigated. This is information which, for the first time, was revealed by Janet Lim Napoles. And I think, the Constitution, in providing for accountability of public officers is the legal basis for the relevant government agency to conduct an investigation.

I would hope that the Ombudsman on its own would conduct its probe. And I think the DOJ also on its own should also conduct its own probe.

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: Based on this claim?

SEC. ROQUE: Based on the statement.

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: Sir, the President in May last year said that he wants the truth to come out with regard to the PDAF scam. And we want that. I mean, let the ax fall where it may. Pero, sir, is this letter a clue as to what the DOJ may be doing? Meaning, we open the investigation and all that.

SEC. ROQUE: I do not know. I do not want to speculate. But obviously, Janet Lim Napoles is the central figure in this scam. Let her speak, and I’m sure that in addition to what she has to say, she would have physical evidence to back up whatever it is that she alleges.

ROSE NOVENARIO/HATAW: Good morning ulit, sir. Sir, hindi ba nagtaka iyong Palasyo dahil si dating DBM Undersecretary Mario Relampagos ay pinayagang magbiyahe ng Sandiganbayan sa kabila ng 300 plus cases po kaugnay sa pork barrel scam iyong kaniyang kinakaharap? Tapos ngayon po ay nagpahayag siya na hindi na raw po siya babalik sa bansa. Ano po ang reaksiyon ng Palasyo?

SEC. ROQUE: Eh wala naman kaming problema diyan dahil puwede namang ipa-revoke ang kaniyang passport at puwede siyang ipa-extradite kung kinakailangan. Kaya nga mayroon tayong ganyan mga kasunduan kagaya ng mga extradition treaties ‘no. Kung sa Amerika iyan nagpunta, madali lang iyan ma-extradite.

ROSE NOVENARIO/HATAW: Ipu-push po ng Palasyo iyong posibleng extradition laban kay Usec. Relampagos?

SEC. ROQUE: Ang prosecution po kasi nito ay nasa Ombudsman, doon sa special prosecutor. So alam na po siguro ng special prosecutor ang dapat gawin kapag malinaw na nag-jump tail na itong si Relampagos o di naman kaya ay talagang tumakas na ‘no, naging fugitive na siya. Established naman po ang proseso.

ROSE NOVENARIO/HATAW: So may panawagan po kayo kay Usec. Relampagos?

SEC. ROQUE: Well, kung ikaw ay inosente, bumalik ka at linawin mo ang iyong pangalan. Pero ang mga tumatakbo ay usually umaamin na sila ay guilty. Ikanta lang naman niya kung ano talaga ang nangyari doon sa nakaraang administrasyon, at titingnan naman natin kung mayroong mga pamamaraan na mabawasan ang kaniyang pananagutan. Pero ngayon, flight is evidence of guilty – except for that division of the Court of Appeals that decided on the Joel Reyes case.

LEILA SALAVERRIA/PDI: Sir, on the re-opening of the PDAF probe. Does the Palace just want it limited to Senator Drilon? Because if I remember it correctly, marami pang names that cropped up earlier but haven’t been investigated.

SEC. ROQUE: No, we want the whole truth and nothing but the truth to come out of this PDAF scam.

LEILA SALAVERRIA/PDI: Since the DOJ will be the one conducting it, magkakaroon ba ng instruction from the Palace to investigate this as widely as possible and not limit it to members of the LP for instance?>

SEC. ROQUE: Well, let me clarify. The DOJ can conduct its investigation, but all that it can do is to submit its findings to the Ombudsman because the Ombudsman would still have to be the one to conduct preliminary investigation. So medyo options are limited. But certainly, I’m sure that DOJ will be true to its mandate and will proceed with case build up by investigating this.


Source: PCOO-NIB (News and Information Bureau) #NIB