Press Briefing

Press Briefing by Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque with Iloilo Governor Arthur Defensor

Event Press Briefing
Location Iloilo

MODERATOR:  Good afternoon ladies and gentlemen of the Iloilo Press, and with Secretary Harry Roque and Governor Arthur Defensor, welcome to the Press Conference with Secretary Roque and Governor Defensor of Iloilo.


We would like at this time to have an opening statement from Governor Defensor. Please…


GOV. DEFENSOR:  We are greatly pleased to have with us the Secretary of Information, the Press Secretary. He’s here because he attended and he wanted to see Dinagyang personally. Because he has been told a lot of stories about how wonderful and how great this Dinagyang exercise is. But we take advantage of this opportunity, so we can hear from us directly his thoughts in so far as this administration is concerned and his thoughts and the President’s position on burning issues of the day. Thank you very much.


MODERATOR:  Thank you, Governor. Now may we have greetings and the opening statement of our special guest this afternoon – Secretary Harry L. Roque, the Presidential Spokesperson!


SEC. ROQUE:  Maayong hapon sa inyong tanan. Viva Iloilo! Viva Señor Sto. Niño! And congratulations to the province and the City of Iloilo for the 50th year of Dinagyang!


As is our tradition, we of course invite the host of our Malacañang Presscon when we go out of town and in this case, it is Governor Defensor. Governor, thank you very much for your hospitality in hosting our very first Palace Press Briefing in the Province of Iloilo.


Let me begin by delivering some good news.


Our Build, Build, Build Program is continuously being felt here in Western Visayas. The Department of Public Works and Highways has completed 727 infrastructure projects, amounting to 5.715 billion in Western Visayas Region in 2017. This includes national roads, bridges, flood control structures and other roads leading to tourism destinations. Completed projects are part of the financial year 2017 regular infra program with 1,084 program projects amounting to 23.310 billion pesos.


Meanwhile, the fund allocated by the Department of Agriculture, a total of 40 projects of farm-to-market roads amounting a 189 million will also completed by the DPWH Region VI.


Good news again!


Investor in market confidence under the leadership of President Rodrigo Roa Duterte continues to grow as evidenced by the Philippine Stock Exchange breaching the 9,000 mark – a first in our history. Closing at a new all-time high of 9,041.2 in yesterday’s trading. Our economy is indeed in a roll, we expect to reach our growth target for the year with the implementation of the first package of the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN), which would provide funding to our Build, Build, Build infrastructure program which in turn would spur development and generate livelihood opportunities for our people. Together, let us seize the momentum and build a nation founded on sustained, inclusive and robust growth.


Another good news!


We are pleased to report that debt watcher Moody’s Investors Service considers the Philippines as a standout among the ASEAN economies in 2018. Moody’s cited increase in trade and domestic demand, stable credit conditions and improved execution of government’s spending.


Higher optimism on the country’s economic growth due to the government’s Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion Act which would likewise support this year’s strong growth for cash. This is expected to boost government’s spending on infrastructure, paving the way for the big rollout of major infrastructure projects under our Build, Build, Build program which would eventually spur economic activities and create more job opportunities for our people.


More good news!


We take note of the World Economic Forum’s Inclusive Growth and Development Report 2018, where the Philippines ranked 38 among 74 emerging economies, marking the trend of the Philippine economy as a slowly advancing an improvement from its 2017 trend of only being stable. The report noted that the Philippines as an emerging economy, shows potential on intergeneration equity and sustainability, which means sustainable stewardship of natural and financial resources.


Moreover, it was indicated in the report that the Philippines has seen a growth of 2.4% in the past 5 years, giving it an overall inclusive development index score of 3.83. We assure everyone that we will continue to promote sustainable and inclusive growth by expanding economic opportunities and improving our people’s income generating capacity.


Update on Mayon:


The government continues to monitor the situation areas affected by Mt. Mayon as Alert Level No. 4 remains and people have been advised not to enter the 8-kilometer radius danger zone.


As of today, January 28, 22,885 families or 89,109 persons in 59 barangays are taking temporary shelters in 74 evacuation centers; while 2,822 families or 11,946 persons are staying outside evacuation centers.


We likewise continue to provide assistance. As of January 27, a total of 40,116,833 pesos worth of assistance was provided by the DSWD, DOH, OCD, LGUs and NGOs to the affected families in the Province of Albay. A Rapid Health Assessment Team composed of 326 doctors, nurses and midwives have been deployed since January 13 in the following evacuation centers: in Bacacay, Camalig, Guinobatan, Daraga, Tobacco City, Sto. Domingo, Malilipot, Legazpi City and Ligao City, Albay.


So, questions… I will first take questions from the local media and then I will read 2 questions from the Malacañang Press Corps. My cellphone please! If the cellular site has been restored, I can read also questions from the Malacañang Press Corps, because the Malacañang Press Corps is watching as we speak. It’s been restored, so please my phone… I’m sure the Malacañang Press Corps would have questions as well. Yes…


Correction: the all-time high in PSE was not yesterday. Yesterday was a Saturday, my mistake… because we just came back from India. The record high PSE index was as of Friday. Okay, Friday. Yes, please…


BING FABIONA/RADYO PILIPINAS:  Secretary, you’ve mentioned the Build, Build, Build program of the administration and you’ve mentioned the bridges; and one of the big projects in Western Visayas is the Panay-Guimaras and Negros. So, is there any update on that project?


SEC. ROQUE:  What I have heard over and over again, that the Iloilo-Guimaras Bridge is a ‘go’. The last time I heard it was from Secretary Villar himself. So I think that’s one of the projects, big item projects that the administration will be implementing even as we speak.


BING FABIONA/RADYO PILIPINAS:  So, is there any timeline sir or…?


SEC. ROQUE:  No timeline, but I know that it’s a ‘go’. I think the budget has been made for it, and preliminary work has been made. I think work will soon be commenced for the Iloilo-Guimaras Bridge connection.


Hi Nestor, long time-no see…


NESTOR BURGOS/PHILIPPINE DAILY INQUIRER:  Yes, sir… Welcome to Iloilo, sir. Sir you were earlier quoted that, you said that two mayors who were previously accused by President Duterte as involved in illegal drugs were cleared before they took oath as new members of the PDP-Laban. But during that day, House Speaker Alvarez said he has to check – that was during the oath taking day, and he said he would just take the word of the two mayors that they were not involved.


So, what is the process really for those executives who were mentioned by the President as involved in illegal drugs, because nobody seems to know? When we asked law enforcement agencies, they said they have not cleared. And who clears who? And what makes an official who was accused publicly by the President himself as involved in illegal drugs cleared? Is that when they joined the ruling party?


SEC. ROQUE: No, I don’t think it’s when they joined. What I could say at this point is that the PDP-Laban before they accept members, have their own way of ensuring the integrity of people that they accept. I also know that the information on these drug personalities was provided by several government agencies. So that is my answer for now.


GOV. DEFENSOR: After I have accepted the Speaker’s invitation to join PDP-Laban, I visited him at his office and I asked him, I said, “Speaker there are three municipal mayors of Iloilo who are in the list of confirmed drug—[anti]-illegal drug protectors.” And I told him, “Is it possible for them to take their oath?” He said, “I have the latest list of the President of drug protectors and let me check if the names of the three mayors are still there.”


And the next day I received a call from his office, from his Chief of Staff and he said, “All of them are cleared because their names no longer appear in the latest list of the President.” So when he was confronted in Iloilo and he said, he will check, he must have forgotten the fact that they has already—it has already been checked and that all of this three mayors are no longer in the latest list of the President. So the Secretary is right when he said that they are cleared and no longer in the names of the list of the protectors.


NESTOR/DAILY INQUIRER: As a follow up to Secretary, So is there a procedure for that Secretary which—because it’s not only in Iloilo that some Chief Executives were publically accused? Is there a process for that they are cleared because of course their family would be also at a security risk for example and because we only know that they are cleared when they join the parties! Is there a process for that even if they didn’t join the PDP-Laban?


SEC. ROQUE: Well again, I’d like to reiterate what the good governor said. They were not cleared because they join the party. They were allowed to join the party because they were cleared first. They would not have been allowed to join if they were not clear.


Now, I do have requests from a number of local politicians, for their names to be cleared. Now what I do know is all I can do is submit their names with the request that they have been cleared and in one instance I submitted the name to Chief General Bato of the PNP and I also sent a letter to the PDEA Chief.


Now, I do not know what has transpired as far as that specific local politician is concern. But as you can see, the clearing process involves dealing with the different law enforcement agencies’ set of a mandate to participate in the campaign against drugs.




SEC. ROQUE: Question from Prince Golez: “More than a year after President Duterte named former Iloilo City Mayor Jed Patrick Mabilog as a narcopolitician, are there charges filed against him over his alleged involvement in the drug trade?” I’m not aware of any criminal charge against former Mayor Mabilog, although I suppose they will have to be one if authorities would want him extradited back to the Philippines.


PAUL BRIAN AMAR/BOMBO RADYO ILOILO: Maayong hapon sir. I’m Paul Brian Amar from Bombo Radyo Iloilo. We would like to clarify about the statement of President Duterte in India that he is offering 42 virgins to the visitors that will—na pupunta dito sa ating bansa. Puwede pong pakipaliwanag po ito sir? Kasi mayroon pong mga grupo na sinasabi na insulto ito sa mga Filipina?


SEC. ROQUE: That was clearly said in jest. There’s no need to clarify what was really a joke made by the President. If you don’t mind!


DEFENSOR: Biro lang iyon.


PAUL/BOMBO RADYO ILOILO: So it was just a joke sir?


SEC. ROQUE: It must have been said in joke, I’m sure it was said in jest. So it’s not just might, I am sure it was a joke. Come on.


PAUL/BOMBO RADYO ILOILO: Kailan po sir iyong magko-convene itong constitutional commission ni President Duterte at ano po iyong ano niya mandate?


SEC. ROQUE: Well nabuo na po, natalaga na ni Presidente ang mayorya. Labing siyam po iyan, so nasa kanila na po iyon kung kailan nila gustong magpulong. Ang ginawa pong puno o hepe nitong natalagang constitutional commission ay si dating Chief Justice Reynato Puno! Siguro po ang tanungin natin si Chief Justice Puno kung kailan niya iko-convene itong grupong ito.


LEMUEL CELEBRIA/DAILY GURDIAN: Good afternoon, I’m Limuel Celebria. I write a column for Daily Guardian.


SEC. ROQUE: Yes sir.


LIMUEL/DAILY GURDIAN: Very recently you raise the hackles of the scientific community over your statement saying that the Philippines has no capacity to explore the Benham Rise and in fact there are statements coming up from certain scientists that indeed, in fact there have been explorations or missions that were done in that part of the ocean. So have you changed your mind or can you review what do you said about that?


SEC. ROQUE: Salamat po sa pagkakataon, fake news po iyan. Pinost ko na po sa Facebook iyong mismong press conference namin sa Malacañang, wala po akong ganoong sinabi. May dalawa po kasing tanong kung bakit binigyan ng lisensiya ang Tsina para mag-conduct ng scientific study, iyon po ang sinagot ko. Bakit binigyan ng lisensiya ang Tsina, kasi ang mga dayuhan kinakailangan ng lisensiya dahil ang Benham Rise po kaparte ng extended continental shelf at taning mga Pilipino lang ang may karapatan na mangalap ng tanging yaman at mag-conduct ng mga scientific researches.


Ang sinabi ko pa nga po, kapag Pilipino hindi kinakailangan ng lisensiya. So iyong sinabi ko: ang mga Pilipino po hindi kinakailangan ng lisensiya dahil mayroon nga tayong sovereign right na mangalap ng tanging yaman at mag-conduct ng scientific studies.” So malinaw po iyong sinabi ko at pinost ko po iyon sa Facebook, nasa Facebook page ko po iyan at saka nasa PCOO webpage na malinaw na malinaw po, wala po akong ganoong sinabi, finake news po ako.


Alam mo masama ang loob ko kasi mga prestigious daw sila. Pero alam mo in journalism ang unang-unang tenet is dedication to the truth, so pinost ko na po iyong video para kayo na po ang maghusga. Pero siyempre po talagang pinagtulong-tulungan nila ako pero ako naman hindi naman ako strangers sa ganiyan. Ang dami ng nagbato sa akin pati kitchen table pero ako po dahil ako naman ay naninindigan sa katotohanan palagi, mayroon mang pruweba talaga kung anong sinabi ko, iyong tape po will attest, wala akong ganoong sinabi. Nagpipiyesta lang sila kasi maraming mga nagpapapansin lalo na iyong mga academic na mga mediocre.


JP HERVAS/RADYO PILIPINAS: Good afternoon, Secretary, I’m JP Hervas of Radyo Pilipinas. Secretary one of the most significant programs under the Office of the President implemented last year was the ‘Lingap sa Masa’ program which was implemented by the Department of Social Welfare and Development. And luckily Western Visayas is one of the regions that serve as the pioneer of this program. May we know Secretary if ano po iyong update dito? Ito po ba ay magpapatuloy hanggang 2018?


SEC. ROQUE: Itse-check ko po sa budget kung mayroon pa ring budget iyang ‘Lingap sa Masa’ pero ‘di ba kasama iyan doon sa conditional cash transfer? Iba pa ba? Naku itse-check ko kasi alam ninyo pinahiram sa amin iyong kopya ng annual budget law, binawi ulit tapos pati iyong sa Kongreso hindi pa kami nabibigyan ng kopya. So hindi ko pa talaga na hihimay-himay iyong budget law. So I will look into it and in the next press briefing in the Malacañang I’ll let you know ha, ‘Lingap’ director Ting can you please take note, ‘Lingap sa Masa.’ Okay.


Ito from Llanesca Panti of Manila Times: “Why was Atong Tang tasked to clean up PCSO? Does this mean that current PCSO officials do not enjoy the trust and confidence of the President in terms of cleansing the PCSO?”


Linawin ko lang po – iyong pag-uusap po nila Presidente at Atong Ang, ‘yan po ay noong time na nangangampanya pa siya at kaharap niya iyong kaniyang mga kasamang tumakbo sa Senado. So ito po’y bago pa talaga siya maging presidente na sinabi niya, “Tulungan mo naman ako Atong, para linisin iyong PCSO.” So dahil noong mga panahon po sinabi ito ni Presidente, hindi ko na po dapat sagutin ito kung iyong question, “if the PCSO officials do not enjoy the trust and confidence” – bago po siya nagtalaga ng tao niya sa PCSO noong humingi siya ng tulong kay Atong Ang. Pero I supposed hanggang ngayon po, as any citizen can do… they can give their inputs to the President on how to make PCSO more responsive to the needs of our people.


LEMUEL CELEBRIA/DAILY GUADIAN:  They want to know about how you’re reacting to the ‘Mocha memes’ about the geographical boo-boo of Mayon being in Naga?


SEC. ROQUE:  Siguro po tama na iyong humingi na ng patawad si Mocha. Ang alam ko, she apologized for it already, siguro po kung tayo’y hindi nagkakamali… congratulations po!


LIMUEL CELEBRIA/DAILY GUADIAN:  Anyway, as a follow up… you had a very tasty—well I don’t know… what’s the word… relationship between the social media supporters of the President particularly… who would I say, TJ, Thinking Pinoy. How are you doing right now with these people?


SEC. ROQUE:  Well ako naman po, hindi ako nakikipag-away kahit kanino, whether be it traditional media or social media. Ang aking paninindigan: importante ang karapatan ng malayang pananalita at malayang pamamahayag. Ang sa akin lang, doon lang po tayo sa totoo.


Pero sa totoo lang po, itong issue ng Benham Rise nagulat ako – how prestigious publications can really publish fake news. Kasi malinaw na malinaw po ang sinabi ko doon sa tape, pero iba pong—noong nakita ko iyong mga istorya, talaga nga naman palang wala namang pagkakaiba minsan doon sa mga sinusulat ng established media at doon sa mga sinusulat ng social media.


So sa akin po, well, talaga naman pong matagal ko nang adbokasiya na protektahan itong malayang pananalita, malayang pamamahayag. Mayroong mang fake news… sabi nila sa isang kaso – kung walang fake news, hindi natin malalaman kung ano iyong true news. Hindi natin malalaman kung anong kasinungalingan, hindi rin natin malalaman kung anong katotohanan. So, let there be a free marketplace of ideas.


ARNEL/RGMA SUPER RADYO:  Good afternoon, Arnel Omboa ho sir from RGMA Super Radyo. Sir, kakayanin ba ng ating government if ite-takeover iyong operation ng STL, kasi on the issue of PCSO?


SEC. ROQUE:  Well unang-una po, hindi ko po talaga alam kung anong magiging desisyon ng PCSO sa STL. Pero si Speaker Alvarez po nagsalita, na kinakailangan, PCSO ang—Kongreso ang magbibigay ng prangkisa, kasi hindi daw pupuwedeng mag-grant ng franchise ang PCSO na binigyan lamang ng franchise ng estado. Pero hayaan na po natin Kongreso magdesisyon diyan.


Kami naman po dito sa Palasyo, well, ang binabantayan natin ay dapat talaga mapalaki iyong kita ng PCSO dahil nakasalalay po doon iyong charity fund ng PCSO. Mas malaki ang kita ng PCSO, mas malaki ang charity fund.


ARNEL/RGMA SUPER RADYO:  Iyong tiwala ba ng Presidente sir, malaki kay Atong Ang to solve the issue on the PCSO?


SEC. ROQUE:  Uulitin ko po, talagang hiningan niya ng tulong si Atong Ang – hindi naman niya tinalaga sa PCSO si Atong Ang. So ang tinalaga niya si General Balutan, at ngayon iyong bagong Chairman po – Chairman Pinili. So, siguro po maganda ay makipag-ugnayan si Atong Ang ng kung ano iyong kaniyang nalalaman at iyong kaniyang—matagal na kasi niyang hanapbuhay ito, makinabang din ang PCSO sa mga dati nang kakayahan ni Atong Ang pagdating sa larangang ito.


ARNEL/RGMA SUPER RADYO:  Last question, sir. Kamusta naman so far, sir iyong remittance ng Small Town Lottery sa buong Pilipinas?


SEC. ROQUE:  Sabi sa report nila, all-time high daw. Pero siyempre kung iyong all-time high ay mas mapapalaki pa, lalong lalaki iyong charity fund natin.


Now noong ako po’y nasa Kongreso, ako po iyong nagpasa sa Mababang Kapulungan ng Universal Health Care. Importante po ‘yang kita ng PCSO, kasi ang plano natin para mabigyan ng libreng gamot at libreng pagamot ang lahat nating mga kababayan, iipunin natin iyong ating buwis at iyong kita ng PCSO at ng PAGCOR para po pambayad sa Universal Health Care, kasama na rin iyong proceeds ng sin taxes law.


So, para habang napapalaki ang kita ng PCSO, mas lalaki ang pondo para sa Universal Health Care.


NESTOR BURGOS/PHILIPPINE DAILY INQUIRER:  Another question I’d like to follow up on, what you said about Mayor Mabilog. In case there’s a criminal case filed against—


SEC. ROQUE:  Alam ni Nestor may balita dito… (laughs)


NESTOR BURGOS/PHILIPPINE DAILY INQUIRER:  Will the government file—seek for his extradition if that’s covered by our extradition treaties in those countries?


SEC. ROQUE:  You know Nestor one of the traditional exceptions to Freedom of Information is an ongoing criminal investigation. At this point I would like to assure you, that former Mayor Mabilog’s flight from the country is not the end of his legal problems. It probably is only the beginning.




SEC. ROQUE:  There’s an ongoing investigation – I can’t comment.


NESTOR BURGOS/PHILIPPINE DAILY INQUIRER:  But seeking for his extradition is an option that the government—?


SEC. ROQUE:  Let’s just say, there’s an ongoing investigation. If they decide to file a case, extradition of course is the option – because he’s out of the country.


NESTOR BURGOS/PHILIPPINE DAILY INQUIRER:  Sige, sir. Sir, another question na lang. The President said yesterday that he blamed public bidding on government projects for delays and even corruption. And he said, he wants that government projects should instead be through Swiss Challenges and not through the public bidding under the Procurement Law. What does that mean sir? Is he pushing for amendments to the Procurement Law or is he really asking DPWH to implement projects through Swiss Challenges?


SEC. ROQUE:  Let’s just say the President has had it, with continuous corruption in government contracts. Please remember that the President for almost 3 decades was a mayor, was 3-term congressman… alam naman niya iyong hocus-pocus na nangyayari diyan sa mga government bidding na ‘yan. Sa totoo lang kaya may ‘tongpats’, kasi wala namang honest-to-goodness bidding na nangyayari. Kasi kung talagang may lowest bidder diyan, walang kita.


Hindi naman niya matanggal lahat talaga iyong korapsyon diyan dahil—overnight! So he’s now exploring alternatives and one alternative nga is unsolicited bids for projects which is subject to Swiss Challenge. Iyan po iyong mekanismo na pinili natin para sa rebuilding ng Marawi. Mayroon po tayong imbitasyon para mag-submit ng mga unsolicited bids, tapos mamimili ang ahensiya, ang HUDCC… ‘pag nakapili na sila, isa-subject to Swiss Challenge.


Kasi ang sabi ng Presidente unang-una, parang turnkey project na iyon – gawin mo muna, babayaran ko. So wala nang ‘tongpats’ ‘pag ganoon! So iyon lang po ang naiisip ni Presidente, hindi katanggap-tanggap iyong current system na kaya mayroon tayong lowest bidder ay para nga makatipid ang gobyerno. Pero sa totoo, iyong mga biddings naman ay nagkukuntsabahan – iyong mga bidders nagkukuntsabahan kaya nagkakaroon ng ‘tongpats’.


NESTOR BURGOS/PHILIPPINE DAILY INQUIRER:  But sir, that is under the law…


SEC. ROQUE:  Well, we have a law that enables us to have unsolicited proposals subject to Swiss Challenge. And of course, the Government Procurement Act still provides for competitive biddings. So let’s just say the President now is exploring an alternative that is also lawful, and if it proves to be better than the current system, he will move at the right time for the law to be amended, the Government Procurement Law to be amended.


NESTOR BURGOS/PHILIPPINE DAILY INQUIRER:  So until the law is amended sir—


SEC. ROQUE:  Well, there still—


NESTOR BURGOS/PHILIPPINE DAILY INQUIRER:  —will the Swiss Challenge become the general norm or—


SEC. ROQUE:  Yeah. Well right now, it’s really intended for big time infra projects – that’s the intention of the law, that’s why there’s a special law providing for Swiss Challenges. It’s to enable PPP projects, iyong Public Private Partnerships where big item infra projects are built using private money subject to turnover to government. So, iyon iyong ini-explore ngayon ni Presidente – at least a big ticket items, let’s avail of the Swiss Challenge mode.


MODERATOR: Okay at this point, do we have a question? And we also have Governor Defensor with us. So he’s open to answer questions. Should you have those that are of local concerns? Go ahead please, Ma’am.


CINDY FERRER/PHILIPPINE NEWS AGENCY: Sir, good afternoon. Cindy Ferrer of Philippine News Agency. Sir, the Ilongos are expecting President Duterte to grace the Dinagyang Festival. But due to conflict of schedule to India, he wasn’t able to grace the event. Pero sir we’ve heard na bumalik na siya kahapon at nasa Davao na siya ngayon. Bakit po hindi pa rin siya nag—


SEC. ROQUE: Kasama po ako doon alas-singko na kami ng umaga dumating. Kaya lang po ako nandito, siguro mas bata ako sa kaniya pero sa totoo lang ho puyat na puyat pa rin ako at paalis po ako na alas tres para matulog. Napaka-tight po ng schedule and I can confirm that Dinagyang was in his schedule albeit to be confirmed, TBC. Pero talagang alas-singko po kami dumating at larga na dito kaagad ako. But it’s tough even for someone much younger like me.


So apologies po, he would have wanted but talagang—I guess that the time na—ang tagal kasi sa calendar niya iyong Dinagyang, kaya lang ang nangyari naman itong India Summit naman was really something that came out when we hosted ASEAN.


So talagang—ayaw nga sanang puntahan kaya lang nakiusap na iyong Ambassador ng India na iyong last Summit daw ay hindi na nakarating iyong Presidente ng Pilipinas, tanging Presidente lang ng Pilipinas ang hindi nakarating noong huling summit kaya kung pupuwede po doong pumunta siya. So nagpunta naman po siya.


CINDY/PHILIPPINE NEWS AGENCY: Other question. Sir you have mention kanina na mayroong mga request from those tagged by the President na narco-politicians to clear their names. And then mayroon pa po dito sa Iloilo si Mayor Alex Centena of Calinog. Isa po ba siya doon sa mga nag-request sir?


SEC. ROQUE: Ipagpaumanhin ha, nasagot ko na po iyan, iyan iyong first question. Na-clear kasi si Mayor ng Calinog—




SEC. ROQUE: Yes, iyan po iyong first question kanina.




Q: Magandang hapon po ulit, Secretary. Ano na po iyong status ng Iloilo City sir sa illegal drugs under the new mayor?


DEFENSOR: You ask the PNP about that.


SEC. ROQUE: Well you know I have no information. But I guess as far as the President is concerned, in the first place he was not the one who removed the mayor. I think he’s been removed twice by the Ombudsman. I think he’s one of the few officials, local, public officials who have been removed not once, but twice. And I do not know if there will be a third one pa ano. But as far as the President is concerned, it’s a big help that the person who is in the drug list is no longer mayor.


Q: Anyway sir last question po. Ano po iyong masasabi ng Malacañang sir sa plano ng volunteer against crime and corruption na kaso po kay former President Aquino at saka kay former Secretary Garin?


SEC. ROQUE: Ang Presidente po ay naghihintay ng resulta ng imbestigasyon. Matapos po ang imbestigasyon na ginagawa ngayon ng DOH at saka ng DOJ ay sigurado naman po, hindi na po NGO magsasampa ng kaso kung hindi gobyerno na. Pero ang pakiusap lang ng Presidente at ng Palasyo, hayaan muna nating tapusin ng DOJ at ang DOH ang imbestigasyon nila dahil nakasalalay sa kanilang imbestigasyon siyempre iyong kalusugan ng mga batang naturukan at saka siyempre iyong peace of mind ng kanilang mga magulang.


Sa mula’t mula po ang sabi ng Presidente, ‘Ayaw kong manduro, I don’t want to engage in finger pointing and I want the parents of those na naturukan not worry too much.” But he said, “Let’s do the investigation and depending on the outcome of the investigation. He will implement the law. So aside from DOH, DOJ, the Senate is currently conducting it’s investigation. Tapusin lang po natin iyan.


LALAINE MORENO/UNTV: Hello sir I’m Lalaine from UNTV. I don’t know if this question was—natanong na po. May plano ba kayo na pumunta ng Albay at magbigay po ng monetary assistance?


SEC. ROQUE: Unang-una nakarating na po ako doon, nag-press briefing na ako sa Albay two weeks ago at ang naging reklamo nila sa akin noong nagpunta ako doon, na-delay daw iyong release ng IRA on the same day that I reported to Malacañang na naghahanap sila ng IRA, it was released. And I was in Mayon, I think on a Friday I relate it on a Friday and they were able to withdraw their IRA on Monday.


Having said that, we have also released 40 million in addition to the IRA! Importante ang IRA kasi 5% can be used for calamity. But in addition to that we have released 40 million and I can definitely say that, ‘Yes the President plans to go to Legazpi sometime this coming week. I cannot say for sure because everything is unpredictable right now.


Number one, it’s very difficult to go to Legazpi now, we don’t know where he will be passing from/going to Legazpi either by helicopter or by land. But you cannot land in in Legazpi right now. And number two when he landed in Davao, he did say, he may rest for a day or two kasi parang nagkasipon si Presidente, malamig kasi sa India.


LALAINE MORENO/UNTV: Sir maliban po doon na sinabi ni President about your trip from the India, may idadagdag po ba kayo na updates doon?




LALAINE MORENO/UNTV: Sa trip ninyo to the India.


SEC. ROQUE: Well iyong investment na 1.250 billion dollars iyong 10,000 jobs that will be created, iyong kaniyang position that ASEAN should cease to be a purely economic body but should also act as—act on threats of modern day terrorism, threats from ISIS and threats from pirates in the Indo-Pacific group.


LALAINE MORENO/UNTV: Iyon lang po, salamat po.


SEC. ROQUE: Well, teka mayroon lang question from Manila. From Trisha: Will PRRD issue an EO, re: Swiss Challenge?


SEC. ROQUE: Well Trisha right now mayroon namang prevailing law on it, so, ito iyong BOT law which has been amended. So that’s the basis for the conduct of Swiss Challenges so far. So no need to issue an EO! So right now we can do it for big ticket items. Let me see if there are questions pa. Well mukhang wala na akong questions from Malacañang. Yeah, wala na akong questions unless you have questions. No more?


NESTOR BURGOS/INQUIRER: Sir, do you consider Iloilo now as another administration bailiwick with the joining of… of course the governor and many mayors to the party?


SEC. ROQUE: Let me put it this way. The President has unprecedented trust ratings in the past 28 years. He has ceased to be the President of the 16 million Filipinos who voted for him as President. He is now President of an overwhelming number of Filipinos including Ilongos. Yes, the President now considers Iloilo and the rest of the Ilongos speaking areas as his bailiwick, as in fact all surveys will indicate, he is now the overwhelming leader of the entire Philippines.




MODERATOR: Okay, thank you. Can we have the rejoinder from Secretary Roque, please kung wala ng question?


SEC. ROQUE: Well I’d like to thank you for your attendance here. And I guess the last question from Nestor was the proper question to be asked. Tapos na po ang eleksiyon and I think nakita ninyo naman kung paano magsilbi ang Presidente at sang-ayon sa mga survey pati po mga Ilongo naman, appreciates the political will and the kind of administration that he has been implementing in the past year and a half. So maraming salamat po sa inyo and again I’d like to greet the whole of Iloilo, Viva Señor Sto. Niño!


MODERATOR: Thank you sir and thank you for joining us in this press con with Secretary Roque and Governor Defensor.