Sept 13, 2016 -Press Conference of Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella and Department of Agrarian Reform Secretary Rafael Mariano
|Press Conference of Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella and Department of Agrarian Reform Secretary Rafael Mariano|
|Press Briefing Room, New Executive Bldg, Malacañang,|
|13 September 2016|
|PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: Good morning. We have a special guest this morning. Siya po si Agrarian Secretary Rafael ‘Ka Paeng’ Mariano.
Prior to his entry to… in the Executive government, Ka Paeng, served as Anakpawis representative in the House of Representatives, where he pressed for the passage of the genuine Agrarian Reform Bill. He was the chairman of the Bagong Alyansang Makabayan and chairman for the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas.
Following his appointment in President Duterte’s Cabinet, Secretary Mariano said his goal is to protect the welfare of farmers. To ensure protection of farmers, Sec. Mariano said he will vie for a new Agrarian Reform law to ensure farmers won’t be forced out of their lands.
Kagabi po, there had been a lot of questions, whether we had a Cabinet meeting yesterday. But, actually it was not a Cabinet meeting. It was a Presidential Agrarian Reform Council meeting. It was also… It included the Cabinet.
Now, ladies and gentlemen. We’d like to, we’d like to invite you to welcome one of the survivors of the 1987 Mendiola massacre, Department Secretary Rafael ‘Ka Paeng’ Mariano.
SEC. MARIANO: Maraming, maraming salamat Secretary Ernie Abella at magandang umaga po sa inyong lahat, sa ating mga kaibigan sa media.
Ulitin ko po ang lubos na pasasalamat kay President Rodrigo Roa Duterte sa pagkahirang sa akin bilang bagong kalihim ng Department of Agrarian Reform.
Sa unang araw po ng aking panunungkulan, noong 1 Hulyo, taong 2016, makaraan po ang matagumpay na turnover ceremony na aming pinangunahan ng dating DAR Secretary Gil Delos Reyes. ‘Nong pong hapon ay akin pong pinag-utos na buksan ang dalawang main gates ng Department of Agrarian Reform na kung hindi po ako nagkakamali, eh mga 18 taon nang nakasara at naka-kadena.
At doon din po sa araw na ‘yun, akin pong muling idineklara na ang patakaran po ng Departamento, sa ilalim po ng pagiging Kalihim ni Ka Paeng Mariano ay ‘yung continuing open dialogue and consultation sa lahat po ng stakeholders natin sa agrarian reform, lalong lalo na po sa ating mga magsasaka.
At amin pong binalangkas ang limang puntong thrust and policy directions ng DAR. Una po ay ang protect farmers and their… ensure their security of tenure. Pangalawa po ay promote farmers’ rights and welfare. Pangatlo po ay ang contribute to rural development. Pang-apat po ay ensure, help ensure food security at pang-lima po ay, strengthening DAR community.
At may mga agaran po akong ipinag-utos na direktiba sa mga pinuno po ng departamento. Una po diyan ay ‘yung mabilisang pagsasagawa ng validation at imbentaryo sa lahat po ng lupa na naipamahagi na sa mga agrarian reform beneficiaries.
Sa ngayon po ang datos po ng DAR, kung ang pag-uusapan po ay ang accomplishment report nito sa pamamahagi ng lupa, from 1972 to June, katapusan po ng June 2016 ay meron pong mahigit sa 4.7 million hectares of lands na naipamahagi na sa mahigit 2.7 milyong agrarian reform beneficiaries po natin ng Agrarian Reform program.
Mahalaga pong maisagawa ang field validation at imbentaryo para po lubos nating matiyak na ‘yun pong mga lupa na naipamahagi sa ating mga benepisyaryo ay nasa possession pa ‘nong ating mga magsasaka, o ‘yun pong magsasaka nating benepisyaryo ay nandon pa sa lupa, na nai-award o distributed sa kanila. Lalo na po ‘yung mga unang taon ng pagpapatupad ng Presidential Decree No. 27 o ang Marcos land reform at ‘yung mga unang taon po ng pagpapatupad ng Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Law of 1988, ‘yun pong CARP Law as amended by Republic Act 9700.
Isa pa po ay aking pinag-utos din ang madalian pag-imbentaryo at pag-repaso ng mga conversion orders po na inisyu ng DAR.
Kasi po, ang karaniwan pong kondisyon sa bawat order na iniisyu ng DAR sa mga applications, for land use conversion, ay kinakailangan pong ang applicant ipatupad niya within five years ‘yun pong… at makumpleto po ‘yung implementation ng development plan ‘no.
So nalolooban ng limang taon, para po mapag-alaman natin kung may mga conversion orders na na-issue ang DAR sa mga nakaraan na ang edad ay mahigit ng limang taon pero wala namang development o hindi naman po lubusan naipatupad ‘yung development plan.
‘Yun po kasi ay kung lampas limang taon, ay hindi po na-develop, into sabihin natin for industrial, residential, o commercial uses. Eh ‘yun po ay pupuwede pong maging basehan ng pag-revoke o pag-recall ng conversion orders na inisyu ng DAR.
Ganon din po ‘yung aking ipinagutos na gawin ang mabilisang pagrepaso po sa mga agricultural leasehold contracts. Meron pong datos na, meron tayong 1.2 million agricultural lessees, mga magsasakang namumuwisan sa kanilang lupang sinasaka.
Ang datos po natin ay may 1.7 million hectares under the agricultural leasehold system. Kasi po ang DAR ang may exclusive authority to determine and fix lease rentals.
Para po malaman natin kung may mga magsasaka na tayo na namumuwisan na gusto na nilang magkaroon na renegotiation ‘no, sa kanilang kontrata, gusto nilang, kung gusto nilang mapababa ‘yung kanilang buwis sa lupa o kung may mga magsasaka ba na ginamit ng mga land owners ‘yung hindi nila pagbabayad ng lease rentals bilang ground ng kanilang, ng ejectment o kaya ng termination ng lease contract.
Ganon din po, atin pong pinag-utos ang pagrepaso ‘nong mga existing kontrata kung saan umiiral ‘yung mga stock distribution option plan o agreement. Marami pa po niyan ay sa isla ng Negros.
Ganon din po ‘yung mga kontrata na sumasaklaw naman doon sa mga agribusiness venture arrangements. Sa ngayon po ang datos po natin sa DAR, meron pong 433 contracts, kontrata ng mga agribusiness venture arrangements at sumasaklaw sa mahigit 57,000 hektarya ‘no sa ating bansa.
Gusto po natin ma-repaso ito para matiyak natin na ‘yung mga agrarian reform beneficiaries, mga farm worker beneficiaries, sa mga lupang saklaw ng nasabing mga kontrata ay kinikilala ‘yung kanilang karapatan, lalong lalo na doon sa kanila pong karapatan sa lupa, kasi po malinaw naman po ang tinatadhana ng Section 4 ng Article 13 ng ating 1987 Constitution that “The State shall, by law, undertake an agrarian reform program founded on the right of farmers and regular farmworkers who are landless, to own directly or collectively the lands they till.”
At sa kaso po ng Hacienda Luisita, ilang beses pong binanggit ng Korte Suprema that the policy on agrarian reform is that control over the agricultural lands must always be in the hands of the farmers para po matiyak natin na ‘yung ating mga magsasaka at manggagawang bukid na benepisyaryo ay masasabi nating may tuwirang control sa lupang naipamahagi sa kanila.
So mga ilan po ‘yan sa atin pong ipinagutos na gawin ‘nong ating mga opisyales at personnel ng Department of Agrarian Reform.
Meron na rin po akong mga dinesisyunang kaso. Halimbawa po ‘yung dating pending protest ng Tarlac Development Corporation doon sa may 358 hectares na sinasabing pag-aari ng Tarlac Development Corporation.
Dinatnan ko po ‘yung pending protest na ‘yun. Doon po sa inisyung notice of coverage ng DAR by publication ‘nong December 2013 covering po ‘yung nabanggit na 358 hectares. So kailangan na pong desisyunan ‘yun, so sa desisyon ko pong nilabas ay lalong napatunayan na ‘yun pong 358 hectares ay agriculture land kahit pa prior doon sa June 15, 1988 – the effectivity date ng Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Law of 1988 or the CARP Law.
At kahit po ‘nong mag-file po sila ng protest ng January 2014 at kahit pa before ‘yung sinasabi nilang June 2014 ay agricultural ‘yung lupa at nakakuha lang po sila ng sinasabing dokumento na nagpapatotoong na-reclassify ng nasabing lupain ay June of 2014.
So talaga pong masasabi nating agricultural ‘yung lupa kahit pa ‘nong panahon mag-issue ng notice of coverage by publication ang Department of Agrarian Reform. So dineny ko po ‘yung protest ng Tarlac Development Corporation.
Ang isa pa pong akin dinesyunan ay ‘yung petition for exclusion, exemption sa may 159 hectares naman. Ang petitioner po dito ay ang provincial government of Negros Occidental through Governor Alfredo Marañon.
Doon po sa desisyon na ‘yun, sinabi ko na — ‘yun po kasing desisyon ay doon sa petition for exclusion na ‘yun, exemption, nadesisyunan na po ‘yun dating Secretary Gil Delos Reyes. Naghain lang po ng motion for the reconsideration ang provincial government of Negros Occidental through Governor Marañon.
At ‘yun po ‘yung dinesisyonan ko, in-affirm ko po ‘yung desisyon ni dating Secretary Gil Delos Reyes na ang esensya naman po doon ay wala pong basehan ‘yung petition for exclusion and exemption ng nasabing lupain at nananatiling agricultural ‘yung lupa at kailangan pong mapamahagi ito sa mga agrarian reform beneficiaries, sa potential agrarian reform beneficiaries.
So, kung tanong ay may remedy pa po ba ang provincial government, may remedy pa naman po. Nasa sa kanila po. ‘Yun pong parties doon sa kaso na ‘yun, pwede pong maghain po ng apela sa Office of the President na po.
And then, akin pong inisyu na rin po ‘yung order na kung saan magsisilbi pong guidelines governing po ‘yung distribution ng may 10,000 hectares of land. Matagal na po itong na-turn over na po ng mga lupa ito ng Land Bank of the Philippines sa Department of Agrarian Reform, as per Republic Act 3844 po ‘yung Agricultural Land Reform Code.
At ‘yun po, makaraan pong ma-publish ‘yun, ‘yun po ay pwede na pong maging gabay o guidelines sa atin pong mga DAR officials and personnel para po masimulan ‘yung distribution ng nasabing 10,000 hectares of land.
Ganon din po, may ongoing consultation po na isinasagawa ang DAR with the DILG, with the HLURB and with the Department of Agriculture. Kasi po ang gusto po nating malaman dito ay ‘yung ano na ang inabot po ‘nong implementation ng Section 20 ng Local Government Code.
Sa ilalim po ng nasabing seksyon ng LGC of 1991, ‘yun pong mga city o municipal council has the authority to reclassify agricultural lands to other classification.
Eh gusto po natin malaman, ilang hektarya ‘yung nasaklaw ‘nong mga reclassification ordinances halimbawa, at ano na estado niyan baka naman hindi naman developed into non-agricultural uses at nananatiling idled o tiwangwang. Baka pwedeng ibalik sa klasipikasyong agricultural at i-devote po natin sa food production. ‘Di po ba?
Eh ang programa po naman ng Duterte administration ngayon eh, makamit natin ang food self-sufficiency ‘no, ano po.
And then panghuli po marahil, ay ito po ay matuturing nating napakahalagang pagpupulong po ‘yung naganap po kagabi na pinangunahan po ng ating Presidente, President Rodrigo Roa Duterte bilang chairperson ng Presidential Agrarian Reform Council ay na-convene po at na-meeting po kahapon ito, kahapon po ng hapon.
Alam po ninyo ang huling meeting po ng PARC ay noon pong May 3, 2006. Hindi po [nabis?] pinulong ni former President Noynoy Aquino itong PARC, lalo na po nang mag-desisyon na ang Korte Suprema sa kaso ng Hacienda Luisita. Opo.
So, kaya po halos 10 taon po, hindi po na-meeting, hindi na-convene. At kami po’y lubos na nagpapasalamat sa ating Pangulo dahil sa nalo-looban ng kanyang 100 araw, ng administrasyon, ay napulong po kahapon ang Presidential Agrarian Reform Council na matagal ng naka-‘park’ itong President Agrarian Reform Council.
Ang PARC po kasi ang the highest policy-making and coordinating body ‘no, pag ang pag-uusapan natin ay implementation Agrarian Reform program and laws, partikular po ‘yung Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Law of 1988 sa ilalim ng RA 6657 as amended by Republic Act 9700.
At kahapon po ay nabanggit ko na, pinangunahan po ng Pangulo ang meeting, pulong ng Presidential Agrarian Reform Council at ako po naman bilang DAR Secretary ang tumatayong vice chairperson at nagkaroon po ng pagpapakilala lang at paglalahad ng legal bases ng PARC, at ano po ang istruktura nito at ‘yun nga po akin pong prinisenta sa harap ng mga miyembro ng PARC, lalong-lalo na po sa harap mismo ni President Rodrigo Roa Duterte ‘yung limang puntong thrust and policy directions ng Department of Agrarian Reform na nabanggit ko na po kanina.
Meron din po namang mga mahahalagang naging kapasyahan po ang PARC po kahapon. Malinaw po doon that the President fully supports the Agrarian Reform Program and wants that in during his administration land will be distributed directly to the qualified farmer beneficiaries, ano po.
And the President wants DAR to take the lead in addressing issues in agrarian reform and wants PARC to be more responsive to the issues by imposing timelines.
Kaya nga po, agaran po ay isasagawa po ng DAR ‘yung mabilisan po nating pagtugon bilang compliance po sa mga naging desisyon po ng PARC sa meeting nito kahapon at mismo po sa mga direktiba mismo ng Presidente.
At nabanggit din po kahapon po muli ng Presidente ‘yung polisiya sa libreng serbisyo sa irigasyon, pagbabalik po ng pondo ng coco levy sa ating mga magsasaka o magniyo-niyog.
And the President, kahapon po, instructed Land Bank to provide more assistance to ARBs, agrarian reform beneficiaries. At sabi nga po niya, dapat daw po ang Land Bank ay nagpa-function as the bank for the ARBs and less of a commercial bank.
At ganon din po, isa sa mahalagang naging resolusyon po ng PARC ay bilang policy directive po para sa DAR, bilang main implementing agency po natin ng pagpapatupad ng Agrarian Reform program ay maipamahagi po ‘yung balanse pa, ‘yung land acquisition and distribution balance po na umaabot po sa mahigit po ‘yan 621,000 hectares pa po ‘yung land balance.
At kung idadagdag pa po natin ‘yung mga lupang hindi pa po naisyuhan ng notice of coverage, covered ng mga petition for or request for coverage pero hindi pa po naiisyuhan ng notice of coverage – eh aabot po nang halos ano pa… 800,000 hectares, pag dinagdag po natin ‘yung mahigit pang mga 148… 184 hectares of land.
Madadagdagan pa po ‘yan kung ‘yun pong mga agricultural lands ng mga government-owned and -controlled corporations, state colleges and universities, government financial institutions, at iba pang inaatasan pong i-turn over ‘yung mga agricultural lands na na sa kanilang possession o pag-aari, as per Executive Order 407, as amended by EO 448.
At kahapon din po ay in-adopt o sinang-ayunan po ng PARC ‘yung pag-iimpose muna po ng dalawang taong moratorium on conversion of agricultural lands. At meron po kaming inihanda na, sinimulan pong i-draft na Executive Order, na ito po ay siyempre po ay magdadaan pa po sa pag-aaral, pag-repaso, at pagpapatibay po mismo ni President Rodrigo Roa Duterte, ng ating Presidente.
At, ganon din po ay ito po ‘yung mahahalaga pong dinensyunan pa kahapon ng PARC: ‘Yun pong… PARC revoked the 1992 PARC resolution at ito po ‘yung nullification din ng stock distribution option of Wuthrich Hermanos. Ito po ay mga 174 hectares na mahigit at ito ay sa Calatrava, Negros Occidental.
Ganon din po, ni-revoke din po ‘yung, ng PARC meeting, ng PARC po kahapon ‘yung 1993 PARC resolution at ni-nullified po niya ‘yung SDO ng SVJ farms, isa pong sugar plantation, ito po’y sa Negros Occidental din, sa Talisay City, na sumasaklaw naman sa 170.65 hectares.
Ganon din po kahapon, ni-revoke din po ng PARC sa kanyang meeting kahapon ‘yung 2002 PARC resolution at ni-nullify din po ‘yung Agribusiness Venture Agreement, lease AVA between agrarian reform beneficiaries and Marsman Estate Plantation o MEPI, kung kaya’t mga… ‘yun pong almost 800 hectares of banana plantation is available for the 762 ARBs under the Agrarian Reform Program where the ARBs shall get their CLOA and possess their awarded lands.
So ‘yun po ‘yung mga mahalagang naging kapasyahan po ng pulong po kahapon ng Presidential Agrarian Reform Council na pinangunahan po bilang chairperson po ng ating Presidente, President Rodrigo Roa Duterte.
So for now ‘yun lamang po ang akin pong maibabahagi’t maiuulat po sa ating, sa mamamayang Pilipino, sa pamamagitan po ng panayam na ito kay Secretary Rafael ‘Ka Paeng’ Mariano ng Department of Agrarian Reform. Maraming maraming salamat po at mapagpalayang araw po sa ating lahat.
DEXTER GANIBE (DZMM): Sir, good morning. Clarification lang doon sa pag-iimpose ng two year, two-year moratorium sa conversion ng agricultural land. Kailan po ito ineexpect na magsimula? Ibig bang sabihin ng conversion ng agricultural land, ito ‘yung mga agricultural land na hindi pwedeng gawin subdivision, hindi gawing commercial lands. Tama po ba ako sa–?
SEC. MARIANO: Ito pong… magde-depende po kung kalian po malalagdaan ni President itong Executive Order na ito na amin pong hiniling kahapon at iprinisinta po sa Presidential Agrarian Reform Council.
Mr. Ganibe: So ibig sabihin–?
SEC. MARIANO: Ito po ‘yung declaring a moratorium on the processing and approval of all applications for land use conversion of agricultural lands to non-agricultural uses.
At ‘yun nga pong saklaw na period ay hinihiling po nitong aming panukala na dalawang taon. Ang applicability po nito… the moratorium shall cover and apply only to the following ‘no: all awarded lands under Republic Act No. 6657 as amended; and then lupang… Presidential Decree o PD No. 27; and other Agrarian Reform laws ‘no.
Gayon din po, kasama dito ‘yung mga agricultural lands with notices of coverage issued by the DAR. ‘Yung na-isyuhan po ng mga notice of coverage.
And then 4.3, irrigated and irrigable lands; 4.4, prime agricultural lands. Kasi po there’s an existing, meron tayong, merong umiiral pong state policy to preserve prime agricultural lands to ensure food security ano po.
Then 4.5, ‘yung mga retention areas of the landowners which are tenanted. Kasi po, dahil sa atin pong mga programa sa reporma agraryo, Agrarian Reform laws, meron pong right na magpanatili ‘yung mga may-ari ng lupa na five hectares po eh.
‘Yun pong magsasaka doon ay ang katayuan po nila, ang tenancy relation nila ay sila ay namumuwisan ‘no. And then ‘yung 4.6, ‘yung agricultural lands with presence of agricultural activities or being cultivated by the farmers individually or collectively.
Mr. Ganibe: Last na lang sir. Ilang hektarya po itong pinaguusapan natin and areas na covered niya?
SEC. MARIANO: Eh kasi po ‘yung… ito pong—Ibig pong sabihin, itong mga… karaniwan po niyan, ‘yung irrigated rice lands, prime agricultural lands, retention area.
Ito po, itong retention area nasa ilalim na po ng leasehold ‘yan ‘no, kasama na roon sa 1.2 million. Ang agaran po natin pino-protektahan dito ‘yung 4.7 million na agricultural lands na distributed o awarded to more than 2.7 million agrarian reform beneficiaries.
So kaya din po, mapagalaman natin ‘yung mga alam po ninyo, bawal po ‘yung tinatawag na illegal and premature conversion, basta po walang naisyuhan, naiisyung conversion order ‘yung DAR, na siya pong may exclusive authority na mag-issue nito, mag-approve o disapprove ng mga applications for land use conversions, lalo pa po ay lampas ng June 15, 1988, ay ‘yun po ay may kaso po ng illegal and premature conversion, ‘yung sino mang magsasagawa ng ano mang earth-moving operation ng walang kaukulang order, na conversion order mula sa Department of Agrarian Reform. ‘no.
Para malaman din po natin ‘yung mga violations. At meron pong, may kaukulan po ‘yun na criminal liability. So dito po sa panukalang… sa ano na ito, Executive Order, sa draft Executive Order, magke-create po ng task force na kaagad ay maga-asses ng po ng status ng land use conversion sa ating bansa at ang DAR po ay… may call upon the support of other implementing agencies po.
And then, yun po. Kung ito po ay mapagtitibay at malalgdaan na ng Pangulo, ang agarang po namang mamandahan dito sa draft Executive Order, ang DAR na maglalabas po siya, magpo-promulgate po siya ng rules and regulations para po sa implementasyon ng nasabing kautusan, sa panahon po ito’y mapagtibay at malagdaan po ng ating Presidente, the President Rodrigo Roa Duterte po. Marami pong salamat.
Maraming maraming salamat po muli at magandang araw po at mapagpalayang araw sa ating lahat.
Reymund Tinaza (Bombo Radyo): Magandang hapon po, Secretary. Sir, brief lang. ‘Yung mga… may balak ba kayong ipa-review o hihintayin pa yung Executive Order, yung mga naglalakihang, mga bagong mga subdibisyon ngayon sa mga agrikulturang sakahan na ngayon ay ginagawa ng mga bilyonaryong mga may-ari ng lupa ngayon?
SEC. MARIANO: ‘Yun nga po, bahagi po ng ating pinag-utos na pag-imbentaryo ay ‘yung pag-repaso po ano, doon po sa mga orders, decisions din na inisyu po ng DAR.
Katunayan po, akin pong pinag-utos ‘yung creation ng Policy Review and Formulation Committee.
Ang ginagawa po nito ngayon ay inaaral po, nirerepaso, nagsasagawa ng pag-aaral doon sa mga existing Administrative Orders or other issuances na inisyu po ng DAR.
Halimbawa po nito yung pinaka-huling Administrative Order may patungkol po sa mga kontrata ng agribusiness venture arrangements. Kasi po dun sa AO na ‘yun, ang nagiging papel lang po ng DAR doon ay base pa, optional pa doon sa mga partido sa kontrata kung iimbitahan o ire-request nila na maging observer ang DAR sa negotiation. At ‘yun pong, ang DAR, ang papel lang ay to issue notice to proceed sa negotiation.
Alam po ninyo, sa agricultural leasehold system natin, ang DAR nga eh may authority to determine and fix these rentals. Dito po gusto po natin na mas malaki ‘yung puder ng DAR para nga po matiyak ‘yung karapatan ‘nong ating mga agrarian reform beneficiaries na pumapasok po sa mga katulad na kontrata o agribusiness venture and assessment. Opo.
Maraming salamat po. Magandang umaga po sa inyong muli.
PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: We’ll just cover two points for today. The first one has to do about the supposed ‘green light’ that the President gave to President Widodo. Let me just cite six points:
Even before the visit to Indonesia, the execution of Mary Jane Veloso has already been indefinitely deferred.
Next, Indonesia previously agreed to allow Ms. Veloso to testify to the deposition at the criminal prosecution of her illegal recruiters in the Philippines.
Three: Therefore, there was no need to make a plea for clemency as there was no scheduled execution.
Four: What PRRD and President Widodo talked about, that number one, he respects the judicial processes of Indonesia; that he will accept whatever final decisions they will have on Veloso. This is assuming already that Veloso would have testified.
And these statements were interpreted as a ‘go signal’ or ‘green light’ by the foreign press. Even when the Indonesian Supreme Court decides to act on the execution, let me repeat: Even when the Indonesian Supreme Court decides to act on the execution, that will be the time to present the compelling evidence of Veloso’s innocence as a justification for a plea of clemency.
Six: In other words, as in all things, worthwhile matters are achieved by going through the process.
Regarding the questions about whether American troops are being asked to leave Mindanao, this was in context with what President Duterte shared yesterday.
Basically, what he was sharing was a backgrounder on his new chartered course of an independent foreign policy, that he was simply presenting the context of why there was conflict in Mindanao with the Muslims, simply because the Muslims have this long historical and cultural wound which has been left unaddressed and unatoned for and unrepented for but they have held in their collective memory.
In which they see the Americans as perpetrators of a wrong that has not been redressed and the Philippines being–having ties with the Americans are therefore also suspect in their intentions regarding peace in Mindanao. And this is the context of that statement: that the real reason why there is conflict in Mindanao is because the Muslims do not trust lowland Filipinos and lowland Christians because of their implicit connection with the Americans who have not decided, in any way at all, as far as their perception is, to redress, to address or atone for the past wrongs.
End of statements. Thank you.
PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: Hindi ko alam but that was the process supposedly, that she would testify through deposition
Mr. Ganibe: Through deposition?
PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: Through deposition, yes.
Mr. Tinaza: Sir, doon lang tayo sa konteksto. Sir, that conversation happened in a bilat–
PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: Which conversation?
Mr. Tinaza: Sa… between the President and Jokowi. That happened on a bilateral meeting?
PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: This was after the ASEAN meetings in Indonesia.
Mr. Tinaza: So only President Jokowi heard what the President said to him on the respect to the judicial process in Indonesia?
PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: Yes.
Mr. Tinaza: And the source of the Jakarta Post is with Jokowi?
PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: And your question?
Mr. Tinaza: So who would have misinterpreted the President’s–?
PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: I’m not saying that this is their misinterpretation but this is how they translated into English what President Widodo answered in Bahasa.
Mr. Tinaza: But sir, have we checked officially to President Jokowi if, what he really meant to that… Baka naman si President Jokowi ang–
PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: I already gave you the context, okay? I think it’s very clear that they were talking about, not about the execution but about the judicial process.
In other words, what President Duterte was saying, he was saying he would accede, he would accept whatever final decisions they would– in regard to the judicial process that they would take. It was… He was not giving a green light on execution.
Mr. Tinaza: Sir, klaro tayo doon, ‘yung sa posisyon ng Pangulo, pero ang nakarinig lang kasi sa pahayag na ‘yun ay si–
PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: Wala na po tayo roon.
Mr. Tinaza: Kaya nga. So hindi pa kaya posible na si Jokowi ang namali ‘yung pagkasabi naman niya sa press?
PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: That is conjecture, that’s not my field. Thank you.
Joseph Morong (GMA 7): So sir, is it clear now that President Joko Widodo misinterpreted the President?
PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: I’m not saying that at all. I’m just– We’re not saying that… There’s no implication at all regarding that matter except that we’re just giving you the context as far as we can say it. As far as this has been related.
Mr. Morong: Okay. It seems now sir that ang statement ni Presidente is that we will allow Indonesia to proceed with their process?
PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: No. We’re simply saying: The context is that there is already a process that has to be set in motion as in Dexter’s term that there will be a trial and all that. Assuming that, then President Duterte said, yes, we will follow through with your decisions. Assuming everything. Assuming that the trial proceeds and Veloso testifies, she is found innocent, in which case, the Supreme Court would make the decisions, which would still be to execute. And then, because that is their decision is. And then, they would make a plea for clemency. Malinaw yun? ‘Yun po yun.
In other words, ano po siya, and there is a very clear process. There is a very clear process. And ang mahalaga lang, na mapatuloy din ‘yung, what do you call it , the judicial process.
Mr. Morong: Kaya nga sir. So ibig sabihin at this point, let Indonesia do its job? Correct? In terms of the judicial process?
PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: No, in which case, ituloy na natin yung kay ano, ‘yung kay–
Mr. Morong: The role ni MJ dito sa local case ‘yan sir ‘di ba, kasi she’s been sentenced–
PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: Yes, yes. In Indonesia, she’s already sentenced but if it can be clearly seen that she’s innocent, then that will be the ground for a plea for clemency.
Mr. Morong: Okay so assuming sir that ‘yung illegal recruiters niya have been declared guilty here, now we can move to ask for clemency, correct?
PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: Yes.
Mr. Morong: That’s the procedure.
PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: Yes, yes.
Mr. Morong: Do we know now sir if… kasi yesterday parang wala pa. Do we know now if the President, maybe in a little way, asked for or brought up the issue of clemency in his talks with–?
PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: In past references, he made a, you know, he made a what would be called a ‘moderate plea.’ Because you cannot impose, you can only… but that’s actually, there was no need to make a plea for clemency because already, the execution has been deferred indefinitely so wala tayong hinihingi.
Mr. Morong: Yeah, but during the tete-a-tete, did he imply that kind of subject with the–?
PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: I’m not privy to that conversation.
Mr. Morong: Sir, schedule? Sabi ni Presidente he wants to meet with the Velosos?
PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: It probably has within his own–
Mr. Morong: Wala pa?
PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: Hindi ko po alam.
Benjie Liwanag (DZBB): Sir, good morning. Sir, so walang timeline ano? Kasi judicial process eh. So walang binibigay na timeline although napag-usapan na nila ‘to, talagang the Philippines o si Pangulong Duterte will abide kung ano man ‘yung sa kanila. Basta yung tayo, iginigiit lang din natin yung judicial process so wala po silang napag-usapan na hanggang dito or something?
PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: Hindi ko po alam ‘yun.
Mr. Liwanag: Wala tayo nun? We’re not–?
PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: Hindi po natin alam ‘yan. Ang alam lang po natin, they agreed on a, what would be just and fair for both, for all.
Leila Salaverria (Philippine Daily Inquirer): Sir, since– ay good morning. Sir, those who interpreted the conversation between the President and Widodo as a green light, whoever these are, are we going to send new message to Indonesia just to make sure they won’t schedule the execution?
PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: No, I think they’re very, very clear about the situation. They’re very clear about the situation.
Q: [off mic]
PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: The parties who conversed, you know.
Ms. Salaverria: You’re saying it’s clear there won’t be an execution scheduled anytime soon since the judicial process is ongoing in the Philippines?
PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: Yes, so… Okay, we are assuming that of course. Now, this is a conversation between neighbors and brothers.
Ina Andolong (CNN Philippines): Good morning, sir. Sir doon sa sinabi po ni President Duterte about the US troops, that they should go, those in Mindanao they should go. When does the President want them to leave and are we expecting a formal directive on this to be put on black and white to formalize that directive?
PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: Okay, basically he amplified on that, he added a gloss. He said basically, that goes– he was also referring to the fact that in Mindanao, especially in the areas, in Muslim areas, in Moro areas, their lives are in danger. They would be kidnapped, they would be shot at, whatever it is. In other words, that was part of the reason why he said, go. You know it was for–
Q: [off mic]
PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: Given that context, yes, given that context. Given that context.
Ms. Andolong: So when and how will this directive–?
PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: No, it wasn’t a directive so much as in I’ll give you a timeline. It was simply an injunction, like a warning, you know.
Ms. Andolong: Sir, but what was the basis of the President in saying that ‘mas lalong iinit pag nakita yung Amerikano. ‘Yan papatayin sila.” Because US soldiers, have been there for a while and do we have reports of US soldiers actually being killed or kidnapped by terrorist groups there?
PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: I don’t have report on that but– I do not have a report on US soldiers being killed.
Ms. Andolong: Okay, lastly sir. The US presence in Mindanao is part of their global fight against terrorism. If we tell them to leave, how would that affect our own campaign against terrorism, especially considering that the President has said that the ISIS threat may become more serious in the future?
PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: Alright. We’re not– These were not directives to leave, okay? But this was a context on why we have a conflict. Alright? And in other words, he’s giving a broad historical landscape– historical, cultural landscape which is giving us a perspective why there is such a conflict.
It’s not just a question of terrorism, it’s not just a question of– in other words, he’s uncovering. He’s uncovering something that has not been addressed. It has not been addressed at all and I suppose some clues should be taken from that, it needs to be addressed.
Ms. Andolong: You mean the President is seeking an apology or acknowledgment of what happened before, ‘yung sinasabi po niyang pagpatay ng mga Moro noon?
PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: I don’t know if he’s seeking that now. I don’t know if he’s seeking that now, you know. But certainly, he has also made mention that it’s just—I mean, it is a – in other words, it is a lingering skeleton which in a sense, removes the moral ascendancy of those who are criticizing the Philippines regarding human rights killings, supposed to be human rights infractions. So, in a sense, what he’s saying is he’s really—this skeleton in the closet erodes at the moral ascendancy of anybody who has not sufficiently addressed their own faults.
Ms. Andolong: Very last from me. Just to clarify, sir. Is the President asking the US troops to leave Mindanao or not? Or is he just, as you mentioned, telling them that they might not be safe there, that’s why they should consider maybe leaving. What is… Ano po ba talaga?
PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: Okay. The conversation of the President is very layered, it can be interpreted at a number of layers. Okay?
Ms. Andolong: Exactly sir, that’s why we’re sort of clarifying what he really meant.
PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: Okay. In other words, if you’re asking if does he have a timeline, does he have a — There’s no such thing as that right now, okay? There’s no such thing as, ‘okay by August 15 or September 15, you’re supposed to leave right now.’ But in other words, he’s laying a -what do you call it? – he’s laying a notice that, really while you’re here, it’s… there will be conflict, it’s not safe for you.
Ms. Andolong: Thank you sir.
PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: Sure.
Ms. Salaverria: Sir, what does the President’s statement mean for the EDCA and Balikatan? Under the EDCA, an airbase in Cagayan de Oro is one of the areas where US troops have access so what will, how will that affect–?
PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: At this stage, those statements are not policy set in stone, okay? Not policy yet. But these are backgrounders for possible future action. Okay. There’s a difference. Isn’t it?
Ms. Salaverria: In the meantime, the arrangements under EDCA and Balikatan exercises will continue?
PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: Things are– until such time has, it is properly acted on. But in other words, there’s notice is being served.
Ms. Salaverria: Notice is being served for them to prepare leaving?
PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: Notice is being served that it’s uncomfortable for them to be there.
Ms. Salaverria: Okay. Sir, how will this affect the assistance, the aid that the US has been giving us? Are we also forgoing this if we’re warning them that they might not be safe there?
PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: You know, I think this is where the President is beginning to elaborate more and more on the fact that he’s setting a– the foreign policy that we have is an independent one and not dependent on, not dependent on one superior state or two, okay? From which we depend on. In other words, these actions, these references that he’s making are intended to communicate to one and all that we need to be ready to chart our own course and find our own alliances.
Mr. Morong: Hi sir, still on the statement of the President. So klaro not policy?
PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: Which one?
Mr. Morong: The statement yesterday that forces have to go. That’s not a policy–?
PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: It’s not a policy yet. It’s not policy. In other words, nobody acted on it yet but it is a, it is a… it serves as notice. That really, the reason why there’s trouble here is because of that presence, okay?
Mr. Morong: So we will not have a scenario that the US forces, at least in Mindanao, will have to leave? Just to be sure sir.
PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: Not as if it was already a decision yet but definitely, the President has already painted a picture and let’s see how it unfolds.
Mr. Morong: Sir, so are we turning back… are we turning our backs on–?
PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: We’re not turning our back on anybody, we’re just simply charting an independent course.
Mr. Morong: Is that independent from the Americans or independent from–?
PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: Less dependent on, perhaps.
Mr. Tinaza: Sir, but the President is our top diplomat and whatever he says, is automatically becomes the policy. So sir, now, on that context, sir–?
PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: It is not automatically policy but it is the basis of policy.
Mr. Tinaza: Okay, sir you’ve mentioned yesterday on your statement, there is no mention of the safety, security of the American troops but it is on the basis of the unrecognized, unrepented and unatoned for massacre in Bud Dajo? So meaning, the President was very clear, very firm and very strong in what he wants that US troops should be out of Mindanao, otherwise the threat will continue. So now you are saying another thing, the American security?
PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: I’m not saying another thing, it was simply a gloss that the President added, okay? It was a gloss he added. We’re not changing anything.
Mr. Tinaza: Sir, last. The Cabinet, considering this is a major, possible major move or possible major foreign policy decision. Was the Cabinet, the Defense and other stakeholders ever consulted to this before he made the statement?
PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: Secretary of Defense is aware of the matter.