Sept. 15 2016- Press Briefing of Presidential Communications Secretary Martin Andanar Presdiential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella and Presidential Legislative Liasion Office Secretary Adelino Sitoy
|Press Briefing of Presidential Communications Secretary Martin Andanar Presdiential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella and Presidential Legislative Liasion Office Secretary Adelino Sitoy|
|Press Briefing Room, New Executive Bldg, Malacañang|
|15 September 2016|
SEC. ANDANAR: Good morning members of MPC at sa lahat ng nanunuod sa’tin sa PTV 4, at nakikinig po sa’tin sa Radyo ng Bayan.
As you all know, yesterday was the sixth Cabinet meeting at the Palace at marami hong napag-usapan doon sa Palasyo, tulad po ng mga priority bills ng ating Pangulo sa Kongreso.
At tayo po ay mapalad at kasama natin ngayon ‘yun bagong Secretary ng Presidential Legislative Liaison Office.
Pero bago po ang lahat, nais ko lamang magsalita tungkol sa communication policy ng ating opisina, ng Presidential Communications Office. Bagama’t marami po tayong natanggap na batikos at mga constructive criticism mula sa ating mga kolumnista, mga senador, at nais ko lang po ipabatid sa lahat na tinatanggap po natin ang mga kritisismo bilang constructive criticisms, and we also welcome the wisdom of Senator Panfilo Lacson for bringing up the issue on the problem of having too many spokespersons.
So I brought up the issue to the President yesterday in the meeting and I told the President that: Mr. President, we have been heavily criticized for the past week and this person has been the flavor of the week.
Sabi ko: Mr. President, as far as I know, we only have one presidential spokesperson and the presidential spokesperson is none other than Ernesto Abella and this Secretary only comes in once Secretary… when every time Secretary Abella is not around, that is the only that this Secretary comes in to explain and to talk on behalf of the President.
And so I appealed to the Cabinet secretaries to follow the standard operating procedure which was agreed upon right from day one, July 1 of 2016 – that it is only indeed Secretary Abella who can speak on behalf of the President.
Now for clarificatory questions regarding pronouncements of our President Duterte, I asked the President to order that all questions that are asked about clarificatory pronouncements should be directed first to the Presidential Communications Office and it is only then that the Presidential Communications Office shall decide who among the secretaries or members of the Cabinet can comprehensively explain a presidential pronouncement that needs clarification.
So therefore, pumayag po ang Pangulo na ganon po dapat ang sistema natin and it was also reiterated for the record, members of the press, that the Executive Secretary Bingbong Medialdea and the Special Assistant to the President Bong Go, as we have been in discussion, we’ve been talking about this for the past three weeks at ‘yun din po ‘yung utos nila.
Pero, it was last night that I brought up the issue and for now, for the information of everyone, if you have any questions, clarificatory questions of what the President said yesterday or last night, please go to us, the Presidential Communications Office and we will be the ones to direct you to a Cabinet member who can comprehensively explain kung ano po ang sinabi ng ating Pangulo, kung malabo po para sa ating lahat.
This is to avoid a confusion. So ‘yun po. So now let’s proceed to the proper–
QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS:
Ina Andolong (CNN Philippines): Hi sir. Sir doon sa sinasabi mo that for clarificatory queries, we go to you first and not the Presidential Spokesperson. Ganon ba ‘yun?
SEC. ANDANAR: No. The PCO.
Ms. Andolong: PCO–
SEC. ANDANAR: Yeah. PCO because–
Ms. Andolong: Which covers–
SEC. ANDANAR: Yeah, because the Office of the Presidential Spokesperson is under the Presidential Communications Office. Yeah.
Ms. Andolong: Okay. Ibig ko sabihin it’s—hindi po that we need to give a heads up on possible clarificatory questions that we may be asking in regular press conferences attended by Mr. Abella?
SEC. ANDANAR: I would suggest that… because what usually happens is that the President says something and then you clarify things.
So, we all know that we have a Viber group here for the heads up. So what you can do – to also, to avoid and not to duplicate the questions is just ask the Viber group, ask me personally and then Sec. Ernie Abella and myself. We are a team and then we will huddle together and we will compose, we will craft the message or the clarification that you need ‘no.
And if in the meeting, we need more intelligence and more wisdom, then we go to the Cabinet Secretary who is the expert on that particular field that we want to clarify.
But please do not be confused that– The Presidential Communications Office is also the office of spokesperson Abella.
Ms. Andolong: Ang ibig kong sabihin sir, are you expecting us to give you a heads up on clarificatory questions that we may raise in regular press conferences by Mr. Abella?
SEC. ANDANAR: That usually happens anyway. If you have, ‘di ba, usually kung meron kayong gustong linawin. It happens ‘no. But, we can institutionalize it now, na kung meron pong tanong para hindi rin po magulo, para hindi po magka-doble-doble ‘yung mga tanong natin lahat, because usually I get 20, 30 messages, the same – I don’t mind you messaging me, but also kung sino po ‘yung ating head ng ating MPC ‘no, ng mga bagong opisyal, ay meron po tayong heads up na Viber group wherein we can coordinate better.
Ms. Rocky Ignacio (PTV 4): Yes, I think sir, pati pag ‘yung sa speech ni Presidente, minsan kailangan namin ng… ma-clarify ‘yung some statement of the President during his speech sa isang event.
SEC. ANDANAR: Oo, oo. So para mas mabilis po ‘yung ating–
Ms. Ignacio: Most of the time sir, ganon ‘yung hinihingi ng MPC.
SEC. ANDANAR: Sige po. Okay.
Benjie Liwanag (DZBB): Good morning Secretary. Number 1, we’re only talking about clarificatory. Kasi may mga programs din kami, meron din kaming ano, that we can talk also with the secretaries directly. Pero hindi namin pag-uusapan definitely, or minsan papasok din naman kung kailangan, sabi niyo nga. Pero kailangan pa ba namin… do we need to talk to you first before getting some, getting a secretary for an interview, like in a radio station or something?
SEC. ANDANAR: Well, it’s a good question Benjie ‘no. Ayoko naman orderin kayo na ganon gawin because we are a democracy, we have freedom of speech ‘no. ‘Yung sa akin lang po is when I talk to the Cabinet officials, ang sabi ko lang na to direct the question to us first ‘no. So that we will not fall into a very confusing situation ‘no.
Kung meron po kayong… may mga programa po ang ilan dito sa radio program, may sari-sarili kayong programa. Now, you call the Secretary, pag sinabi niyang “okay,” ‘di okay. Walang problema.
‘Yung pakiusap ko lang po doon sa Gabinete ay, at inaprubahan naman ng Presidente, na kung merong mga clarificatory questions ‘yung media, halimbawa may sinabi ang Pangulo the day before at meron tanong ang media na “ano po ba talaga ang ibig sabihin ‘non?” ay i-direct, i-refer po kami, i-refer po sa PCO. Para ‘yung PCO na ho ang magde-desisyon kung papano. Para hindi ho naiba ‘yung sinabi ni Secretary ‘x,’ iba ‘yung sinabi ni Secretary ‘y.’
So lahat ay within the ambit of the Presidential Communications Office, because we are also trying to do a very good job here ‘no. We’re trying to manage the situation.
So if I don’t put my foot down, then, it’s a damned if you do, damned if you don’t thing. ‘Yun lang po.
Mr. Liwanag: Thank you very much, Secretary.
Ms. Ignacio: Para nabibigyan lahat pati ‘yung MPC members sir.
SEC. ANDANAR: Yeah. Of course, alam naman natin that Malacañang Press Corps is the priority, you being here in Malacañang.
Dexter Ganibe (DZMM): Secretary, good morning.
SEC. ANDANAR: Good morning Dex.
Mr. Ganibe: Hindi po ba meron na tayong team o kung meron nga ba tayong team sa PCO na siyang nagmo-monitor na sa bawat live speech ng Pangulo, para bago pa man mag-datingan ‘yung mga tanong ay meron na kayong idea kung ano ‘yung binanggit ng Pangulo o kung wala mang dumarating na tanong ay mabigyan kaagad ito ng paglilinaw mula sa communications group, kung anong ibig niyang sabihin doon sa kanyang kababanggit pa lang.
Kasi kung hihintayin natin ‘yung proseso na may magtatanong pa, napag-usapan na siya ng marami sa iba’t ibang media at nagbigay na ng iba’t ibang interpretasyon bago pa makapag-bigay ng paliwanag ang Palasyo.
SEC. ANDANAR: It’s a good question. You have a point there Dex ‘no. Ngayon, we do have a team and we do clarify amongst ourselves kung ano talagang ibig sabihin ng sinabi ng Presidente. But then again, we do not want to speculate if the media got it or did not get it.
You have your own ways of writing your stories and you are all objective and you want a, an accurate report ‘no. So alam ko naman na kahit na alam niyo na kung anong sabihin, minsan kung alam niyo ng klarong-klaro na, but you still vet on that information, kung tama ba ‘yung pagkakaintindi ninyo.
So, hahayaan ko po kayo na… because it is your right, we have press freedom. Hindi ko panghihimasukan ang inyong pag-iisip. But I am just telling you that kung meron po kayong mga tanong, if you want to clarify some issues or some statements, that the first, the go-to department is the PCO. Wala ng iba.
Mr. Liwanag: Sir, klaruhin ko lang. Right now, merong Senate hearing. Okay. May tume-testigo ngayon ‘Lambada Boys’ member na kasama raw sa death squad, na inutusan daw ni Pangulong Duterte na pumatay ng mga kriminal at mag-massacre ng mga Muslim. Ang bigat kasi ‘nong paratang eh, versus Pangulong Duterte. ‘Nong may pinasabog daw na cathedral sa Davao, inuutos daw po ni then Mayor Duterte at that time, ano po ang reaksyon ninyo rito Secretary?
SEC. ANDANAR: ‘Yan ba ay sinabi na?
Mr. Liwanag: Ngayon po.
SEC. ANDANAR: ‘Yan ba ay kasulukuyang nangyayari—
Mr. Liwanag: On going po ‘yung–
SEC. ANDANAR: …investigation ni Senator de Lima, ‘yun ho ba?
Mr. Liwanag: Yes, Secretary.
SEC. ANDANAR: Antayin ho natin muna ‘yung kabuuan, ‘yung buod ng sasabihin ng testigo po ng Senadora bago po tayo magre-react. At pagdating po diyan, I will consult the DOJ Secretary Aguirre, diyan po.
Hindi po tayo sasagot ng basta-basta. Sasagot po tayo ng isang komprehensibong sagot para… tapusin natin ‘yung hearing para at least isang sagot lang.
Mr. Liwanag: Maraming salamat po muli.
Leila Salaverria (Philippine Daily Inquirer): Good morning. Sir speaking of contradictory statements, Secretary Lorenzana said there was no basis for the President’s pronouncement that US soldiers in Mindanao are under threat. So how’s the Palace taking this? And will the President reassess his position that US soldiers have to go since his own Defense Secretary is saying there’s no threat to them?
SEC. ANDANAR: Hindi ko nabasa ‘yang statement ni Secretary Del. Pero naulanigan ko na in one of our conversations that the Secretary of National Defense is referring to the camp. If you stay within the camp, then you are safe. ‘Di ba? ‘Yun nasa loob ka ng kampo eh. But if you go outside the camp, we cannot assure your safety, kasi nasa labas ka ng kampo eh. I think that’s the meaning of that statement.
Ms. Salaverria: But he also said sir there was… they’re also combatants, not just ordinary citizens, so–
SEC. ANDANAR: Who’s the combatant?
Ms. Salaverria: The US soldiers.
SEC. ANDANAR: Oh yes, kahit naman… kung sa, hindi naman bulletproof ang isang tao eh, kahit combatant ka pag tinamaan ka ng bala, hindi naman bulletproof ang ulo natin eh. Siyempre, kung matatamaan ka ng bala, magiging responsibilidad pa ‘yan ng ating gobyerno kasi siyempre nasa ano sila Philippine territory.
Ang ibig sabihin lang po ng ating Pangulo dahil nga naalala ho ng ating mga kapatid na Muslim ‘yung mga nangyari during the turn of the century, siyempre kukulo po ‘yung dugo ng iilan sa mga kapatid natin, at ‘yung mga terorista hindi naman ho natin alam kung sino-sino sila, wala naman silang mga mukha.
So, ang sinasabi lang po ng Pangulo ay ‘yung kaakibat na panganib at sa kanilang seguridad. They should consider that.
Ms. Salaverria: Sir last na lang. You do not see as a contradiction or a repudiation of what the President said by the Defense Secretary?
SEC. ANDANAR: Oh no, not really. No, no. Hindi naman contradiction ‘yun kasi ang pagkarinig ko doon sa usapan namin ‘no. Narinig ko na it’s really… if you’re inside the camp then you are safe. Parang tayong lahat, pumunta tayo ng Jolo, eh meron bang lumalabas sa kampo dito pumuntang Jolo? Walang lumalabas eh, because pag lumabas ka, siguradong malaki ang tyansa na pwede kang kidnapin ng Abu Sayyaf, dahil lalo na media, ‘di ba? Alam naman natin kung anong nangyari doon sa mga kasamahan natin noon na na-kidnap. Saan ba? Basilan ‘yun ‘di ba.
Ms. Ignacio: Sa Sulu.
SEC. ANDANAR: Sulu, sulu. Sulu rin ano. So, ‘yun merong danger kung baga. It’s lik an advisory lang na ingat tayo.
Alexis Romero (Philippine Star): Follow-up doon sa Senate hearing, although sabi niyo hindi muna magbibigay ng, basta-basta ng statement. Pero do you think the President is capable of giving such directive?
SEC. ANDANAR: Do I think he’s capable? No, I don’t think he’s capable of giving a directive like that.
Mr. Romero: Why Sec? For the record, why?
SEC. ANDANAR: Why? Eh ‘di ba inimbestigahan na nga noon ‘yan, ‘nong Commission on Human Rights, ‘nong sinaunang panahon, ‘nong mayor pa ho si Pangulo at wala namang charge, wala naman silang nakitang direktang ebidensya.
Mr. Romero: Thank you Sec.
SEC. ANDANAR: Pero antayin muna natin ‘yung ano, ‘yung magiging kabuuan ng imbestigasyon sa Senado, Mr. Romero.
Mr. Romero: Thank you Sec.
JP Soriano (GMA): Good morning sir. I’m JP Soriano from GMA. Sir, tanong ko lang po ‘yung, can you share to us kung ano po ‘yung mga napag-usapan ni former President Fidel Ramos sa Cabinet meeting kahapon? I know it’s about China, he acted as the special envoy and may mga kasama po atang ibang experts doon. Can you just briefly share to us what was discussed and are we leaning towards a real bilateral talk na with the Chinese government?
SEC. ANDANAR: Sorry, JP. Wala ako doon sa usapan eh. ‘Yung sa mga envoy. Wala ho ako doon sa usapan ‘nong nagkaroon po ng meeting. Kasi during the Cabinet, iba po ‘yung napag-usapan namin sa Gabinete and after the Cabinet, meron pang isang meeting ang Pangulo na hindi po kasama ang inyong lingkod. So hindi po ako maka-komento doon. Sorry.
Mr. Soriano: How about the Cabinet meeting po, the–?
SEC. ANDANAR: Hindi, mamaya, mamaya magbibigay si Spokesperson Abella ng rundown kung anong nangyari doon sa Cabinet meeting kahapon.
Pero ang mahalaga siguro ay, ‘di ba matagal na hong hindi na-convene ang LEDAC, at alam kong mahalaga ho din para sa inyo na malaman kung ano ‘yung mga priority bills ng ating Pangulo at mapalad tayo na nandito ngayon ang ating bagong Kalihim ng Presidential Legislative Liaison Office. So, kung wala ho tayong tanong—
Mr. Soriano: Salamat po.
Ms. Andolong: Sir, a few days ago si Usec Abella talked about coming up with an independent foreign policy that’s less dependent on the US. Does this mean that we’re looking at building a stronger alliance with China? Are we diverting to China?
SEC. ANDANAR: No, hindi naman, hindi naman. When you create an independent foreign policy, it’s really just saying that we are a sovereign state, we are not beholden to any country and once and for all, we can say to ourselves that we are standing up on our own two feet, you know. Yun na ‘yon.
Hindi naman– we re not severing ties with our allies and meron pa nga, ‘yung Visiting Forces Agreement, mga Mutual Defense Treaty. You know ano ‘yan… our friendship with the Americans go a long, long way. It cannot— hindi naman gano’n na… we– Marami tayong allies kasama na ‘yung ASEAN. Sinabi na nga ng Pangulo sa kanyang speech during the inauguration na the President will respect.
Ms. Andolong: But in having a less dependent, being less dependent on the US, what do you mean by that specifically? For instance, in the region, the Philippines is one of the biggest recipients of military aid from the US. How do you see that affecting or are you seeing a decrease in the military assets that we’re getting from the US? And if so, how do you intend to fill in the gap for those?
SEC. ANDANAR: That question will be answered better by the Secretary of the National Defense ‘no. But as far as I’m concerned and as far as I know, tuloy-tuloy po ang ating pakikipag-ugnayan sa ating mga allies. Walang ano ‘yon.
Ms. Andolong: Last. The President has ordered Secretary Lorenzana and a team of experts to head to Russia and China to check out what possible military assets we can get from them. These are countries which we hardly get military assets from in the past. Isn’t that also contrary to the statement of President Duterte a while back in the V. Luna General Hospital where he actually took a swipe at the quality of equipment that China offers? I mean, now we’re considering that when he said na medyo hindi kagandahan ‘yung quality doon.
SEC. ANDANAR: Alam mo, pag libre siya or mababa ang presyo o mababa yung interest, there’s nothing wrong with it. Hindi naman lahat ng produkto ng China ‘no ay masama. In fact, siguro most of your laptops here are being produced in China, most of the things that we use here, maybe this microphone is also made in China. Pero meron ding mga produkto na hindi maganda, ‘di ba? So sa akin naman depende ‘yun sa produkto.
Siguro yung nabanggit po ng ating Pangulo na mga produkto na galing China, yung po ‘yung mga produkto na sumablay.
Okay, so let’s start. We are fortunate to be joined by the new head of the Presidential Legislative Liaison Office or PLLO, Secretary Adelino Baguio Sitoy.
Secretary Sitoy is no longer—he’s not a stranger to government work. Prior to his present appointment, this former Dean and cum laude graduated from the College of Law, is a graduate of the College of Law of the University of Cebu. He served as assistant fiscal of Cebu at the age of 27, the youngest at that time; acting fiscal of Toledo City and the youngest at that time also; commissioner of the Cebu Ports Authority and director of the Metropolitan Cebu Water District.
His foray into politics began when he became an elected member of the Sangguniang Bayan of Cordova, Cebu; and later an assemblyman for Cebu province. Secretary Sitoy won as vice mayor of Cordova and elected as mayor of Cordova three times.
He spearheaded the Cebu Movement for Federalism, an advocacy that is timely and propitious in his present position at the PLLO.
To hear more about this and other priority legislation of the Duterte administration, ladies and gentlemen, members of the Malacañang Press Corps, let us all give a warm welcome to Secretary Adelino Baguio Sitoy.
PLLO SEC. SITOY: Thank you, Secretary. Good morning, brothers and sisters in the media. Actually, you are no longer my brothers and sisters, you are my grandchildren.
I would like to be asked in English I have not—I have neglected our national language. I am the main advocate of the Cebuano Visayan language. I am the president of the Visayan Academy of Arts and Letters and I have co-authored a dictionary: 66,000 English words translated into Cebuano Visayan and I’m running a column in Bisdak Sunstar, a weekly column about history in Cebuano again. Although I have written in English the history of our town and I have co-authored the history of the city of Cebu.
This is a new assignment of mine. I resigned my position as vice mayor on August 31, 2016. I was elected as such last May after having served as mayor for nine years. And before my election as mayor, I was Dean of the College of Law of the University of Cebu. I put up the college and actually, our first batch and second batch landed in the top 10 in the bar exams.
And before that, I was in the Batasan during the time of President Marcos, regular Batasang Pambansa.
Yesterday, I called the attention of the President about the membership of the LEDAC. The LEDAC before was convened only two times during the presidency of President Aquino. And so, this time, we intend to meet regularly.
And the composition: the Chairman of course is the President, the Vice Chairmanis the Vice President and the members are the President of the Senate and the Speaker of the House, plus seven members of the Cabinet.
And additionally, there are three members of the Senate aside from the Senate President and they have been nominated already. They are Sen. Franklin Drilon, Sen. Vicente Sotto III, Sen. Ralph Recto and the three members of the House aside from the Speaker, are Cong. Rodolfo Fariñas, Cong. Danilo Suarez, Cong. Dakila Carlo Cua.
And the representative of the local government units was already mentioned yesterday although the name has not been given to us yet; and another representative from the youth sector. There were names that were mentioned but actually, I have not received the official one, the name of the official one. And there is a representative from the private sector, there were also names nominated but I have yet to receive officially the final nominee. These are the LEDAC members and all in all, 20 members all in all.
Yesterday, we made mention also of some priority bills. Given priority were these bills that were the subject of a memorandum from the Executive Secretary addressed to us for the formulation of the appropriate work plans relative to these bills mentioned in the SONA of the President. (1) The strengthening of counterterrorism programs which covers the amendments to the Human Security Act, also known as the Anti-Terrorism Law, the Anti-Money Laundering Act and the Anti-Cybercrime Act.
And then the next subject of the memorandum was the passage of the Whistleblowers Act, followed by the strengthening of the Witness Protection Program, and then the creation of the Department for Overseas Filipinos and the passage of the Bangsamoro Basic Law.
The Bangsamoro Bill did not become a law because it got stuck up in the Senate and so has to be re-filed again, starting from all over again.
The Department of—the DBM has also proposed priority measures like the rightsizing of the bureaucracy and contemplating creation of the Department of Housing and Urban Development and the Budget Reform Bill.
The Department of Finance has also recommended priorities in the tax reform package comprising of the reduced personal and corporate income tax, and the tax on fuel, the tax on sugary products and the adjustments in sin taxes.
And from the DND, the proposal to amend the Commonwealth Act No. 1, the National Defense Act in order to revive the ROTC.
These are the recommended priorities from these departments. In short, the possible sources of priority measures will be the 10-point Socio-Economic Agenda mentioned by the President in Davao; the SONA legislative commitments, the Philippine Development Plan, the enabling measures integral to strategic goals of previous national development plans and the other Presidential pronouncements.
Referring to the SONA, there were 15 legislative commitments mentioned by the President in his SONA on July 25, 2016 and we have divided these 15 and classified them into 4 categories: the Security, Justice and Peace Category; the Economic Development Category; the Good Governance Category; and the Human Development and Poverty Alleviation Category.
These are the four classifications of the 15 legislative commitments mentioned by the President in his SONA. Those are all.
Mr. Romero: Secretary, I’m just wondering why some measures like the death penalty and federalism were not mentioned in the priority bills?
PLLO SEC. SITOY: First, with respect to federalism, that is included in the— no, the commitments included in the SONA are already also prioritized although, in terms of— in the order of priority, what were mentioned by the Executive Secretary were given attention first but under the SONA, Good Governance, Federalism is included.
And included also are the Freedom of Information, Whistleblowers Act, and the Witness Protection Program enhancement.
Mr. Romero: The death penalty, Secretary?
PLLO SEC. SITOY: The death penalty is included under Security, Justice and Peace, with reference to anti-terrorism.
Mr. Romero: Thank you, Secretary.
Pia Ranada (Rappler): Good morning, sir. Sir given these priority bills, do you already have a timeline for when the LEDAC will convene?
PLLO SEC. SITOY: No timeline yet, there is no schedule yet. In due time we will announce the schedule.
Ms. Ranada: So sir, just to clarify: death penalty and acts on federalism are part of our priority bills? You just not mentioned— kumbaga comprehensively under—
PLLO SEC. SITOY: Not mentioned by the Executive Secretary but we’re going into that because we have considered the legislative commitments of the President in his SONA as among the sources of priority bills.
Andreo Calonzo (Bloomberg): Hi sir, Andreo Calonzo po from Bloomberg. Sir, you mentioned something about adjustments in the sin taxes. What kind of adjustment is this po?
PLLO SEC. SITOY: We have yet to await the bill that will come from the Department of Finance. We have included this because the Department of Finance has mentioned to us its priorities also. So among them are the four, but no bill has been submitted to us yet.
Mr. Calonzo: Sir, another thing. Do you have specifics on which of these bills will be the very first priority? Which ones do you want to be passed first?
PLLO SEC. SITOY: We have yet to coordinate with the Cabinet in a cluster manner of meeting in order to zone out from the entire Cabinet which should be given preference so that we can make the necessary follow up. We can convene the matter to the Senate and the House of Representatives. As of now, no word yet from the Cabinet as a whole.
Mr. Calonzo: Thank you sir.
Mr. Ganibe: Secretary, good morning.
PLLO SEC. SITOY: Good morning.
Mr. Ganibe: Dito sa binabanggit na priority bills, nabanggit niyo na may dalawang department na lilikhain.
PLLO SEC. SITOY: Dalawang?
Mr. Ganibe: Departments na bubuuin. Department for Housing and Urban Development and Department for Overseas Filipinos?
PLLO SEC. SITOY: Yes, under the—
Mr. Ganibe: The Department of Housing is under the DBM priorities?
PLLO SEC. SITOY: That is recommended by DBM. Right sizing of the bureaucracy and the creation of this Department of Housing and Urban Development but no specific bill yet has been forwarded to us on this. We will just give them the notice that this is a priority insofar as DBM is concerned.
Mr. Romero: Secretary you mentioned you’ll meet regularly. How frequent? The LEDAC, how frequent? And how do you intend to fast track the passage of these priority bills?
PLLO SEC. SITOY: First, the regular meeting of the LEDAC, we would propose a regular meeting of once every two months and then how do we fast track the passage of the measures? First, the Cabinet members have to agree among themselves in coordination with PLLO on which bills to push through among the priorities and then we communicate the matter to the House and to the Senate. And it’s the job of the PLLO to make the necessary follow up. Thank you.
PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: Good morning. I hear you’re rushing so we’ll only keep it to one point.
Thank you, Secretary Adelino Sitoy, Presidential Legislative Adviser. Daghang Salamat.
I’d just like to touch on three points:
The President—in this connection, the President has also tasked the Defense and Military establishment to study the options, to source military equipment from either China and/or Russia but they’re not closing the options to these two alone.
Second, regarding the UN statements on the President’s understanding of human rights: Ambassador Cecilia Rebong, Permanent Philippine Representative to the UN in Geneva gave the Philippines’ statement on the second day of the 33rd session of the Human Rights Council, which belied the statement of the UN High Commissioner’s statement that President Duterte has a shoot-to-kill order for drug suspects.
Rebong stated that Duterte never empowered police officers to shoot-to-kill any individual whom they suspected of drug crimes.
Reymund Tinaza (Bombo Radyo): Sir, good morning, I understand some questions were already asked by Benjie Liwanag earlier but I’ll ask— on my way here, I was monitoring the Senate hearing and there are these direct account, supposed to be direct account from a witness, a member of the “Lambada Boys,” now the Davao Death Squad, wherein he directly accused the President, then Mayor Duterte of masterminding the killing of criminals and rapists and other heinous crime suspects and also, the massacre or bombing, firing of some mosques, especially in Bankerohan in Davao City after the bombing of the Cathedral on, I think the 80s or 90s.
So can you, at least, as an addendum perhaps to the statement of Secretary Andanar earlier, your reaction to the now ongoing Senate hearing?
PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: Whatever testimonies, whatever statements that the person is saying is his own statement and we will have to await proper investigation regarding the matter.
Mr. Tinaza: Also sir, at least for now, any message to our brothers from the Muslim community perhaps? Because this might [inaudible] them and trigger unnecessary, you know, trouble.
PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: I believe, as in all cases, all citizens should maintain a sense of sobriety, and maintain the sense of objectivity.
I mean, after all, people do make statements everyday and while this person may sound credible, it is imperative that each and everyone of us properly weigh whatever he said and respond right. Thank you.
Mr. Tinaza: Lastly sir, do you think these latest allegations against the President in one way or the other could affect the Duterte war against drugs and criminalities and the general platform of governance of this Duterte administration?
PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: The platform is the desire to have a peaceful, crime-free, corruption-free nation and that is not affected, that vision is not changed, and the President continues to be— to exercise political will and I believe we should, we all need to continue rallying around the desire to have a nation that is a nation for everyone, and that there’s space for everyone.
Ms. Ranada: Good morning sir. Sir you said earlier that President Duterte never gave any orders to shoot to kill. But in fact, we– he’s, he’s been caught on video giving that exact order. For example, relating to Mayor Espinosa of Albuera Leyte, he gave an order of shoot on sight and you always see him ‘di ba, giving these statements. So how do you then prove that he never gives these statements?
PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: There is no written order that states that. What is stated is that they can shoot in order to protect themselves.
Ms. Ranada: Sir but his orders, if they resist arrest, that does not necessarily mean that they are out to kill the officers ‘di ba? I mean they will really resist arrest so, but that doesn’t mean that they pose a danger to the officers?
PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: There are two positions there, right? One is if you see a suspect, you shoot and kill, right? The other is one that– the written directive really is that you are to defend yourself if they resist arrest.
Ms. Ranada: But sir, even if there are written directives, the fact that he says them verbally and this is broadcast all over the nation, won’t some policemen tend to think that, since he said it verbally, it does… it’s not consistent with whatever written orders there are, so it might create confusion among the police.
PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: As far as we know, as far we know, these are… the policemen, those in Armed Forces are properly instructed before they leave. Alright. And if you listen to him, to his statements, part of his, like we said earlier that his messages are layered, and part of these is addressed to criminals. He justified his tendency to threaten criminals. So part of the, it maybe, that part of the messaging is really addressed to criminals.
Ms. Ranada: So are the police instructed not to listen–?
PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: Let’s put it this way: The police are instructed how to go about properly before they leave.
Vanz Fernandez (Police Files): Good morning sir. Do you have the estimated cost of the foreign trips of the President?
PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: Do I have the what?
Ms. Fernandez: Estimated cost. C-o-s-t, foreign trips of the President.
PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: No.
Ms. Fernandez: Until now sir?
PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: You can ask DBM if you want.
Ms. Fernandez: DBM? But you are the Presidential spokesperson sir. Anyway sir–
PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: You want me to keep an accounting book with me?
Ms. Fernandez: No, no sir.
PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: That’s really being just—
Ms. Fernandez: Until now sir ‘yung mga papers ng mga presidential appointees hindi pa ho nalalagdaan? And then ‘yung mga salary po nila, napupunta po doon sa mga datihan. Wala po bang magagawa pa until now–?
PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: I’m sure they’re doing their part in the administrative section. But as far as I know that there are new appointees who were sworn in the other day, right? And I’m sure they’re now on their way to receiving the benefits of their efforts.
Ms. Fernandez: Okay thank you sir.
Mr. Soriano: Good morning Secretary. Sir, just to clarify the friendly dialogue between China and the Philippines. That would mean that there will be, there has been, there will be an official bilateral meetings between the two countries? And are there any, were there any conditions set? Did China set any conditions? What are the parameters? We’ll bring up of course the arbitral tribunal decision, can you just share also sir some of the things that were discussed during the FVR, when he was, he was part of the meeting yesterday during the Cabinet? Can you just also share some of the things that was discussed there?
PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: I’m not sure if… when I was there, FVR was not present.
However, the conversations between the two countries are initially, basically friendly. Just a, you could almost say, getting to know you. The whole purpose is to be able to establish warmer relationships. So I don’t… I’m not aware that there are preconditions to the conversation.
However, there is an openness now to do so. But, I’m not aware of any preconditions to the conversation. Thank you.
Mr. Liwanag: Good morning Secretary. Sir, any reaction po dito kay Senator Lacson. Meron pong sinasabi siya, wasak na imahe ng bansa dahil sa pagkakalat ni Pangulong Duterte sa international community. Any reaction sir?
PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: Well I think the good Senator should check what actually is happening or has happened recently for example. After the ASEAN, in fact during the ASEAN, his relationships were pretty warm, he was warmly applauded by our neighbors and that should matter to us, that should matter a lot. That actually we are solidifying our relationships.
Mr. Liwanag: So sa tingin niyo sir hindi nagkalat si Pangulong Duterte on–?
PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: Sa tingin ko, I think it’s being some of the things, some of the actions may be magnified out of proportion.
Mr. Liwanag: Thank you very much Secretary.
PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: Thank you very much.