Sept. 4 2016 – Press Conference of Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella with PCCI President George Barcelon and ECOP President Donald Dee
|Press Conference of Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella with PCCI President George Barcelon and ECOP President Donald Dee|
|Press Briefing Room, New Executive Bldg, Malacañang|
|04 October 2016|
PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: Good morning. This is a significant week and a significant day. We’re going to have a series of short interviews, hindi naman po interview but short briefings coming from significant people in business, in government, outside of ‘yung actual employ.
Now this morning, we have two very special people who are going to be sharing their experiences of the first 100 days of the Duterte administration.
Ang una pong ano, tatawagin po natin in a while is Mr. George Barcelon. He is the current president of the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the largest business organization in the country. He represents the private sector in the Industry Development Council and National Competitive Council.
He is the president of so many companies: Integrated Computer Systems, the company is known as a one-stop shop for IT requirements. He is also the president of Paramount Vinyl Products, a footwear manufacturing company and a producer of rubber expanded sheets and so forth.
He is also very much into realty. He is the president of realty corporations and he is also a trustee and treasurer of the Philippine Exporter Confederation. Director po siya ng Cardinal Santos Hospital Foundation, member of the Rotary Club of Makati and president of Golden Lions Club.
My own experience of the two gentlemen go back to the ano — to the “Sulong Pilipinas” just before the inauguration. And I found them, you know, it was a sea of business people. Very significant business people all come from all over the Philippines. But one thing that struck me was that napakababa ng loob nila and so upbeat on the Philippines.
And so, without further ado, I’d like to call on Mr. George Barcelon muna to be able to speak on the first — his impressions of the first 100 days as a businessman. Please.
Mr. Barcelon: Magandang umaga po sa inyong lahat. I am George Barcelon, president of PCCI. As mentioned by spokesman Ernie, ‘yung last June, the PCCI was the strategic partner for the “Sulong Pilipinas”.
I don’t know whether some of you had been there.
But ang resulta ng business consultation was the 10-point Socio-Economic Agenda of this administration headed by President Duterte.
And, of course, foremost naman eh alam natin, ang pangako ni President was the issue, the very important issue on drug and crimes. And on that aspect, we are very happy that he delivered.
Although, ang request ni President is to have it extended by another six months and I think that’s reasonable because of the gravity of this issue.
Many people did not realize how rampant this drug issue is and, of course, we know very well with drugs, normally it leads to crime and there’s a direct correlation between that not only in the Philippines but also abroad.
I went to check some statistics, even in the United States, the drug-related death is about — annually about 30,000 to 35,000. Ang dami. Many of them, sad to say, were able to buy drugs also from, you know, from over-the-counter and the like. But what I’m saying is that it’s a serious problem for any society whether developed countries or countries like us.
So having said that, we know that the 10-point agenda of the President is still being pursued by the economic team, of course, headed by Secretary of Finance, Mr. Sonny Dominguez; Secretary of Trade and Industry; Secretary Mon Lopez; Secretary of DBM, Secretary Ben Diokno; of course, also the last but not the least, NEDA chair, Secretary Ernie Pernia.
We have been in contact with the Secretaries over this period and then through consultation, we also hear from them what are their plans and I think their plans are all very positive.
Come October—middle of October, we have our Philippine Business Conference, which is held every year. This is the national business conference of PCCI and we have invited the various Cabinet secretaries to present their plans going forward.
Alam mo three months sa, although politically speaking, we put emphasis on the first 100 days. But to be realistic about it, 100 days is really a very short time.
People talked about they haven’t seen any impact to this government. I said, you know, at least we have some insights because we consult and we hear what are their plans.
But I would tell my friends in the business community that we have to be patient. We have been patient before in previous administration. I think that we owe it to this government that they’re only in for three months and we would like to give them more time to work out things.
There are issues, of course, in the infrastructure, that we have been concerned about. The President has mentioned about the need for a special emergency power and we have been positive to that.
What we are waiting is the details on the deliverables for whatever, two years if they want it. But we think that, that is a very important issue.
Other than that, we have seen — although it’s not across the whole nation — but we have seen the reduction on bureaucracy in some of the government agencies. And even the local governments have took the advice of the President to simplify procedures to help the small businesses.
Alam niyo naman, ang PCCI, ang constituents namin mostly the SMEs and we are spread around the whole nation. Ang local chamber namin is about 120 and every, like, as a president, I go to all the regional conferences to hear them out and to see what they need. And they are very frank with us on their assessment, on their concern.
Power is one, telecommunication is one, infrastructure, roads, airport, seaport, especially for the rural areas, mga magsasaka. They talked about the lack of farm-to-market roads, they talked about the lack of irrigations, they talked about the post-harvest facilities.
So these are all the things that we have gathered from our constituents and we have shared these with the various government agencies.
So we’re beginning to see some improvements along this line. But like I said earlier, we are very positive about what we’re seeing.
What I can say is that people are concerned with some of the statements that they hear from the President. But what is more important is for the President who loves his country and his people, we firmly believe that he would do the right thing.
We just have to give them time. The various government agencies helping our country to move forward and for more changes is something that we, as private citizens, must also involve ourselves to make it happen.
I think it’s a partnership, not just rely too much on the government but we as private citizens, as businessmen, we have to do our part also.
With that, maraming salamat po. Thank you.
QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS:
Reymund Tinaza (Bombo Radyo): Sir, good noon.
Mr. Barcelon: Good morning.
Mr. Tinaza: Morning. Sir, I understand there are also other sectors from your—from the investment sector who are, I mean, worrisome with the previous statement, pronouncement of the President with regards to his new foreign policy. So how do you, from your end, how do you consider—is it a breath of comfort, a breath of favor for you? ‘Yung shaping more on leaning towards China?
Mr. Barcelon: I think…The way I read it is that the President is opening more options to us. I’ve been asked before, “Sir with this pronouncement, parang we’re gravitating towards, you know, China.”
For most businessmen, we look at opportunities, you know, in a very practical manner. As I said, we are neither pro-US, pro-Europe, pro-China but we are pro-Filipinos.
And with all of these different countries who are interested in investing in the Philippines, we welcome them.
And PCCI, you know, is the gateway. Every year, we receive so many missions from different countries. We have one that is coming in from Poland and we have another one I think, from Hungary, yeah, they’re coming.
So we do get to talk to them and like any, you know, businessman who is coming in, they, of course, would voice about the security issue, which we now tell them that, you know, Philippines, with the government on top of this situation on crime has given the assurance that security is there.
The confidence and the continuity of the government has shown that we will operate and we will sort of honor all contracts that will be signed. So that’s a healthy sign.
Mr. Tinaza: Sir, last point. How did your group perceive ‘yung end of contract or the campaign of the President to end this ‘endo’ or contractualization scheme?
Mr. Barcelon: Alam mo, ‘yung issue, na ‘yan, actually I was thinking that you were gonna ask him, Ambassador Donald Dee because he is the President of the Employers Confederation of the Philippines.
But since you asked, it’s a concern that—because ‘yung ipinalabas ngayon some areas are not clear. So we have been talking to Secretary Bello and also to — with DTI ‘no trying to workout something that is clear to businessmen and to the government.
Definitely, from our position, both PCCI and ECOP and PhilExport and the other affiliated business organization, we know illegal talaga ang ‘endo,’ okay. This ‘555’ is illegal and then we do no tolerate it.
We had a meeting two weeks ago wherein we invited the other business organizations. And our agreement is that once the pronouncement is made clearer, we would come out with a manifesto telling our members that they should not deal with shady agency wherein they are providing cheap but they are continuing this practice of ‘endo.’ So this is something we’ve made very clear, that the ‘endo’ must stop and this is what the President want.
On the other side, on the legal service provider, we know naman in business, may mga iba seasonality, ‘di ba? May mga iba time bound and there’s also project — special cases on project, ‘no.
So these are things that must — the government must give a wide leverage for business to avail of such services from service provider, okay. They’re time bound, okay.
And with such a — what do you call — an agreement, the security of tenure is given. Let’s say if there’s a project that requires three years and we signed up, the tenure is secured for the employee.
Mr. Tinaza: Thank you, sir.
JP Bencito (Manila Standard): Hi, sir. Good morning. Sir, I just wanted to clarify lang, are we supporting the position of the government for a win-win solution to end ‘endo’, sir? Iyong sinasabi na companies will hire contractual employees but these contractual employees are employed in a subcontracting agency, sir, which provides 13 month pay, and other benefits as a regular employee. Do you agree with this kind of — ?
They will get the benefits and they would be registered SSS. So that’s one thing from the employer side. If we were to get some employees, our workers from the service provider, we have to make certain na naka-registered sila sa SSS. And they will also enjoy all the full benefits, okay, 13th month, holiday pay, and all of these must be granted. So we’re for that solution.
Of course, talaga, ang bottom line is, we want to create more jobs. Okay. We don’t want this to be stumbling block na ang mandate ni President Duterte is that inclusion growth. Ibig sabihin you have to create the bigger pie, okay.
Alam natin na maraming kapwang Pilipino, especially in the regional areas, they’re out of a job. And having this flexibility allow business establishment to be more positive on hiring. Instead of ‘yung silang may constraint na to hire, they would be saddled with a lot of workers that later on they cannot be able to retain them.
Mr. Bencito: Sir, can we just get an update, kasi just yesterday, if I’m not mistaken, the group of the management and the Labor department, together with the group employees met at the Labor department yesterday — sorry po. Can we just get an update, ano po ‘yung nangyari? Were there some stumbling blocks from the part of the workers, sir?
I hope that they would see that this arrangement is neither pro-management but should be more pro-laborers. Those people who are left hanging before, wherein they are workers under an agency but they’re not registered with SSS.
So with this set-up, I think it’s really more benefit for the workers.
Mr. Bencito: Thank you, sir.
Leandro Cabanillas (The Worldfolio): My name is Leandro Cabanillas from the Worldfolio. Hello, sir. We’re doing a survey for ASEAN at 50, which is next year, ASEAN at 50. The Association is turning 50 next year. From a private sector perspective, how well do you see the articulation of the region and what are some of the challenges that you oversee from the PCCI, in terms of finally integrating, fully integrating businessman within ASEAN?
This year the host was Lao, Vientiane Lao. Next year, it will be turnover to the Philippines. So, it’s a bit of information, good news information, so there will be lots of activities.
Now you were saying earlier about how have we sort of, assimilated ourselves to the ASEAN. It’s a work in progress wherein we know the trade among the ASEAN countries is still not very high, compared to the European community. Okay.
There are… There are reasons wherein that — that the trade and commerce has not increased as much as we’d like. Although as far as the tax barrier, you know, they have been reduced with the compliance of a very, very small percentage, that — it’s almost between the ASEAN countries, importation is non-issue.
But the other issue is connectivity, wherein, you know, Philippines has been one of the stronger supporter of the “Roro”. And it’s something that has — that will be taken up during the ASEAN meetings.
As a matter of fact, the President, when he visited Indonesia, this was one of the topic that was discussed, and this was also one of the topic that during our attendance of the Vientiane, I was able to talk to the Indonesian President, President Widodo, I mentioned to him, I said: “Mr. President we need your support on this.”
And this is something that among the ASEANs, everybody look forward to, the cooperation among the ASEAN countries and also the connectivity.
We now see, of course, China is pushing for the Silk Road, One Belt, One Road. And in our discussion in Vientiane and also recently, we had a meeting with the ABAC, ASEAN BAC chairman which is Mr. Joey Concepcion and the other member of the ABAC is Ms. Tessie Coson and myself.
So we’re very positive. We think that the connectivity is something that we should bring up to get more trade and commerce among the nations. Thank you.
PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: Alright. I know that you have a number of questions but we need get on and I just like to introduce, the next one will share about his impressions about the first 100 days of the President.
Mr. Dee is an engineering graduating from De La Salle. He’s a chairman emeritus of the Employers Confederation of the Philippines, ECOP.
And was once a special envoy of the President of the Philippines for trade negotiations during the term of former Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.
Dee is also the former President of the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry in 2005. He also serves as chairman of various corporations including Zest Airways and Central Peak Leisure and Development. Mr. Dee.
Mr. Dee: Thank you, Mr. Secretary. Good morning po sa inyong lahat. I guess for some of you I am an old hand in this. So, I will expect some questions.
But let me just say this that, it was just a hundred days, I have seen President come and go. But the 100 days that we are experiencing today, you know, has borne more fruits, more concrete proof of this…For example, we have begun to see the positioning or the realization of the station — the central station natin for the three MRTs and LRTs. And this has been a problem that we have been facing for the past four years — even for the past seven years actually.
I remember it was still…It was approved in GMA’s administration. It was talked about for six years and precisely not to criticize the past administration, why this new administration is serious because the past six years was, you know, a time of talking and very little less in implementation.
So but here we — in less than a year or in less than 100 days we have seen this implemented. We have seen the approval of the connector road na by — that is given to MPIC. We have seen the really the realization that the tax — will be forthcoming. In fact, we have already generally agreed…Again, the kind of consultation we are seeing has never been seen or done before.
So, people always say the President is saying this, the President is saying that. And always, that’s not part about our society and really this is more our society because we always shoot ourselves in the feet. We always criticize… If you go to Singapore, no matter what happens or what government says, they will never say that, “Ah kasi si Presidente namin ganito or Prime Minister namin ganun, you know.”
A question about, for example, the labor situation or this ‘endo’. You know, you always ask, “what have we done?” “Is there going to be an agreement?” I am telling you all we are waiting for is government to just say, which direction we are going.
You know, to expect that labor and management, we agree. My friends have been in this business for 50 years. I have not and I have — I have sat in tripartite board for 30 years, we never agree. It’s just that we enjoy ourselves because we always have friendly debates with our stakeholders. At the end of the day, the government decide, we will toe the line.
This I can tell you. As far as ‘endo’ is concerned, this is going to be [applaud?]. We have already gone further than government. As president of ECOP, we have put together MAP, the contracting organizations and we have agreed that we ourselves will police our ranks.
Anybody who is practicing ‘endo’ will be removed from our membership list. This we promise the President. I think you should be grateful. The President has only one thing in his mind, sabi niya, “you do what is it you want pero ito you just guarantee me and show me na ang mga manggagawa mabibigyan ng tamang sweldo, mabibigyan lahat ng tamang benepisyo to include retirement. Alam mo ‘yung retirement hindi niyo nakikita. Dati-dati sino ba ang nakakakuha ng retirement? Out of close to 38 million workers only 7.7 million are in the formal sector. Of those in the formal sector, how many do you think get retirement? I mean, real retirement? Most companies do not fund retirement. So that’s why at the end of time when they want to…When is paying time, they find ways and means to cut off the worker. This time, you know, because of the President’s insistence, you will going to see retirement funded.
So that this is…You know, and I wish that sana makita ninyo, ito I tell you all of these noises na sinasabi ng mga dayuhan diyan, salita lang iyan hindi naman nila naintindihan ang nangyayari dito. I mean I am telling you very frankly hindi nila naiintindihan.
Ang masakit lang sa akin ‘yung mga kasama kong dayuhan na negosyante na nandito, sinasabi nila, “O, aalis kami.” “Sino ang aalis?” At ano ba? At sino ba sa kanila ang hindi kumikita? Wala po eh. Kaya lang they sing the song — I don’t know why. I guess they want to support their government, I mean their nationalism. I wish we had, as Filipinos, more nationalism. You know, iyon lang ang masasabi ko and if you ask me. When and all this time during FVR’s years, during GMA’s years, we would go and we would promote the Philippines.
You know, and iyong mga…Ang importante lang naman sa mga nag-i-import dito sa bansa natin, makita ‘yung policy mo is sustainable and it doesn’t change and if you want to change you change prospectively. This President Duterte and his economic team have made a commitment. Iyon nakikita nila iyon. They have seen a doer. As I said, projects are being implemented. They have seen a budget that is really pro-social and therefore they will — they can understand that the people will be taken care of. Kasi peace and order is a very big issue.
Don’t think na peace and order is not an issue, it’s a very, very big issue. There are companies who will not come in. Thirdly, you have to also understand that ‘yung mga ibang bansa diyan, ginagamit nila itong sinasabi nilang human rights and all that as a way of their own CSR so to speak. You know, propaganda lang iyan e. Sa totoo. You can go to the biggest city in the world, New York, and find a lot of sweatshops and what are they doing about it? You know.
So here, we have a problem. We know that and maybe the President is too transparent. But at least why are we so supportive? Because what you see is what you get. And this is not…And kung magsalita man siya maigsi. You know, what we appreciate most is that, he on the ground, he is doing things.
And this important for us. This is why he was elected. He is very clear about that and this is why we continue to support. So iyong sinasabing human rights all of that, unless they can show me somebody got a gun and started shooting for the heck of just to get rid of people, it’s not the case. You know, maybe the President exaggerated as saying, “you know, I don’t mind if you have all these three million shot.” But what he is saying is, you know, this is the eye of our problem. You take this cancer out. You know, what he is after is beyond drugs, what he is after is the changing of our mindset. Ito napakahirap na goal na ibinigay ni Presidente sa sarili niya. Those are his visions that at the end of six years, he is going to leave this country that is free, that is, that has citizens living with dignity, with jobs that’s happy and that kind, that goal cannot be achieved if you have all of these drug menace, all of this petty crime and of people who do not — or ourselves who do not love and respect our country.
So if he gets angry, it is only because of his intensity, of his desire to see his objective done and done soonest. Yun lang ang masasabi ko.
Joseph Morong (GMA): Sir, good morning. You mentioned some companies being nationalistic. Clarification, sir. Are they leaving the Philippines and is it because of the pronouncements of the President?
Mr. Dee: No, in fact, that’s what I’m saying, it’s the contrary. They used that as an excuse and say “we will leave”. And yet none of them are leaving, as long as they’re making money, they will leave?
I mean they did not come here because of any other reason except to make money. Of course, in the process they help our people and we are grateful. But I keep on making money then I’m gonna stay here.
Mr. Morong: Thanks, sir.
Ina Andolong (CNN Philippines): Good afternoon, sir. Sir, can you clarify to us, I mean, can you be more specific on what clarifications you want regarding the government’s ‘endo’ policy as mentioned by Mr. Barcelon earlier?
Mr. Dee: You know, as I said, we fully support the eradication of
‘endo.’ What I’ve said publicly which some of the functionaries in the Department of Labor are not happy about.
I’m saying, we told the Department of Labor, we must be very clear on how we do the transition. And to me, it’s so simple. Just say that we will implement the Labor Code. And Article Section Article 108, 106 to 109 is very clear. It defines various kinds of employment.
‘Yun lang ang sabihin nila eh, na you must — we will implement the Labor Code and we will implement it strictly. Not with one eye closed.
Kasi, you know there were talks, in the Department of Labor, ‘okay, we will allow 20 percent casuals.’ I said you don’t open that door. In fact, I’m even stricter than the Labor Department. You don’t open that door.
Oras na sinabi mong may 20 percent na casual diyan, gagamitin na naman loophole ‘yan eh. You just follow the Labor Code. The Labor Code has four types of employment.
Now, any company you’d choose the fourth type. Most of this will do outsourcing because that’s the way for them to better management their involve in business.
Most entrepreneurs are not management — human resource managers. Nahihirapan sila. So they outsource it. And therefore they get the technology and the expertise.
So that’s the whole reason for it.
Ms. Andolong: Sir, you talked about policing your own ranks. How would you assess the compliance for now of your members when it comes following the ‘no endo’ policy?
Mr. Dee: Right now, they are just confused nga because we have not — we have not clearly define the way to go. Secretary Lopez of DTI has come out with the proposal. Yesterday there was a meeting with Labor…
Obviously Labor without even looking at it will say no. Kasi, ‘yung labor kasi is coming from a — not to criticize but they’re coming from a different direction.
They’re talking of 125 as a philosophical thing. They’re really talking about living wages. And when they talked about security of tenure, their definition is different. Sa kanila, security of tenure is lifetime work. That’s not it.
Security of tenure simple means that you do not remove any employee without just cause and without following a process, you know.
So they will not agree. I mean… But it’s for the Department of Labor to say we will go back to again the Labor Code. We will implement it, we will define security of tenure as is enshrined in the law. And everybody will follow.
So that’s all we’re waiting for. Sabihin lang ‘yon, tomorrow we start moving.
Mr. Tinaza: Sir, good afternoon. Sir, you’ve mentioned, not necessarily to, of course, criticize the past administration, but you’ve mentioned of the contracts being reviewed to and fro, then canceled, even the big tickets projects were not implemented. So do you not see the repetition of this kind of problem with this Duterte administration?
Mr. Dee: Well, the best move is that — he’s not following that. Iyon ngang the agreement that was signed just yesterday by MP and all the other, and San Miguel and Ayala on the common station.
That thing has been — was on the table from the last two years of GMA to the whole six years of the past administration, nothing happened except a lot of talk.
Mr. Tinaza: Sir, now that some left-leaning leaders are now part of the Duterte administration, do you see a friendlier environment, especially from their ranks who are used to pickets, rallies, which ultimately, are greatly affecting the business operations?
Mr. Dee: Very good. You touched on a very sensitive issue. One of my biggest problems in trying to convince my membership to go along with me is the fact that there are people or appointees in the department and I was very open to object to them because they are there not to implement and support the President’s policy of job creation and providing dignified jobs and life for our people. They are there in order to implement their own philosophical stuff.
And I said people like that should — has no right to accept the appointment. They would do the President justice by resigning. I mean, and I refer to people who come out and announce for example na again, I’m very critical here of the individual who comes and says, “we will do a P125 across the board increase.” You know, and then he follows by saying, “this is my personal opinion.”
Boss, personal opinion? You are a senior government official. You have lost your right to make public statements like that and did you even bother to make a computation? One hundred twenty five pesos for 7.7 million people or employees will amount to almost a billion pesos a day.
And NEDA itself said, if you do that, you’re going to see inflation go to beyond six and a half percent. “What happens?…”, I asked the guy who made this statement, “to the 32 million tricycle drivers and self-employed who will not get your P125? They’re going to carry the burden of the increase in price?”
You know, sabi ko, hindi naman ‘yan ang marching order niyo eh. Then he tells me, “I’m going to go to Congress.” So I said, “Fine. I’ll see you in Congress.” But there are people like that that we should—again, I say that and I agree with George. Maybe a hundred days is not enough for them to gel, some guys but some people will never gel and I hope the President will get rid of them.
Mr. Tinaza: So sir, may you introduce to us whom you are referring to?
Mr. Dee: No, no, I would not want to do that. The guy knows. From my statement, he knows what I’m saying.
Mr. Tinaza: Thank you, sir.
Ace Romero (Philippine Star): Ambassador, the President once mentioned that the Filipinos might need to sacrifice a bit in case the dynamics of the relationship between the Philippines and the US change. He mentioned that a few days ago. What would you be willing to sacrifice in the eventuality of the changing of the dynamics of the Philippines and US relationship happens?
Mr. Dee: Then I’ll be making statements here that are very…Anyway, George asked me, “Donald, look at this. What can we say about this?’”
You know, I looked at the investments and the grants given by the United States to the Philippines from 2004 to 2015. Now, why did I do that? Because you have here the administration, two of which were close to the Americans and one was very close so you would expect that you know, during the time that the very close administration was in place, that there would be a big spike, right? Well, it’s not.
You look at our DFA– FDIs, it’s flat. Seven billion dollars. You look at it, it’s flat. Almost flat 7 to 7.7. What does that mean? You know, look at the kind of money that came in when we were close to a country and you will find that the money came in for military hardware and this kind of things.
You know, and I think, it did not go into direct foreign investments, is what I’m saying.
So do not, do not fool yourselves by thinking that just because you’re closer and you follow them that they will come in. They’re gonna come in if your economy is friendly to investors, if your economy is competitive. It’s not how you talk. It’s how you look.
You know and I maintain that we now have the macroeconomic picture that is very clear. What we need to do know is to show them that we are really doing something in the four things that the President has said he will do: infrastructure, logistics, energy, those are the first three. Right? And peace order. Just do those.
And the low hanging fruits is really the traffic, the drugs. We just do two or three of these, they will come, you know. They are not, they are not going to do, they are not going to have time to criticize because they’re too busy putting out the fact that is making money.
Mr. Romero: So you don’t see the scenario of Filipinos having to sacrifice in case hindi nga naging maganda ‘yung magiging daloy ng relationship with the US?
Mr. Dee: Hindi pa ba sakripisyo ‘yung ininsulto tayo? Hindi ba? If you think that balewala lang tayo. Alam mo with technology, the telephone is only — it’s right on the table of the President and the other leaders who spoke out.
Didn’t they have… Don’t… Didn’t they not even think that it’s their duty to just pick up their phone and say, “Mr. President of the Philippines, you know, we have, we are getting this kind of reaction.” Instead of going to the papers and grandstand.
PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: Alam ko nagmamadali kayo at meron kayong pupuntahan.
Mr. Morong: Sir, what do you think of the statements of, even the allies of the President, since we’re talking about the President talking, what do you think of those, who say that medyo President — better if medyo circumspect siya in his speech?
PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: He knows how to handle these things and so I’d like to leave it to him. He’s a person after his own heart and he knows how to handle situations.
So far he seems to be — to have adjusted pretty well. ‘Di ho ba? Okay so, ganon po. He’ll…He’s coming out of it. I think he’s coming out of it.
Mr. Morong: Sir, ‘di ba natin siya makikita na, I mean from his inside circle na babawasan ‘yung mga press conferences and talking opportunities to media. Do you see a need for that?
PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: Sa alin?
Mr. Morong: To less interaction with the media or zero interaction na lang?
PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: I don’t know about lessening the interaction with the media. But I think, for example, this morning, it’s a very fine example of how we can bring in other voices to be able to show a wider perspective regarding the President and the way he handles himself.
So katulad ‘nong mga, ano mga, impressions ng ano, hindi naman sila sa gobyerno. Ano naman sila, they’re independent business people. And yet they came up their own accord and they’re able to bring in a certain objectivity to the whole matter.
So, ang ano siguro here is, as we’re finding our way, regarding all the noise, supposed to be, we’d like to… One of the ways that we’re doing is, we’re bringing in other voices that can give a better and a clearer perspective.
Mr. Morong: So ibig sabihin sir, ‘yung mga advice na you know, reduce muna talking, wala ‘yun? Hindi ‘yun susundin?
PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: Hindi naman po sa hindi susundin. We all adjust ‘no. We all adjust accordingly, we all adjust accordingly. Pero hindi, wala naman tayo mina-manage na kwento rito.
Sinasabi lang natin na, here is a, here is a very unique President. He’s very unique person. He is able to, he’s charting a very…
According to the business people, he’s charting — he seems to be able to chart a course for the nation, which the World Bank has described as very strong and quite impressive, in spite of ha, in spite of all the noise.
So hindi, wala tayong pinapalagpas. Ang sinasabi ko lang is, the way he’s handling it, seems to be pretty much par, par for the — not par for the course, but he seems to be able to — he seems to be able to chart a steady course towards progress.
Mr. Morong: Sir, as is si Presidente? I mean take him for what he is, as is?
PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: As is. For example, he handled himself with you.
Mr. Barcelon: It’s just an observation but I think it’s very important. You know, lately we’ve seen, those who are asking how the President would take comments ‘no, suggestions?
The two letter ‘h’ that comes to mind: he’s humble and he’s honest.
We’ve seen on the TV that he apologized. Rarely if you see somebody on top, at high level, that they realized that they, that, and they’re honest enough to say “I’m wrong.” Okay. So with that, I think it’s a good sign that he listens. Okay.
And the most important thing is with the President, his heart is in right place. So with somebody whose heart in the right place and who listens, I think the chance for us na umangat tayo is very high. Thank you.
Mr. Tinaza: Sir, just your reaction to the statement of the Pentagon now, speaking of the recent words of the President against US and President Obama, wherein they mentioned that the President is like Mr. Trump and he craves attention and the more he gets, the more outrageous he becomes. So according to the Pentagon spokesman, it’s wiser or wisest to just ignore daw the President. Your reaction to the statement?
PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: My reaction to that is that is their opinion. Okay, thank you.
Maricel Halili (TV-5): Sir, also because of the statement of the President–
PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: About?
Ms. Halili: About several issues like the European Union and his statement about the Holocaust, it seems that the Brussels Princess may not push through with her visit to the Philippines next year. What can you say about it, sir?
PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: Well, she has her own standards by which she has to act and although we have not really gotten any formal communication regarding those matters. This is in a sense, is just a question — a matter of speculation. Although we respect her values, we respect her position.
Ms. Halili: How will it affect, sir, our relationship or the relationship of the Philippines, particularly to Brussels or to the European Union per se?
PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: Well, you know, in a sense and I think the business people here will bear me out. The businessmen will come when there is a stable condition and when there is a competitive environment, if it is to their advantage.
In other words, we’re dealing…We have to deal with the European Union as two separate situations: one is the European Parliament and also the European business people.
And as far as we can see, just as long as we are able to provide a decent, competitive, stable environment, I believe that they will come.
Ms. Halili: Sir, may I also have your reaction about the statement of Sen. Gordon yesterday saying that ‘yung tourism slogan now of the Philippines should be ‘Wow, P. I.’ or ‘Welcome to the P.I.’?
PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: Okay. I think he was being funny. Thank you. Last question.
Mr. Romero: Hindi, last two. Quick clarification lang ‘yung una. So the President will not change his style?
PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: Come again?
Mr. Romero: The President will not change his style despite suggestions from allies?
PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: You know, John Kenneth Galbraith says, “When the situations change, he will change his mind and he will change his attitude.” Thank you very much.
Mr. Romero: Okay. Second question. Hindi ‘yung sa EDCA, ika-clarify ko lang ‘yung sabi ni DFA Secretary Yasay, there is no need to–
PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: Come again?
Mr. Romero: Si Secretary Yasay. There’s no need to review daw EDCA. Hindi ba ‘yun parang kontra sa sinabi ni Presidente last Sunday?
PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: That policy statement, it’s beyond my paycheck.
Mr. Morong: Sir, ito medyo…What are the steps that the administration is taking as far as combating corruption is concerned and then comment that binabaan ‘yung budget I think ng Sandiganbayan? Two questions, sir.
PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: Okay. I’m not sure about the lowering of the budget. But, for example, the streamlining of the business processes is already one step towards avoiding corruption, okay.
The streamlining of the business processes hindi ba ‘yung katulad ng one-stop shops, three days getting licenses.
Thank you very much, it’s been a great day being with you guys.