Press Briefing

Press Briefing of Presidential Spokesperson and Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Secretary Salvador Panelo

Event Press Briefing
Location Press Briefing Room, New Executive Bldg., Malacanang

USEC. IGNACIO:  Good morning, Malacañang Press Corps; happy Monday. Kasama na natin si Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo.

SEC. PANELO:  Good morning. I’m ready if you are, Joseph.

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7:  Sir, sa Kaliwa Dam project, sir. ‘Cause si Justice Carpio is saying—I’m sure you have heard of  the issue already.

SEC. PANELO: Na?

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7:  Na in case we default in—sorry, Chico Dam project puwede daw i-seize yung Reed Bank because of the provision in the contract? Do you want me to read the contract or do you wanna—

SEC. PANELO:  Number one, bakit naman tayo magde-default? We never defaulted from any obligations to any international organization with respect to loans of our country, palagi naman tayong nagbabayad eh.

Number two, they have been saying that bakit daw iyong kontrata pabor sa China; eh bakit, hindi ba pag nag-uutang tayo meron ba tayong say? When we loan from the bank, it’s always the terms of the bank. Natural lang iyon na they will make sure na hindi sila malulugi sa kanilang pinautang sa atin.

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7:  Sir, can you interpret for us, sir, iyong Article 8 provision nung sa contract ‘no. If I may read: “waiver of immunity – the borrower hereby irrevocably waives any immunity in the grounds of sovereign or otherwise for itself or its property in connection with any arbitration proceeding pursuant to… or with the enforcement of any arbitral… or this one – “notwithstanding the foregoing, the borrower does not waive any immunity of its assets which are (a) used by a diplomatic or—“ I’ll just share it to you later, but do you think that’s a right interpretation of the Justice… that we will waive.

SEC. PANELO:  Even assuming that is true, I understand that this is standard contract whenever our country gets loans from other countries. Others, hindi ganyan. But you cannot also blame the lender if they will impose certain terms na pabor sa kanila, eh tayo ang umuutang eh. But as I said, we never did not pay our loans, lahat ng loans binayaran natin; kaya siguro malakas ang loob natin, iyong mga who entered into a contract. Dahil iyon naman in the event that you cannot pay. Eh, alam naman nilang nakakabayad tayo, so parang useless provision iyon.

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7:  But, sir, you are not denying that that is a possibility that China can seize the Reed Bank as alleged by the Justice? If—I mean, maganda sana iyong—

SEC. PANELO:  Sa akin it’s not a possibility, kasi we will never naman reneged.

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7:  What if we do?

SEC. PANELO:  Hindi nga, never nangyari sa atin iyon eh. We are known for paying our obligations.

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: Pero sir, kung halimbawa nga, kasama-samaan na bigla tayong hindi makabayad?

SEC. PANELO:  Ako sa tingin ko, kaya sila pumasok diyan kasi alam niya hindi mangyayari.

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7:  Pero is that an assurance that it will not happen, the allegation?

SEC. PANELO:  It will never happen kasi nga we pay eh. Saka ang liit lang naman, magkano ba $92 million? Magkano lang iyon.

INA ANDOLONG/CNN PHILS.:  Sir, tama po ba rin iyong sinasabi ni Justice Carpio that if in case we do default on our loan, iyong magiging arbitration case basically is too much in favor of China because it will be formed by three members, tapos dalawa sa China, so parang kumbaga automatic or malamang daw matatalo tayo if it gets to that.

SEC. PANELO:  Again, as I’ve stated, to my mind ha, just like bank institutions when they lend they impose terms to make sure na mababayaran sila. Eh siguro itong mga pumasok diyan, mga economic managers natin alam nilang never namang mangyayari, kaya binigay nila, because it will never happen.

INA ANDOLONG/CNN PHILS.:   Is that a prudent decision to make na parang lugi tayo. I mean knowing na lugi tayo in such a scenario?

SEC. PANELO: Eh wala ka naman—do you have any say when you’re borrowing money? O iyong sabihin nila, oh di wag na lang, hindi na lang kami magpahiram sa inyo. Oh since alam mo naman na ‘ah babayaran naman namin iyan kahit ano pang imposition ninyo diyan eh. Wala ding mangyayari diyan sa mga terms ninyo.’

ROSALIE COZ/UNTV:     Sir, bilang Chief Presidential Legal Counsel din, hindi ho ba labag sa Saligang Batas na gawing garantiya iyong likas na yaman ng bansa sa utang sa China?

SEC. PANELO:  I don’t think so, kasi iyan ang standard nga ng mga terms ng kanilang ano eh—saka isa pa, it’s not even clear whether or not iyong patrimonial assets is as defined by the Constitutions – ours – or their Constitution.

O ‘di—tama iyong… kasi napanuod ko si Batumbakal kanina. Sinasabi niya na… ano, hindi naman natin alam kung ano ba ang definition ng patrimonial assets – sa definition ng Pilipino o definition nila kasi wala namang nakalagay sa kontrata which—

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7:  Located in the Philippines…

SEC. PANELO:  Hindi with respect nga sa patrimonial assets na puwede mong… anong definition nila noon. But nevertheless, as I say, siguro kaya talagang malakas ang loob kasi we never renege eh. Kita mo iyong ano… iyong utang natin sa… iyong sa… ano nga iyong energy? Nuclear power, kita mo iyon, ilang bilyon iyon babayaran natin eh ni hindi nga natin nagamit iyon, ito pang Chico Dam na gagamitin natin; parang in the realm of speculation and improbability.

ROSALIE COZ/UNTIV:  Iyong ano din po, iyong confidentiality doon po sa agreement loan. Iyong confidentiality clause doon po sa loan agreement, hindi rin po ba ito kuwestyonable, sir. Kasi siyempre ang public is may karapatang malaman iyon pong pakikipagkasundo pagdating sa—

SEC. PANELO:  Hindi, hindi ba nakalabas naman sa ano… hindi ba nasa—iyong agreement mismo nasa online eh. There’s nothing confidential about it. Iyon ngang nirereklamo nila, nandoon na pala ever since nasa online, nasa DFA…

Q:   DoF.

SEC. PANELO:  DoF, sabi… iyon ang sabi ni Sonny Dominguez.

PIA GUTIERREZ/ABS-CBN:  So sir, you are confirming that iyong sinabi ni Justice Carpio, these are really the terms of Chico River loan contract?

SEC. PANELO:  Kung nakita ninyo as online, I’m just ano… predicating my response to kung iyong mismong kontrata, iyon yung nabasa niya.

PIA GUTIERREZ/ABS-CBN:  So, you are not even sure, sir, if iyong allegations are true or not?

SEC. PANELO:  Hindi. Hindi ba sabi ko assuming that to be true eh kaya pinasa kay ganito, ang sagot ko diyan.

PIA GUTIERREZ/ABS-CBN:  Sir, have you seen the copy of the loan contract?

SEC. PANELO:  No, I have not seen it. Nobody has sent me a copy.

PIA GUTIERREZ/ABS-CBN:  So, you are assuming na lang, sir na—

SEC. PANELO:  Assuming that to be true, ganun pa rin ang sagot ko.

PIA GUTIERREZ/ABS-CBN:  Sir, nabanggit ni Justice Carpio na itong terms ng Chico River contract would be the terms of other loan contracts between China and the Philippines.

SEC. PANELO:  What do you mean altered loan contract?

PIA GUTIERREZ/ABS-CBN:  Iyong other loan contracts for other projects, it will be a template. Do you see anything wrong with that?

SEC. PANELO:  Not necessarily. Like for instance, if we show the Chinese government that we are on time, regularly paying, o di if you were the borrower or the lender rather, you will know na magaling itong borrower na ito, hindi ka na kailangang mag-impose ng mga onerous conditions against them. So, not necessarily na maging template na iyon.

PIA GUTIERREZ/ABS-CBN:  So, the Philippines can still negotiate, the terms of the—

SEC. PANELO:  Kung napag-agrehan na nila iyon sa Chico Dam, paano mo ine-negotiate? You can only rescind that if there is fraud. And/or the intention of the parties were not written down.

ARJAY BALINBIN/BUSINESS WORLD:   Sir, just to reiterate what you said. Did you say it’s logical that our natural resources are being used as collateral for loan agreements with China?

SEC. PANELO:  No, what I am saying is the onerous conditions that some are saying incorporated in the contract is standard between lender and borrower to be sure that the lender will be getting what they have lent to the borrower.

ARJAY BALINBIN/BUSINESS WORLD:  That’s the standard; therefore it’s logical that we have this collateral using our natural resources for loan agreement with China?

SEC. PANELO:  I do not know the loan agreement entered into by previous governments. If they have done that, then it could be standard for them.

ARJAY BALINBIN/BUSINESS WORLD:  And you don’t see anything wrong with that?

SEC. PANELO:  I don’t see anything wrong because I know it will never happen. That is precisely why I am saying that perhaps the economic managers who entered into a contract know that it will never happen.

MARICEL HALILI/TV5:  Sir, just a follow up lang, clarification. So, in the previous loans entered during the time of the President, hindi naging collateral iyong project na pinapasok—

SEC. PANELO:  I don’t know. Which loan?

MARICEL HALILI/TV5:  I don’t know, the previous loans prior to the Chico—

SEC. PANELO:  I do not know of any loan prior to this; unless you have to tell—tell me first.

MARICEL HALILI/TV5:  No, because you mentioned earlier that you see nothing wrong eh if it’s being used as a collateral. So I am just wondering if there were previous loans na ganito rin iyong naging terms.

SEC. PANELO:  Hindi ko alam, I was referring to previous governments, not this administration.

MARICEL HALILI/TV5:  On other issue, sir. May we have your take on the statement of Senator De Lima calling the President to fire Sandra Cam from PCSO because of the corruption allegations?

SEC. PANELO:  From what I understand, somebody has already filed a case in the Ombudsman. So that’s the Ombudsman call now.

MARICEL HALILI/TV5:  So the President has no plans of firing Sandra Cam?

SEC. PANELO:  Since, it’s already with the Ombudsman and the Ombudsman has the power to suspend, I think we will let it do the process.

MARICEL HALILI/TV5:  Even the call for investigation on the corruption allegations?

SEC. PANELO:  It’s being investigated.

MARICEL HALILI/TV5:  No, I mean on the part of Malacañang, will there be any instruction coming from the President to investigate Sandra Cam?

SEC. PANELO:  We will not be duplicating any investigation, considering the fact that there is now a pending case with the Ombudsman.

PIA GUTIERREZ/ABS-CBN:  Sir, si former cop Eduardo Acierto is saying in a press briefing—

SEC. PANELO: Sino iyon? CAAP?

PIA GUTIERREZ/ABS-CBN:  Dating pulis na si Eduardo Acierto has surfaced and said in a press briefing that he gave a report to then PNP Chief Bato Dela Rosa in 2017 that the President’s Adviser Michael Yang is involved in drug. So, can you give your reaction to this?

SEC. PANELO:  No. Hndi ba na-clarify na iyan. Even the Ambassador has cleared Michael Yang. In fact, he was telling personally – and even I think I made a statement – I will never associate myself with one who is involved in drugs. In fact, sabi niya he slept there I think one or twice. He is never—I d0n’t think Michael Yang was ever involved, otherwise nasa listahan na iyan or may kaso na iyan.

PIA GUTIERREZ/ABS-CBN:  Pero do you know, sir, that after this information is given to the PNP Chief that there was an investigation by the PNP to clear the name of Michael Yang?

SEC. PANELO:  I will have to ask the PNP Chief.

PIA GUTIERREZ/ABS-CBN:  Sir, itong si Eduardo Acierto is a former Police Superintendent na nasama sa drug matrix. He was implicated in the drug trade at ngayon ang sinasabi niya that the reason he was included in the drug list was because nag-report siya tungkol sa kaibigan ng Pangulo na si Michael Yang?

SEC. PANELO:  Hindi ko alam iyon. I have no personal knowledge of that.

INA ANDOLONG/CNN PHILS:  Sir, just a quick reaction please doon sa malaking protest held by motorcycle riders yesterday. They are basically saying that the motorcycle crime prevention act signed by the President is unconstitutional.

SEC. PANELO:  Why, why daw? What’s their argument?

INA ANDOLONG/CNN PHILS:  This is the law requiring them to put bigger plates and I think color-coded plates doon sa motorcycles?

SEC. PANELO:  If they feel that it’s so unconstitutional they can always raise that before the courts.

INA ANDOLONG/CNN PHILS:  But of course the President is standing by it. Considering sir—

SEC. PANELO:  Well, he has signed it.

INA ANDOLONG/CNN PHILS:  And because the President is a known motorcycle enthusiasts, baka meron lang siyang mensahe doon sa mga—and these people supported him in his campaign, I understand, baka lang meron siyang mensahe.

SEC. PANELO:  I will ask him, para I can… para mas—we haven’t talked about that yet.

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7:  So, sir, ibig sabihin the President also has to comply with the big plates ‘no?

SEC. PANELO:  Yes, pero hindi na nagmo-motor iyon eh.

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7:  Hindi, sometimes, di ba sinasabi niya?

SEC. PANELO:  Hindi, si Mayor Sara na ngayon ang nagmo-motor. Bawal na sa kanya kasi di ba ang dami na niyang aksidente.

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7:  So both of them, sir, mag-comply doon sa bigger plates.

SEC. PANELO:   Everyone should comply. No exception.

TINA MARALIT/TRIBUNE: Sir, good morning po. Sir, may update na po ba tayo kung kailan iyong release ng executive order to address the water supply concerns, especially since po PAGASA just announced that water in Angat Dam may reach critical level by April?

SEC. PANELO: Wala pa. Wala pang pini-feed sa akin kung gawa na.

TINA MARALIT/TRIBUNE: But Malacañang po sees at as a pressing concern po?

SEC. PANELO: Yeah, that’s why it’s issuing an executive order to address concerns relative to it.

NESTOR CORRALES/INQUIRER.NET: Secretary, the President is embarking on his fourth China trip this April to attend the second Belt and Road Forum.

SEC. PANELO: April kailan?

NESTOR CORRALES/INQUIRER.NET: This April, sir, no specific date yet, to attend the Belt and Road Forum. What do we expect from his visit, sir?

SEC. PANELO: Well, I suppose continuation of their discussion on mutual concerns relative to trade, security, and what else that will benefit both countries.

NESTOR CORRALES/INQUIRER.NET: Sir, what does this say about the Philippine’s relation with China since this is the fourth time the President has accepted the invitation to go to Beijing? I understand, mayroon ding invitation from the United States, but the President has not accepted or responded to the invitation. What does this say about our relationship with China compared that of the United States?

SEC. PANELO: I think the relationship between the US and China remains cordial and healthy. So with America, the only reason perhaps why the President has not considered visiting is because of the temperature. He could not stand very cold temperature; he gets sick.

ROSALIE COZ/UNTV: Secretary, can you also confirm reports na bibisita rin si Pangulo sa Japan in May?

SEC. PANELO: So I heard that too. Yes I think so, yes.

ROSALIE COZ/UNTV: So it’s confirmed?

SEC. PANELO: Parang May, yeah.

Q: Heard from?

SEC. PANELO: Mukha—parang narinig ko sa protocol. Hindi ko pa—but I will confirm that.

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: Sir, iyong sa ICC, sound byte purposes lang ‘no. You mentioned before, and even the President ‘no, na walang jurisdiction. But let’s focus first on the one that was filed by Justice Morales and Secretary Del Rosario. So, do you think this is a… something that has a different goal–

SEC. PANELO: Different what?

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: Goal, sir. Parang it’s an attack na indirect ng, you know what I mean, parang tangential attack. Ibig sabihin, they really didn’t want to make China pay for the…

SEC. PANELO: I think, more of a political.

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: Because, sir?

SEC. PANELO: They may know that China is not a member state party. Philippines is not also a state party so how can ICC assumes jurisdiction.

I just heard an Indiana professor saying over ANC, when he was interviewed that, in fact, that complaint might even strengthen China in refusing and making a hard stance on the South China Sea – iyon ang sinasabi nung iba; iyong iba naman, talagang walang jurisdiction.

Another thing, I don’t want to say this now because I’m still asking for documentation. Kay Chit Morales, wala akong… I have no problem with her. I think she filed it out of righteous indignation. Siguro iyong isa rin, except that somebody just told me – and I’m asking for documentation – that when he was Secretary of Foreign Affairs, when China was still starting to build a structure half the size of a basketball court, he was already informed officially on that, in fact, pictures were given him or DFA, and subsequent structures. But they ignored it. He ignored it because, according to my source, he does want to rock the boat. That’s why I told my source, I need documents; I need communications from your group to DFA; I need pictures that you have given them; I need official response coming from Del Rosario. Because if that is true, then … eh mali eh. Bakit noon hindi ka gumalaw? Ngayon ka lang naggagagalaw kung wala ka na sa posisyon, when at that time you could have made protests, made noise.

Pero … iyon ang source ko. So I’m asking my source to give me documents, and then I’ll present it to you.

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: But they did file at the Permanent Court of Arbitration during their time.

SEC. PANELO: Iyon na nga, ang sabi ng source ko, sabi niya, they only filed noong nakatayo na lahat. But before—iyon din ang sinasabi ni Presidente eh, bakit noong nag-uumpisa pa lang iyon, wala kayong ginawa? Noong naitayo na, saka kayo nag-iingay. Iyon din ang sinasabi ni Presidente, I remember, during the campaign.

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: Sir, just one last point. Do you think that the complaint may have the effect of the PCA—

SEC PANELO: What’s PCA?

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: Permanent Court of Arbitration, sir—enforcing the award, in one way or another. Meaning, maybe just issuing a statement that—

SEC. PANELO: Hindi nga nila ini-enforce. Until now naman, they are not enforcing it.

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: But do you think that has the effect of compelling the PCA to do something and maybe—

SEC. PANELO: Hindi naman, because that’s only a communication. Unang-una, they will determine whether mayroong jurisdiction o wala, whether jurisdictional crime iyon. Kasi ‘di ba, in my statement I said, the case against it was act of inhumanity ‘di ba?

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: Crimes against humanity.

SEC. PANELO: Crimes against humanity. And it was defined there kung ano iyong crimes against humanity – murder, rape, kung anu-ano pa. Tapos iyong last, and other inhuman acts. So I said in my … ‘di ba in my corrected statement, unless you consider environmental damage as an inhuman act. Eh baka naman overstressed na rin iyon pagdating sa court. Hindi natin alam.

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: So you don’t share that opinion, sir, that it is a crime against humanity to, one, destroy environment; number two, deprive our people of their livelihood?

SEC. PANELO: No, what I’m saying is, hindi—kasi it’s the court that will determine that. But my position or our position in the Palace is that, no jurisdiction because—simply because China is not a member state; Philippine is not also a member state.

INA ANDOLONG/CNN PHIL: Sir, sinabi po ninyo kanina, noong panahon ni former Secretary Del Rosario, he didn’t want to rock the boat. I believe this is the same stance taken by President Duterte. And again, as Joseph pointed out earlier, si former SFA actually filed a case which we ended up winning, favoring our claims—

SEC. PANELO: That was subsequent after so many structures have been made. What my source is saying is that they were just starting, noong maliit pa lang iyon, ayaw nilang gumalaw. In other words, puwede na nilang i-stop iyon from the very beginning. Pinabayaan nilang lumaki, saka lang sila nag-file sa court. Ngayon sinisisi ninyo ang gobyerno dahil hindi ma-enforce.

INA ANDOLONG/CNN PHIL: But nonetheless, ongoing constructions—I mean, construction continued under President Duterte’s watch. Would you say that President Duterte is responding to the constructions better than how former SFA did when he filed it and actually won something which favored or strengthened our claims in the area?

SEC. PANELO: Alam mo, you cannot compare what happened prior. Kasi iyong prior, nag-uumpisa pa lang eh; this time, nakatayo na eh, nagkaproblema … ubod na ng laki ang nakatayo doon.

INA ANDOLONG/CNN PHIL:   Sir, pero dinadagdagan po nila.

SEC. PANELO: Meanwhile, the President is using negotiation, diplomatic negotiation. Kasi nga, wala ngang maka-enforce eh. Walang malakas na kapangyarihan na gustong mag-enforce. Unang-una, the court itself, how can it enforce, wala naman siyang army to enforce it.

INA ANDOLONG/CNN PHIL: But in the same way, sir, dinadagdagan pa rin po ng China iyong kanilang ginagawa. And the President, as you mentioned, also chooses to not rock the boat.

SEC. PANELO: But we protest naman eh. The only way to do that, to register opposition is to protest. And as the former Secretary Alan Cayetano said, we’ve been making protests pero hindi namin ina-announce na sa inyo.

INA ANDOLONG/CNN PHIL: In the same way that ganoon din naman po iyong ginawa ni former SFA?

SEC. PANELO: Hindi nga eh, hindi nga sila nagpu-protest noon. Iyon nga point ng source ko.

INA ANDOLONG/CNN PHIL: Are you not giving them credit, sir, for winning that case for us?

SEC. PANELO: Iba iyong nanalo sila, kumbaga, ginawa ninyo iyan after. Hindi na sana nakarating sa pag-file ng kaso kung at the inception, hininto ninyo na; nagreklamo na kayo noong half the size of a basketball court pa lang.

INA ANDOLONG/CNN PHIL: And you’re saying because nangyari na iyon, wala nang magagawa ngayon si President Duterte?

SEC. PANELO: May nagawa ba ang America? May nagawa ba ang IC? Wala nga eh, kaya nga nagne-negotiate na lang tayo baka sakaling may mangyari. Like for instance, iyong mga fishermen na dating binubugaw nila, hindi na nila binubugaw—

INA ANDOLONG/CNN PHIL: Actually, there are still complaints by fishermen, sir.

SEC. PANELO: Oo, pero hindi naman naba-validate eh kasi mismo iyong nagbabantay doon sinasabi wala.

ARJAY BALINIBIN/BUSINESS WORLD: On ICC again, sir. The late Senator Miriam Santiago was the first Filipino who was elected as ICC Judge. Now you are saying that we’ve never been a member of the ICC. So her election to the ICC, representing the Philippines, was void?

SEC. PANELO: Kung iyong … if the position is we’ve never been a state party, then logically, it is void. Unless, the International Court says it is not. Kasi that’s a legal issue eh. As far as we are concerned, they never assumed jurisdiction over us. As far as they are concerned, they assumed jurisdiction because there was a treaty. Eh tayo naman, may treaty nga pero you didn’t follow the Constitution naman kaya wala rin iyan. So it’s a legal issue.

ARJAY BALINIBIN/BUSINESS WORLD: But the fact, sir, that she intended to be an ICC Judge, meaning she knew that the Philippines was a member state. So are you saying that she got it wrong when she campaigned to be part—

SEC. PANELO: Obviously, she never knew—knowing her to be a lawyer, she never knew that there was a publication on the Official Gazette or a newspaper of general circulation. Had she known that, knowing her, I’m sure she would have raised that as an issue.

ARJAY BALINIBIN/BUSINESS WORLD: So she got it wrong. Thank you.

SEC. PANELO: Unless, she has a different interpretation.

CHRISTINE AVENDAÑO/PDI: But, sir, ‘di ba we put Raul Pangalangan there as ICC representative?

SEC.PANELO: Kasi nga the assumption then during the previous government/administration—

CHRISTINE AVENDAÑO/PDI: Yeah, but did we pull him out? Because I know, he is still there.

SEC. PANELO: Hindi natin alam.

CHRISTINE AVENDAÑO/PDI: But why won’t we pull him out if the ICC is not there anymore?

SEC. PANELO: We don’t have to pull out anybody if the position is we never was under the jurisdiction of the court, then it behooves whoever is there to do something for himself.

CHRISTINE AVENDAÑO/PDI: So it’s up to him if ever?

SEC. PANELO: Aba’y nasa kaniya na iyon. At saka nasa International Court na rin iyon. If the International Court allows him to stay and remain there, bakit naman ayaw niya.

CHRISTINE AVENDAÑO/PDI: But won’t it be a stronger case for the government if you pull him out there as representative if we are no longer recognizing ICC?

SEC. PANELO: Hindi eh, in the first place, magiging inconsistent ka. Sinabi mo na ngang walang jurisdiction, bakit mo… ’di from the very start, walang jurisdiction. Iyon na ngang sinasabi nila, bakit kayo nag-withdraw kung walang jurisdiction. Ang sinasabi naman, eh hindi naman nag-withdraw in that sense na ayaw na namin. That letter was effectively telling them that, ‘Excuse us, we’ve never been under your jurisdiction.’

PIA GUTIERREZ/ABS-CBN2: Sir, the group of Neri Colmenares released a documentary on Facebook showing the effect of the conflict between China and the Philippines to their livelihood. They interviewed mga fishermen fishing in the Scarborough Shoal where they detailed kung paano sinisira ng mga Chinese Coast Guard iyong kanilang mga bangka, kung paano kinukuha iyong kanilang mga huli.

So while the Philippine government is negotiating with China, and you said protesting the actions of China in the South China Sea, ano po ang ginagawa natin to help these fishermen na siya talagang—

SEC. PANELO: Baka naman iyong mga video na iyan ay iyong mga noon pa iyan na ginawan na nga natin ng paraan kaya nga nai-stop eh. Hindi siguro recent iyan.

PIA GUTIERREZ/ABS-CBN2: It’s a recent video, sir, released a few days ago or yesterday yata or two days ago.

SEC. PANELO: Yeah, I know it’s a recent release. But I’m saying is baka iyong video taken prior. Kasi may ginawa na tayo diyan eh, ‘di ba ang daming reklamo noon. Gumawa na nga ng diplomatic negotiation diyan. Pumayag na nga sila. Hindi na nga sila pinapaalis eh.

PIA GUTIERREZ/ABS-CBN2: So you’re denying, sir, that these are happening in Scarborough Shoal?

SEC. PANELO: I do not know whether—they have to show proof that that’s being done now again; because if that’s being done, certainly we will protest. We will not allow our countrymen to be subjected to that kind of harassment.

PIA GUTIERREZ/ABS-CBN2: But if indeed they prove that these are recent videos, these are recent interviews and these are happening in Masinloc, Zambales, sir—

SEC. PANELO: Then we will protest. We will not allow it to happen.

PIA GUTIERREZ/ABS-CBN2: What about iyong fishermen, sir, habang nagpuprotesta, habang nagnenegosasyon, ano iyong ginagawa natin to augment because their needs are more urgent?

SEC. PANELO: No, kasi as far as I know, hindi sila tinataboy doon. Noon iyon, noong mga panahon. Natigil na nga eh. In fact—sino ba ang nagsabi sa akin? One general was telling me na iyong mga Vietnamese nga raw, iyong Vietnamese, kapag tinataboy, tumatakbo sa mga Filipino fishermen. Para napu-protect sila, they’re being shielded from being attacked kasi iyong mga Pilipino hindi na ginagalaw eh.

PIA GUTIERREZ/ABS-CBN2: So essentially, sir, without seeing the video, you’re denying that these… iyong mga claims, aren’t true?

SEC. PANELO: I’m saying that you have to show proof that that is still happening now. Because if it is still happening now, then we will protest. We will not allow that to happen to our fishermen.

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: Sir, so iyong sinabi ninyo po kanina na hindi na sila tinataboy, hindi na tinataboy ng China iyong ating mga mangingisda, you don’t see any problem with that dynamic, sir, na China has the power to shoo away our fishermen from—

SEC. PANELO: Eh tanong ko naman sa’yo: May magagawa ba tayo eh sila ang may control as of now, ‘di ba? Mayroon silang puwersa doon. We can only protest like any other country na nagki-claim, like Vietnam and other … kung ano pang bansa iyon na nagki-claim. Sa ngayon iyon lang ang magagawa natin eh. You want us to declare war against them?

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: No. They have control, you said?

SEC. PANELO: Hindi ba they have control kasi nagtayo sila ng ano nila doon, puwersa nila. Mayroon silang island doon, may mga military sila doon.

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: Military?

SEC. PANELO: Hindi ba, iyan ang pagkakaalam ko. Anyway, kasi ang style nga ni Presidente since hindi … wala namang maka-enforce noon, mag-usap na lang tayo. Kumbaga, o kayo naman, sa inyo na nga lahat, ibigay ninyo na sa amin iyan. Parang ganoon ang istilo ni Presidente.

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7:  So, sir, are we powerless against China?

SEC. PANELO:  Are we what?

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7:  Are we powerless against China?

SEC. PANELO:  Powerless. What do you mean powerless, in what sense?

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7:  You said, nandoon na sila. Wala na tayong magagawa, let’s just talk.

SEC. PANELO:  What I am saying is, tell me, has any arbitral ruling by this International Court been enforced previously. Dahil kung meron, eh may pag-asa tayo; kung wala sa ngayon, wala tayong munang magagawa. So pag-usapan na lang natin sa negotiation, diplomatic muna.

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7:  Hindi ba, sir, pampalakas ng loob iyong ruling natin na at least to do something, make a statement or… not be subservient to China so much—

SEC. PANELO:  But we are making statement naman, di ba? Kaya lang hindi na pina-publish, but we make diplomatic protest always.

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7:  Pero, sir, as a matter of policy we do not agree that China—

SEC. PANELO:  Of course.

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7:  We do not agree that China should have a control over that area.

SEC. PANELO:  Certainly, that is ours; and the arbitral ruling says it’s ours.

PIA GUTIERREZ/ABS-CBN:      Sir, if ever, ito iyong yung mga pinakita doon sa documentary are true, kung totoo pa rin na naaapektuhan iyong livelihood ng ating mga fishermen doon—

SEC. PANELO:    We will make a diplomatic protest.

PIA GUTIERREZ/ABS-CBN:  But what does this say about the effectivity of the diplomatic track that the Duterte administration has taken is resolving the dispute?

SEC. PANELO:   Well, if there was a negotiation and there was an agreement not to touch them and then one incident, two incidents violates such agreement, then we have to tell them.  And they will have to correct it.

PIA GUTIERREZ/ABS-CBN:  But, doesn’t this show na hindi naman effective iyong pakikipag-usap sa kanila, nag-negotiation pero wala namang nangyayari.

SEC. PANELO:   Ang problema nga eh, ano ang—outside of negotiation, anung gagawin ba natin. What is important is we are not agreeing to what they are doing to us. We are not allowing it. We are opposing it.

PIA GUTIERREZ/ABS-CBN:  Sir, itong bilateral talks, it has been few years since it has started. Can you say, sir, kung ano na iyong mga nagawa nito to resolve issues?

SEC. PANELO:  As far as I know, iyon nga ang sinasabi ko, iyon nga ang sinasabi ni Ambassador Zhao sa akin noon eh, hindi na nagagalaw iyong mga fisherman doon. So mukhang may nangyari sa usapan nila. Now if there is a violation, then we will have to go back to them, ‘Oh may violation daw, you better stop it.’ Basta the policy is you cannot be harassing our fishermen.

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7:  Doon lang sa point na iyon, sir. Kasi I think nag-aalala iyong mga mangingisda natin na because of these complaint baka may gawin na naman iyong Chinese Coastguard or China. So, dapat talk to our fishermen ‘no. Dapat ano iyong gagawin nila at dapat nararanasan nila doon sa ating—for emphasis—

SEC. PANELO:  Alam mo, ang problema kasi may Coastguard doon, may nagbabantay doon. If you ask them, sinasabi nilang wala. Hindi ba, they issue a statement, ‘no such thing.’ Pero sabi naman daw ng Mayor ng isang island doon yata, sabi niya meron. Oh eh ang problema hindi natin malaman kung ano talaga.

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7:  So dapat, sir, they should fish confidently in that area.

SEC. PANELO:  Dapat. They should not be touched or harassed.

USEC. IGNACIO:  Okay, no more MPC? Okay thank you Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo.  Thank you MPC.

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SOURCE: PCOO – NIB (News and Information Bureau)

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