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. ROCKY IGNACIO:  Good afternoon, MPC. Let’s now have Presidential Spokesperson and Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo.

SEC. PANELO:  Good noon, MPC. Let’s have some announcement:

Tatak ng Pagbabago 2019: The pre-SONA Forum – We’d like to announce that the ahead of the fourth State of the Nation Address for the President, six Cabinet clusters will be holding a three-part pre-SONA forum entitled, “Tatak ng Pagbabago 2019” to discuss the administration’s package of policies and programs, as well as triumphs in pursuing genuine and lasting change.

‘Patuloy na Pag-unlad’ will be the forum to be held on July 1st 2019 at the Philippine International Convention Center, it will be spearheaded by the Economic Development Cluster and the Infrastructure Cluster. Discussions will focus on the administration’s game-changing reforms to attain sustainable and exclusive development.

‘Patuloy na Malasakit at Pagkakaisa’ will follow July 10, 2019 in Cebu to discuss the respective policies, programs and projects of the participatory governance cluster and the Human Development and Poverty Reduction Cluster in providing every Filipino people broader access to education, employment, healthcare and government services.

And lastly, ‘Patuloy ng Katatagan’ will be held on July 17, 2019 in Davao City. It will be spearheaded by the Climate Change Adaptation, Mitigation and this is a Risk Reduction Cluster and the Security, Justice and Peace Cluster to discuss measures in ensuring the country’s ecological integrity, as well as national security and public order and safety.

Each forum will include an open forum with Cabinet secretaries and officials of each cluster and will be live streamed in the Facebook pages of the PCOO and its attached agencies such as PTV and Radyo Pilipinas.

GENALYN KABILING/MANILA BULLETIN:  Sir, has the President started drafting the SONA and may we know the… at least the framework of his upcoming address?

SEC. PANELO:  What I know is that the Department secretaries are giving their inputs for the draft.

GENALYN KABILING/MANILA BULLETIN:  Would he be reading a prepared speech or it would be an extemporaneous one?

SEC. PANELO:  Eh hindi natin alam. Alam mo naman si Presidente eh…

INA ANDOLONG/CNN PHILIPPINES:  Hi, sir. There are reports today saying that there may be a Cabinet revamp before the President’s SONA. Can you confirm this?

SEC. PANELO:  Hmm… I have not received any word on that except from you and others.

INA ANDOLONG/CNN PHILIPPINES:  The reports today quoting a source specifically named Agriculture—

SEC. PANELO:  From the source of the CNN Philippines?

INA ANDOLONG/CNN PHILIPPINES:  Iba-iba pong mga media… iba-iba pong news outfits named Agriculture Secretary Manny Piñol, baka daw po he may be on his way out.

SEC. PANELO:  I have not heard of that. Iyong kay Secretary Piñol ‘di ba several months ko nang narinig ko ‘yan na papalitan, wala naman.

INA ANDOLONG/CNN PHILIPPINES:  So in previous Cabinet meeting sir, the President has not mentioned—

SEC. PANELO:  Wala naman siyang binabanggit.

INA ANDOLONG/CNN PHILIPPINES:  Okay. But since itong upcoming SONA is midway to the President’s term, is there a more comprehensive perhaps assessment of the performance of the members of the Cabinet?

SEC. PANELO:  As usual, that’s the President’s call.

REYMUND TINAZA/BOMBO RADYO:  Sir, you’ve been—you kept saying that the Congress is an independent branch of the government. So, but—

SEC. PANELO:  Is it not?

REYMUND TINAZA/BOMBO RADYO:  You always say so that the Congress is an independent and you will not interfere with the affairs of the congressmen. But why is the President about to decide and announce a Speaker?

SEC. PANELO:  Says who?

REYMUND TINAZA/BOMBO RADYO:  According to the President.

SEC. PANELO:  Huh? According to?

REYMUND TINAZA/BOMBO RADYO:  The President himself, that he’s inclined to make a choice among the—

SEC. PANELO:  When did he say that? I didn’t hear him say that.

REYMUND TINAZA/BOMBO RADYO:  Last night.

SEC. PANELO:  Last night?

REYMUND TINAZA/BOMBO RADYO:  Oo. According to Chona, last night.

SEC. PANELO:  Paano niya sinabi? How did he phrase it? Anong sabi?

MPC:  Off mic.

SEC. PANELO: Ano ang sabi?

USEC ROCKY:  Chona, use the microphone.

SEC. PANELO: Doon sa contradiction? Contra-addiction? Sige nga…

CHONA YU/RADIO INQUIRER:  Sir, ito ‘yung exact quote niya: “House Speaker, look I just came from Bangkok. Nagpatong ang trabaho ko. I have to go home because I have to work. I have so many papers to sign. Maybe when I sit in the bathroom and begin to ponder, I might decide on what—

SEC. PANELO:  O ‘yun naman pala eh, ‘maybe’. O, maybe pala. Wala pa. Wala, that’s just a possibility. If you’re speaking of possibilities, as I always say there is limitless possibilities.

REYMUND TINAZA/BOMBO RADYO:  Sir, but even Senator-elect Bong Go mentioned that—June 28, that the President wants more time to decide. So, it’s the June 28 deadline.

SEC. PANELO:  ‘Pag sinabi niyang ‘maybe’… maybe lang. [Singing: Maybe this year… Maybe never…]

REYMUND TINAZA/BOMBO RADYO:  So it’s possible now that he will not actually make an announcement of his choice?

SEC. PANELO:  Puwedeng puwede, puwedeng hindi. Hindi natin alam. Siya mismo nagsabi maybe eh… may bigote [laughs].

CHONA YU/RADIO INQUIRER:  So sir, what is the position of the President now when it comes—

SEC. PANELO:  O, eh ‘di maybe. The position is: “Maybe I can… when I’m in the bathroom, I’ll think about it. I might. I might not.

ARJAY BALINBIN/BUSINESS WORLD:  Sir even if it’s a possibility, is it right for the President to pick someone to endorse to be House Speaker?

SEC. PANELO:  Whether it’s right or not, will depend on your perception.

ARJAY BALINBIN/BUSINESS WORLD:  So what’s your perception, sir?

SEC. PANELO:  I have no perception on that, except to say that—

ARJAY BALINBIN/BUSINESS WORLD:  No. Your initial perception is that, you said that the President will not interfere—

SEC. PANELO:  Let us not pursue the word of the Pre—he said ‘maybe’. You know when you’re in the bathroom, thoughts come rushing just like the waters…

ARJAY BALINBIN/BUSINESS WORLD:  Sir your initial perception as you said, you take it as—

SEC. PANELO:  Maybe if he does that, he will be just expressing a preference. It doesn’t mean he’s—

ARJAY BALINBIN/BUSINESS WORLD:  And that’s not an interference?

SEC. PANELO:  No. Expressing a preference, I don’t think that’s interference. And the interference would say: “I want this man to be the Speaker, whether you like it or not.” That’s a different story.

ARJAY BALINBIN/BUSINESS WORLD:  Okay.

INA ANDOLONG/CNN PHILIPPINES:  So sir, kasi po last week Senator-elect Bong Go, who as we know is always with the President, said that during the President’s meeting with House members in Malago, the President he said—

SEC. PANELO:  When was this? When was this?

INA ANDOLONG/CNN PHILIPPINES:  Last week.

SEC. PANELO:  O eh last week, I was with him in Bangkok. And when he arrived there, we went up and we had a huddle about it. And—

INA ANDOLONG/CNN PHILIPPINES:  The Speakership?

SEC. PANELO:  Yeah. Ang sinabi niya parang “May the best man win. Bahala sila.

INA ANDOLONG/CNN PHILIPPINES:  Okay. So hindi na po totoo ‘yung sinabi ni Senator-elect Bong Go that the President asked the senators for up to June 28?

SEC. PANELO:  Not necessarily hindi na totoo kung nangyari iyon. Pero alam mo, minds of human beings change depending on the circumstances. You change the circumstances and you change your style. Depende eh.

INA ANDOLONG/CNN PHILIPPINES: So, sir, may we know the reason why did the President change his mind kasi—

SEC. PANELO: Wala pa—hindi pa nga—hindi ko naman sinasabi na nag-change eh. Ang sinasabi ko, baka nabago. Hindi ko alam.

INA ANDOLONG/CNN PHILIPPINES: Kasi sir, it is clear from the start – based on your statement – that the President won’t interfere and now kahit po sabihin or announcing lang the preference kung sino ‘yung possible na maging House Speaker, still, he’s airing his opinion about the issue. So…

SEC. PANELO: Even then it’s not interference. When you exert pressure, that’s a different story.

INA ANDOLONG/CNN PHILIPPINES: Why is there a need for that, sir?

SEC. PANELO: Siguro dahil kinukulit n’yo siya o kinukulit siya ng mga kandidato. Kasi ‘yung mga iba-ibang grupo kasi they don’t want to move without any message coming from the President.

INA ANDOLONG/CNN PHILIPPINES: But—so, it simply says sir na whoever the President endorses will affect the decision of the congressmen specially his allies?

SEC. PANELO: Not necessarily. Not necessarily.

INA ANDOLONG/CNN PHILIPPINES: If not, what’s the point of sharing kung sino ‘yung gusto niyang umupo?

SEC. PANELO: Bakit? Are you depriving him of his personal preference? That’s his personal preference. If he doesn’t pursue that by other means or acts that will pressure members of the Congress to elect his preferred choice, o eh ‘di ibig sabihin ano lang ‘yun.

INA ANDOLONG/CNN PHILIPPINES: And yesterday, sir, may manifesto ‘yung PDP–Laban, I think endorsing Congressman Lord Velasco. So, does it mean mas inclined si Presidente na mag-go doon sa manifesto ng PDP?

SEC. PANELO: Not necessarily. All of these things are all speculations. Let’s just wait for the President if he does really will announce o ‘di antayin na lang natin.

INA ANDOLONG/CNN PHILIPPINES: Okay, sir.

MODERATOR: Follow-up? The issue? Okay, Hannah.

HANNAH SANCHO/SONSHINE RADIO: Sir, good afternoon. Sir, hindi po ba kinokonsidera ng Pangulo—

SEC. PANELO: Huh?

HANNAH SANCHO/SONSHINE RADIO: Hindi po ba kinokonsidera ng Pangulo, kasi ‘yung sinasabi ng mga congressmen like Congressman Alan Peter Cayetano, na magkakagulo po sa Congress kung hindi po daw pipili si Pangulong Duterte?

SEC. PANELO: Hindi naman. Never naman nagkagulo ang Kongreso. Gulo in the sense na nagbobotohan, magulo nga dahil kanya-kanyang—

HANNAH SANCHO/SONSHINE RADIO: ‘Yun nga, sir.

SEC. PANELO: —kandidato.

HANNAH SANCHO/SONSHINE RADIO:  Baka daw mas magulo pa kaysa nung last SONA between doon sa—

SEC. PANELO: Eh alam n’yo naman ang eleksiyon sa atin, ‘di ba palaging magulo? May kanya-kanyang… diskarte.

HANNAH SANCHO/SONSHINE RADIO: So, hindi po—

SEC. PANELO: Antayin na lang natin, let’s wait. It’s exciting to wait for developments.

HANNAH SANCHO/SONSHINE RADIO: Okay, sir.

MODERATOR: Okay, Arjay.

ARJAY BALINBIN/BUSINESS WORLD: But, sir, the President represents the people, so why announce his personal preference?

SEC. PANELO: Kung he’s just expressing a preference eh—pero hindi pa nga. Sinabi niya, ‘maybe’, wala pa eh. ‘Maybe’. Maybe when I’m in the bathroom… Masyado namang…

ARJAY BALINBIN/BUSINESS WORLD: Okay, sir.

SEC. PANELO: Tatanungin ko nga mamaya para alam ko na ang sagot.

MODERATOR: Questions? Other issue?

SEC. PANELO: Eh, kasi all of them are allies eh. Maybe he doesn’t want to ruffle the feelings of the candidates; and all of them naman are supportive of the President.

MODERATOR: Joseph?

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: So should the congressmen wait for the President’s—

SEC. PANELO: They should not.

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: Because?

SEC. PANELO: They’re supposed to be knowledgeable of the candidates.

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: How then do you view this panliligaw kay Presidente, ‘cause they’ve been following him around?

SEC. PANELO: Ever since naman… ever since naman our members of Congress court the President; iyon naman ang history natin eh. Nabago lang kay Presidente dahil hindi nga siya mahilig na mag-interfere. ‘Di ba last time, wala naman siya… hindi naman siya nakialam. Pati pagtanggal, hindi naman siya… ni hindi nga niya alam. Hindi niya kasi style.

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7:  Thank you. sir. Sige po.

MODERATOR: Other issue? Daniel?

DANIEL: Good afternoon, sir. Sir, may we know kung mayroon na pong bagong directive si Presidente sa nangyari pong water crisis?

SEC. PANELO:  Wala pa akong alam. Hindi ko pa nakakausap siya tungkol doon.

DANIEL: Thank you, sir.

MODERATOR: MPC, questions? Joyce Balancio? Okay, other issue.

JOYCE BALANCIO/DZMM:  Sir, yesterday si Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin called Vice President Leni Robredo ‘boba’ over her statements against the cancelation of diplomatic passports; while SFA already apologized to the Vice President. Do you think, sir, it’s unbecoming of a Foreign Minister to say such words against the Vice President?

SEC. PANELO: He already apologized.

JOYCE BALANCIO/DZMM:   But do you think—

SEC. PANELO: That speaks a lot, when you apologize.

JOYCE BALANCIO/DZMM:   What does it mean sir, to you, to the Palace – his apology?

SEC. PANELO: That means he committed a mistake in calling her ‘boba.’ Because when somebody tweeted to him that the VP is really that, ang sabi niya, “No, she’s our Vice President and she succeeds to the presidency and only voters choose who our President will be.” So, ibig sabihin ano lang, sa kaniyang pananaw hindi niya dapat ginawa ‘yun.

JOYCE BALANCIO/DZMM:  Do you think, sir, what he’s showing his character is still fit—

SEC. PANELO: Not really. Alam mo, kung minsan exasperated lang siya. Parang ang feeling niya the Vice President is a lawyer and sabi nga niya sa tweet niya, it required serious study. Because under Republic Act 2739 ba ‘yun? Is that 2739? Passport? 8239. Nakalagay naman dun klaro eh… who are the persons entitled to hold diplomatic passports; and as pointed out by Senate President Sotto, hindi siya entitled because puwede lang siya entitled doon sa under Section 7, where the President or the Secretary of Foreign Affairs can grant diplomatic passports outside of the enumerated persons at hindi kasama doon ‘yung former member of the Cabinet or Secretary of Foreign Affairs. Kung may official mission, eh personal naman ‘yung kaniyang paglalakbay doon.

But ang problema kasi – as I said in my guesting kay Pinky Webb – the problem there is the former Secretary of Foreign Affairs created his own problem, his own mess. He knew from the very start that there was something wrong in going there given the incident involving the former Ombudsman Chief Morales. What he could have done – or according to him he did it – was to write the DFA and told DFA of his intention. But the problem is he did not wait for the response of the DFA. DFA certainly would have made communications with the Chinese Government or the Hong Kong authorities if it’s alright for him to enter Hong Kong. Eh, hindi niya hinintay ‘yun eh. Plus, sabi niya, sinadya niya rin in a way. ‘Di ba sabi niya, “I tested it,” tapos nagrereklamo siya.

‘Yun namang courtesy… kasi courtesy lang ‘yung issuance ng diplomatic passports, outside ng those enumerated people. Eh, kung courtesy lang ‘yun o eh ‘di ibig sabihin that’s subject to recall anytime by the issuing authority. Sinasabi niya illegal, how can that be illegal? Sinabi niya, he cites a circular daw. Eh ‘di lalo na, kung circular lang ng DFA ‘yan, it cannot go beyond what the law says. But I can understand he’s not also a lawyer.

JOYCE BALANCIO/DZMM:  Sir, going back na lang doon sa sinabi ni Secretary Locsin, sir. Do you believe, sir, na what he showed, fit pa rin siya for the position or would you advice him particular other Cabinet members to show courtesy—

SEC. PANELO:  If he is not fit, he would not have been appointed there. He is fit of course.

JOYCE BALANCIO/DZMM:  But would you advise him, sir—the Palace would advise him to show respect, courtesy—

SEC. PANELO:  He doesn’t have to be given advice by anyone, because he himself had corrected himself.

JOYCE BALANCIO/DZMM:  That is enough, sir. Okay na po iyon?

SEC. PANELO:  Of course.

HENRY URI/DZRH:  Iyon ho bang pananaw at pagkaka-intindi ni Vice President Leni Robredo sa diplomatic passport ay isang kabobohan?

SEC. PANELO: Mali lang siguro iyong kanyang interpretasyon.

HENRY URI/DZRH:  Kabobohan po ba iyon o hindi?

SEC. PANELO:  Nasa sa iyo, kung iyon ang tingin mo.

HENRY URI/DZRH:  No, no. I am asking you.

SEC. PANELO: Hindi, ako ang tingin ko nagkamali lang siya. Nagkamali siya ng—either nagkamali understanding or mali iyong ano… Kasi usually naman ang nagre-research iyong mga staff, iyong mga abogado niya, baka nagkamali lang.

HENRY URI/DZRH:  Iyong ginawa ni dating Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert Del Rosario, ano iyon?

SEC. PANELO:  Which one?

HENRY URI/DZRH:  Iyong pagpunta niya ng Hong Kong na alam niyang—

SEC. PANELO:  Oh, he created his own problem. So why blame the government for what happened to him. Unang-una, we cannot even question the authorities in the same way that we would not want to be questioned when we deny entry to any stranger to our country.  Eh, ano iyon, sovereign iyon eh.

HENRY URI/DZRH:  So, you don’t agree with the Secretary of Foreign Affairs na boba si Vice President Leni Robredo—

SEC. PANELO:  Sinabi ko na nga eh. Depende na iyon, basta ako ang tingin ko either nagkamali si VP Leni doon sa basa niya ng batas or nagkamali iyong staff niya na nag-advise sa kanya.

REYMUND TINAZA/BOMBO RADYO:  Sir, si Secretary Teddy Boy Locsin is very active sa  twitter, sa social media and it’s not the first time that he actually engaged into name calling, may mga tinawag siyang bakla, may  mga iba pang mga—and then boba na tumatanaw ng comment and he even insult to international  community. So, siguro parang… hindi ba dapat isip-isip, ingat-ingat din bago mag-click si Secretary Locsin doon sa kanyang twitter, kasi nandoon—baka doon pa manggaling iyong World War 3 eh, sa twitter niya.

SEC. PANELO:  He is known for his colorful language, just like the late Senator Miriam was; in the same way that the President is also known for that. But this doesn’t diminish his competence to act as Secretary of Foreign Affairs.

REYMUND TINAZA/BOMBO RADYO:  So, okay lang na it’s an excuse if you are a top diplomat, if you have a colorful words?

SEC. PANELO:  Well, it has not affected his work.

REYMUND TINAZA/BOMBO RADYO:  Are you sure? Na being a top diplomat and that reflects our Philippine image. Our Foreign Secretary calling our Vice President boba?

SEC. PANELO:  Nag-apologize na nga siya eh. So, from the point of view of the outside world, okay iyong mamang ito, kasi he admits his mistake and makes an apology to the offended person. Napakahirap mag-admit ng mistake and he should be credited for that by apologizing.

REYMUND TINAZA/BOMBO RADYO:  Sir, but it is diplomatic to have a Foreign Secretary who has colorful words and even at times bordering… use offensive words?

SEC. PANELO:  Eh ang Presidente naman natin, di ba ganundin ang style; pero nakita mo naman ang epekto. Look at the effect, when he cursed Mr. Obama, oh hindi ba bigla siyang tiningala ng buong mundo as an emerging world leader. He stood up. Alam mo kung minsan, marami ring nagagawa iyang ganyan.

Q:  You are justifying it.

SEC. PANELO:  No, I am not justifying. Sinasabi ko lang iyong epekto.

JULIE BAIZA/DZME:  Sir, okay lang po ba na iyong isang public official ganyan iyong gawin, na sobrang—parang iba na iyong klase ng pananalita, dahil lang may magandang epekto?

SEC. PANELO:  Sa susunod I will invite Secretary Locsin here, para siya ang tanungin ninyo.

JULIE BAIZA/DZME:  Yes, sir dahil lang po may magandang effect iyong ganoong style na colorful words, eh okay na po ang lahat ng public officials maging ganoon na rin?

SEC. PANELO:  Alam mo as a general rule, lahat ng officials hindi ganoon di ba. Pero siguro something triggered him into saying that. Sabi ko nga kanina, siguro out of exasperation. He was expecting more from a lawyer.

JULIE BAIZA/DZME:  So, acceptable na po siya kung nayayamot na iyong public official?

SEC. PANELO:  Kung acceptable iyon, hindi na sana siya nag-apologize.

ARJAY BALINBIN/BUSINESS WORLD:  Sir, when you said Mr. Del Rosario created his own problem. Does that include the filing of the ICC complaint versus Mr. Xi Jinping?

SEC. PANELO:  Kasama siguro iyon, kasi—di ba they are all speculating including him na that’s part of it. In other words, when you filed a case, alam mo na ang magiging consequence adverse. So kaya nga bilib nga ako sa kanya, kahit na alam niya nag-file pa sila eh. Pero you cannot be blaming the government for subsequent occurrences that may have   either offended you or embarrassed you—

ARJAY BALINBIN/BUSINESS WORLD:  So, the Palace takes it as a problem that Mr. Del Rosario created for himself.

SEC. PANELO:  Yes; in that respect, yes. Kasi nga alam niya nang nagkaroon ng insidente eh, dapat naging maingat siya. It would have been prudent for him not to go there at this time or at least he sought permission from the Hong Kong authorities of his incoming entry. Kasi kung ako iyon, I will not, bakit naman ako pupunta, mapapahiya pa ako. I would have played it safe.

INA ANDOLONG/CNN PHILS:  Sir, yesterday the President basically confirmed that he is open to a joint probe with China regarding with the Recto Bank incident. This comes following previous statement from the Chinese government suggesting the joint probe. So, is there going to a formal move to actually head towards having a joint investigation?

SEC. PANELO:  We are waiting for the response. You must remember that the first suggestion came from the Chinese government, right? And then the President welcomed it and suggested a mechanism. So we are waiting for them.

The President last night, okay lang sa kanya. Sabi niya gusto mo separate, meron din kaming separate, then let’s share. Eh kun ang findings ng dalawang sides, pareho with respect to the issues raised like the nature like the accident, like the accountability plus the compensation. Eh kung pare-pareho. So what is there a need to have another party resolve it.

INA ANDOLONG/CNN PHILS:  But the President himself also yesterday said that both the Philippines and China in their separate investigations will have inevitably their biases. Iyong factor po of having a third party, so is that basically going to happen for sure. Because yesterday—

SEC. PANELO:  No. Kasi alam mo, Ambassador Zhao – in his one of his text messages to me –  said that if… halimbawa, nag-share ng ano iyong dalawa and if there is any disagreement sabi niya, ‘there is nothing that best of friends will not agree on,’ kaya nga tayo magkakaibigan, para magkasundo tayo. Sa ikabubuti ng mga involved. What is important to the Philippines is that the act of abandoning our Filipino fishermen is condemnable and there should be accountability for that. We are concerned of that.

INA ANDOLONG/CNN PHILS:  Lastly, sir. Hindi po ba sinabi ninyo dati—you were the one who suggested a joint probe, now you are saying it was China?

SEC. PANELO:  No, I was tinkering on a joint probe. Alam mo ang problema kasi, baka iba ang concept nila ng joint probe sa atin. Like for instance, iyong atin, parang kung hindi magkasundo, punta tayo sa third party. Eh baka sa kanila, ang joint probe sa kanila mag-share lang tayo ng mga findings natin, then we decide kung alin ang okay.

INA ANDOLONG/CNN PHILS: What did you suggest before? Anong sabi ninyo sa Cabinet?

SEC. PANELO:  Wala. I didn’t explain. Sinabi ko lang ‘joint’ eh. Iyon lang naman iyon, I was tinkering of a joint probe – both sides are investigating. At the same time, kasi iyong joint probe puwede rin na separate silang nag-iimbestiga, and then they will join, and then share, and then they decide; they will issue a statement.

INA ANDOLONG/CNN PHILS: That’s a separate probe. Those are separate.

SEC. PANELO: Puwede ring separate iyon. Pero when you meet and share your findings and decide to resolve it, that’s a joint probe din from another point of view.

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: Sir, balik lang ako nang konti kay Secretary Del Rosario. I think the basis that he’s citing doon sa 8239 is the definition of those who can be granted a diplomatic passport, particularly, 3G. He says that under that section, qualified siya doon because that defines ambassadors as those who have appointed as chiefs of mission and have served as Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary. So do you think that he qualifies—

SEC. PANELO: Is he quoting a circular or the law itself?

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: It’s the law, sir, 8239.

SEC. PANELO: Tama ba iyon? Iyon ba ang nakalagay? I don’t think so.

Q: [OFF MIC]

SEC. PANELO: Exactly.

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: No, Section 7 defines those who can be granted. Say, for example, President, Vice President, former mga ganoon. And then, of course, in the earlier part of the law—

SEC. PANELO: May colatilla doon ha.

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: Correct.

SEC. PANELO: On official mission.

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: Yes, sir. I looked that doon sa Section 7. But then, there’s also a definition of the term ‘ambassadors’. Okay, sir, Section 7 says, those who can be granted Types of Passports – Diplomatic Passport for Section 7, A6: Ambassadors, Foreign Service Officers of all ranks in the career diplomatic service, Attaches, and members of their families. So iyon po iyong [Section] 7, A6.

Now, how do we define ambassadors? We can find that in Section 3 – because this is what he is citing – Definitions – As used in this Act: g) Ambassadors mean those who have been appointed as chiefs of mission and have served as Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary.

SEC. PANELO: Of which he was not.

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: Because?

SEC. PANELO: ‘Di ba he was not appointed. Was he ever appointed after his stint in the government? I don’t think so. Eh di sana sinabi na niya iyon.

Ang sinasabi niya lang kasi—I think ang sinasabi niya, since he was given a diplomatic passport by whoever because he was a former secretary of Foreign Affairs, dapat hindi tinatanggal sa kaniya iyon.

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: Sir, how do you interpret this, sir, sa G pa rin: Have served, meaning, past positions. Does he qualify?

SEC. PANELO: Alam mo, kahit na nga have served, may colatilla nga. Hindi ba sinasabi ko na sa’yo, na lahat iyan ay kailangan on official mission doon sa trip na iyon. So hindi talaga siya papasok since hindi naman official mission iyon.

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: Because it was a meeting, okay.

SEC. PANELO: Personal iyon eh.

JULIE BAIZA/DZME: Sir, on a similar note. May I just get the Palace’s directive on reports that the diplomatic passports were reportedly issued also to private individuals, friends and some executives of some religious groups daw?

SEC. PANELO: Hindi ko alam iyong portion na iyon.

JULIE BAIZA/DZME: But kung may ganoon finding, sir, will the Palace order an investigation to it given na kinansel na rin naman ni Locsin iyong diplomatic passport?

SEC. PANELO: We will have to ask Secretary Locsin of the veracity of that allegation.

JOYCE BALANCIO/DZMM: Sir, si Health Secretary Francisco Duque is facing new plunder and graft complaints before the Office of the Ombudsman. This is in relation to his alleged conflict of interest or financial interest with PhilHealth regional office. You know the issue, sir?

SEC. PANELO: No.

JOYCE BALANCIO/DZMM: Iyong building daw sa PhilHealth Regional Office ay pagmamay-ari raw ng pamilya niya. So is the Palace willing to look into this issue of conflict of interest?

SEC. PANELO: I think Secretary Duque will—we’ll have to wait for Secretary Duque’s explanation.

JOYCE BALANCIO/DZMM: Given this new—

SEC. PANELO: Kasi kung sinasabi mo family owned, it doesn’t mean na sa kaniya iyon. Kung nag-divest na siya ng kaniyang share doon, eh di hindi na siya … hindi na mag-a-apply iyong sinasabing conflict of interest.

JOYCE BALANCIO/DZMM: But given these new complaints against him, sir, do you believe he still enjoys the trust and confidence of the President?

SEC. PANELO: Ang presumption is you are innocent unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. I think the Secretary of Health still enjoys the trust and confidence of the President.

ARJAY BALINBIN/BUSINESS WORLD: Sorry, sir, but I just want to ask again: Are you sure you don’t know anything about Cabinet revamp?

SEC. PANELO: Honestly, I have not heard of a Cabinet revamp. I only hear about that, iyong mga tsismis, iyong mga rumors.

ARJAY BALINBIN/BUSINESS WORLD: From?

SEC. PANELO: From sa inyo. Kasi sa akin, since I see the President every now and then, nagbibigay siya ng hint eh, even sa Cabinet eh.

ARJAY BALINBIN/BUSINESS WORLD: Anong hint, sir?

SEC. PANELO: Wala nga eh. Wala akong nakitang [narinig] sabi niya, magpapalit ako. Wala siyang sinabing ganoon.

ARJAY BALINBIN/BUSINESS WORLD: Sir, is the President still happy with Secretary Piñol as DA Secretary?

SEC. PANELO: I think so. Wala naman siyang sinasabi sa amin na hindi siya happy.

ARJAY BALINBIN/BUSINESS WORLD: Why? How do you think he is happy?

SEC. PANELO: Eh di sana sinabi na niya. Kasi si Presidente, sinasabi niya nang harap-harapan eh, “I’m not happy with you.” Sasabihin niya sa’yo eh.

ARJAY BALINBIN/BUSINESS WORLD: He is satisfied with the performance of Mr. Piñol?

SEC. PANELO: Hindi ba, one time, in fact na-quote yata si Presidente doon, iyong performance niya noon. Sabi niya, ayusin mo. After that wala na akong narinig.

Q: [OFF MIC]

SEC. PANELO: Matagal na iyon, several months earlier … must be ten months ago.

ARJAY BALINBIN/BUSINESS WORLD: Sir, baka naman today you can make an announcement?

SEC. PANELO: No. The best, I will ask the President. When I see him, I’ll ask.

JULIE BAIZA/DZME: Sir, babalikan ko lang po iyong sa water crisis. Sabi po ni Bayan Muna Chair Neri Colmenares, time na raw to abandon privatization policy tapos ibalik na sa government iyong control sa Maynilad at Manila Water. Kinu-consider po ba ito ng administration?

SEC. PANELO:  Pinag-aaralan lahat ng makakabuti sa mga kababayan natin. Lahat iyan ay kasama sa pag-aaral.

JULIE BAIZA/DZME: He was saying po na under this admin daw po, kung hindi gagawin iyon, ito na iyong worst possible water crisis sa history ng bansa.

SEC. PANELO: Kaya nga pinag-aaralan lahat ng mga pupuwedeng gawin to solve the problem.

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: Sir, just a little bit on the third party. I think, I can’t tell you who, but somebody told me that there is a – from the government ‘no – there’s a mechanism under the International Maritime Organization; it’s the Maritime Casualty Investigators. Do you think that’s also an option for … kasi sanay na sila diyan and then that is their mandate?

SEC. PANELO: Lahat iyan option. Si Presidente naman ay open sa lahat, hindi ba. Kahit na gusto mo lang ano—

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: But that it’s not been discussed in the Palace?

SEC. PANELO: No. What is important kasi to us is ma-solve na iyang anong iyan, as to the nature of the accident or allision, whatever you call it; the compensation thing; the accountability; at saka iyong pag-abandon – iyon ang gusto nating ma-point kung sino talaga. Kasi sinasabi—di ba in the first press release nila – ‘they were besieged.’ Oh di ba sabi ko nga, tanong ko doon, bakit kayo besieged? Why did you feel that way? Kasi raw may mga vessels. Iyon pala iyong mga vessels, mga bangka – labingsiyam iyong mga nandoon.

Now, I want to know, eh ano kung mayroon, bakit may mga nakasakay ba doon at papunta sa’yo? Kasi ang sinasabi ng mga kababayan natin, nakakapit nga sila sa almost submerged vessel eh. So ibig sabihin, kung totoo man iyong sinasabi mo na natatakot ka, is it justified o baka imagination mo lang iyong feel na iyon. So you are still accountable for not helping these people.

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: So who are you talking to when you’re discussing that?

SEC. PANELO: Which one?

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: Iyon pong narration ninyong events na—

SEC. PANELO: Kayo, iyong mga nagtatanong sa akin.

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: So, sir, yesterday, si Presidente with regard to the EEZ, we asked him yesterday if … kasi ang gusto ng mga Filipino fishermen is for our government to prevent Chinese fishermen from fishing in our EEZ. And he said, China will not agree to that and China is a friend. Your comment first on that statement?

SEC. PANELO: Well, ang sabi ni Presidente, since we’re friends and they’re also claiming by historical right iyong lugar na iyon, eh iyan ang linya ni Presidente – you cannot go beyond that.

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: Sir, you always repeat and also the President ‘no that … at least with reference to Recto Bank and our EEZ, that China is also staking a claim. Do we still believe that, sir?

SEC. PANELO: Which one?

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: The China’s claim that they still have a stake in that area?

SEC. PANELO: But it’s not for us eh, hindi naman tayo ang magdi-decide kung tama sila o mali.

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7:  Because that has already been decided upon by the PCA, correct sir?

SEC. PANELO:  Hindi. Gaya nga ng sinasabi ni Secretary Guevarra, iyong issue doon sa EEZ, hindi sovereignty. O, so walang dapat na pag-awayan kung hindi naman sovereignty. ‘Di ba ang sinasabi niya, “We will not allow that our sovereignty be attacked or assaulted.

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7:  I think, clear naman po sa amin that it is a not a question of sovereignty but sovereign rights as per the PCA. Sovereign rights meaning we have the right, the sole right to exploit that area. Now, when the President said that China will not allow it; and second, we are friends, what does it mean? What does that statement mean vis-à-vis—

SEC. PANELO:  What do you mean, we’ll not allow it? Will not allow what?

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7:  The fishing—the banning po of—okay sir, context again, I’ll walk you back.

SEC. PANELO:  Ibig sabihin, the Chinese government will not allow that they will be banned. Ahh…

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7:  Correct. Oo, as per the President. And also, that will not happen because according to the President yesterday, we are friends.

SEC. PANELO:  And he explained it. He said they will not allow it, but as far as they’re concerned, they have historical right to that. Number two, we will allow it kasi we’re friends naman, ‘di magbigayan muna tayo – parang ganoon ang punto ni Presidente.

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7:  First point sir, historical rights: Do we still believe that China lie?

SEC. PANELO:  Eh hindi ba, sabi nga ni Presidente eh, “Anong basis mo for claiming the entire South China Sea? Just because pangalan niyan ay South China Sea.” Hindi tayo naniniwala doon.

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7:  Okay. So Sec., are we granting them rights to fish in our EEZ?

SEC. PANELO:  Eh hindi ba sinabi ni Presidente, “Since we’re friends…” iyon ang sabi niya eh.

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7:  So, that is in effect grant because puwede naman iyon sir ‘di ba?

SEC. PANELO:  Hindi naman ganoon… Siguro hindi—kumbaga parang ito-tolerate mo lang. It’s not necessarily grant.

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7:  Tolerate…

SEC. PANELO:  Hindi, parang—kasi friends nga daw eh. Kung friends, ‘di magbibigayan kayo.

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7:  Kasi sir, under the ruling puwede naman. Kung halimbawa—sa UNCLOS kung EEZ mo ‘yan, puwede mo namang i-grant iyong other state to also exploit the resources there. My question sir: is that a policy statement from the President, granting rights to China?

SEC. PANELO:  I’ll ask him if that’s a policy statement.

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7:  Does it sound like it’s a policy statement—

SEC. PANELO:  I will ask him.

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7:  Last question, sir. Is it not treasonous to say that?

SEC. PANELO:  Is it not, what?

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7:  Treasonous, sir. Treason, treason.

SEC. PANELO:  No. Bakit naman treason. Eh sabi mo nga, puwede—under the ruling, puwedeng i-grant eh. Paano magiging treason if it’s… puwede.

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7:  Okay sir, thank you.

REYMUND TINAZA/BOMBO RADYO:  Sir, mabilisan lang. May mga panawagan kasi na ideklara ni Pangulong Duterte si Eddie Garcia bilang national artist. Sa tingin ninyo, qualified naman si Manoy na maging national artist?

SEC. PANELO:  Alam mo, there is a mechanism for that. They will have to pass through that. Hindi naman si Presidente ang nagde-decide niyan eh, mayroong body that will study.

But if you will ask me, given the fact na—ilang taon siya? 70 years? 70 years in the movie industry, and he has acted in so many roles, baka—kung ako member, bobotohan siyang national artist – kung ako member noong body.

REYMUND TINAZA/BOMBO RADYO:  Thank you, sir.

HENRY URI/DZRH:  Sorry, balikan ko lang iyong sa Exclusive Economic Zone. Sabi ninyo kasi, kung tama iyong pagkaalala ko dapat hindi nangingisda doon ang mga mangingisdang Chinese. Tama po ba, Secretary?

SEC. PANELO:  Oo, kasi atin nga iyon eh.

HENRY URI/DZRH:  Okay.

SEC. PANELO:  Eh, pero kung sinasabi na rin ni Presidente na puwede dahil magkakaibigan naman tayo, magbigayan tayo… o ano pa? ‘Ayun na nga… kumbaga iyon na ang kaniyang desisyon.

HENRY URI/DZRH:  So iyong sinabi po ninyo, bale-wala na po ‘yun?

SEC. PANELO:  Oh, eh siyempre Presidente ang nagsasalita eh. Iyon eh… kumbaga as a general rule, iyon ang ordinary. But even the UNCLOS as you said, by Joseph, eh puwede naman palang i-grant sa iba.

HENRY URI/DZRH:  Okay.

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7:  Sir, I just want to be very specific and very sure. Is the President granting China rights to fish in our EEZ?

SEC. PANELO:  As I said, I will ask him whether that is a policy statement or not.

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7:  Okay.

USEC. ROCKY IGNACIO:  Okay. Thank you, MPC. Thank you, Secretary Panelo.

SEC. PANELO:  Thank you!

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SOURCE: PCOO-NIB (News and Information Bureau)

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