Press Briefing

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

Event Press Briefing
Location New Executive Building, Malacañan Palace

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

SEC. PANELO: Good noon, MPC.

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: Sir, with regard to the meeting kahapon, I understand there’s a document that you have and those are very interesting points.

SEC. PANELO: Well, like what? Hindi ko yata alam iyong sinasabi mo. Ano bang gusto mong malaman?

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: Sir nasa last… second to the last paragraph—

SEC. PANELO: Hindi ba mayroon nang statement si Sec. Nograles? Dapat alam ninyo na iyon, ‘yun na ‘yun.

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: Ah, yes sir…

SEC. PANELO: O, ano pa ang gusto ninyong malaman?

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: I understand that there’s a desire to designate a spokesperson for the issue.

SEC. PANELO: Ah hindi, iyon lang—kung ano ang nangyari, kasi wala ako kahapon. I left eh, so hindi ko alam iyong kinatapusan kasi I had to rush to ano eh, Cavite.

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: You don’t see sir a need for harmonizing the statements of Cabinet secretaries?

SEC. PANELO: Wala namang ano—there is no conflicts among the statements made so far by all the Cabinet secretaries. Show me the conflict and I will tell you that there is none. O sige, isa-isahin natin. Isa-isahin natin…

NESTOR CORRALES/INQUIRER.NET: Secretary, in a television interview this morning, Agriculture Secretary Piñol said and I quote: “It was agreed by the cluster that the Chinese Ambassador should be invited or summoned, whichever word is more appropriate, to actually shed light, officially shed light on the incident and give his country’s position to the issue.” And Secretary Lorenzana told reporters yesterday: “That’s the result of the meeting today. We are inviting him to talk about their version of the incident, because right now what we’re getting is unofficial investigation. There will be an official investigation.”

SEC. PANELO: Oh, where is the conflict?

NESTOR CORRALES/INQUIRER.NET: Because you mentioned yesterday in your late night statement that the Cabinet cluster did not agree to invite – whichever term you may use – or summon the Chinese Ambassador.

SEC. PANELO: Hindi, ganito iyon: as I said, I left early. When I left, there was a suggestion by one Cabinet member, so iyon ang alam ko. Now, with respect naman doon sa summon, unang-una, we cannot summon the Ambassador. Wala naman tayong jurisdiction kay Ambassador, we are not the government of China to summon an official of China. The word is ‘invite.’ But we feel—or the President, I think, is not inclined to do that because ang feeling niya talagang—unang-una, ginagawa na nila, may statement na si Ambassador about seriously and cautiously studying the facts.

So kaya nga from the very start ‘di ba, my first statement, ang sinabi ko na ever since, we call to the Chinese government to probe. Number two, we said that they should take punitive actions kung makita nila kung sinong may kasalanan with respect to their nationals or ship. Number three, we commended the Vietnamese. And number four, ang sabi natin, we condemn the act of abandonment.

You must remember that the initial findings coming from our crew, Filipino crew, eh binangga sila at iniwan sila. O eh ‘di siyempre every citizen of this country will be outraged – and we all did. Nag-start si Secretary Delfin, sumunod si Secretary Locsin… and I also did; but we have cautionary statement that imbestigahan nila, tingnan natin ang facts. Ever since ‘yan ang linya ng gobyerno, and for that matter the President. And he has repeated that last night – ‘facts.’ ‘Di ba sinabi ko sa inyo, let us wait. Iyon din ang sinasabi niya kagabi, “Let us wait.” The Chinese side has the right to be heard.

Kasi ganito, iyong unang version… siyempre dahil iyon ang sabi nila immediately. Hindi mo naman puwedeng kuwestiyunin kaagad dahil iyon ang sabi nila eh, kumbaga eyewitness account. But later on, there are facts and circumstances that’s unraveling na hindi natin alam. Like what? Number one, we didn’t even know that there is only one member of that crew who was awake at the time of—or even prior and at the time of the impact – and that was the cook.

And according to Secretary Piñol, he has a transcript of their interviews and in fact they were reduced that into a sworn statement. Tinanong niya kung anong sitwasyon at that time, sabi niya: “May ilaw sa…” ewan ko kung saang lugar iyon, yung isa doon sa may cabin ng kapitan. But apparently, mukhang hindi ganoon kaliwanag. Kasi noong tinanong siya, “Ano bang tingin mo? Sinadya ba?” Ang sagot sa kaniya ay ganito: “Palagay ko po ay hindi kami nakita.” O, doon lang may ano na kaagad na, “Bakit hindi kayo makikita kung may ilaw?” Siguro hindi ganoong kaliwanag.

Number two, na hindi natin alam: All the while we thought, when they said naka-anchor sila, nandoon sila sa tabi ng shoreline. Kasi when you anchor a ship or a vessel, nandoon sa tabi ng land. Eh lumalabas ngayon, hindi naman pala nasa shoreline o nasa tabi ng shore, kung hindi nasa gitna rin ng dagat. Nagkataon lang daw… no, makinig muna kayo. Mayroon daw portion doon sa dagat na puwede silang… mababaw lang kaya nailagay nila iyong kanilang anchor.

Parang ganito ‘yan, kasi ang akala natin noon… kumbaga ang analogy sa kalsada, iyong sasakyan nasa tabi ng kalsada. Iyong analogy, nasa tabi ng kalsada tapos binunggo; kumbaga, “Nandito lang kami, wala naman kami sa gitna.” Eh lumalabas ngayon, mukhang nasa gitna iyong sasakyan kaya siya nabangga. Kumbaga malawak, hindi iyong—kasi kahit ako ang feeling ko noon, naka-anchor, paano nabangga iyon? Iyon pala hindi naman… nandoon daw sila sa dagat.

Number three, when—nagpi-present kahapon sa Cabinet meeting, mayroong mga figures doon sa dalawang—iyong ship saka iyong nabundol. Iyong mga tinanong namin, ano ba iyong nire-represent na ‘yun. Iyon pala, ‘yun pala iyong mga bangka. Eh, hindi ba sa press release nila may sinasabi sila na they were besieged by 7 to 8 vessels – iyon ang sabi nila. Ngayon, eh hindi natin alam na iyon palang—after the incident, dahil nabangga na nga, iyong mga labingsiyam, nineteen boats ng Pilipino na ginagamit sa pangbingwit, nagkalat doon kaya pala ang dami. O, hindi nga rin natin alam iyon. Alam ko, nag-iisa lang na vessel iyon.

Eh baka sinasabi nila ngayon, “O, eh ang daming ano doon. Akala namin kukuyugin kami,” parang iyon ang dating. But given that, kaya ng si Presidente, ‘hindi natin alam ang facts.’ So hintayin natin kasi nangako na nga silang mag-iimbestiga – and they are doing it. And inaantay natin officially, kung anong findings nila. Tayo rin, nag-iimbestiga rin tayo.

O madali’t sabi, hindi natin—like for instance, hindi natin alam na iisa lang pala nakakaalam noong pangyayaring iyon dahil tulog lahat iyong fishermen. In fact, ginising niya pa iyong kapitan and he was starting the engine para—pero too late.

So iyon ang mga—in other words, what I’m saying now is, may mga circumstances that give doubt to the version, kaya kailangan imbestigahan na talaga natin. Formal inquiry na kailangan dito. O, iyon ang point doon.

Kaya Tama si President. The President is a very cautious person and as a lawyer he is trained to listen to all sides especially because there are adversarial claims. Iba-iba eh. Iba-ba ang version nito. Iba iyong version, kaya lalong nagiging maingat siya, kasi he does not want this blown into an international crisis given the fact na—alam mo matagal din na nabago ‘yung relasyon from the time noong previous administration na masama ang relasyon; and na-nurture na ito, naayos ni Presidente, nagkaroon ng magandang warm relation, nagkaroon ng mga trade relations. So inaalagaan niya ito, at the same time inaalala na niya rin ‘yung kapakanan ng 320,000 na overseas workers natin sa China at the same time iniisip niya rin ‘yung kapakanan ng mga Pilipinong nagpi-fish doon sa lugar na iyon sa Recto Bank. Iyon ang mga binabalanse ni Presidente.

We can understand of course the outrage by our countrymen. Eh kasi lahat naman tayo na-outrage kasi ngayon ang dating sa atin na sinadya, binangga tapos iniwan. Natural, magre-react nga tayo.

USEC. ROCKY IGNACIO: Okay. Joseph? O may follow-up Nestor.

NESTOR CORRALES/INQUIRER.NET: Secretary, the President yesterday said that he does not want to issue statement because there is no investigation and there’s no result yet. Then why did the President described it as a little maritime accident?

SEC. PANELO: In the first place, he is saying it factually. Eh, may banggaan… may nabangga ‘di ba? In fact, hindi na nga… hindi na lumalabas na banggaan. It’s not collision anymore. It’s allision kasi naka-standby siya. O kaya factually tama ‘yung sinasabi niya na may banggaan; pero whether or not—kasi alam n’yo mahirap din sasabihin kaagad natin na, ‘Ah! Chinese government is behind that. It was intentionally done.’ Medyo ano ‘yun eh, kumbaga that’s reckless. Kaya nga pinapabayaan ni Presidente ‘O, sige imbestigahan natin.’ And I will not make an official line on this except to say na sa tingin niya muna ngayon—at saka ‘yun ay based din sa kuwento nung cook. Kaya medyo nagkaroon ng doubt tuloy. Of course, sinasabi ng kapitan sinadya, eh sinasabi naman ng cook, mukhang hindi sila nakita. So, with more reason na kailangan mo talaga imbestigahan.

USEC. ROCKY IGNACIO: Joseph.

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: Okay Sir, you said that there are circumstances that give doubt ‘no?

SEC. PANELO: Yes.

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: On the statements—

SEC. PANELO: On the version na kung anong nangyari. Kung anong… what really happened.

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: Then you mentioned some, I think tatlo ‘to, sir ‘no. But I’d like to focus on the second and third, especially the third. Si… ‘yun pong sinasabi sa presentation sa Cabinet. Who was presenting?

SEC. PANELO: Secretary Lorenzana.

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: Ah, si DND. What was he showing, sir? Google maps ba ‘yan?

SEC. PANELO: Parang picture nung ship na nabangga. So, may mga figures doon nakapaligid ‘yun pala representing the boats – the bancas.

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: On June 9, sir?

SEC. PANELO: ‘Yung immediately after the ano, immediately after the allision.

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: So, ang ibig po sabihin sir that there are—based on the statement of Secretary Lorenzana – that there are other fishermen there, ‘no?

SEC. PANELO: In other words, ‘yun din ‘yun, ‘yung grupong ‘yun. The same group, kasi may kasama silang nineteen boats. Nineteen bancas.

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: Opo. Hindi naman sir ibig sabihin niyan na pinaniniwalaan natin yung Chinese version na kukuyugin ng mga Filipino—

SEC. PANELO: No. What we are saying is these are the facts that we didn’t know. That’s precisely why we want to know kung totoo ba iyon. Hindi na—kaya kailangang imbestigahan talaga. Kailangan talaga maging maingat tayo.

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: So, ‘yun pong pag-discuss n’yo doon sa anchor. Why is this relevant to the construction of the events—

SEC. PANELO: Eh, kasi sinasabi sa natin noon, bakit—mukhang sinadya ‘yan kasi nakaparada kami. Bakit mo naman kami babanggain. So, ang perception noon, like me for instance, akala ko eto ‘yung shore na naka-anchor siya diyan. Ang luwag-luwag ng dagat bakit naman babanggain mo ako dito? Ayun pala, hindi siya nandiyan, nandoon din siya. Wala siya dito.

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: Pero malawak sir ‘yung dagat, ‘no?

SEC. PANELO: Huh?

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: Malawak naman ‘yung dagat?

SEC. PANELO: Exactly! Malawak ang dagat. Even malawak ang dagat nagkakaroon ng banggaan lalo na gabi. O, ‘di ba?

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: Uhm.

SEC. PANELO: Puwedeng nakatulog, puwedeng… maraming—kaya we have to know. We have to determine exactly what happened.

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: Sir, ‘yun pong sinabi nung—this was the cook talking to Secretary Piñol, ‘no?

SEC. PANELO: Yes.

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: ‘Yung tinanong po na sinadya ba? Are these the exact quotes or hindi naman? ‘Yung tanong ni Secretary—

SEC. PANELO: Mukha, mukha. That’s the way he narrated it.

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: Ang sabi po nung cook allegedly is “palagay ko hindi kami nakita.”

SEC. PANELO: Palagay ko hindi kami nakita.

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: What does it mean, sir, in the general scheme of—

SEC. PANELO: O, ‘di ibig sabihin eh hindi sila nakita. Ibig sabihin wala silang… kung mayroon man silang ilaw eh glimmering lang. Hindi sila nakita nung nakabangga sa kanila.

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: So, therefore sir walang intention?

SEC. PANELO: We do not know that kaya nga precisely we need to know the facts. Iyon nga ang sinasabi ni Presidente kailangan malaman natin, imbestigahan ng Chinese, imbestigahan din natin and then let’s share, tingnan natin kung alin ang mas kapani-paniwala sa mga findings natin. And then let’s talk how to settle this matter. First, we want kung totoo na intentional, bakit intentional? Anong ibig n’yo sabihin? Sinadya n’yo, sinadya ng ano mo ng… did you tolerate that? That’s one. Kung hindi naman kailangan mayroong compensation tayong makuha naman dahil na danyos naman itong mga Filipino crew.

Pangatlo, bakit n’yo iniwan? Anong reason bakit n’yo iniwan kung totoo ngang aksidente? Kasi ang sabi, pagkabangga bumalik eh! Bumalik daw ‘yung barko, sinilip sila, inilawan sila pagkatapos, umalis. Sa version naman ng Chinese, bumalik para tingnan kung okay sila o hindi. Parang ‘yan ang lumalabas eh. Nung nakita daw nilang okay, umalis na sila.

But these are versions of both sides na kailangan nating ma-determine exactly ano ba talaga nangyari.

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: Okay, sir, just so we don’t misinterpret you. Ang Palace po ba ay one hundred percent pa ring naniniwala sa version ng ating mga mangingisda?

SEC. PANELO: ‘Di ba sinabi na nga ni Secretary Delfin because of these circumstances that they found out, there is now a doubt kung ‘yung version ng kapitan eh exactly ‘yun nga. Kaya nga kailangan maimbestigahan na.

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: But we have not—

SEC. PANELO: Kasi parang may conflict ‘yung kapitan at saka ‘yung cook. Ang tingin ng kapitan, sinadya; sabi ng cook, mukhang hindi nakita.

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: Sige, sir ‘yun muna.

USEC. ROCKY IGNACIO: AC Nicholls and then Julie. Microphone.

AC NICHOLLS/CNN PHILIPPINES: Hi, sir. Sir, in the first place why are there Chinese vessels in that area? Because that’s our EEZ na ‘di ba sir? So, are we doing anything to keep them from going to that area para hindi na mangyari ‘to kung aksidente man.

SEC. PANELO: Number one, – ‘di ba sinabi na natin noon – kailangan talaga marami tayong Coast Guards. Kasi ang pagkakaalam ko apat lang yata ‘yung Coast Guards natin kaya dapat nga dagdagan. Number two, as far as we are concerned, bina-violate nila tayo because that is our EEZ. Sa kanila naman, as far as they are concerned, sa kanila ‘yun kasi ever since, ever since ‘no—ever since the Chinese government says historically sa kanila lahat ‘yan, ‘di ba? Kaya nga kinokontra natin ‘yan, sabi natin, ‘wala, hindi totoo ‘yang historical claim mo.’

AC NICHOLLS/CNN PHILIPPINES: So, basically it’s the Philippine government’s position talaga na they shouldn’t be there but we can’t just do anything to prevent them.

SEC. PANELO: No. We’re doing something about it, kaya lang dahil siguro kaunti lang ‘yung ano kaya nakakalusot; kaya kailangan talaga dagdagan. That is why during the Cabinet cluster meeting, isa ‘yan sa mga na-obserbahan na kailangang dagdagan natin.

AC NICHOLLS/CNN PHILIPPINES: Sir, just your reaction to the recent statement of Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Lu Kang, they’re insisting that it was an accident and it would be irresponsible to connect it to political matters ‘yung nangyari. Are we inclined to believe their statement?

SEC. PANELO: No, not that—it’s not a question of belief. What we are saying: both sides should stop speculating. Iyon ang sinasabi ni Presidente kaya nga ‘di ba sabi niya, tumahimik muna tayo. Pabayaan mo muna—tingnan muna natin kasi. Huwag tayong jumping to conclusions.

AC NICHOLS/CNN PHILIPPINES: And the—

SEC. PANELO: Baka masyado nating pinalalaki na hindi naman pala. Tingnan muna natin.

AC NICHOLLS/CNN PHILS: Sir, last from me. Just to clarify your statement earlier: The invitation to the Chinese Ambassador, the President is not inclined to invite him. So—

SEC. PANELO: Eh kasi, unang-una, kasi iyong sabing imbitasyon/summon, parang how can we summon the Chinese Ambassador. Pangalawa, parang kapag inimbitahan mo iyon eh parang pini-prejudge mo na. Bakit mo iniimbitahan, eh nag-iimbestiga pa lang nga eh. Bakit may kasalanan ba ito, kailangan bang magpaliwanag sa atin? Parang ganoon ang dating eh. Kaya siguro mas maganda, since you’re already conducting your investigation, we’re also conducting ours, then let’s meet later on kung anong dapat.

JULIE AURELIO/PDI: Sir, did the Philippine Coast Guard coordinate with you regarding its investigation report over the Recto Bank incident?

SEC. PANELO: How’s that?

JULIE AURELIO/PDI: Did the Philippine Coast Guard already coordinate with you regarding its investigation report over the Recto incident?

SEC. PANELO: Iyong mga investigation report nila, binibigay nila sa … una sa transportation, tapos ibibigay sa Secretary of National Defense.

JULIE AURELIO/PDI: But the PCG has not yet contacted you, sir?

SEC. PANELO: Who?

JULIE AURELIO/PDI: The PCG has not yet contacted you?

SEC. PANELO: PCG?

JULIE AURELIO/PDI: Yes, sir. Philippine Coast Guard, sir.

SEC. PANELO: Mayroon na, nag-iimbestiga na nga eh.

JULIE AURELIO/PDI: Okay, sir. Sir, just a follow up on the doubt of the Palace on the version of the fishermen. As a lawyer, do you believe that the—

SEC. PANELO: Hindi naman nagda-doubt. Ang sinasabi natin, iyong mga bagong circumstances are factors that will raise doubts. Kasi nga mismo iyong kasama niya, sinasabi na hindi. Iyon ang punto. That is the very reason why the President says, “Oh teka, hintayin na nga lang natin iyong imbestigasyon.”

JULIE AURELIO/PDI: So the three factors that you mentioned, sir, as a lawyer, do you think these three factors severely diminished the credibility of the fishermen’s claims?

SEC. PANELO: That depends. Alam mo, as lawyer, if you’ll ask me, how I will look at this situation: First, I will see the location – saan ba nangyari iyan? Exactly where? Number two, iyong point of impact – saan ba tinamaan iyan? Sa gitna, sa tabi, sa likod? Number three, paano ba ang pagkasira niya? Iyong diretsong ganiyang o—kasi parang lumalabas sa …according to Secretary Al Cusi, iyong tinatanong niya iyong kapitan, parang lumalabas na hindi ganyan iyong banat kung hindi parang sideways, parang tinamaan lang nung boom. Parang ganoon eh.

So another thing: Anong oras nangyari iyon? Gabi. Pangalawa, sino ba ang mga nandoon at that time – before and immediately after the incident?

Number five, kailangan malaman natin iyong version ng lahat. Pero obviously, isa lang ang mapapakinggan natin, iyong sa cook at saka iyong sa kapitan.

JULIE AURELIO/PDI: So given that, sir, what’s your initial assessment as a lawyer?

SEC. PANELO: Sa ngayon, wala pa dahil … as a lawyer, hanggang hindi ko nakikita iyong facts, I need sworn statements, I need other documents before I can make any conclusion.

JULIE AURELIO/PDI: Sir, just another follow up. You said that the Philippine government cannot summon Chinese Ambassador Zhao to … or maybe invite him to explain over what happened, right? What provision are we citing that says that we cannot summon—

SEC. PANELO: No, ang sinasabi natin, first, you cannot use the word ‘summon’ kasi parang …

Q: [OFF MIC]

SEC. PANELO: Hindi lang command, kasi parang … bakit, ambassador ba natin iyan? Sila ang ambassador pupunta sa atin. Number two, kasi kapag in-invite mo, pumunta ka rito at magpaliwanag, eh bakit naman magpapaliwanag, nagku-conduct na nga ng investigation eh kumbaga, pini-prejudge na rin natin sila. Eh di ba sinasabi ni Presidente, they have the right to be heard. ‘Di pabayaan mo silang mag-imbestiga muna and then tell us kung ano iyong labas ng imbestigasyon ninyo.

JULIE AURELIO/PDI: So is there any particular provision that bars us from summoning a foreign envoy?

SEC. PANELO: Hindi iyon tinatawag na provision; iyon ang tinatawag na fairness. Iyon ang logical consequence nung sinasabi ni Presidente na “Let’s hear the facts.”

JULIE AURELIO/PDI: As far as you know, sir, has the Duterte administration never summoned or invited a foreign envoy to explain its side on a particular incident?

SEC. PANELO: Hindi ko … I don’t know. We have to ask Secretary Locsin and the other previous secretaries.

JULIE AURELIO/PDI: If I may refresh your memory, sir: Last year, February 2018, the Philippines summoned US Ambassador Sung Kim—

SEC. PANELO: Summon o inimbitahan siguro iyon. Hindi summon, don’t use the word ‘summon’ kasi parang mali iyong summon.

JULIE AURELIO/PDI: Then Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque then issued a statement, quoting, “Executive Secretary Salvador C. Medialdea summoned US Ambassador to the Philippines Sung Kim yesterday, February 22, where they discussed the latest intelligence communities worldwide threat assessment report.” Mr. Medialdea, according to Presidential Spokesperson Roque, quote, “Instructed the DFA through our Philippine embassy in Washington D.C. to coordinate and engage with the US agencies involved in the writing of this assessment.”

There is also another incident, sir, early this year—

SEC. PANELO: But you’re referring to discussion ng mga securities ‘di ba, national securities, which is tama lang na talagang dapat mag-discuss tayo. Pero we are referring here to a particular—

JULIE AURELIO/PDI: But—

SEC. PANELO: Teka muna. We’re referring here to a particular subject matter subject of the controversy. Iba iyon.

JULIE AURELIO/PDI: Yeah. The report, sir, referred to President Duterte as, quote, “a threat to democracy in Southeast Asia.”

SEC. PANELO: What?

JULIE AURELIO/PDI: The report over which Sung was summoned over described President Duterte as, quote, “a threat to democracy in Southeast Asia,” that’s why he was … the US Ambassador was summoned to explain the report.

And also earlier this year, sir, in February 2019, the Federal Foreign Office of Germany summoned a Philippine Ambassador over Secretary Locsin’s report defending President Duterte’s remarks about Adolf Hitler. So kumbaga, it happens in diplomatic relations.

SEC. PANELO: Siguro kailangan mag-explain regarding certain statements coming from them. Kumbaga, gusto nating malaman ano ba exactly iyong bakit ako threat to democracy? Sinabi ninyo ba ito o hindi? Ito, ibang usapan ito kasi may adversarial claim iyong dalawa eh so huwag muna nating pangunahan.

Anong magiging—oh sige, tanungin kita: Anong magiging purpose mo to ask the Ambassador to come here? Anong ipapaliwanag niya?

JULIE AURELIO/PDI: I’m a journalist, sir. I’m supposed to ask questions.

SEC. PANELO: No, exactly. I’m asking you a simple … common sense iyan, bakit mo tatawagin? Anong gagawin mo? Sasabihin mo, “Oh bakit ninyo binangga?” Ganoon? Eh hindi pupuwede … siyempre maghihintay na tayo kasi the Ambassador has officially made statements. Sinabi na nga ‘di ba – mabigat nga iyong sinabi niya – “We will thoroughly and seriously study the case. And if we find that,” itong mga grupo nila ang nagkamali, then ‘di ba, quote, unquote, “irresponsible behavior,” hindi sila papayag and they will sanction. So ang ibig sabihin, talagang tatrabahuhin nila iyong insidenteng iyon.

JULIE AURELIO/PDI: Hindi, we just need a little bit of clarification, sir. Kasi earlier you said that the Philippine government cannot summon Zhao because it has no jurisdiction over him. Whereas, there are previous incidents—

SEC. PANELO: Hindi cannot, but we will not kasi nga hindi maganda ang dating na you’re summoning one dahil—

JULIE AURELIO/PDI: But because we don’t have jurisdiction over him, you said. But it has been happening in diplomatic relations.

SEC. PANELO: No, with respect to the word ‘summon’. You just don’t summon, that’s not diplomatic. Ginagawa ninyo kasi ng ano eh … ganoon lang kasimple iyon. But we can invite. But ang problema nga doon kapag inimbita mo parang bakit mo iniimbitahan eh iniimbestigahan na nga nila.

JULIE AURELIO/PDI: The way things are going, sir, what will prompt the Philippine government to summon Zhao?

SEC. PANELO: Sa ngayon wala, kasi nga iniimbestigahan pa eh. Siguro kapag nagbigay sila ng findings na sa tingin natin ay maling-mali, siguro we will invite them, “Ipaliwanag mo naman ito sa amin, bakit ganito ang findings?” Siguro iyon.

ROSALIE COZ/UNTV: Good afternoon, sir. Some senators expressed dismay over the statement of the President yesterday. Senator Ping Lacson said, “The President broke his silence and left us heartbroken. He forgot to explore all resources available before exercising his last option of surrender.” So, what does the Palace say?

SEC. PANELO: Well, Mr. Lacson is entitled to his opinion; we know where it’s coming from. But we will repeat: the President is cautious on treading on this particular incident. He wants, first, to establish facts. Some people are saying, “How come in Canada, eh bumanat kaagad siya.” [laughs] Ito po ang diperensiya saka iyong incident: Iyong Canada established ang facts. You cannot refute it kasi nangyari, talagang mali sila, anim na taon; pati iyong dating administrasyon walang ginawa, kaya galit siya. Eh ito, hindi niya pa nga alam iyong tunay na facts.

But this does not mean na hindi natin pinoproteksiyunan ang ating mga kababayan. Kaya nga precisely eh, nagiging maingat siya kasi ang repercussion nito kung nagkamali tayo ng galaw dito, eh maraming maaapektuhan – iyong ating overseas workers, for one; iyong ating mga relasyon sa kanila – kaya kailangan maging maingat tayo.

ROSALIE COZ/UNTV: Sir you mentioned earlier na kulang po iyong nagpa-patrol sa area kaya hindi rin nababantayan sir.

SEC. PANELO: O, hindi ba? Kaya nga doon sa cluster Cabinet meeting, iyon ang rekomendasyon, na kailangang i-augment.

ROSALIE COZ/UNTV: Senator Lacson said the MDT is one yet untapped weapon.

SEC. PANELO: The what?

ROSALIE COZ/UNTV: Mutual Defense Treaty. Bakit hindi po natin gamitin iyong Mutual Defense Treaty para mabantayan iyong—

SEC. PANELO: You’re jumping to conclusion din iyon. ‘Di ba sinabi ko na… Kasi ang ibig sabihin noon may aggression. Eh wala, hindi pa nga natin alam nga iyong ano, facts eh. Kung sinalakay tayo… hindi ba sabi ko, “Then that Treaty will be in operation.”But we don’t know the facts yet.

ROSALIE COZ/UNTV: Sir yesterday President Duterte said, “Huwag kayong maniwala diyan sa mga pulitiko na bobo. Gusto papuntahin iyong Navy.” May we know kung sinong mga pulitiko ‘to kasi—

SEC. PANELO: Ah, hindi ko alam kung sino ang tinutukoy niya. Ang binanggit niya, one national official daw. Sino ba nag-suggest nag magpadala ng warships?

MPC: [off mic] Wala kaming namo-monitor…

SEC. PANELO: Baka mayroon…

MPC: [off mic] Baka straw man lang iyon ni Presidente…

SEC. PANELO: Hindi ba parang mayroong—ano ba sinabi ni VP Leni? Mayroon ba siyang sinabi about magpadala ng barko o what? Walang tungkol sa barko?

MPC: [off mic] Wala…

SEC. PANELO: O, so ibig sabihin ibang national official ang tinutukoy niya.

ROSALIE COZ/UNTV: Okay, sir. Thank you, sir.

PIA GUTIERREZ/ABS-CBN: Sir this morning, the captain of the Filipino fishing vessel Junnel Insigne expressed his disappointment doon sa statement ni President Duterte. And he said, and I quote, “Parang nabale-wala lang iyong nangyari daw sa kanila.” And so, how do you explain the President’s statement to the fishermen?

SEC. PANELO: Hindi naman nabale-wala, gaya na nga nang paulit-ulit na nating sinasabi… unang-una, kung nabale-wala iyon, ‘di sana hindi na sila tinutulungan. Tinutulungan na nga sila eh, ‘di ba? Marami nang nagpunta roon, may mga—dalawang Cabinet members nga pinuntahan na sila at nagbigay na ng mga assistance sa kanila. Number three, si Secretary Locsin nagbigay na nga ng diplomatic protest. Number four, we condemned iyong act of abandonment. So marami tayong ginawa rin, hindi naman…

But we can—ang tingin ko, ang feeling kasi nila, iyon na nga… ang feeling nila sinadya, parang inapi sila. Eh ang problema, hindi pa natin alam iyon exactly kung totoo iyon because iyong isa sa kanila na siyang testigo lang na gising, ang nagsasabing baka hindi sila nakita.

PIA GUTIERREZ/ABS-CBN: Pero sir, para sa mga mangingisda na muntik nang mamatay doon sa insidente at kita naman na inabandona sila, hindi sila tinulungan. No matter the circumstances sir—

SEC. PANELO: O hindi ba we condemned precisely that act. Now we are waiting for their explanation bakit nila ginawa iyon.

PIA GUTIERREZ/ABS-CBN: So, the Philippine government is convinced of the abandonment?

SEC. PANELO: Oo, as far as we know—hindi ba sinabi ko na nga, our stand remains the same unless you show us contrary proof na kaya mo inabandona dahil you are in danger of hurting yourself in the process. Kasi under the UNCLOS, kung mayroon kang nakitang in distress na barko, kung it will harm you also, you are not required to help – nasa UNCLOS ‘yan, Article 98.

PIA GUTIERREZ/ABS-CBN: Sir, should both investigations proved that the Chinese crew are guilty of abandoning the Filipino fishermen, what mechanisms are available to make them accountable for their actions?

SEC. PANELO: O, siyempre kung—if the findings are both – with respect to the fact of abandonment – eh talagang dapat managot sila doon; at mayroong mekanismo doon.

PIA GUTIERREZ/ABS-CBN: Anong klaseng mekanismo, sir?

SEC. PANELO: One, iyong Chinese government will have to do something about it. Kasi under the UNCLOS, sinasabi noong… ewan ko sinong official doon, binabasa niya iyong provision, kung sino daw iyong flag carrier, kung sinong… iyon ang mag-i-initiate ng investigation.

Number two, we can sue them. We can sue them, kasi teritoryo natin iyon eh. Baka nasa Mindorong teritoryo iyon, so we can sue the offending vessel.

PIA GUTIERREZ/ABS-CBN: Saan sir, and for what?

SEC. PANELO: Ha?

PIA GUTIERREZ/ABS-CBN: Saan po natin sila puwedeng idemanda and for what?

SEC. PANELO: O, eh ‘di sa ating bansa. Dito sa hukuman natin, kung saan iyong area’ng iyon, kung anong territorial jurisdiction ng court.

PIA GUTIERREZ/ABS-CBN: Iyong sinasabi po ni VP Leni, can the Philippine government bring the Chinese crew here in the Philippines to stand trial for what happened?

SEC. PANELO: Mukhang hindi. Under the UNCLOS, lumalabas doon na ang penal ay sa kanila manggagaling. Sila ang dapat na magbigay ng punishment imposition.

PIA GUTIERREZ/ABS-CBN: Last na lang, sir. Sir on top of the diplomatic protest, the Philippine government has raised the incident at the United Nations. Considering sir na wala pang results iyong investigation—

SEC. PANELO: Has raised?

PIA GUTIERREZ/ABS-CBN: Yes, sir.

SEC. PANELO: Ni-raise ba? Nino?

PIA GUTIERREZ/ABS-CBN: Yes sir, particularly doon sa International Maritime Organization.

SEC. PANELO: Who raised it?

PIA GUTIERREZ/ABS-CBN: Deputy Permanent Representative to the IMO Senen Mangalile. And also si Secretary Locsin, also made a speech at the United Nations. Considering sir na hindi pa tapos iyong investigation, do you think that itong mga actions na ‘to by our officials are premature?

SEC. PANELO: Eh ang paniniwala kasi natin may abandonment ‘di ba? ‘Yun naman ang punto nila Secretary Locsin eh.

PIA GUTIERREZ/ABS-CBN: Thank you, sir.

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: Sir, balik lang ako nang super kon—medyo malayo ‘no. Iyong sa status noong Reed Bank. You’re saying that the Chinese is contesting it, whatever ‘no. But just for the record sir, the PCA said that it is ours ‘no?

SEC. PANELO: Oo, talagang atin iyon.

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: Okay. Sir, follow up lang kay Pia. If you’re going to sue the Chinese fishermen, kung halimbawang ma-establish iyong that was intentional and it was not an accident, in our courts and for what violation of what law?

SEC. PANELO: Aba eh, reckless imprudence resulting to damage of property.

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: Okay. Tapos sir, puwede ba iyon sa Permanent Court of Arbitration kasi they’re in our EEZ?

SEC. PANELO: No, I’m not sure about that. I will leave it to Secretary Locsin.

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: Sir, iyon po bang statement ni President that it is a little maritime accident, is this a determination already of what happened?

SEC. PANELO: No. It’s factual, kasi iyon din ang sabi noong cook. But—pero despite that, sinasabi niya pa rin, “Eh hindi muna ako magsasalita,” ng official statement on this matter and wait for the facts to set in.

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: Yes, sir. So, hindi naman po determination, I just like to repeat that. Hindi naman siya parang conclusion, ‘no?

SEC. PANELO: No.

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: Okay. Kasi sir may statement po ‘yung Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Lu Kang regarding the incident. And then he said here… ito sir: “After the accident took place, China and the Philippines had rounds of communication on this matter at various levels through multiple unimpeded channels. I’d like to stress that this is only an accidental collision between fishing boats at sea.”

The two statements sir, from the President and the Chinese Spokesperson, do you think they sound similar?

SEC. PANELO: Ganito iyan ha, kasi kapag inakyat mo sa level ng international crisis iyon, iba ang implikasyon. Kasi kapag sinabi mong internasyunal iyon, talagang may problema ka na. Kasi kagaya ng sinabi ko kanina, tanong doon: “Bakit intentional? Is that your policy? Is that an act of aggression against us?” Papalakihin mo nang husto iyon, lalawak iyon.

Kaya nga sinasabi ni Presidente, “Teka muna, hintayin muna natin ang facts. Hindi ko malaman kung ano talaga ang nangyari doon.”

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: So to answer the question, sir … to repeat the question, iyong bang dalawa statements na iyon, they sound the same?

SEC. PANELO: With respect to what, anong particular—

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: Iyon pong accidental … the Chinese Spokesperson used ‘accidental collision’. The President said, “It’s a little—

SEC. PANELO: Oo, similar.

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: Okay. But what I can detect from you is that the government is balancing a lot of interest. I saw your paper that there are workers in China, these are factors that we have to consider in determining what steps to make. Is that correct?

SEC. PANELO: Yes.

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: Okay.

SEC. PANELO: Kaya nga precisely we want to know exactly, ano ba talagang papel ng Chinese government dito, kung totoo na… hindi sa inaakala natin sa ngayon. Hindi ba?

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: Sir, just last two points. Yesterday, the President raised again iyong war. Bakit po niya iyon nasasabi na if we become aggressive, the natural consequence would be war?

SEC. PANELO: Iyan ang logical consequence kapag nag-aaway ang dalawang bansa. Hindi ba we are witness to conflicts around the world na nagkakaroon ng giyera kapag nag-away ang dalawang bansa. Ayaw niyang makarating doon.

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: And in his mind, sir, ito talaga iyong pupuntahan if we become aggressive?

SEC. PANELO: Eh hindi lang maging aggressive. Kung aggressive tayo, aggressive din sila, tapos nagkamatayan eh di siyempre lalong magagalit ang Presidente. Hindi naman siya papayag ganoon. Kumbaga, ina-avoid na niya iyong mas malawak na mangyayari habang nandito pa tayo sa mababaw na kalakaran.

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: Sir, last point. Yesterday also, the President said that he’s kind of low morale. Why did he say that, sir?

SEC. PANELO: Low morale with respect to?

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: Well, he was discussing the—

SEC. PANELO: Sa corruption, parang—

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: Ah, it’s not specific to this?

SEC. PANELO: No, he was referring to corruption. Parang ang feeling niya eh parang, “Tsk, kahit anong gawin ko, nandiyan pa rin ang corruption. Parang naka-chain ako dito sa Constitution. Parang kulang ang powers na binibigay sa akin sa lahat ng problema ng bayan.”

TINA MENDEZ/PHIL STAR: Sir, sa intindi namin ay nagkakaroon ng balancing act ang Presidente natin, ang bansa kasi may workers, may bilateral trade and everything at saka good relations between China and the Philippines. Can we not exact good faith from the Chinese government and ask them to assume accountability since they already admitted that their ship bumped the Philippine vessel?

SEC. PANELO: ‘Di ba they already said that they will investigate and if they find na mali, they will impose sanctions. Sinabi na niya. Kumbaga, they are already assuming responsibility kung iyon ang findings nila. Advance na nga iyong sinasabi nila sa atin eh.

TINA MENDEZ/PHIL STAR: May findings na rin naman na ship nila iyong bumunggo. They already admitted it in their statement.

SEC. PANELO: Oo, pero hindi pa natin alam ngayon, kagaya ng lumalabas, na intentional o hindi kaya nga we have to determine that.

TINA MENDEZ/PHIL STAR: So we will wait for the Chinese to determine if it was intentional? ‘Di ba dapat—

SEC. PANELO: No, we will wait for their findings at iyong findings din natin. In fact, mayroon kaming—I asked the President about this, baka okay iyong joint investigation.

Q: [OFF MIC] Joint?

SEC. PANELO: Oo, puwedeng joint. Maganda rin iyong joint investigation—I am tinkering the idea of suggesting that, joint investigation ng dalawang bansa.

Q: [OFF MIC] How, sir?

SEC. PANELO: Ibig sabihin, joint, di may miyembro rin—

Q: [OFF MIC] So, compromise sir iyan—yung clams sir, joint iyon.

SEC. PANELO: Anong nangyari na doon?

Q: [OFF MIC] Wala. [laughter]

SEC. PANELO: Wala pa. Ibig sabihin hindi pa naku-conclude. Hindi pa.

TINA MENDEZ/PHIL STAR: Sir, you mentioned earlier mga sections sa UNCLOS na puwedeng i-invoke. When do we start pushing through with the case on UNCLOS?

SEC PANELO: Kapag na-conclude na iyong facts. Kapag nalaman na natin exactly kung ano ang nangyari, sino ang may kasalanan.

TINA MENDEZ/PHIL STAR: Mga within the year, sir?

SEC. PANELO: Tingnan natin.

TINA MENDEZ/PHIL STAR: Sir, do we expect President Duterte to bring up the matter with the President Xi? Sa level ng leader to leader, President.

SEC. PANELO: I’ll ask him.

TINA MENDEZ/PHIL STAR: By November siguro sa—

SEC. PANELO: I’ll ask him about it.

NESTOR CORRALES/INQUIRER.NET: Sir, you earlier mentioned that we are outraged over the abandonment of the Filipino fishermen, including the President. But there was no hint of outrage from the President during his speech yesterday on the abandonment of Filipino fishermen at Recto Bank.

SEC. PANELO: Eh iyon ang sabi niya. ‘Di ba, through his alter egos, nailabas na namin iyong outrage.

NESTOR CORRALES/INQUIRER.NET: Pero bakit silent siya sa speech niya, sir, na he didn’t take the opportunity to—

SEC. PANELO: Actually, nagku-concentrate siya hindi nga doon eh. Iba, parang frustration niya sa presidency niya ang kaniyang focus eh.

NESTOR CORRALES/INQUIRER.NET: Why, sir?

SEC. PANELO: Tanungin natin siya kung bakit naka-concen—eh frustrated nga raw siya. Kahit anong gawin niya talagang parang ganoon pa rin.

AC NICHOLLS/CNN PHILS: Sir, whether or not it was intentional, should China apologize? Kahit accident lang, because they’re in our territory eh so … do we expect them to—

SEC. PANELO: I will not preempt that kasi hindi naman maganda iyong we will demand. Hayaan mo sila. Siguro they are, like us, reasonable people. Kung the fact alone na sinabi na nila na kapag mali, we will not tolerate it and we will impose sanction. Inunahan na nga tayo; hindi pa nga tayo humihingi eh.

AC NICHOLLS/CNN PHILS: So that’s enough, imposing sanctions? No need to—

SEC. PANELO: Aba eh nasa kanila iyon. Kung talagang mali naman iyong kanilang mga kababayan eh dapat lang. Pareho rin natin.

DEO DE GUZMAN/RMN: Final question. Magandang tanghali, Secretary. Sinabi ninyo po kanina, sir, na OFWs might be affected, Filipinos in China might be affected kapag mayroon tayong ginawang action.

SEC. PANELO: Iyon ang naging opinyon ng cluster Cabinet na maraming repercussions.

DEO DE GUZMAN/RMN: Maraming repercussions, sir, sige po. Ganoon po ba karupok ang relationship ng Pilipinas at ng China na with this incident ay it will result into the negatively affecting the OFWs?

SEC. PANELO: Depende nga iyon, depende. Sa ngayon hindi natin malalaman iyan kung marupok. Sa ngayon, malakas ang relasyon natin. Hindi natin malalaman kung ano ang magiging kahihinatnan. Unang-una, hindi pa natin alam kung ano ang tunay na nangyari, anong magiging reaksiyon nila, ano ang magiging reaksiyon din natin. Ano lang iyan, we will be speculating.

DEO DE GUZMAN/RMN: Sinabi na po ni Presidente na it’s just a simple maritime incident. Kung simple maritime incident, would it result to—

SEC. PANELO: Sa ngayon, iyan ang initial finding. Eh paano kung binigyan siya ng bagong facts. You know, when the facts have changed, then you change your position. Depende. But as long as sa tingin natin iyan, iyan muna.

DEO DE GUZMAN/RMN: Sir, kasi mayroong mga instances na … sa Canada and matagal na, sa US, hindi naman naapektuhan ang mga Filipinos na nagtatrabaho doon sa mga bansa na iyon. Bakit po when it comes with China ay parang laging … naka-hang lagi sa thin line ang relationship ng Philippines and China?

SEC. PANELO: Siguro sa tingin ni Presidente ay iba ang tingin niya dito sa bansang ito. Baka—

Q: [OFF MIC] Kapitbahay—

SEC. PANELO: Hindi, puwede rin namang—hindi, hindi natin alam. Basta the President is cautiously treading, ayaw niyang magkamali; at the same time, ibig niyang pangalagaan ang interest ng ating bansa. Iyon ang pinaka-importante: The President’s actions in all his endeavors and function are always based on the provision of the Constitution to serve and to protect the people.

DEO DE GUZMAN/RMN: Last question from my end, sir. Will our, with the Philippines investigation with the incident, depend on the result of the investigation of China?

SEC. PANELO: Ano?

DEO DE GUZMAN/RMN: Will it depend, will our—

SEC. PANELO: They have their own investigation; and we have ours. And then, mag-reconcile tayo kung ano sa tingin natin. Kung hindi tayo magkasundo, then we need an arbitral body or arbitral agency or office, whatever, or an arbitrator to decide which is true or false, which is right or wrong. Kapag hindi magkasundo sa findings, kailangan mayroon ng independent body; hindi na kasama tayo doon, hindi rin sila kasama. Kumbaga, mayroon ng judge na magde-decide ‘di ba, kapag hindi tayo magkasundo.

But we are—of course, we are hopeful na malalaman din natin kung anong nangyari. And kung sinuman ang may kasalanan should admit liability and give compensation.

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

###

SOURCE: PCOO-NIB (News Information Bureau)

 

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