Press Briefing

Press Briefing of Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque

Event Press Briefing
Location Malacañang Press Briefing Room, New Executive Building

ROCKY IGNACIO/PTV4: Good morning, Malacañang Press Corps. Let’s now have Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque. Good morning, sir.

SEC. ROQUE: Good Tuesday morning to Pilipinas, and good Tuesday morning to the ladies and gentlemen of the Malacañang Press Corps – those who are in the Palace at least – and hello to the members of the Malacañang Press Corps who are already in the Philippine Rise, naiinitan po kayo ngayon diyan.

Bago po ang lahat, binabati ng Palasyo ang lahat ng mga nanalong kandidatong pagka-Barangay at SK sa buong Pilipinas. The Palace wishes to congratulate all the duly elected Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan officials. This is the first democratic electoral exercise under the Duterte administration, and we thank everyone for the full support in cooperation in ensuring that the 2018 Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan elections had been relatively peaceful and orderly in all regions of the country.

According to the National Election Monitoring Action Center in Camp Crame, there were 47 cases of violence since the election period began on April 14; of these 47 cases, 7 were validated to be election related. There were no serious threats monitored by the Armed Forces of the Philippines in regard to the conduct of elections. Nonetheless, the contingency measures were laid out including the deployment of sufficient number of specially trained and equipped AFP personnel in Comelec identified threat areas.

Teachers have received cash cards for serving as election officers, including teachers in Bukidnon who will get their cash cards today. There were isolated incidents of threats to our teachers such as in Region IX, in Barangay Busay, Zamboanga City where teachers refused to serve due to security threat and other issues. Police were thus put in their place. In ARMM, Barangay Mai, Datu Saudi Ampatuan, Maguindanao – there were incidents of ballot boxes grabbing between teachers and candidates’ supporters where teachers were replaced by police.

A total of 91 temporary operators permits and ordinance violation receipts were issued to various public and private vehicles by the Department of Transportation and the Interagency Council on Traffic. Jeepneys bearing the signage of Comelec which were not authorized by the Commission were flagged down and meted with appropriate charges. The DOTr previously warned operators not to allow candidates to use their public utility vehicles to perform acts that are inimical to the conduct of an honest, orderly, peaceful elections.

Mabuhay po ang lahat po ng nanalo at ang sambayanang Pilipino.

The three-day official visit of Prime Minister O’Neill of Papua New Guinea will be from May 15 to 17. This is an important opportunity to reaffirm and further strengthen the friendly and cooperative ties with Papua New Guinea. With other similar histories and shared aspirations for greater peace, progress and prosperity for our peoples and region, the Philippine stand ready to work with Papua New Guinea for the mutual benefit and sustainable and inclusive growth of our nations.

The President has advised two assistant secretaries to tender their resignations or face termination for corruption. One is, Assistant Secretary Moslemen T. Macarambon Sr. of the Department of Justice. Investigation conducted by the Presidential Anti-Corruption Commission revealed that Asec. Macarambon has regularly been intervening on behalf of suspected smugglers of gold and other precious jewelry at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport.

Likewise, Assistant Secretary Tingagun A. Umpa of the Department of Public Works and Highways has been advised to tender his resignation. Investigation conducted by the DPWH indicates that Asec. Umpa committed grave abuse of power and may have committed also acts of corruption, among others DPWH has sworn statements where Asec. Umpa allegedly asked from contractors in the ARMM area for certain percentages from projects awarded to these contractors.

Questions?

DEO DE GUZMAN/RMN: Sir, ito pong sina Assistant Secretary Moslemen saka iyong Assistant Secretary Umpa, sino po ang appointing powers sa kanila?

SEC. ROQUE: Presidential po ‘yan, assistant secretaries po kasi.

DEO DE GUZMAN/RMN: So, si Presidente po mismo ang nag-appoint sa kanila?

SEC. ROQUE: Opo.

DEO DE GUZMAN/RMN: Alam na po ba nila na pinagre-resign sila o ngayon lang?

SEC. ROQUE: I hope by now they know.

DEO DE GUZMAN/RMN: Now they know… Thank you, sir.

MARICEL HALILI/TV5: Sir, itong dalawang Asec. na ‘to, kasama ba sila doon sa sinasabi ni Presidente doon sa previous speech niya na mga susunod na government officials na sisibakin? Sila iyon?

SEC. ROQUE: I believe sila po iyong tinutukoy ni Presidente kahapon doon sa lamay ni Senator Angara na dalawang Asecs na sisibakin niya.

MARICEL HALILI/TV5: And ano po iyong plano natin after sibakin? Ipu-push pa rin ba iyong cases against these two Asecs?

SEC. ROQUE: Gaya ng aking sinasabi po, ang mga kaso po ay katungkulan na ‘yan ng Ombudsman. Bagama’t mayroon pong imbestigasyon na ginawa ang Department of Justice at saka ang Presidential Anti-Corruption Commission na pupuwede pong gamitin ng Ombudsman sa kanilang mga imbestigasyon.

ALVIN BALTAZAR/RADYO PILIPINAS: Sec., puwede pong magbigay ng konting background doon sa dalawang Asec.?

SEC. ROQUE: Iyon lang po ang alam ko… that they have been advised and I wasn’t given a copy of the investigation report involving both of them.

LEO PALO III/DZME: So sir, ibig sabihin ang Presidential Anti-Corruption Commission… so sila po ang magre-recommend kay Presidente lagi sa mga sisibakin?

SEC. ROQUE: Eh mukhang ganoon po ang kanilang mandato ‘no. Sila po ay may recommendatory powers, at sinusumite po nila ang kanilang recommendations sa Office of the President. Mayroon pong Deputy Executive Secretary for Legal Affairs, at dati-rati po lahat ng reklamo sa DESLA pina-file; pero ngayon po maraming kaso rin ang nanggaling sa DESLA na ibinigay nila for investigation sa Presidential Anti-Corruption Commission.

LEO PALO III/DZME: So Asec. pa lang ito; may susunod pa pong mas mataas pa sa kanila?

SEC. ROQUE: Well I was told that the Presidential Anti-Corruption Commission inherited about 400 complaints from the DESLA ‘no. So marami pong complaints ang iniimbestigahan ngayon ng PACC.

DEXTER GANIBE/DZMM: Sir, tama po ano, ni-lift na iyong ban sa skilled workers?

SEC. ROQUE: By now po, it should have been lifted already ‘no, kasi ngayon ang plano ni Secretary Bello. So there are 20,000 expected po ‘no na made-deploy ngayon sa Kuwait na skilled and semi-skilled workers.

Ang ban po on domestic helpers eventually will be lifted. Hindi ko lang po alam kung kailan, at kung ano pa iyong mga repormang gagawin ng DOLE. But from the trip, we were accompanied in the trip also by former Secretary Marianito Roque, and it was former Secretary Roque who had recommendations for Secretary Bello. I do not know if Secretary Bello will adopt them, but he is a recognized consultant of Secretary Bello.

DEXTER GANIBE/DZMM: Semi and skilled, tama?

SEC. ROQUE: Opo.

VIC SUMINTAC/DZEC: Sir good morning. Sir, doon sa naging desisyon ng Supreme Court sa quo warranto case ni Chief Justice Sereno. Meron na po bang napipisil si Pangulong Duterte na itatalagang bagong Chief Justice?

SEC. ROQUE: Wala pa po, kasi magkakaroon pa po ng proseso ang JBC. The JBC will have to submit a short list for the candidates of Chief Justice, as well as another seat for the Supreme Court ‘no. Bukod pa po doon sa seat na iba-vacate po ni Justice Velasco, who will be retiring.

VIC SUMINTAC/DZEC: Sir, dito sa plano ng kampo ni Chief Justice Sereno na magpa-file ng motion for reconsideration. In your experience as seasoned lawyer, iyong botohang 8-6, may pag-asa bang mabaligtad iyon?

SEC. ROQUE: I will not speculate po ano, hindi po dapat mag-speculate, dahil iyan po ay tanging hukuman lang po ang makakasagot. I wish her the best, pero with the decision which is more than a 150 pages parang mahirap po ata iyon; dahil mukhang pinag-isipan talaga ng mga mahistrado iyong kanilang desisyon.

VIC SUMINTAC/DZEC: Sir, ano ang take ng Palace doon sa sinasabi nilang—dito sa naging desisyon ng Supreme Court, pati iyong posisyon ng Presidente and Vice Presidente eh puwedeng i-subject sa quo warranto?

SEC. ROQUE: Hindi po kami naniniwala diyan, dahil si Chief Justice Sereno lang naman po ang hindi talaga sumunod doon sa requirement ng Saligang Batas na kinakailangang mag-submit ng SALN ang mga nominado para po sa Kataas-Taasang Hukuman.

VIC SUMINTAC/DZEC: Puwede bang isang-isa pa na other issue. Sir, ngayong araw na ito pasisimulan ng Department of Justice iyong kanilang preliminary investigation on Dengvaxia issue. Sir, ano nang nangyari doon sa—iyong order ni President sa Department of Health na kumuha ng three-man independent panel of foreign expert?

SEC. ROQUE: That’s a standing order po at saka it is the President that will appoint the three-man panel. So tuloy lang po iyong preliminary investigation ng DOJ. Bagama’t ang Public Attorney’s Office po ay for budget purposes eh kasama ng DOJ na humaharap ng Kongreso, meron pong autonomy ang PAO from the Department of Justice. So, ibig sabihin po niyan, wala pong ibig sabihin na palibhasa PAO ang nag-file ng kaso, eh there’s anything binding on the DOJ. Hindi po. Magko-conduct ng sariling preliminary investigation ang DOJ, maghahanap ng probable cause, kung may probable cause, magkakaroon po iyan ng pagsampa ng kaso, kung wala naman po ibabasura iyan ng Department of Justice.

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: Sir, follow up on Chief Justice Sereno. In terms of the consequence of this decision on the quo warranto… well at least the dissent ‘no are saying that the SolGen now is all too powerful in the sense that it can question via a quo warranto petition – as pointed out kanina – all appointee officials na mga dapat sana ay idinadaan sa impeachment. Do you agree with that kind of consequences that’s going to happen after this?

SEC. ROQUE: I think that’s purely speculative, because what is clear is that the quo warranto was filed against a specific government official who was required to file her SALNs by virtue of the Constitution and the law. So kung wala naman pong paglabag ng probisyon ng Saligang Batas na iyan, eh hindi naman po magkakaroon ng ganiyang kapangyarihan ang Solicitor General. Ibig sabihin, wala pong panibagong kapangyarihan na ibinigay sa SolGen itong desisyon na ito. Ang Saligang Batas po ang nagre-require ng filling ng SALN. At ito lang naman po ang naging basehan ng Solicitor General.

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: No, but I think the route is, iyong qualification can be questioned, not just filing of the SALN, but qualification, eligibility to the position.

SEC. ROQUE: No, I don’t think so. Dahil ang sinasabi ko nga po is the provision requiring the filing of the SALN is the Constitution, it’s a constitutional provision restated in a law. Now—of course, anyone who violates the constitutional provision stands the risk of being questioned by reason of quo warranto. Pero kung ikaw naman ay hindi lumabag sa Saligang Batas, eh di walang kapangyarihan ang OSG na kuwestyunin ka by virtue of quo warranto. At the end, it is really the Supreme Court asserting the supremacy of the Constitution.

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: Outside of the SALN. Can the Solicitor General using a quo warranto question the eligibility on whatever ground except SALN impeachable officers like maybe the Ombudsman or other Supreme Court Justices?

SEC. ROQUE: Well, there are other grounds for quo warranto, citizenship for instance. If there is a requirement that one should be a national born citizen and that is a requirement also for the Supreme Court, then if there are issues involving citizenship of a Supreme Court Justice then it could be filed and questioned through a petition for quo warranto.

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: So therefore, the answer is yes.

SEC. ROQUE: No. The answer is if there’s new powers because it’s already there is the Constitution.

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: The quo warranto, you mean.

SEC. ROQUE: Yes.

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: Okay, alright. Sir, can I move on to another one?

SEC. ROQUE: Yes, please.

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: China?

SEC. ROQUE: Yes.

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: When are we going to put our foot down on China. Because there have been reports of visits of warship in our… areas that we claimed?

SEC. ROQUE: We have always been putting down our feet. We have not surrendered our title, we have not relinquished our title, we maintain we have title. While we may not be able to do anything as far as their military maneuvers are concerned, we continue to resort to diplomatic initiatives and I assure you that while we are not noisy at it, any development that happens is also accompanied by diplomatic steps for the Department of Foreign Affairs.

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: What do we think of these actions of China, that they have been very active in those areas?

SEC. ROQUE: I think it’s the same question that you have been asking me and I give you the same answer.

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: Because we are not doing anything.

SEC. ROQUE: No. We are not doing anything, I dispute that. We are resorting to diplomatic initiatives, but this is the exemption to freedom of information. Let’s leave it to the Department of Foreign Affairs.

ALVIN BALTAZAR/RADYO PILIPINAS: Secretary, sir, totoo ba na iyong OPEC ready to finance iyong infra projects ng Duterte administration?

SEC. ROQUE: Hindi pa po ako sigurado diyan, dahil first time kong narinig iyan. But OPEC itself?, the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries. Ang alam ko lang po kasi, pagkagaling ng Kuwait, nagpunta ng Bahrain at nagpunta ng Saudi ata si Secretary Alan Cayetano ‘no. So hindi ko pa po alam na merong ganiyang deklarasyon ang OPEC, but I will clarify.

JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: Sir, pang-safety sound byte ang, just in case hindi maka-ambush kay Presidente later. Some were saying na parang is the wrong venue that he going to—it shouldn’t be the Benham, but maybe the WPS?

SEC. ROQUE: Well, ang sa akin lang po, talagang meron po tayong karapatan diyan sa Philippine Rise. Ang Presidente Duterte naman po talaga ang nagbago ng pangalan ng niyan, tinapon po niya iyong pangalan ng Amerikano at ginamit niya ngayon ang pangalan ng Philippine Rise. So iyan po ang ating binabalik-tanawan at nagbabalik-tanaw din po tayo doon sa pag-a-award sa atin ng UN Commission on the Extended Continental Shelf ng ganitong karapatan sa Philippine Rise. So, wala pong masama na balik-tanawin iyong mga pangyayari kung saan tayo po ay nabigyan ng karapatan dito sa Philippine Rise.

ROCKY/PTV: Okay, no more. Thank you Malacañang Press Corp. Thank you Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque.

SEC. ROQUE: Thank you and see you tomorrow.

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Source: PCOO-NIB (News and Information Bureau-Data Processing Center)

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