Press Briefing of Presidential Communications Office Assistant Secretary for Operations and Special Concerns Ana Marie Rafael-Banaag  and Commission on Higher Education (CHED) Executive Director Atty. Julito Vitriolo
Press Briefing Room, New Executive Building
08 December 2016
OPENING STATEMENT:ASEC. BANAAG: Rocky, good morning. Sa ating mga kaibigan sa Malacañang Press Corps at sa lahat ng tagapanuod, magandang umaga po.

Today’s resource person is one of the few pioneers still actively serving the Commission on Higher Education or the CHED.

He has served the cause of higher education for 31 years, dating from the BHE, DECS days up to the CHED era.

Atty. Julito D. Vitriolo was instrumental in the setting up of the organizational structure of the CHED Secretariat and the various offices under it.

He was appointed as Deputy Executive Director IV in 1995 and the first to be conferred the Career Executive Service Officer status with the rank III in the CHED.

He was eventually appointed as the Executive Director IV of the CHED in 2009.

Atty. Vitriolo finished his Bachelor of Industrial Engineering degree at the University of the Philippines College of Engineering in Diliman.

Likewise, he finished his Bachelor of Laws at the same university in 1993. He also took continuing education courses and trainings at the Ateneo de Manila University Graduate School of Business. He holds a Masters and Doctoral degrees in Criminology.  

Atty. Vitriolo was also an alumnus or fellow of the East West Center of the University of Hawaii in the USA.

Ladies and gentlemen, let us give a warm welcome to the CHED Executive Director, Atty. Julito Vitriolo.

EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR VITRIOLO: Well, thank you very much for that kind introduction. Good morning to all.

Well, let me just first state that the Commission on Higher Education is an agency guided by Republic Act 7722 and it is an agency attached to the Office of the President for administrative purposes.

So it was created in, way back in 1994 and we are more than 700 now in terms of number of staff and we are headed by our chairperson and four commissioners.

As correctly pointed out, I’m the Executive Director and I head the Secretariat of the Commission.

Well basically, our job is to supervise the entire higher education sector through various interventions and basically, we are looking at three or four major areas that would include, of course, enhancing the quality and excellence aspect of Higher Education Institutions and the broadening of access of our students to higher education, as well as enhancing or improving the capacities of our HEIs in order to complete or compete in the global market.

Of course, we have some details on that which I can probably discuss with you later but in addition to this basic thrust of the Commission, we have addressed also the directives of the President, as he initiated during his SONA sometime in July.

So let me just outline some of these directives which we are looking at also in the Commission on Higher Education and these would include making or strengthening the ROTC program in order to make it mandatory and in order for the program to instill nationalism, patriotism and discipline among our youth.

Of course, an important pillar also in the pronouncement of the President, is the, you know, coming up with the so-called “Drug-Free Campuses” in our country. So along this line, we had set up some mechanisms for, not only for random drug testing but also for making drug testing as an addition or possibly detention in college.

And another one that we are currently addressing also is the possible implementation of the free tuition policy in state universities and colleges.

So with respect to broadening access, we have several plans and programs lined up. For example, in the past several years, we have been implementing the so-called StuFAPs or the Student National Assistance Programs or the Tulong Dunong, which is a big program and to date, more than 200,000 beneficiaries are being supported and maybe next year, about 400,000 will be supported.

So aside from these, we are supporting also the Ladderized Education Program for our, for the workers who would like to earn a college degree so there is an ETEEAP or the Expanded Tertiary Education Program also that is being implemented.

In terms of capacity building, we are continuously upgrading and reengineering our curricula and we are now in the stage when we are implementing an outcomes-based curricula so that our institutions can have, can produce graduates that are not only globally competitive both here and abroad but this—it would admit also of students through a qualifications framework so enhancement of research, among others, and then, improvement of our industry-academe linkage programs that would include curricula that would prepare our students also for the BPO sector like the service management tracks, and also the technopreneurship programs in our engineering colleges or the engineering programs, and also the intensification of internship programs for both local and overseas.

So we are exposing our students in these areas so that they would have 21st century skills, so to speak.

In the area of quality and excellence, we are gearing up our academic programs with international standards. A while back, we have become a provisional member of the Washington Accord, which is the accord that more or less govern engineering programs and institutions in the country and we hope to become a regular member of this accord.

In the Seoul Accord, rather, which is the accord that governs IT programs, we are already a provisional member here.

Now, gearing universities for the future, if you recall, we have implemented the PCARI project or the Philippine-California Advanced Research Institute projects and this caters to high-end projects, high- level research projects that will hopefully aid the Philippines in leapfrogging in this area, especially in IT, infrastructure and in the health sector.

So we also continue to support the Centers of Excellence and Centers of Developments and the expansion of the autonomous and regulated HEIs in the country. Okay.

So I’ve mentioned also our efforts in the, in addressing the directives of the President. We have created a technical working group that will develop associate or dual degrees to strengthen their ROTC program.

We are looking at associate programs in, for example, National Defense, security management and military science that would later on, even progress to the bachelor’s degrees and even masteral degrees.

In the last CAS meeting or the Cabinet Assistance System meeting, there was a presentation on this and the Cabinet Assistance Meeting headed by Secretary Evasco even suggested that we should go beyond an associate degree and go for the higher level degrees.

On the Drug-Free Campuses, we have, we are on the way in developing a policy that will make, well, the drug testing as a requirement for admission in college.

With respect to the free tuition fee policy in the state universities and colleges, we are working with the Senate in the Bicam level. We are looking at around eight billion pesos that will be utilized for the free tuition fee policy in the state universities and colleges.

Well, more or less that’s the briefing that I could give at this point and if there are any questions, I plan to answer them.


Benjie Liwanag (DZBB): Good morning, sir.


Mr. Liwanag: Yeah. Attorney, nagiging “rubber stamp” lang daw ‘yung CHED ng mga public colleges and universities because nagiging — sumusunod lang daw ho kayo doon sa mga pagtataas ng tuition fee. Eh ano po ‘yung… What’s your reaction on this, Atty.?

EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR VITRIOLO: Well, okay ho. Iyong unang punto na being a “rubber stamp”, hindi naman totoo ‘yon. Because unang-una, the private schools are regulated by Education Act of 1982 or B.P. 232 and there is a provision there that gives them the right ‘no to increase tuition. And this has been there for the last, I would say, 30 to 32 years ‘no.

And Congress hasn’t really touched that provision because private schools, basically, are tuition fee dependent institutions and this is their lifeblood ‘no. If they do not charge tuition fees then they will not be able to survive or become viable.

Now, we have very few state universities and colleges, only 113 versus more than 1,700 private HEIs all over the country. 

So, they provide in terms of broadening access. They provide support here. They are performing public function and they are probably entitled to a small increase in tuition fees as they need it ‘no.

Now, we have a regulation in CHED. We have a set of regulation that strictly regulates the increases of fees and the CMO mandates that before any HEI could increase their fees, they should consult with their students. 

By the way, not only fees should be consulted but also the other school fees. So, it’s very stringent ‘no.

And only about…From the private school side, maybe I would say 15 to 17 percent ‘no of the total number of private HEIs increase their fees on a year-to-year basis and the average would be between three percent to maybe five percent, ano.

So, it’s small because we are guided by the so-called education deflator or the regional inflation rate ‘no. So this deflator, if they increase beyond that, then we disapprove.

But if it’s within the education deflator, then we will allow. But if you combine the number of institutions increasing, you will notice that between 200 to 250 HEIs out of the more than 2,000. So that is a very small percentage and if you look at the number of institutions not increasing fees, meaning zero percent a year, and you average it, then it would even be less than one percent ‘no ang increase niyan.

So, while the students have been clamoring for a change, I would suggest they, you know, direct also their efforts to Congress because there is really a law allowing HEIs, private HEIs to increase their fees.

Mr. Liwanag: Have you already talked with the Congress about this, about this problem? You are aware — the CHED is aware of the problems of the student now. Are there any way that the CHED is helping the students also to voice out their concern sa Congress, sir?

EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR VITRIOLO: Yes, I think they have — well, very able representative in Congress — Congresswoman Sarah Elago and we have articulated this.

And they should revisit B.P. 232, Section 42, which gives private schools the right to increase their fees subject only to reasonable regulation and restrictions from the Commission on Higher Education. 

Mr. Liwanag: Thank you very much, Attorney.

EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR VITRIOLO: Well, if I may add, in order to help them, we have a student financial assistance programs that covers merit-based programs, we have grants and aids programs as well as student loan programs. Aside from the other similar programs like the student grants-in-aid for poverty alleviation and Tulong Dunong.

So billions of pesos have been poured in this precisely to assist deserving Filipinos who cannot afford a college education.

Chona Yu (Radyo Inquirer): Sir, kamusta po ‘yung CHED ngayon, ‘yung morale ng mga employee after ‘nung desist order ng Pangulong Duterte to CHED Chair Licuanan to attend doon sa Cabinet meeting?

EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR VITRIOLO: Well, right now, it’s a wait-and-see situation really because we have to get a definitive action also from higher authorities on the situation ‘no.

I must admit, it’s really hard to — and difficult to work in a way because no less than the President has spoken or has acted on this situation. 

Ms. Yu: So, parang demoralized, sir?

EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR VITRIOLO: Well, there is, you know, maybe not directly demoralization but I would say, ambivalence in the sense that what is the exact situation. We need guidance also from the Office of the Executive Director or rather the Executive Secretary or the President himself on this.

Ms. Yu: Sir, how is the relationship of Chair Licuanan to — sa mga employees ng CHED?

EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR VITRIOLO: Well, wala namang problema diyan ano because, well, you know, career executive officials and non-career executive officials, we are all under the Chief Executive who is the President ‘no. And, definitely, the President, being the Chief Executive of all executive departments, siya ‘yung boss natin ano.

So, I believe these things should be — the situation should be resolved in this context.

Dexter Ganibe (DZMM): Hi, sir, good morning. Sir, you said nasa “wait-and-see situation” ngayon ang CHED. Ano po ‘yung wini-wait ninyo at tinitingnan — hinihintay at tinitingnan?

EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR VITRIOLO: I think this will need some kind of definitive, well, I would say action because if you knew once the action, the previous events, it would be difficult for our chair to function in the sense that she used to be a part of the Cabinet ‘no. And now, she cannot become a Cabinet member, it will affect the organization. 

Mr. Ganibe: And the action coming from?

EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR VITRIOLO: Higher authorities, the President, Office of the President ‘no. Right now, practical questions like, you know, what is the status of our chair?

Mr. Ganibe: So far, sir, habang wala pa ‘yung action kung anong status ng chairman o chairperson ng CHED, may na-assign po ba na tawag dito, na magiging kinatawan ng CHED chairman ‘pag nagkaroon ng mga Cabinet meeting?

EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR VITRIOLO: Well, that would be I would say the call of the Office of the President or the Executive Secretary or the CabSec.

Mr. Ganibe: Wala pa?

EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR VITRIOLO: Right now, there are no indications thereof.

Mr. Ganibe: Thank you.

Marlon Ramos (The Philippine Daily Inquirer): Sir, good morning po. How does it feel coming here in Malacañang talking about the agency a few days after the President barred your head of agency from attending the Cabinet?

EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR VITRIOLO: Well, for us, the sooner this is clarified the better because in the process the — our agency, the institution will suffer in the long run ‘no. Because as I said, Executive departments are under the control, the power of control of the Chief Executive, the President and definitely it has to be resolved somehow.

Mr. Ramos: But do you feel somehow awkward standing in the middle of the place where the head — your head of agency was barred from coming?

EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR VITRIOLO: Well, I think I have to do my job ‘no as a spokesperson of the Commission on Higher Education, it is part of my job to articulate the plans and programs and, of course, to clarify certain positions.

And as a career executive officer, you know, we will be the ones holding the bags, so to speak ‘no, because well, as I said, chairpersons and commissioners, they come and go ‘no. And I’ve seen that in that last 31 or 32 years. 

Mr. Ramos: Sir, can you explain to us ‘yung effect ‘nung order ni Presidente na huwag mag-attend si Chair Licuanan? Specific, sir.

EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR VITRIOLO: I think in the…Yeah, in the announcements of Secretary Abella, in the papers, and even in the print, in broadcast media, they have cited valid reasons ‘no.

Now, we all know even a first year student of law would know that under the doctrine of qualified political agency, a Cabinet secretary or a member — Cabinet member is the alter ego of the President. And that means the acts of the alter ego is presumptively the acts of the President unless disapproved or reprobated ‘no.

So if that trust and confidence is not there anymore, if a Cabinet secretary is not being asked to attend Cabinet meetings and that link is not there, so I don’t see how — just like what VP Leni mentioned, it would be hard to perform effectively. And, you know, as a student of law, that’s practically, you know, terminating that relationship.

So we have a…That’s also our concern because it would be very hard for us to, you know, to deal with the situation without a clear guidance from the Office of the President. After all, we are under the Office of the President.

Mr. Ramos: Is she now barred from signing documents or representing the agency and other meetings aside from the Cabinet meetings?

EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR VITRIOLO: Well, I am not sure ‘no because again these are things that has to be clarified by the Office of the President. Because if you read the actions, well, it seems that that would be the implication ‘no.

Mr. Ramos: Sir, in any of your meetings or public events, gatherings, did Patricia Licuanan speak against the President or any of his policies openly, publicly?

EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR VITRIOLO: Well, I don’t remember ano. From where I am standing, I don’t remember.

Leila Salaverria (The Philippine Daily Inquirer): Good morning, sir. Sir, clarification lang has CHED Chair Licuanan met with the commissioners and other officials of CHED to consult with you on this — on what happened?

EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR VITRIOLO: Ah, I heard there was CED meeting last Tuesday. Unfortunately, I wasn’t there. I was indisposed. And this coming week we are going to have a National Directorate Meeting ‘no. So that is the situation but in terms of, you know, the closure of, you know, it’s not — it’s not there. Because other sectors are also asking, you know, what will happen next?

Ms. Salaverria: Sir, the officials of CHED, do they have a collective position on this issue on whether they are still confident in the CHED chair or — what action do they want her to take?

EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR VITRIOLO: Well, as I said we haven’t met as a directorate. But you remember it is the President that is also involved here as the Chief Executive and as officials of the agency, as I said, he is our — the President is our main boss. So it is a difficult situation ‘no.

Ms. Salaverria: Do you think…Are you saying, sir, it would be best if the CHED chair would step down?

EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR VITRIOLO: Well, I think Chair Licuanan is intelligent enough to discern the situation.

Ms. Salaverria: Sir, on another topic, last na lang. When do you intend to implement the policy, the mandatory drug testing for college admission?

EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR VITRIOLO: We are looking at an early implementation would be next school year. But in the guidelines that we are preparing for HEIs, we would like to implement it, they will follow the guidelines that we are going to prepare. But because of we anticipate in the interim maybe not all would implement, then 2018 would be a better timeline for that.

JP Soriano (GMA-7): Hi, good morning, sir. Sir, just to clarify, first ‘yung sa ano po ‘yung sa ROTC. When you say na “to strengthen” would that mean na ire-reinstate, ibabalik na siya as mandatory, ‘yung ROTC program?

EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR VITRIOLO: Basically that’s the essence. We are following two tracks here, the one track is the passage of a law that will make it mandatory and this is — the efforts here is being led by the Department of National Defense.

Now, in the academic side, CHED is leading also the efforts in enhancing it so that the ROTC program package with other courses will now, you know, give you an additional competencies ‘no in terms of having an additional or dual degree or associate degree. And possibly it will become a stepping stone towards a full Bachelor’s Degree in the future that will answer also the need of our Armed Forces for qualified officers.

The PMA can only actually supply about 20 percent of our officers in the Armed Forces ‘no. So with this kind of possibility and we can have more choices, so to speak, for officers.

Mr. Soriano: Will CHED support or — support and allow ‘yung plan ng DOH to distribute condoms among senior students? Sa DepEd kasi meron silang plan na ganun, if they plan to do that as well sa mga HEIs will you support that or will you stop that or prevent that?

EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR VITRIOLO: Well, that hasn’t been really discussed ‘no. But I would say that would be on the part of the HEIs, it’s the part of their institutional policies or exercise of their prerogative so to speak ‘no.

Ace Romero (The Philippine Star): Okay, Atty., just for background, you’ve been in CHED for more than 30 years you mentioned, is this the first time that CHED chair was asked not to attend Cabinet meetings?

EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR VITRIOLO: Yes, that’s the first time.

Mr. Romero: Okay, based on your observation, what policies na hindi napagkasunduan ng Presidente at saka ni Chairman Licuanan? Kasi sabi “irreconcilable differences” daw po. Can you give us details?

EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR VITRIOLO: Well, I think in the press conference of Secretary Abella it was outlined there. They said that she failed to submit the courtesy resignation. And, of course, these differences I don’t know. It’s only between perhaps the President and the appointee and or the chair. But, basically, you have to remember that the power of the President is plenary, almost illimitable in this sense because the control power is Constitutional power to appoint and remove in office is Constitutional. For Cabinet secretaries, it’s easier to disappoint because for Cabinet secretaries it’s only based on trust and confidence as the alter ego. They do not have…The President don’t have to, doesn’t have to state the reason. You can be replaced with or without reason.

But that’s the, it’s a political question so, as I said, we are all part of the Executive department and the Chief Executive is the President and we bow to his wishes. 

ASEC. BANAAG: Thank you Atty. Vitriolo. Sandali Rocky, saglit Rocky. Uunahan ko na kayo. 

On the President’s pronouncements that he will stand by the police in the Mayor Espinosa slay, we have witnessed that the President did not intervene in the results of the investigation of the NBI, knowing that the NBI is under the DOJ, under the Executive branch. 

This underscores that the President respects the investigative process or any legal proceedings, which may later be filed against involved, alleged police officers suspected of wrongdoing.

We want to make it clear that the President did not pardon the police officials who may be involved in the Espinosa killing as alleged by one Senator. That is entirely not true. 

The support that the President stated to police officers may come in the form of legal assistance. For the Chief Executive has been very consistent in saying that he takes full responsibility in the anti-drug war, including the acts of his men in line with the performance of their duties. 

As he said, he is willing to take, to stake his life, his honor and even the Presidency. Thank you. 

KRIS JOSE (Remate): Ma’am ‘yun naman po ‘yung pinagbasehan ni Senator Trillanes na, ‘yung accu, ‘yung accusation niya na mastermind daw po si Pangulong Duterte dun sa nangyaring rub-out, dun sa incident. 

ASEC. BANAAG: ‘Yun ay opinion, haka-haka, pwedeng haka-haka lang, speculation ni Senator Trillanes. Hindi natin siya pwedeng kontrolin diyan sa kanyang opinion. 

Mr. RAMOS: Ma’am, categorically, did the President order the killing of Mayor Rolando Espinosa?

ASEC. BANAAG: That’s not fair, that’s not true.

Mr. Ramos: Because yesterday, he said, ang exact words of the President was, ‘I will not let these guys go to prison dahil utos ko ‘yan.’ What, what did the President mean by the ‘utos ko ‘yan’? Clarification.

ASEC. BANAAG: Itutuloy ko ‘yan. Ang sinabi niya, utos niya ang war on anti illegal drugs, hindi niya sinasabi na utos kong patayin, hindi. Ang sinasabi ng Presidente, utos niya, he was the one who declared the war against drugs.

Mr. Ramos: So wala, ‘yung before the dawn raid on the detention cell of Mayor Espinosa, the President did not meet with any of those police officers charged for the killing of the mayor? Wala, hindi niya kinausap, tinawagan or—?

ASEC. BANAAG: We don’t think so. The President is so busy. There are lots of things about, it’s not, the problem on illegal drugs is just one segment of the problems of our government. 

So, as to dun sa utos ko ‘yan, ganito ‘yun. Ang sinabi po ng Presidente ay, I take responsibility kasi inutos ko na kayo lahat, kayong mga pulis magtrabaho kayong mabuti para labanan natin ang anti illegal drugs, ‘yun ang sinabi ng Presidente. So, it, he was not referring specifically to Mayor Espinosa. 

Maricel halili (TV 5): Ma’am just a follow-up, according po kay Senator Gordon na parang although wala naman daw proof na magpapakita na may state sponsored killings, it seems na ‘yung people in authority wala naman daw ginagawa to resolve questionable killings. Ano pong masasabi natin?

ASEC. BANAAG: We respect the opinion of Senator Gordon and perhaps it’s best that the PNP will look into that matter. Of course that is his opinion and ‘pag dun sa committee niya ay, mas mainam siguro din na sagutin ng PNP ‘yan kung may ginagawa nga ang PNP dun sa mga alleged extra judicial killings. 

Trisha Macas (GMA News Online): Hello ma’am, good morning. 

ASEC. BANAAG: Hi, Trisha.

Ms. Macas: I just want to get the Palace’s reaction on Senator De Lima’s statement, I mean, I think it’s the same with Senator Trillanes but she said na President Duterte is a murderer and the father of all EJKs and that, there is now a Presidential death squad. So, after, sinabi niya, inadmit daw ni Presidente ‘yung, na siya daw ‘yung nag-utos, during the speech yesterday so… 

ASEC. BANAAG: That is Senator De Lima’s opinion and he, she can make her opinion, she can say anything against the President and it’s her right to say that. 

In fact, they can even have meetings to get people to agree with them. However, let us make this clear: the President does not have anything to do with the Espinosa slay and if he said, ‘utos ko ‘yan,’ ito ay utos niya sa lahat nung nag-uumpisa pa lang, ‘nung kakaupo lang ng Presidente, ang utos po niya ay labanan natin ang illegal drugs. 

‘Yan ay utos niya that’s why he takes responsibility. Susuportahan ko ang kapulisan kapag sila ay nagta-trabaho lang against sa illegal drugs, pero hindi niya kukunsintihin kung nagkamali man sila. 

Ms. Macas: Ma’am just a follow-up, sabi niya hindi niya kukunsintihin but ‘yung kahapon the President said na, parang he defended the PNP, the CIDG, ‘yung nag ano, involved sa, they said ‘yung arrest, sorry, ‘yung search warrant against kay Mayor Espinosa. What does it, can you reconcile, kasi sabi niya na parang hindi niya kukunsintihin but he defended it in public so…

ASEC. BANAAG: Yes, let’s see it this way. The NBI is under the DOJ under the executive branch, but you see how  transparent it is. The President did not interfere, intervene, in the investigation proceedings. It is an investigative matter from the NBI, magkaka-iba na po ‘yan iba po ‘yung sasabihin ng Presidente “ok maganda ‘yan, i-file niyo.” So that it’s up the courts to decide, but still I will give legal assistance to the police who may have, who may be, who may encounter problems in the implementation of the anti-drug core. That is, that is what is clearly said there. 

Ms. Macas: But if he finds out that this police are really involve—na  talagang robbed-out ‘yun, or it was a murder…

ASEC BANAAG: Then so be it. Then so be it, because the President respects the courts. You know, the burden of proof in investigative procedure is different, ‘yung investigation na, investigation na ginawa ng NBI  ay may rob-out, i-file nila ‘yung case. Now the case would, the case would be up to the courts already. The burden of proof it is different, so bahala ang korte. Kung sasabihin ng korte na may nangyari nga at sila nga ay may ginawa na misdeed. may mali doon sa patakarang ginawa nila, pinili nila then so be it. The President will respect that.

Ms. Macas: Thank you ma’am

Ms. Jose: May sinasabi rin po si Senator De Lima na ‘yung daw pong pronouncement ng Pangulo ay maaring maging dahilan para ma-impeach siya?

ASEC. BANAAG: And the, again that is  Senator De Lima’s opinion. But it is not an impeachable offense.

Ms. Jose: Thank you ma’am.

Ms. Salaverria: Ma’am what’s the basis of the President for saying that the yellows want him out of government? Ano ‘yung specific instances that led to this conclusion?

ASEC. BANAAG: You know, the President have been vocal about that, noong August kung maalala ninyo, the President raised ‘yung tungkol kay Ms. Lewis, July or August and nobody was talking about it, nobody believe it. And now, Ms. Lewis is going out in the open and saying let’s oust President Duterte.

And perhaps in his mind and from other sources he may know that, there is something going on up there, a plot against him. A plot to oust him, he knows—the President had been in politics for many years. So he knows what—whenever he says something about ousting or plotting against him.

Ms. Salaverria: So he’s taking this seriously ma’am? Is he making any counter moves?

ASEC. BANAAG: Not necessarily, the President is very—the President is very secure, he knows that he working well. It is not all about EJK. Governing the Philippines is not all about that, it’s all about a lot of things concerning the Filipino people and alleviating their plight.

Ms. Salaverria: Does the President think Vice President Robredo is involved in this plot, since she’s a member of the Liberal Party? And was this also the reason why she was stopped to—stopped from attending from Cabinet meetings?

ASEC. BANAAG: Well the only reason that the President said is irreconcilable differences. So I think we leave it at that.

Mr. Ramos: Had there been meetings of LP leaders with police or military officials na namonitor ‘yung Malacañang or si President Duterte?

ASEC. BANAAG: We cannot comment on that Marlon, perhaps is best to ask Vice President Robredo or other LP stalwarts on that matter.

Mr. Ramos: But  is there a need to conduct, parang loyalty check among the senior military and police officers?

ASEC. BANAAG: Not necessarily siguro, like I said the President is very secure, he knows that he’s working, he knows that he has the support of the military and most. majority of the Filipino people.

Mr. Ramos: Ma’am isa nalang po. ‘Yung kahapon ho, when the President said he’s standing by—standing firm on his decision to support sila Superintendent Marcos, isn’t that a pre-judgment on the case? Or on the accusations against the police, those police officers? 

ASEC. BANAAG: No, not necessarily. It’s not, it’s not—like I said kanina time and again I always say the President had been clear, dati po noong nag—when he delivers his speech he said, the President always says na, “kaya hindi makapag-trabaho ang mga kapulisan dahil takot sila, na baka mamaya makasuhan sila. Kaya tutulungan ko sila, kung makasuhan man sila. Pag tama—nasa tama sila, tutulungan ko sila bibigyan ko sila ng abogado.” He’d been, he’d been vocal about that.

Mr. Ganibe: Yes ma’am, on other issue. Nabanggit ng Pangulo ‘yung bahagi ng pag-uusap nila ni Trumph kagabi. Parang sort of na lumalabas na—parang gusto siyang kunin ni Trump na adviser on the war on drugs na gagawin ng US saka pag…any, any statement on that po?

ASEC. BANAAG: Siguro Dexter ano—wala ng time ang Pangulo, pero well nasa kanya ‘yun. He, he may share a few opinions, because if he may be asked to, to give an opinion on how—the war on drugs is in the Philippines, he may share a bit of it. However, to be an adviser to President Trump, we have the full fillip—the problems of all Filipinos in his hands, and I don’t think he would take that.

Mr. Ganibe: Parang lumalabas Asec—kung nitong palabas na administration ng US medyo shaky ang relasyon ng Pilipinas sa US at ‘yung papasok na administration ni Trump, mas okay ‘yung relasyon ng dalawa?

ASEC. BANAAG: ‘Yan din ang, ‘yan din ang alam natin sa Pangulo. Mas komportable siya ngayon na makipag-diyalogo sa United States kumpara sa dati.

Rosalie Coz (UNTV): Good afternoon ma’am. May mga reports po na napirmahan na ng Pangulo ang Executive Order creating a body, consultative body on possible amendments po  ng constitution. Ano po ‘yung update po doon?

ASEC. BANAAG: Yes, anytime today ilalabas na ‘yung Executive Order tungkol doon. So, since na-announce na ni Executive Secretary Medealdea, anytime today po ilalabas natin ‘yan kung sino ‘yung mga members ng komite.

Mr. Romero: Asec, just a clarification. The President mentioned the Vice President when he was talking about plots to oust him, about the alleged plot of the yellows to oust him. Can you clarify?

ASEC. BANAAG: Like what I said a while ago, that is the President’s opinion and may mga reports sa kanya na pwedeng, nag-iindicate na mayroon ngang—propaganda to oust the President.

Mr. Romero: And what has the Vice President got to do with that? Because he mentioned it in his speech last night?

ASEC BANAAG: I think, it’s best that President would expound on that. But I leave that to, the one that I stated a while ago, that the President had been talking about this since August and nobody believed it. And now Ms. Lewis had been so frank, so blunt about it.