Press Briefing by Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella
Press Briefing Room, New Executive Bldg,  Malacañang,
15 July 2016

Joseph Morong (GMA-7): Sir, just to restate. When are we going to come out with an official response to the WPS ruling because we’ve been hearing rather aggressive tones from China and medyo tayo parang medyo — are we keeping our cards close to our chest? When are we going to come out with a statement and did former President Ramos decline the invitation?

SEC. ABELLA: Okay, there are two points in that question. Number one, we are not keeping our cards close to our chest. We are really thinking through the right response but the initial statement should be sometime after DFA Secretary Yasay comes back from Mongolia. Okay?

Mr. Morong: Sir, si Ramos ba declined?

SEC. ABELLA: Former President FVR did not decline but he did make a comment saying that he may be too old for the — for a long term commitment. I think he said it in passing.

Maricel Halili (TV-5): Sir, why did the President choose FVR as envoy or representative?

SEC. ABELLA: We do not know the rationale behind it but President FVR is obviously a wise statesman. So, it makes sense that the PRRD chose him — I mean, not chose him but referred to him, referred to him. Okay?

Mr. Morong: Sir, if the answer from President Ramos is really “no” because he said he is writing a book and everything. What if President Ramos is not available to talk to China, what’s our next recourse?

SEC. ABELLA: Then I suppose there may be other ways of doing it, diplomatic — diplomatic channels. Yes, please.

Q: Sir, the current situation of the fishermen there have been reports that they still can’t go back to Scarborough Shoal, is there anything that the Palace or anything that will be acted on in this regard since the ruling has already come out?

SEC. ABELLA: Regarding that matter, we’re still saying that the fishermen are not prevented. However, they are cautioned to proceed with care.

Q: So, if they went there, they would be allowed to go?

SEC. ABELLA: There’s no statements preventing them specifically.

Mr. Morong: It is not our government that is preventing them, it’s the other government. Are we going to probably ask China to be a little more — to be a little more considerate and allow our fishermen to fish in Scarborough?

SEC. ABELLA: The answer to that question will be part of our response.

Ina Andolong (CNN Philippines): Sir, Secretary Andanar said last week that we could expect the FOI EO signed within the week. It’s now Friday. Aabot pa po ba or next week na?

SEC. ABELLA: I think it’s in the process of being completed. You know, it’s taking a bit of time to complete it but I suppose next week may be a good time to expect the signing.

Q: Sir what issues are holding up the executive order on FOI?

SEC. ABELLA: I don’t know if you call it a holding it up but basically it’s just being completed. Finer points.

Q: Wala namang sticking points?

SEC. ABELLA: Wala namang sticking points as far as I can see.

Celerina Monte: Sir, regarding the fishermen, are you considering the government to at least ask the Coast Guard to escort our fishermen in going to those areas?

SEC. ABELLA: Regarding government actions, I think we just need to wait for the official statement. But the fishermen are not being prevented from going, from our side.

Ms. Monte: Sir, may bilateral talks ba si Secretary Yasay with the Chinese counterparts sa sidelines of the —

SEC. ABELLA: No, Secretary Yasay is out of the country right now. He is in ASEM.

Ms. Monte: But at the sidelines of ASEM, sir?

SEC. ABELLA: We are not aware of that.

Mr. Morong: Sir, kakausapin ba niya si Nur? Ni Presidente, sir?

SEC. ABELLA: I don’t know about that. Thank you.All right…

Reymund Tinaza (Bombo Radyo): Sir, last week sinabi ni Presidente na he will come out with the list of narco-mayors. Can we still expect para makauwi na kami kung wala?

SEC. ABELLA: Ito naman. [laughs] Hayaan mo hahanapin ko ‘yung sagot para makauwi ka na. Hindi. [laughs] Hantayin na natin na sabihin niya.

Pia Ranada (Rappler): [question on Abu Sayyaf]

SEC. ABELLA: No statements on that issue.

Alright. Happy weekend. Don’t do anything bad. Don’t get drunk or anything like that.