Press Briefing by PCO Sec. Andanar with Dept. of Finance Incoming Spokesperson Atty. Paola Alvarez
Press Briefing Room, New Executive Bldg., Malacañang
18 July 2016


SEC. ANDANAR: Good afternoon, Marie. Good afternoon, everyone.

There are two reasons, two-fold reasons why we are here today: the first is, we want to update you about the preparations for the State of the Nation Address (SONA), the first SONA of President Rody Duterte next week; and the other reason, is I want to introduce to you the incoming spokesperson of the Department of Finance (DOF) Atty. Paola Alvarez. Atty. Paola and I have been working closely to — in the preparation of the State of the Nation Address (SONA). We were just in Congress or the Batasan this morning. So now I’d like to introduce to you the incoming spokesperson of the Department of Finance, Atty. Paola Alvarez.

USEC. ALVAREZ: Hi, good afternoon. As you may know, I will be the incoming spokesperson of the Department of Finance. But, previously, I was the spokesperson for the PDP-Laban. So, because we are still having our transition, I am still helping out especially with Congress and the House of Representatives more specifically.

So I will be here to answer any questions that you may have and to clarify matters as well.

Pia Ranada (Rappler): Hello, good morning, ma’am. Earlier, Director Brillante Mendoza said that he would be doing something different for the SONA that will entail — showing the true personality of President Duterte and he mentioned something like there will be a different take on his entrance, on his way of getting even to Batasan — the Batasang Pambansa. Could you just elaborate more on these plans? Will there be any different gimmick or activity for the SONA — for President Duterte?

USEC. ALVAREZ: Okay. For the SONA, it would be different in a way that we will be minimizing the entourage, we will be minimizing the [how do you say this?]…We will downplay the event. It will not be a fashion show. So we want to center on what the President’s message is to our people especially it’s his First State of the Nation Address.

So it will be a different take because our guests would be requested not to wear their gowns as what we have previously have been seeing in the past SONAs. And second, for the entrance, Director Brillante Mendoza wants to emphasize on how the formalities are done especially when the President is greeted in the entrance by the Senate President and the incoming Speaker of the House. So instead of having a lot of congressmen there, we will be minimizing this to the Senate President and the Speaker of the House and afterward we will have the majority floor leader of both Houses to escort the President.

Joseph Morong (GMA-7): Ma’am ‘yung pong no-gowns, this will be the standard for the six years?


Mr. Morong: And ano ‘yung magiging dress code and why did we choose to shift?

USEC. ALVAREZ: Okay. So, the…During the previous SONAs, most people see that this is an occasion where people tend to flaunt their gowns, their dresses. We want to step away from this norm that has become — and we want to bring back the real essence of the State of the Nation. So if you would compare it with other countries, these countries do not actually look on the gowns of the guests but more on the message of the President. So, this is what we want to do. So we would also be seeing this throughout the six years provided that our members would be more than willing to follow our dress code.

Mr. Morong: So the dress code would be what?

USEC. ALVAREZ: It will be business attire but you have the option of wearing Filipiniana as long as, for the ladies, it will not be more than knee length. Yes, it was specifically asked of us to require the ladies not to have long dresses.

Mr. Morong: Ma’am si Presidente?

USEC. ALVAREZ: The President will be wearing…I think his Filipiniana as well.

Mr. Morong: And maong?

USEC. ALVAREZ: With that we do not know yet.

Ted Tuvera (Daily Tribune): Ma’am, makakalapit po kaya ma’am ‘yung mga militante doon ma’am sa may Batasan Complex ma’am knowing na parang may nabanggit sa kanila si Presidente before na mas papayagan silang makalapit sa Congress?

USEC. ALVAREZ: For the security matters, of course, we leave that to his PSG but as our President has always said sana kapag kung tayo ay meron mang hinaing, let us do it peacefully. As previously during his inauguration, he was welcoming and he was open to talking to them. So instead of staging rallies like before, maybe it is better if we talk to him na lang on a separate occasion and he listens naman. So we hope that our militant groups would also do the same. So that would be a better communication.

Reymund Tinaza (Bombo Radyo): Ma’am good afternoon. Ma’am during the last administration, we used to hear blame, blame, blames from the past administration. So what could be the tone of the first State of the Nation Address of the President this time?

USEC. ALVAREZ: Okay, as of the moment, we have no confirmation on what the President’s speech is about. But I think based from his personality, you don’t see him doing that and he is one who takes charge and he is accountable for his actions all throughout naman ‘di ba. So I think it would be the same tone and there will not be any blaming game.

Mr. Tinaza: But do we expect the President to name some personalities, officials involved in the issue which is he is strongly about the drug menace?

USEC. ALVAREZ: For that, we have no confirmation of what the content of his speech is. So, we also do not know if there will be some names being mentioned. So we are also waiting for what the contents will be.

Mr. Tinaza: Ma’am just a quick point, what could be the relevance of the award-winning movie director Brillante in the SONA?

USEC. ALVAREZ: Oh, for the director. This is pro bono. He offered his service for free even if he has already won in the Cannes he wanted to volunteer his services because of his nationalism, I think, and of his support to our new President. So we will not be paying him anything and he has purely volunteered. So, that’s why he is here with us.

Mr. Tinaza: I am not questioning whether he is paid or not but what could be his role on — what could be the center of his function?

USEC. ALVAREZ: Ah so previously there has always been a director during the SONA. The cameras, how it is being paced, which ones — there are lots of cameras there, which one will be better off for the televisions. There has always been a director and this time he volunteered that’s why he is there with us. So this function has always been there.

Dexter Ganibe (DZMM): Magandang hapon, Atty. Bukod doon sa mga kongresista, sino-sino po ‘yung mga naimbitahan doon sa unang SONA? Or saan galing mga walks of life saan galing?

USEC. ALVAREZ: Doon po sa protocol natin every State of the Nation Address, maliban po sa ating mga kongresista, nandiyan po ‘yung ating mga senador, ‘yung ating Bise Presidente, ang ating mga executive secretaries, ang mga diplomatic corps, ang mga UN dignitaries, at siyempre ‘yung iba’t iba pa pong personal guests ng ating Pangulo at ang ating — pamilya ng ating mga congressman, ang pamilya ng ating mga senador. So sila-sila po ang makikita natin doon. So for the different walks of life, it will depend on who the President will be giving the invitations. So, I personally have no knowledge of who they are. So we’ll just see in the SONA.

Weng Dela Fuente (Net-25): Good afternoon, Ma’am. Can you give us an idea what legislative agenda would the President be presenting sa SONA po?

USEC. ALVAREZ: Okay. In the SONA, siyempre ito ‘yung ating 10-point agenda at nandito rin ‘yung kanyang mga ipinangako all throughout. So, makikita lang natin ‘yung mga mas detalyadong plano niya.

For example, he was talking about the — a comprehensive tax package. So for this SONA, he will be mentioning on — I think, how the Department of Finance will be giving their proposals and how the Congress will address this as a whole.

So, of course, there will not be specific, definite plans as of yet. But of course, this will already be on the table. So, malalaman po ng ating mga kababayan na “ah, nandiyan na pala,” ibinigay na sa Kongreso at nasa sa kanila na ‘yung bola pagbukas ng Kongreso kung paano nila ito ia-address.

So, maghahain na ng mga bills, tapos dito na nila pag — idi-discuss na kung ano ba dapat ang talagang gawin.

Ms. Dela Fuente: Will he stress on the proposal to reimpose the death penalty and also the proposal to amend the Constitution?

USEC. ALVAREZ: Yes. For the death penalty and the amendment of the Constitution, first off, the death penalty is allowed under our Constitution. But the problem is some people do not — are not fully informed on what the death penalty will be.

So, what he wants is for heinous crimes. Now, there have been some news reports that some senators and some legislators are questioning the timing of the death penalty and the juvenile — the lowering down of the age of criminality.

Now, these things should be taken separately, because children shall never be under the death row. That’s for sure, because the law does not allow that.

Now, for the death penalty, it will only be for heinous crime. What are heinous crimes? These are to be addressed by the Congress.

So, for the Constitutional amendment, we want an amendment to open for a federal type of government. Now, a federal type of government, ito na po ‘yung idi-discuss natin at siyempre hindi… Iyong ating mga mamamayan, kailangan they are fully informed. So that when they elect their delegates to the constitutional convention, they would know kung ano ‘yung pinapasok nila.

So diyan na po tayo magbibigay…After the opening of Congress, we will give information kung ano ba ‘yung mga pino-propose for a new type of government. So ‘yun po.

Marlon Ramos (Philippine Daily Inquirer): Will the President read a prepared speech or—?

USEC. ALVAREZ: As of now, a speech is being prepared for him. But, we have no confirmation on the length, on the content as of yet.

Joseph Morong (GMA 7): Hi, Ma’am, clarification. So he will be pushing for at least two key legislations —federalism and then the restoration of death penalty during the speech sa SONA?

USEC. ALVAREZ: We don’t know what the speech will contain. But, his legislative agenda will also include these, aside from other legislative matters.

You also have the tax reform, the order to issue the IRR for example, the PERA Law. ‘Yung other matters that were not addressed during the previous administration, he will also address in the — this administration. ‘Cause the other bills are already there. Hindi lang talaga nai-implement pa.

Mr. Tinaza: Perhaps, you can clarify this issue. Kasi, recently Budget Secretary Diokno mentioned that the plan of the President to double or increase the pay of the police and soldiers is not included in the proposed 2017 budget. And yet yesterday, the President insisted that he will be making good of his promises during the campaign. So, what are the plans, how you ‘gonna do it?

USEC. ALVAREZ: Okay. Ito po kasi it’s a matter of budgeting. Now, the first proposals, the budget that is already done is the 2016 budget. Now, the next hearing will be for the 2017 budget. Now, siyempre draft pa lang ito.

So, if the President wants to push for a certain agenda, then we will have to make room on how to do it. If it is not within this budget, then it will be on the second budget. So, depende po kasi ‘yan.

The issue there is that we have to pay first the pension of the soldiers and the other personnels ng AFP. So, ang gusto po sana kasi ni Secretary Diokno, bayaran muna natin ‘yung pending na utang. And then once the pension is already paid, then that’s when we include the salary. So, it would actually benefit them because they are also the ones who will receive the pension.

So, ‘yun lang po ‘yun. It’s a matter of moving lang po ‘yung mga line budget. So, I think Secretary Diokno will have to look into it.

Marie Ruiz: Thank you very much. Thank you very much Ma’am for your time.

USEC. ALVAREZ: Thank you.