Press Briefing by Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abellaand Climate Change Commission Vice Chairperson Veronica Victorio
New Executive Building, Malacanang
14 March 2014


PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: Good morning. This morning we are pleased to have the Commissioner and Vice Chairperson Vernice Victorio of the Climate Change Commission.

She is the only female Commissioner of the Climate Change Commission, with over a decade of committed environmental advocacies.

A graduate of the Ateneo de Manila, she is the first Filipino with a Master’s in Industrial Ecology at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology.

Prior to her appointment, Vernice was President of the SEED Institute – a nonprofit sustainability research organization that she co-founded. While at SEED, she led in partnership with the Ateneo Observatory, the greenhouse gas emissions assessments of Puerto Princesa, Metro Manila, the entire Philippines, and the Malacañan Palace. 

She has also served as associate of the Netherlands-based Global Reporting Initiative – an international standards organization for sustainability reporting; President of TagBalay Foundation in Palawan; and program manager of the Ateneo Institute of Sustainability.

Ladies and gentlemen of the Press Corps, please welcome Vernice Victorio.

VICE CHAIRPERSON VICTORIO: Thank you Spokesperson Abella. Actually, I’m here to just really have a conversation with the Malacañang Press Corps.

We have a very… This will be a very historical moment for the country, kasi mamayang hapon, if I can speak in Tagalog, mamayang hapon ay magiging third reading na po para sa concurrence ng Senate para sa Paris Agreement.

So last two weeks ago yata, na-sign ni Presidente ‘yung Paris Agreement and we thought that this would be a good opportunity to talk to everyone about the Paris Agreement and then kung meron po kayong mga questions, baka pwede niyo na lang i-bring up dito so we can clarify certain things.

But the nice thing kasi about this Paris Agreement is that, ito po ay — this will allow us to really have a stronger voice pagdating po sa international climate negotiations.

Kasi po kung hindi po tayo kasama dito sa Paris Agreement ay hindi po tayo makakapagsalita pagdating po sa mga Conference of Parties na ginaganap po every, well, every year ‘no.

So ang… At ang pinakaimportante dito and I guess one of things that we really wanted to do as, in the Philippines, and this is something that also si Senator Loren Legarda has been pushing very hard and we thank her today and we’re expecting — she’s going to be leading the — actually as the subcommittee chair of Climate Change Paris International Affairs, so she’s actually going to be leading this afternoon, at 3 p.m., the Senate concurrence.

So we’re looking forward to that. But one thing that we really worked on dito sa — among the climate change advocates is that we’re pushing for this — a more ambitious goal pagdating po sa increase po ng temperatura, which is kami po, ang Pilipinas po, and I think we should all be proud of our Philippine delegation.

Tayo po ay nag-push po ng 1.5 degree Celsius goal. Hindi ko lang po alam kung — to what extent you’re — very familiar with this 1.5 degrees Celsius goal. It was coming out a lot in the news. Pero this will allow us to basically save — this will allow us to basically save this, the Philippines from the dire impacts of climate change.

Tayo po ay like 5th most vulnerable country when it comes to climate change all over the world. So kung ngayon pa lang — ngayon nasa 1.2 degrees Celsius po tayo. Dati pa nagka-Yolanda na tayo, nagka-Ondoy, and these are all at 1 degree Celsius.

So napakaimportante po ito for the Philippines. And I hope that with you, as members of the press also, that you can help bring out this message about ‘yung the importance of our being here, the importance of us leading the way when it comes ‘yung pagdating po sa mga climate change objectives.

Of course, ang kasama din dito at ito ‘yung mga palaging — this is one of the discussions we’re talking about is, once naging members po tayo ng Paris Agreement, and we become a party, ay meron na —- magkaka-access po tayo sa financial support, sa teknolohiya, sa capacity building.

Ang Paris Agreement po ay may goal po sila na you’ll be able — we’ll have about 100 billion dollars per year — so starting 2020. So ‘pag kasama po tayo sa Paris Agreement ay makaka mas access tayo dito sa mga financial support na available for us, lalo na as a developing country.

I think, ito nga ‘yung one of the things na palagi nating ipinaglalaban is that as a developing country is tayo po ay maliit lang po ‘yung ating kontribusyon sa mga emissions. We’re getting, we’re one third of one percent of emissions.

Yet tayo ay isa sa mga pinaka-vulnerable na countries pagdating sa climate change. So ito po ay kasama po sa Paris Agreement, itong part of — itong sabi nilang common but differentiated responsibilities.

It’s a principle po pero it’s basically saying na developed countries will take also more responsibility compared to developing countries ‘pag sa pag-a-address po ng climate change.

So that’s… Iyon po ‘yung makukuha natin as part of the Paris Agreement. But siyempre, we are now party to this big global deal ‘no.

So ang ating obligation lang po under this is that we will have a, ang tawag nila, technical ‘to, pero ang tawag po nila is “nationally determined contribution.”

Pero ito po ay… O so pano tayo lahat makakatulong to achieve ‘yung 1.5 degrees Celsius na goal, ‘yung 2 degrees Celsius na goal? Well, pero tayo kasi, as vulnerable, talagang pinu-push natin let’s go for the 1.5 kasi hindi aabot.

‘Pag lumampas po tayo ng 1.5, ‘yung mga coral reefs po natin, magsa-suffer; ang crops po natin hindi — 98 percent po of coral reefs will be at risk.

Pagdating po ng 2 degrees Celsius din, ‘yung ating mga crops mahihirapan na po for adaptation purposes. Hindi na po tayo makakatanim as much.

Right now, last year, 1.2 degrees Celsius na po tayo. So this is something we are continuously advocating at kailangan po natin i-lead ang ating mga iba’t ibang bansa kasi hindi po natin ito kakayanin na mag-isa eh. Kasi ‘yun nga lang po, maliit lang po ‘yung contribution natin sa climate change.

So ito na nga lang. So pagkatapos ‘non, so anong gagawin natin as a country? Ito po ay pinaguusapan namin. Ano nga ba ang… Isa-submit po namin ‘to before 2020 kung ano nga ba ang contribution natin to climate change para sa goal na ‘to.

Ang plano po natin is that we want to make sure na naka-incorporate po dito ang mga goals ni Presidente also, of really poverty eradication, mga sustainable development. So pwede po ‘to under the Paris Agreement.

So ‘yung pag-adaptation ito, ang ibig sabihin nito is how we’re going to adjust assuming ‘yung pag-increase po ng temperature. So ‘yun rin ifo-focus namin as well as ‘yung mitigation at reduction ng emissions.

Pero lahat po ito nasa konteksto ng ano ‘yung — ‘yung ating, you know, with all of our sustainable development because the President has also be — and this administration is very keen on eradicating poverty here.

So aside from that, we have, I know we have a lot of briefers on this. Meron yata kayong kit na ipinadala diyan, so you can ask us questions.

But I think I’d like to also make a quick announcement. Kasi while we have the international — while we have this international agreement, ang pinakacritical, what’s most critical for us right now is ‘yung — ano ng gagawin natin locally?

Kasi ito po nasa control po natin. So I’m also — we’re also very pleased to announce in the Commission that yesterday we had a meeting with the League of Municipalities of the Philippines. So there’s about mga — the League of Municipalities po mga 1,500 mayors po ‘yun. But we had about, I think there’s about, slightly less than that, pero maganda po ‘yung attendance eh.

Pero we were able to ask them to sign certificates, commitment certificates to do their local climate change action plan. So ito po ay ipe-present po namin sa President mamayang hapon.

But for us this is an also a such a very big win. Mga 1,700 lang po ang ating local government units. So we have like a majority of local government units committing na ‘yung climate change, na reyalidad na po dito ng Pilipinas ay pwede na nilang ipasok sa mga plano.

Actually, na-incorporate na po ito sa — this is already mandated by law. So we’re giving this a bigger push this year with the Climate Change Commission.

Talaga lahat ng local action. I think those are just photos from yesterday’s event. Pero ito po ‘yung — this is another proud thing that we are announcing as a Commission.

And we hope, actually, we’d like to appeal to everyone here sa press ‘no, to help bring out this word about, you know, the need for — to handle both the international discussions but at the same time, ang local po, kahit anong gawin po namin sa internationally, ‘pag ‘yung local hindi po ‘yan, pag ‘yung bahay o eskwelahan ay hindi — nandoon pa rin sa area na binabaha o lina-landslide, mamatay pa rin ‘yung tao.

So kailangan po lahat ng mga siyensya na alam namin sa climate change ay maiintindihan po ng mga local administrators at talaga para we can start saving lives at maayos rin po ‘yung mga livelihood ng mga tao at iisipin po nila ‘yung bagyo, magkakaroon po ng droughts, magkakaroon po ng ‘yung fisher — ‘yung fish production po ay bababa as the temperature of this world increases.

So with that, I’d like to close a little bit of these announcements but kung meron po kayong mga tanong, feel free to ask and, you know, we hope also for a stronger you know, cooperation with you and the Commission.

Salamat po. Maraming salamat.


Reymund Tinaza (Bombo Radyo): Hi. Good morning, ma’am.


Mr. Tinaza: Ma’am, can you update us if you have any monitoring to what countries have so far — those who signed the agreement have passed or ratified in their own Congresses that Paris Agreement? Baka naman tayo naman ‘yung masyadong excited kasi.

VICE CHAIRPERSON VICTORIO: We have about — actually medyo huli na po tayo. Mga 134 countries na po ang nag-ratify so… Tayo nasa 130… O pang… Nasa ano na tayo talaga.

Kasi hindi pa tayo nag-concur eh, ‘yung Senate so talagang… Tapos total of parties natin is about 195 — 197, sorry. 197.

Mr. Tinaza: And US and China already ratified?


Mr. Tinaza: US?

VICE CHAIRPERSON VICTORIO: US? Yes. Bago pa, si Obama pa, via an executive… Yeah, meron silang ginawa, yes.

Mr. Tinaza: Executive, via executive order but not by Congress? 

VICE CHAIRPERSON VICTORIO: Executive agreement. I’m just checking lang with my lawyers kung tama ‘yung ano — ‘yung term ko. 

Mr. Tinaza: But not yet on their Congress kasi baka… 

VICE CHAIRPERSON VICTORIO: Ano ‘yun eh considered na sila ratified eh in terms of like the… I’ll have to ask the exact ano but what they basically did is they changed the way they will actually ratify this agreement. 

So they didn’t do it via an act of Congress. I know Obama did something to that extent. 

Mr. Tinaza: Also ma’am — 


Mr. Tinaza: It’s not about emission but on the vulnerability? But I understand the most vulnerable communities are those situated along with those illegal logging and irresponsible mining. So do you fully support the advocacies of Secretary Gina Lopez?

VICE CHAIRPERSON VICTORIO: Of course, we support her. I mean as an environmentalist with her… She’s been such a passionate advocate for the environment and the logging — when it comes to logging at the very —  ‘yun talaga pagdating sa greenhouse gas emissions.

Alam niyo po merong actual study na ang mga forest po natin, they reduce about 80 percent of our emissions. Tapos ang mga… That’s in 2010 ‘no, so ang laki po ng contribution ng forestry.

Ang mga mangroves at bamboo, ‘yun isa sa mga pinakasinusuportahan ’yang mga proyekto for climate change. That also helps sa storm surges at pati ‘yung sa bamboos kasi nakakatanggal po ‘yun ng emissions sa atmosphere.

So talagang she’s a very strong and pure passionate environmental advocate and we laud her.

Mr. Tinaza: And you support her move and even the announcement of the President last night for a total ban on mining?

VICE CHAIRPERSON VICTORIO: Pagdating po sa mining — hindi po talaga ‘yan climate change issue per se so I’d like to…

If it’s okay — I can talk about logging and the forestry but with the mining, we support… You know, we support this administration but I’m afraid that’s not really within our ano — our purview as the Climate Change Commission.

Mr. Tinaza: Yeah but because of the stronger catastrophes, typhoons that directly hit the most —

VICE CHAIRPERSON VICTORIO: Yes, but the thing… But definitely, I will still say though that it’s important to protect ang mga watersheds, especially when we’re going to have a water security issue pagdating po sa climate change.

But I will… I’ll just have to leave it to the — to Secretary Lopez and, of course, the President when it comes to the mining issue. But we are there going… Sure.

Mr. Tinaza: Going back to the vulnerability, because we are speaking of billion or million of dollars that we can get from —


Mr. Tinaza: — after signing the Paris Agreement.


Mr. Tinaza: So can we expect to share a sum for those to be affected by the possible closure of mining operations? I understand they are the most and they should deserve at least support because they are the most vulnerable with the typhoons and flooding.

VICE CHAIRPERSON VICTORIO: O sige, titingnan… Pero siguro… Yes, because sa mining… If we can position po our funding proposal that this is for climate change adaptation, pwede naman po eh because the Green Climate Fund allows us have funding for both mitigation, the reduction of emissions, at the adaptation.

So ‘yun lang po ‘yung dapat very clear na this is the objective that allows us to reach the climate change adaptation goals.

Mr. Tinaza: Thank you, ma’am.

VICE CHAIRPERSON VICTORIO: Thank you, salamat din.

Joseph Morong (GMA-7): Ma’am good morning. Iyon pong 100 billion na green fund ‘no.


Mr. Morong: Papano ‘yung pooling no’n from countries? And then you mentioned in passing ‘yung pag-access no’n in terms of programs ‘no at climate adaptation. Two points: How do you pool it and then how do we access it?

VICE CHAIRPERSON VICTORIO: Ah yeah, all of the developed countries like have their own contributions.

They’re supposed to… Kasi itong nationally determined contributions, it’s medyo may pagka-voluntary eh. So iba’t-iba ‘yung mga… Iba’t-iba ang mga contribution ng bawat bansa. But this is really mostly from developed countries.

Right now, we’re still trying to hit the 100 billion dollars. Anyway, 2020 pa naman ‘yun ‘no. So there’s still a lot of negotiations ongoing on how to make sure that developed countries hit this 100 billion dollars.

So for the past four years we’re still… And that they report on kung magkano talaga ang na-contribute nila dito sa 100 billion dollars. So it’s still a tricky process, I’ll say for the… And hopefully we’ll get there.

Access-wise, meron pong mga… There’s a Green Climate Fund ‘no that’s… So we’ll have to develop projects proposals, this has to be cleared through the nationally-designated authority, and then tapos… So it goes through an exact process.

Actually, one thing na pinag-uusapan nga namin is we really have to actively, dito sa Pilipinas, create this project proposals.

Tayo nga sa isa sa mga pinakamalakas na voices pagdating dito sa negotiations ng finance. So tumulong po tayo sa pag-establish nitong Green Climate Fund.

Ang… Si Congressman Salceda actually serve as co-chair of this Green Climate Fund. So we are really a strong voice, pero ang ano natin dito sa local.

Kaya pinag-uusapan din namin sa mga mayors… Sa mga mayors kahapon is really how do we push for really accessing but we’ll have to integrate talaga itong mga local programs para…

Kasi medyo may ano ‘yun eh — may minimum of about 100 million dollars eh per project so medyo malaki-laki siya. Hindi pwedeng maliit lang ‘yung ating inaaplayan (apply).

Mr. Morong: Just one last point. Can we highlight ‘yung effect ng 1.5? You mentioned some of it na parang —


Mr. Morong: — 98 percent of our corals are going to be affected and then our crops. Can you just elaborate on that point para lang maintindihan why should we care about the Paris Agreement?

VICE CHAIRPERSON VICTORIO: Yeah, because at one point… Well, the 2 degrees Celsius, there was a study — that’s 2 degrees Celsius na.

The Paris Agreement technically… I’ll say technically ha. It said there that we — they want to limit global average temperatures to 2 — to well below 2 degrees Celsius. Tapos — but to pursue further efforts to limit this to 1.5 degrees Celsius.

Ngayon, ang Pilipinas really help with that 1.5 and as a vulnerable country, we are pushing for that. Kasi at 2 degrees Celsius, wala pa tayong masyadong studies on 1.5. We’re gonna come up by next year I think on the — yeah, next year on the what 1.5 means.

But ang UN po, nag-study na po on the 2 degrees Celsius. And at 2 degrees Celsius, ang lumabas po sa mga studies is that number one, is our crops will only have some potential po for adaptation.

So ibig sabihin, baka ‘pag… Hindi na tayo makakatanim nang basta-basta lang. We were not gonna just be able to… So this will affect and threaten really our food security, it can cause some violence — you know what happened sa Kidapawan last year. So that’s what we’re worried about.

Pero isa rin study also said that… Sorry, 2 degrees Celsius is that we will lose about 98… Sorry, 98 percent of our coral reefs are at risk.

Ngayon pa lang nagbi-bleach na po siya. So once… 98 percent of our coral reefs which is the home of the small fishes. Baka wala na tayong makakain din in terms of that.

Marami pang mga studies ang kakailanganin. There’s also indications that at 2 degrees, mga 20 percent na lang. We’ll have 20 percent less water that’s available for us.

Maricel Halili (TV-5): Sir, just — ay ma’am, just a clarification about the financial support. What’s the assurance that the developed countries will give the financial support? I understand the target will be in 2020 pero ano ‘yung assurance na magbibigay sila? And if they don’t give financial assistance, can we hold them accountable?

VICE CHAIRPERSON VICTORIO: Responsible? I think, yeah… I think that’s also a main contention that we have ‘no.

It’s… We don’t have a strong compliance mechanism. It’s really a name and shame game here. That’s why we’re focusing on transparency that they tell us what they are really giving.

Actually isang concern pa nga namin dito anong ire-report nila na finance? Ito ba ay — ‘di ba paminsan… Kasi iba’t-iba ito eh. Pwede ‘tong grants, pwede ‘tong loans, pwede ito via… Marami, kasama na siya without part of the bilateral agreements.

So these are things na nine-negotiate pa ng what we can do. But the Paris Agreement, yes, doesn’t… It doesn’t offer punitive measures pero there are things in ways that we can — because of the transparency, malalaman kung sinong nag-contribute o hindi nag-contribute may konting… Pwede ‘yung name and shame ang lalabas doon sa Paris Agreement.

Pero don’t… Ang ano ko lang din is that the Paris Agreement, it’s the best thing we have at the moment. Meron po tayong I…

We realized that meron… It can be stronger perhaps but we also want to say ang tagal po ng negotiations. Ito po ang… This is what we came up with and this the only thing we have.

Ang Kyoto Protocol po ‘yung commitment period ano na po ‘yun hindi po — nag-expire na po ‘yon. So that’s not… Nothing is…  We are not being able to implement… We are not able to implement anything right now under the Kyoto Protocol.

So the Paris Agreement is what we have and it’s… We are going to just work with it and we’re glad we’re part of it. And we are just trying to keep on advocating.

Kaya important po na nandoon po tayo sa negotiation so we can continue to fight for — it’s stronger compliance, you know. We can start, you know, really it’s still asking for the developed countries to be more transparent in their support at to let us know anong klaseng suporta ang meron sila at talagang makita natin they are able to fulfill their obligations.

Ms. Halili: Ma’am, one last point.


Ms. Halili: Our target is to have 1.5 degrees Celsius that’s our goal right? And so as the other countries they also have their own goals. What will happen kung hindi na-meet itong mga goals na ‘yun? Meron din ba silang accountability or wala rin tayong binding?

VICE CHAIRPERSON VICTORIO: Oo nga eh. Hanggang ngayon po we are really calling for a higher ambition. Iyong goals kasi natin actually we submit commitments like every five-year period.

So I will admit na meron ngang studies sa mga indicated contributions nila is that hindi pa po umaabot pa tayo hanggang 3 degrees Celsius considering na po may commitments.

Kasi ganito po ‘yun kung assuming business as usual at wala po tayong gawin aabot po tayo ng mga 4 to 5 degrees Celsius. Tapos inaccount ng mga scientists kung magkano ang… I mean, how much reductions ang maa-achieve ng Paris Agreement, lumabas po sa report na ito is  3 degrees Celsius pa po at the end of the century.

So this is not enough. We are still really continuously still fighting for this because ayon we have to be able to reach the 1.5 and the 2.

So it’s, it’s… Medyo tricky po ‘yung process also inside ‘no — how are we going to really push for this. But definitely, if we can encourage the members of the press to — so that we can really rally people behind this pushing for this higher — this 1.5 because the Philippines masasalanta po siya talaga.

Alexis Romero (The Philippine Star): Commissioner, local governments are required to come up with their climate plans right? They are required to come up with their own…


Mr. Romero: Okay. Ilan na po ‘yung meron na at ilan ‘yung wala pa?

VICE CHAIRPERSON VICTORIO: We have various numbers. The… We have an official number of about 1,000… Well, 300 — umiiba ha ang numbers namin.

So we have 300 and then a 600, pero meron din naka-report doon sa LG — ah sa DILG, which is about 1,115. Pero they call it first — kung hindi pa ito na-quality assure — so it’s… They call it a document… [inaudible] is a document called LCCAP. So we have to look at it.

But hopefully with yesterday, we are… We are saying can we do the LCCAP in the proper format? At talagang… Kasi hindi po naming talaga nakikita kung ano pong nandoon sa LCCAP na ‘yun eh.

So I wish I could give you a stronger number or a better number. Though, official number we received from — with the DILG is 1,115. Kasi we’re doing this in partnership with DILG.

Mr. Romero: Ano ‘yun majority ba ‘yon o — ? 

VICE CHAIRPERSON VICTORIO: Majority na ‘yon kung a-assume po natin na talagang LCCAP po ‘yon ha. Kasi we have a total of 1,700 LGUs sa Philippines.

Mr. Romero: So out of the 1,700. Ilan ‘yung may submission? 

VICE CHAIRPERSON VICTORIO: 1,115 out of over 1,700, pero that’s one thing. Pero ang sinasabi po ng iba is just 300 or 600 talaga ang tama ‘yung quality kaya…

Mr. Romero: So the rest?

VICE CHAIRPERSON VICTORIO: The rest… Ang hirap pong magsalita eh sa ganon. Pero I’m just telling you lang what the information is…

Mr. Romero: Pero are we saying wala silang plans at all parang ganun?

VICE CHAIRPERSON VICTORIO: Hopefully, after today magkakaroon and we are really gonna push it na magkakaroon na po sila ng mga plans.

Mr. Romero: Pero wala? As it stands, wala?


Mr. Romero: Wala silang sinubmit na — ?

VICE CHAIRPERSON VICTORIO: Iyong 1,115 meron pong sinubmit. Tinawag po nila “LCCAP”.

Mr. Romero: Iyong iba?


Mr Romero: Wala?

VICE CHAIRPERSON VICTORIO: Baka hindi po, oo, nag-report. Hindi po natin alam.

Mr. Romero: So ano po ‘yung implication no’n? Anong implication no’n kung hindi sila nag-submit?

VICE CHAIRPERSON VICTORIO: Well, alam ko for them wala silang seal of good governance. Pero, in our case, kami may ano — hindi po nila na-incorporate, hindi po nila na-process kung anong vulnerability nila sa climate change.

Kasi ang importante dun is tingnan po namin ‘yung mga hazards. Anong exposure nila sa climate change?

Tapos ipapasok po nila ‘yun sa plano. Anong mga actions ang pwede nilang gawin? So kailangan medyo future planning po ito, tapos ma-incorporate rin po ito sa land use plans at sa CDP nila, sa development.

Mr. Romero: So overall ano ‘yung risk na they fail to submit? Ano ‘yung magiging possible impact nito dun mga constituents nila, sa mga taong nasa municipalities?

VICE CHAIRPERSON VICTORIO: Sana nga ang constituents talaga natin — we have to actually really ask our mayors to push for this local climate change action plan. Kasi at the very least kunwari ‘yung land use plan, alam ko that, you know, we are still building on areas na alam natin ay mababaha, mala-landslide.

So dapat, I think, we, as common — the people have to start demanding and asking our local governments, “Please, natingnan niyo na ba ito? Anong impact sa amin? So that’s also for our — really our safety precaution.

Meron na pong mga science, meron na pong mga maps available. So kailangan lang po ito makuha po ng mga local government units, i-absorb, i-integrate po sa kanilang mga plano.

Mr. Romero: So ‘yung CCC can only persuade them to submit, wala tayong parang — ?

VICE CHAIRPERSON VICTORIO: We are not… Oo nga eh kasi we are always… We are coordinating body. DILG is really the…

We are working closely with the DILG for this development of the LCCAP. So — at hindi po kami implementing body. So it’s…

Ano lang kami technical assistance, capacity build, yeah… So it’s capacity building pagdating po sa mga LGUs.

Mr. Romero: Thank you, Commissioner.

Trisha Tejada (CNN Philippines): Hi, ma’am. Can you just please give us an overview of how the Philippines and other countries fared in the past agreements? And kasi nga po given that we don’t have penalties or checks and balance on how to — or how to monitor the agreements that we are getting into. How are we sure that we are not in the losing end here?

VICE CHAIRPERSON VICTORIO: How we are not sure that we are not in the losing end when it comes to these agreements?

Ms. Tejada: Yes.

VICE CHAIRPERSON VICTORIO: Well, we will eventually have a voting right pagdating sa mga agreements. So we can…

We have to have a stronger delegation. We’ve had one of the strongest delegations in… I’ll admit na talagang pinapakinggan po ang Pilipinas pagdating po doon sa negosasyon — sa  negotiations — so, I think, we should be proud of that.

And… But the best way that we can really do this is develop the negotiating team. So, hindi lang po ang Climate Change Commission ang pumupunta doon. But we have representatives from various parties. Of course, the DFA, but then, for Finance, we have DOF, NEDA. So they are all going there.

So important that we really watch over this and if we can be part of like the… And, of course, the NGOs are part of us — are part of the delegation ‘no.

Pero one thing also is that we can be part of the… Meron kasing mga committees, meron committees, that when they develop a bit of the rule book.

Ngayon kasi ginagawa pa ‘yung rule book ng Paris Agreement. Kung nabasa niyo po ‘yung Paris Agreement, it’s still, it’s still very general.

So ‘yung lahat ng implementing rules ay pinag — dini-discuss po namin hanggang 2020 or maybe even further up there…

So we have to be part of that discussion. Kailangan po tayong magsalita, we can vote. Kasi if we say no naman hindi naman po magkakaroon ng agreement eh.

So that’s ano… Pero madami pong mga discussions so we have to be active there at kailangan po maintindihan ng ating mga negotiators kung ano ang issues para they make sure they put the… 

Legal ano ‘yon ‘di ba? We put the necessary precautions in the final treaty. Ay, sorry, rule book — tapos na ‘yung treaty. Sige.

Thank you.


On to other items. We’d like to highlight several things that has been — both in the news and also initiatives coming from the Executive branch.

The Philippines has ideal business environment for women to prosper, according to Mastercard. The Philippines ranks eighth among top 20 markets in the world, gaining an overall index of 68.4 on the Mastercard Index of Women Entrepreneurs in 2017.

This means that the Philippines is an enabling, a nurturing environment for Filipino women in business entrepreneurship. Women are given career growth opportunity and support in services such as finance, education, and enterprise. The Duterte administration continues to support endeavors of Filipino women.

Philippine merchandise exports surged 22.5 percent.

The Palace is pleased to announce that the Philippine merchandise exports reached 5.13 billion in January, surging 22.5 percent, the highest growth posted in three years.

Garments and clothing accessories led gainers with a 270 percent increase, followed by coconut oil products which grew 230 percent, chemicals at 105 percent, among others.

Japan is still the top Philippine export destination. Export businesses are included in the 2017 Investment Priorities Plan (IPP), which the President approved recently and we shall accelerate efforts to attract inward foreign direct investments in areas covered in the IPP to further boost our export of manufactures.

Finally, on the meeting of the executive committee of the National Security Council.

President Rodrigo Roa Duterte today led — last night — led the — oh, today 13, 14… [laughter] Led the executive committee of the National Security Council in addressing a wide range of issues affecting the national security.

Discussed were matters concerning the peace process with the CPP-NPA-NDF, the West Philippine Sea issue, and the anti-illegal drugs campaign, among others.

During the meeting, the President approved the enhanced National Security Policy 2017-2022 (NSP) that serves as guide for the government bureaucracy in the efforts that safeguarding and promoting Philippine national security interests.

More importantly, this version of the NSP now directs the national security sector to be aligned with and in tandem with the recently approved Philippine Development Plan.

On the peace process, the President acknowledged the joint statement of the GPH and NDF peace panels on the intent to resume formal peace talks.

To ensure that genuine peace talks are realized, the President asked both panels to agree on clear parameters for ceasefire and the talks.

Regarding the West Philippine Sea issue, the President gave his full support to the improvement of capabilities of law enforcement agencies in monitoring Philippine air space and territorial waters.

Finally, the President reiterated his resolve to address the drug problem within his term.

Towards this end, he directed the NICA and NBI to be more actively involved in the PDEA-led anti-drug operations, together with the AFP and PNP.

For those interested, we’ll have copies of the press release.

Leila Salaverria (The Philippine Daily Inquirer): Sir, good morning. Sir, there are recent reports of fresh NPA attacks. How will this affect the recently revived peace talks and what does this say about the sincerity and readiness of the insurgents to talk peace with the government?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: I think that’s exactly the reason why the President insisted that clear parameters be set so that they themselves are able to work within these parameters which is clear, because formerly there were no clear parameters.

Ms. Salaverria: Sir, did the President say when he wants the unilateral ceasefire of the government to be declared? Because on Sunday, the Defense Secretary said the operations against the NPA would continue unless — until the President himself orders them to implement a unilateral ceasefire?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: So you’re asking for a timeline?

Ms. Salaverria: Yes.

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: No, they’re working it out. With the resumption of the talks, they’re working it out.

Ms. Salaverria: But did he say it has to be before April, because the next round of talks will be next month?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: There was no specific… As far as I remember, there was no specific time, except that it was — he was quite insistent that clear parameters need to be established.

Ms. Salaverria: Thank you.

Mr. Tinaza: Sir, just a quick follow up. Sir, I remember you yourself was firm and very categorical with the compelling reasons before we reenter into the negotiation with the—

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: It was not a precondition, remember.

Mr. Tinaza: Yeah.


Mr. Tinaza: That’s what I said, compelling reason.


Mr. Tinaza: That was your term.


Mr. Tinaza:  So —

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: No, your phrase said compelling reasons to enter into a conversation. I said —

Mr. Tinaza: Therefore —

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA:  No. Those compelling reasons need to be covered within the conversation.   

Mr. Tinaza: Yes, so what now? Have you seen a compelling reason to agree to restart the formal peace talks?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: Do I see compelling reasons? No, they’re entering into that and these are things that they need to thresh out. 

Mr. Tinaza: So it’s now clear — you are clarifying that it’s not before — ?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: It was not a precondition, yeah.

Mr. Tinaza: Within?


Mr. Tinaza:  So, sir, the NDF agreed to declare a ceasefire before April 2?


Mr. Tinaza: April 2. 


Mr. Tinaza:  And do you… I mean, isn’t it very telling that they will just declare ceasefire just before April 2? And what about this period from now on? So they will still have windows to do their attacks? 

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERON ABELLA: We just have to trust the process ‘no. However, the President was very insistent, like I said to Ms. Salaverria, that the parameters have to be clear.

So and then having set the parameters, then they should act in a circumspect manner and to act within those parameters.     

Mr. Tinaza:  Sir, but what is your reading? Their leaders — the National Democratic Front are already into agreement to restart the formal talks and yet those, their men on the ground are continuously attacking our troops. 

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: Well, like I said, let’s leave it to their responsibility to be able to deal with their men on the ground.

Mr. Morong: Sir, just a quick follow up on the NDF issue. Iyon pong mga fresh attacks, does it diminish the credibility of the CP — the CNN in facing the government? ‘Coz, ‘di ba dati pabago-bago last week lang galit si Presidente. And then noong weekend merongUtrecht statement parang… Can we finally trust the CPP now?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: Let us put it this way. Let us put it this way. Between the parties that are willing to resume talks, there seems to be… They are establishing mutual trust, okay.

And those are… The activities on the ground are certainly very — they add stress and burden to the talks.

However, as far as we can see, there is the intent to pursue the final and lasting peace which can be brought about by a written agreement.

Mr. Morong: Just on WPS, sir. Any mention about the Benham Rise issue, it’s a different subject. 

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: Yes. Well, first and foremost, the Benham Rise belongs to the Filipino people. And the Philippines is… The Philippine government is duty-bound to defend and protect our sovereign and territorial right over this region.

Other countries can exercise innocent passage and territorial navigation. But they are disallowed to stay and establish any structure in the area.

The Philippines’ claim on the region is supported by Article 77 of the United Nations Convention on the Law [of the Sea] or UNCLOS.

The country has… The Philippines has the responsibility to oversee and regulate the sailing ships of other countries that pass through the waters around Benham Rise.

Dexter Ganibe (DZMM): Hi, Usec, good afternoon. Sir, open po ba ang Palace tulad ‘nung ginawa dati sa pakikipag-usap sa MILF na merong CCCH or ‘yung Committee on the Cessation of Hostilities para ipatupad — na siyang magmo-monitor din ng mga hostilities or maiwasan ‘yung mga hostilities sa pagitan ng government troops and NPA habang isinasagawa itong peace talks with the NDF?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: Just before I answer that question, let me read: Having said that thing about Benham Rise, we will continue to pursue diplomatic talks with the other party.

Yes? I’m sorry.

Mr. Ganibe: Yes, sir. Meron po bang ike-create na isang committee para doon sa pag-monitor sa cessation of hostilities habang…

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: Ah you mean to say another party, another group?

Mr. Ganibe: Another group or third party na magmo-monitor sa galaw ng NPA and the government?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: I think let’s leave it to them. There has been no proposal regarding the matter.         

Mr. Ganibe:  Pero si Dureza, sir, parang binabanggit niya na or calling the help of the international community na mag-monitor?


Mr. Ganibe: Yeah, to monitor.

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: Probably so, but it’s not yet, it’s not yet a fait accompli. It’s not yet accomplished, it’s not yet a fact.

He is still calling, right? He is calling for support. Probably he’s — and that’s an initiative from the OPAPP.

Mr. Ganibe: Ano ba ang Palace ay suportado po ba itong panagawan na ito?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: Well, let’s see… Since there… Since the President… Since the peace adviser, the office is a — an extension of President’s — President’s personality na I suppose, yes, we are open to the idea.

Mr. Ganibe: Thank you, sir.

Mr. Morong: Sir, sa Benham Rise pa rin.


Mr. Morong: What was the President’s thoughts about the… Kasi si Secretary Lorenzana mentioned, I think Sunday, sa Baguio na one of the measures that he’s thinking to protect that property, that territory, is to put up a structure and increase our patrols in that area. I was wondering whether any plans or instructions were given to Secretary Lorenzana towards this end, sir?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: Regarding building any structures, as far I remember, as far the — any resolutions were made, there were none.

However, the President did say, the President did agree that we should improve our capabilities of enforcing — enforcing our rights in the matter — enforcing our rights regarding airspace and territorial waters.

Mr. Morong: And how are you going to do that? 

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: Like I said, like the President said, let us strengthen whatever remains. [laughs]

Mr. Morong: How do we strengthen that? Do we run to the US or to China to — ?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: No, the logic is we strengthen our own, okay.

Q: From Russia?  

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: Probably, whatever, you know. [laughs] 

Kris Jose (Remate): Sir, kahapon po sa joint statement — presscon, sorry, nabanggit po ng Pangulo na may destabilization plot at ang nagpo-pondo daw po ay ‘yung ilang mining firms. Pero ang sabi ni Secretary Lorenzana, wala pa raw po silang namo-monitor na destab at ‘yung mga criticisms po ay hindi nila maituturing na ouster scheme. So, sir, ang tanong, may destabilization plot po ba talaga sa Pangulo and sa government o wala? 

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: From his perception and from what his — what seems to be the conclusions that can be drawn, is that whatever noise there is, both locally and nationally, seems to be instigated by certain parties and that is the perception of the President. 

And, basing on that, you could actually say that there might not be actual action on the ground but there seems to be some form of propaganda that’s going out, that’s trying to — that seems, that’s in a — destabilize the credibility of the President — the President’s administration, yes. 

Thank you very much.

— END —