Press conference of Communications Secretary Martin Andanar with acting Foreign Affairs Secretary Enrique Manalo Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez Tourism Secretary Wanda Teo Philippine Carabao Center Executive Director Arnel del Barrio & Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano
Mandarin Oriental Hotel, Bangkok, Thailand
22 March 2017

SEC. ANDANAR: Good morning to all of the Filipinos watching over PTV and watching over our Facebook pages on PTV and the Presidential Communications, including the private media entities present in this press conference.

Today is March 22, 2017. It’s a Wednesday and the last day of President Rodrigo Roa Duterte’s official visit here in Bangkok, Thailand.

I would like to say good morning also to the members of the Malacañang Press Corps. Thank you so much for taking the time to cover the two countries that the President visited the last few days in Myanmar and Thailand.

To my right is Senator Alan Peter Cayetano who will be discussing some of the issues that were threshed out during the last two days, the last few days of events that have unfolded here in Bangkok and Myanmar.

To my left is Secretary Manalo of the DFA, Secretary Mon Lopez of DTI, and Secretary Wanda Teo of the Department of Tourism. We are waiting for Arnel del Barrio, the Executive Director of the Philippine Carabao Center.

Now, we would like to, I would like to turn over the microphone to Secretary Manalo for his briefing.

SEC. MANALO: Thank you very much Secretary Andanar. Magandang umaga po sa inyong lahat. I just want to give a brief synopsis of the visit of, the official visits of President Duterte’s Myanmar and also Thailand and to give you the highlights.

As mentioned with the trips to Myanmar and Thailand, the President has now completed his introductory visits and meetings with all the ASEAN heads of state.

Starting with Myanmar, the official visit to Myanmar was on 19th to 21 March. In Myanmar, President Duterte met with the President U Htin Kyaw, State Counsellor Foreign Minister Daw Aung Suu Kyi and the Commander-in-Chief of Defense Services Senior General Ming Aung Hlaing.

All these meetings were very positive and reaffirmed the friendship and excellent relations between the Philippines and Myanmar, which already spans almost six decades.

As developing countries with similar historical experiences and also facing similar challenges, both leaders agreed to further broaden and enhance cooperation for a more vibrant and vigorous bilateral relationship.

They discussed quite a number of issues. The most significant ones were on trade and investment. Myanmar is the 30th biggest trade partner of the Philippines and they also discussed defense and security cooperation, mainly through exchanges and information sharing.

They discussed common approaches in dealing with transnational crimes, especially terrorism, violent extremism, and the illegal drug trade. They also covered discussions on cultural exchanges, educational exchanges, agricultural cooperation, even the possibility of direct air services to promote tourism on both ways.

They also discussed energy cooperation and also humanitarian assistance and development cooperation programs. The Myanmar leaders whom the President met all expressed and conveyed full support to the Philippines as chairman of the ASEAN in 2017.

And it was the consensus that between the Philippines and Myanmar on the importance of maintaining ASEAN centrality and ensuring that in engaging our external parties or partners, it should be on the basis of ASEAN-led processes and based on the key principles of mutual respect and mutual benefit, taking into account our different national and regional differences.

President Duterte also thanked Myanmar for hosting some 800 Filipino workers and said that he was glad that the Filipinos are contributing to the development of Myanmar.

The President also had a very good meeting with the Filipino community in Nay Pyi Taw immediately after his arrival last Sunday.

Highlights of his meeting also aside from the bilateral meetings were the signing of an MOU on food security and agricultural cooperation.

This MOU aims to strengthen the development of both countries’ agricultural sectors through cooperation in the fields of food security, fisheries, food processing, and Halal industry.

And also, as a gesture of goodwill and support to Myanmar, the President turned over a donation of 300,000 US dollars as humanitarian assistance to the affected communities in the Rakhine State.

It might also be recalled that Myanmar had also provided humanitarian assistance to the Philippines during, in the aftermath of Typhoon Haiyan.

Let me now turn to the highlights of the President’s official visit to Thailand and here, he had a very fruitful and productive meeting with Prime Minister Prayut.

During their extensive talks, both in a restrictive format, in a bilateral, expanded format, the President expressed his heartfelt gratitude for the warm welcome and hospitality extended to him by the government of Thailand.

Both leaders discussed the overall bilateral relationship between the Philippines and Thailand, which is now 68 years old this coming, which will be 68 years old by June this year.

And they covered a broad range of topics in their discussions, political, economic, military cooperation, among others.

The President in Thailand… both the President of Philippines and Thailand both agreed that it was important to sustain the momentum of our bilateral cooperation.

Just very briefly, as I said, they discussed a broad range of issues including… they agreed on the importance of convening the 6th meeting of the Philippine – Thailand Joint Commission for Bilateral Cooperation, at a mutually convenient date.

They stressed the importance of cooperation between the defense and military authorities of both countries, including through activities such as intelligent exchange, enhancing cyber security, and also addressing natural disasters.

Increasing trade and investment between the Philippines and Thailand and the convening of the joint trade committee this year were also discussed.

The President encouraged Thai businesses to invest in the Philippines, including in infrastructure and the agri-business sector.

The Prime Minister of Thailand said that he would seek to encourage support in Thai investments in the Philippines and encourage the promotion of the small and medium enterprise sector.

Both leaders discussed cooperation and tourism and the importance of improving and increasing two-way tourist arrivals.

On the agriculture, they also discussed the possibility of promoting sustainable fisheries development. Both leaders discussed energy cooperation and also how to collaborate in this field. And they also noted the energy forum between the Philippines and Thailand.

The importance of education and educational exchanges was also stressed. Both leaders said that by doing so, we would fully harness the opportunities of educational exchanges, including, through activities under our development cooperation.

Both leaders also discussed the importance of expanding collaboration and science and technology including innovation to contribute to the national development of both our countries. And also cooperation and agriculture was discussed.

Among the highlights of the President’s visit also were the signing of three agreements. They signed an agreement on science and technology. The other, the second, cooperation on swamp and dairy buffalo production. And also an agreement on, program on tourism cooperation from 2017 to 2022.

Thailand also expressed full support for the Philippines’ chairmanship of ASEAN this year, especially during this important 50th anniversary of ASEAN and both leaders agreed on the need to strengthen ASEAN and maintain ASEAN centrality to respond to current challenges in our region and also in dealing with our external partners.

President also recognized the important role of Thailand in ASEAN as a co-founder of the organization which was in fact established here in Bangkok in 1967.

The leaders also instructed the relevant agencies on both governments to move forward in implementing what was discussed in order to enhance our bilateral relationship.

Both leaders also discussed regional issues, they called for the full implementation of the Declaration of the Code of Conduct and also the need for a code of conduct on the South China Sea.

They said that maintaining peace, stability, and security in the region as well as respecting freedom of navigation and over flight in the South China Sea are in the interest of all nations.

And finally, the President assured Thailand that the Philippines is a true friend of Thailand.

Finally, at the end of their press conference yesterday, a joint statement reflecting the points I have just briefed you on was released.

So that concludes my presentation of the highlights of the, both visits. Thank you.

SEC. ANDANAR: Thank you so much Secretary Manalo. Then we will also ask for a brief statement from Secretary Wanda Teo, after that, brief statement from the Department of Trade and Industry Secretary Mon Lopez and then a brief statement from the Executive Director of the Philippine Carabao Institute, Center.

I’d like to recognize the presence of Arnel del Barrio. Nandito na po siya ngayon. And then finally, statement from Senator Alan Peter Cayetano and our members of the press can ask their questions.

Secretary Teo?

SEC. TEO: I signed an implementing program on tourism with my counterpart and this was rooted on the memorandum of agreement on tourism which was done in the Philippines last March 1993.

So what we did was an implementing program and the… it was focused on Thai and Filipinos doing a promotional program for both countries. So this would increase tourist arrivals.

And also if we could have a direct flight from Thailand to the Philippines as we increase tourist arrivals and also for Filipinos and Thais to have this exchange of ideas on tourism development, strategies, and promotions and standards.

This was the content of the memorandum of agreement.

SEC. ANDANAR: Thank you Secretary Teo. Secretary Mon Lopez?

SEC. LOPEZ: Yeah. Good morning. Of course, Secretary Manalo has mentioned a lot of the, I guess, the highlights of the meetings in our trip to Myanmar and now in Thailand.

Let me just add in the… specifically in this Thailand trip. I guess what we can add is the commitment I heard from the Prime Minister to also help us balance the trade, the trading between the two countries — Thailand and Philippines.

Because right now, Thailand is our 6th largest trading partner. They have a trade surplus. In other words, mas malaki po ang export nila sa atin, kaysa ‘yung export natin sa kanila.

Then what they will try to do is balance it, in terms of the, I guess encouraging many of their companies here to buy Philippine products so that we can also increase our exports to Thailand.

Later this afternoon, we shall be meeting, we shall be having an investment forum to be attended by CEOs of top Thailand companies, again, to encourage them to invest in the Philippines and ride on the robust economic growth that we’re having, the demographic dividend, a lot of reforms we’re doing in the country, so that we can encourage more investments, and investments to prosper.

We shall be making a presentation to the group of Thai CEOs. There are some big companies already in the country like the [CP?] which is really the largest poultry and livestock producer in Thailand and is now helping the country in providing more poultry and livestock supply ‘no and meeting the requirements of the Filipino consumers as well as Filipino companies needing those products.

So balancing trade there are—of course we are very good and strong active members of ASEAN. So there is already on going FTA between Philippines and Thailand as part of ASEAN. The ASEAN economic community and as you well, very well know we expanding that ASEAN Economic Community to include the other six dialogue partners.

And we are in close contact with our counterpart, the Minister of Trade and the Minister of Industry here in Thailand.

On Myanmar, we had some discussions—of course with our counterparts when it comes to promoting not only the trade because right now, the trade with Myanmar is really not that big. It is less than a hundred million, in fact less than 50 million dollars. We are in effect the net exporter to Myanmar and what’s happening there is that because it’s young democratic—a young democracy and we are basically the ones 
investing in Myanmar at the moment.

It’s Filipino companies locating in Myanmar and of course helping in and developing the country by also establishing operations there, production, operations and of course to take advantage also of a growing consumer market in Myanmar.

So we have Philippine companies that our President met two days ago. So these are the likes of Oishi, URC, they are all there, Splash even Cherry Mobile, electronics. We are helping them also when it comes to hybrid rice production and of course, we had there our partner in hybrid rice propagation, Henry Lim Bon Liong of SL Agritech. We have also Unilab in Myanmar and Manila Water.

So these are the companies that have joined us during our dialogue with the President, their dialogue with the President. So definitely there’s no way to go but up in terms of enhancing trade relations with Myanmar and siguro I’ll end there.

SEC. ANDANAR: Thank you so much Secretary Mon Lopez. Our friend Executive Director Arnel Del Barrio signed a very significant implementing agreement with his counterpart here in Thailand.

Executive Director Del Barrio: Good morning to everyone. So yesterday, we signed an implementing agreement on specific areas of cooperation between the Department of Livestock Development of the Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives and the Philippine Carabao Center of the Department of Agriculture Philippines on swamp and dairy buffalo production.

The implementing agreement is under a memorandum of understanding on agricultural cooperation between the Government to the Kingdom of Thailand and Government of the Republic of the Philippines, which was signed in October 2003.

So the desire of this agreement is to strengthen collaboration on a scientific and technical cooperations. Especially on a swamp and the buffalo production. And the specific purpose of cooperation, we want to promote the—and exchange and collaborate among scientists in the field of swamp and dairy buffalo breeding and reproduction, storage production, nutrition management and other areas.

Likewise, this will provide our researchers in the Philippines to visit Thailand, to visit the laboratories here in Thailand to learn, to learn about how they develop the dairy industry. So simply, this implementing agreement is in support of our government effort to develop the local dairy industry. So that was the in-brief, the context of the implementing agreement.

Thank you.

SEC. ANDANAR: Thank you so much Arnel, Senator Allan Peter Cayetano?

SEN. CAYETANO: Magandang umaga, magandang araw po sa lahat ng nanood. Unang-una allow me to thank our host’s excellent preparations as our President, President Duterte himself congratulated and thanked our host for preparing everything in a very excellent manner.

Number two, may we reiterate in behalf of the officials here our condolences and sympathies to the Thai people in the passing of their King and their King is one of the most—if not the most loved monarchs—I think in history. And we really feel—you know how they feel the lost of a father figure and how he guided the nation.

And it’s also an inspiration to us, that we might be a people of diversity, marami talagang pwedeng magkawatak-watak sa mga Pilipino, but their should always be symbols, there should always be people who will bring us as one.

And let me start by saying that observation. The President has really stepped up as the Chief Diplomat of the ASEAN, in completing his visit to the ten countries. He have seen him really push, not only for the consensus, for regional stability peace and development. But we have seen him working together with these leaders to create a momentum for the original idea of the ASEAN, which is a consensus-based regional, multilateral organization that will look after the needs of its people, in its individual countries or member organizations.

So we can see that in the discussions, they’ve also talked about for example the EU or other regional groupings around the world especially, minsan kasi pag mayayaman yung mga bansa, sila ang kasama sa ilang mga regional organizations or sila ang magkakasama sa economic forums and everything. That’s why one of the themes is inclusiveness.

So the President has started getting the consensus of the ASEAN leaders how to also leverage because remember if we talk not only of the ASEAN but also of Asia, maybe more than one third of the world’s market will be in Asia and more than one third in the next few years.

So although the economic powers or the richer countries are still in the West, the markets are here eh so this has been the work of the President. He’s been steadfast, he’s done it under the radar.

Of course pag nandito siya sa mga bansang ito nakikita niyo siya in action but actually much of the work is done by the different secretaries beside me, those who are back home in the Philippines who had done it behind the camera ika nga dahil lahat yan ay pini prepare much in advance ‘no by all the countries

Of course credit also to the ten, to the all leaders of the member states because the President cannot do it alone. He cannot make the agenda alone, he cannot push the consensus alone.

But if you would see also, one thing I noticed is that both in his personal leadership in the country, in the Philippines as well as in the ASEAN and bilateral relations, the President believes in the systems eh in the mechanisms.

If you look at the different countries we went to, meron mga joint commissions, meron bilateral commissions, pero makikita mo magmi- meet once a year, once every two years, the last time nag meet 2012-2013 but he’s agreed with their leaders to make it either annually, semi-annually, quarterly and then he’s agreed that it shouldn’t only be secretary to the secretary but executive director to executive director, director to director, state U to state U, city to city.

So much more dynamic yung interaction and my last point is a personal note. Why is this very important? Because there’s a lot to gain in inclusivity or makasali lahat ng tao among the strength of the different countries.

Of course everyone knows na strength ng Thailand yung tourism but as I said on a personal note, nakalimutan ko yung, dalhin yung aking maintenance medicine na I have to drink every morning.

So nung bumili kami at nagpabili ako nagulat kami kung gaano kamura pa rin.

So despite our low or cheaper medicine, there are two things that are quite affordable or if we can use the word cheap and very affordable sa Thailand, pagkain at saka gamot.

And kapag ang tao may trabaho, may bahay tapos affordable both ang gamot at saka pagkain, may stability, less rebellion, may pagkakaisa and of course the human dignity. And these things, you know Thailand didn’t just pluck this out of the air. They worked hard on their agriculture side, on their tourism side and on international laws of how to make their medicines affordable.

So we’ve tried a lot of times, there’s heavy lobbying by Western countries complain ‘to hindi lang ng Pilipinas pero ng iba pang mga bansa, even in America. Many Americans go to Mexico to buy medicines dahil napakamahal ng gamot sa America.

So through these exchanges and these visits, the Filipino people will gain and the last personal note that I’d like to make, and it’s again a thanks, a gratitude to the Thai, the Thai Prime Minister mention edthat if you look at the balance of trade in terms of both Trade with DTI and Tourism, it’s in favor of Thailand.

Meaning mas maraming Pilipinong turista sa Thailand kesa sa Thai tourist sa Philippines.

And mas maraming produkto na pumapasok in the Philippines from Thailand then, tama Sec Mon di ba? But it is bihira po, bihira na yung host o yung lamang sa balance of trade ang siyang magsasabi, let’s do something about it. And he made it very clear in the bilaterals both in Tourism and Trade and in other –of course they made it clear that Thai businessmen would like opportunity to invest and do things in the Philippines

But the Thai Prime Minister in behalf of Thai people also made it very clear they want to balance it out so that’s very good news for us because tourism is one of the industries that is most inclusive for every two tourist, one job is created in the Philippines and micro, small and medium enterprise thrive on tourism.

So let me stop there but let me congratulate the Team Philippines and Philippine media for covering because it’s been successful round sa buong ASEAN and we’re looking for more exciting– not necessarily non-controversial because there’s gonna be some issues that will need a lot of diplomacy with other regions but there’s also gonna be some controversial, some exciting movement in the ASEAN in asserting itself in the world stage. Thank you Secretary


Pia Ranada (Rappler): Good morning po. This question is for Secretary Manalo. So sir you mentioned earlier the determination of the Philippines to complete the framework Code of Conduct on the South China Sea. Sir, how far can a framework on the Code of Conduct go in influencing China’s actions on the ground? Because we know that there was a the signing of the Declaration of the Code of Conduct in 2002 yet China still pushed through with island building.

SEC. MANALO: Well, I think you mentioned the framework. But just to go back a bit, the Code of Conduct has been more or less, the discussions on the Code of Conduct have been taking place for years and… 
but I think we have made, I would say, a significant breakthrough in the sense now that there is an understanding among ASEAN and China on the importance of coming up with a framework, for a Code of Conduct. Now of course, this is a framework. But the importance of the framework is that if it is completed, it will identify most likely the key elements of a Code of Conduct and that’s possible and once we have a framework, it would then be possible to actually begin serious discussions on a Code of Conduct on the basis of a framework.

Now, the purpose of the Code is to see how we can manage our disputes carefully. Not to raise tensions, not to escalate tensions, and that’s the whole idea of a code.

So all countries, even though we may have some disputes, we have to behave and deal with each other in a way that doesn’t lead to conflict but rather promotes cooperation.

And I think it’s in that sense that once we could begin discussions that way, countries would begin to see the importance of cooperation vis-à-vis raising tensions and escalating or heightening distrust. So that would be, I would say, the scenario that we seen in this respect.

And it was China in fact, who this year mentioned to us the importance of coming up with a framework. So I think that’s also a significant development.

Ms. Ranada: But sir, how would the Code of Conduct, for example, what would it mean for China if it continues building on for example, Panatag Shoal, what would the Code of Conduct say on how China would, should maybe change its behavior or its approach to these island-building activities?

SEC. MANALO: Well, as I said, these things are still under careful negotiations among our experts, the elements. So it’s really very hard to say but all I can really say at this stage is that there will probably be key elements in the Code. For example, measures that would promote cooperation, measures that would prevent misunderstandings at sea, measures that would lead to not escalating tensions.

But I think it’s really, at this stage, maybe a bit early to go into the specific details kasi i-ne-negotiate pa yun eh. And you know, these are negotiations involving 11 countries.

But I’m pretty sure that the guiding elements there would be how to promote cooperation and how to de-escalate tensions even in the light of perhaps existing disputes. And maybe, once that’s all clear, once we have a code, we may actually now be in a position to actually discuss how we can settle the disputes.

Ms. Ranada: Sir, last follow up because it’s related to the issue. Can you confirm if the Philippines is going to file a protest versus China’s planned construction of an environmental monitoring station? This was reported by Reuters, quoting Justice Sec. Aguirre. Are we indeed filing a protest and what are the details of this protest if true?

SEC. MANALO: Well I just read that but let me say that the other day, the Department of Foreign Affairs already issued or requested China for clarification on this reported plan. As I said, it is only a reported plan so we’re seeking clarification with China but let me also say that in the meantime, the Philippine government is maintaining a regular close watch over Scarborough Shoal.

Ms. Ranada: So sir, are you disputing the report? Is that right? There’s no protest to be filed as of now?

SEN. CAYETANO: May I just interject on that point. First of all, the academe and the members of the academe have been very active in the law of the seas and even some of them to the original UNCLOS and even the laws before UNCLOS convened regularly. I was privileged to attend a conference with them with Chief with Justice Carpio.

And while in the individual claimant countries, parating ginagamit yung how do we resolve, how do we stop the other countries and everything. Internationally, there is a different mindset. The mindset is how do we manage the situation. Secretary Dominguez was with President Cory when they visited China during President Cory’s time.

And the Chinese President at that time told President Cory, you know we might not be able to solve this problem during our lifetime. And it turned out to be prophetic and her son President P. Noy also inherited the problem and had a strategy in dealing with it.

Now, President Duterte has a strategy in managing and of course, a long-term strategy is being made in finally resolving the issues in the West Philippine Sea, South China Sea.

When do we file a protest? When do we make it, when do we do it quietly? Where do we file it? When do we send a note verbale? When is it a bilateral discussion? When is it a multilateral discussion?

These are all parts of the dynamics and of the strategy. So please understand and give a little bit of latitude to DFA and other departments because although we do have to report to the people. What country will be able to achieve its objectives if we announce our strategy while we are implementing our strategy?

I mean, yes we should and we continue to assure our people that President Duterte will not give up a single square centimeter of Philippine territory. You know many of his statements are misunderstood.

When he gives practical statements of what we can and we cannot do it doesn’t mean that he is giving up any of the territory or it doesn’t mean that he will not exert all efforts for the Philippine claim.

Having said that, the Philippine media because of the last six years and the Filipino people have seen the West Philippine Sea territorial battle as one between China and the Philippines and the US coming in to help the Philippines. But the reality is that there are many parties. In fact, well I don’t wanna create diplomatic ano but if you just go on the internet and see how many countries are claiming, how many pictures 
they are holding, who are those who are aggressively building.

And I don’t want to say our strategy as far as the territory that is now under our control and what we are doing. But all these countries have their strategy because the UNCLOS is clear.

Now, why is the framework important? You know once that any of these islands or any of these features are converted into military installations, it’s taken out of UNCLOS. UNCLOS is only for the, you know economic civilian. It is not for the military purpose use. Once it is military the coastal state does not have jurisdiction.

Remember, UNCLOS does not deal with territorial issues. So it’s really a very complex battle, issue, advocacy and we are gaining allies, we are gaining experts. The President is doing a lot of things quietly.

But one thing that we’ve seen is that the other countries that have disputes with China have not allowed it to interfere with the other side of the relationship — the diplomatic, the economic, the tourism and trade.

The Philippines is I think almost the only country that really suffered in all parts of its relationship with China, you know. And maybe this was necessary in the last six years. But it’s not necessary anymore.

And you know, congratulations to Secretary Wanda. It wasn’t just simply the Chinese side by many of the preparations. With the Chinese tourists alone, we will double I think by the end of the year not including 
yung iba.

So we have to look at the West Philippine Sea, South China Sea issue very holistically. It is really a balance and there are things that we can really announce and there are things that you have to give our leader your absolute trust.

If you look at the Philippine Constitution, diplomacy except, there is only one exception which is, well two conceptions: the oversight of Congress and of course the powers of the Senate to ratify treaties.

Otherwise, diplomacy is completely in the hands of the President. Precisely because you cannot do diplomacy by presscon. The good side of the diplomacy, the achievements are usually publicized. But the issues that can spark ‘no disputes and can spark instability.

Kung may destab sa local, may destab din regionally. And when Asia and ASEAN is destabilized, it is the other regional groups around the world that benefit.

So if we want inclusivity and better economics, you know, you have to help us and I am talking about everyone, including Congress. Ano ba ang pag-usapan natin closed door? Ano ba yung very transparent? At ano ba yung we leave the diplomats to do their work?

Henry Uri (DZRH): Good morning, Senator Alan and Secretary Manalo. Sir, alin ang mahagala, ang ating sovereignty? An gating national pride? O yung development na makukuha natin sa bansang China para sa ikauunlad ng ating bansa at sa kapakanan ng sikmura ng maraming Pilipino?

SEN. CAYETANO: Henry thank you very much for that question. It is a good question. It is a legitimate question but precisely yun ang mindset ng tao natin. Ano ba, territory? Or pera? Even in the US yung inikot ko po. I had the opportunity to meet Secretary of State Tillerson and I had the opportunity to talk to some of their legislators and policy makers in the US.

Minsan ang tanong what do you get?

But remember each and every country acts in the international community in accordance with two things: The values of its people and the interest of its people.

So for example the US, it will not do anything that will be against the interest of the Americans whether its economic interest, military interest or diplomatic interest.

So to answer your question directly, both are important and both are interrelated. Because ano yung sasabihin nating pride if our pride causes our downfall in the sense na gutom ang tao natin. We are excluded from ASEAN. We are excluded economically. We’re left behind di ba. We have the slowest ba? Or second slowest sa internet di ba?

On the other hand, aanuhin mo yung prosperity if other countries can push you around? And can tell you this is the only thing you can do.

Kaya nga tayo sovereign. But what I am saying it’s more complicated than that. It is easy to get the flag and say, o mga Pilipino di ba. Eto ang gagawin natin sambalin ko yung mga etc. ganyan. But in the West Philippine Sea, its much more complicated with that. Remember our dispute is not only with China. There are other countries who are also claiming and are also holding parcels there. So what do we do? Assuming 
we follow those who want a more aggressive stance against China? So what will we do?

After that, we’ll have a more aggressive stance against Taiwan? After that a more aggressive stance against Vietnam? After that a more aggressive stance against Malaysia.

So what we are trying to do is tone it down and stop everyone from being more aggressive in building there and in stopping anyone else from the freedom of navigation or the fishermen. So we are slowly getting back the rights that are ours. But we are doing it in a manner ‘no that will have stability in the area.

So nothing have changed in terms of goals, in terms of national pride, in terms of protecting our territory. Yung strategy lang. How it’s done na. Kung si Alan mas brusko makipagdebate, si Sec. Manalo mas diplomatic. We are just changing to a Manalo strategy. Parang ganoon yung nangyayari. But we are not giving up any of our pangalan pa lang panalo na tayo eh.

Mr. Uri: Sir, sasamantalahin ko na kasi since you are speaking a lot about international affairs and foreign relations, with all due respect to SFA, Acting Secretary Manalo, what’s the real score? Are you gonna be the next DFA secretary?

SEN. CAYETANO: Sec. Manalo and I have the same answer. We are both committed to the country and we both follow the leadership of President Duterte. So we will both follow whatever his decision is.

But I am in full support, I am aware of the love and respect of the whole DFA to a very professional Secretary, Secretary Manalo.

So let’s see. I mean, as the President said, hindi kami nag-uusap. Maraming ibang posisyon. There might be things that I am needed in the Senate. Sorry for that, Secretary but I guess that’s a legitimate issue that’s why natatanong tayo parati. But the Secretary knows that I exercise mere oversight by being chairman of the Committee on Foreign Affairs. But he totally, administrative and leads the DFA without any interference from this representation.

Ace Romero (Philippine Star): Secretary Manalo, uulitin ko lang ‘yung tanong kanina para klaro ‘yung sagot. So meron ba talagang plano magfile protest with regard doon sa Panatag Shoal?

SEC. MANALO: Well, all I… ang masasabi ko lang ngayon is that we have already approached China to seek clarification on this reported plan. And we have to wait for China’s reply.

But ang sinasabi ko, in the meantime, we are maintaining a close watch on the Scarborough Shoal. So we would be aware of any development sa, doon sa area. So I think at this stage, that’s all I want to say on your particular question.

Mr. Romero: Ah okay. Isa pa po. Kumusta na ‘yung nangyayari doon sa Scarborough? May Chinese ships pa po ba? ‘Yung fishermen ba natin, can they freely go there? Right now, ano po ‘yung latest doon?

SEC. MANALO: Well, there’s been no change. They can go there freely and that’s why we also have, as I said mga… keeping it under close watch to see how things are going.

Mr. Romero: So walang effort to prevent them from going doon sa Shoal? Parang they can freely go there, fish, ganoon? Wala naman pong na-monitor na ganoon?

SEC. MANALO: Well, we haven’t received any reports, I think. Kasi ang nagpupunta sa amin yung reports ng mga Coast Guard and security agencies. They have not given us any reports to that effect.

Mr. Romero: Salamat po.

Leo Palo (DZEC): Sir, balikan ko lang ulit. Medyo ang hirap — sa amin kasi, sa part namin, medyo mahirap ipaliwanag eh. Medyo complicated talaga ‘yung issue ng West Philippine Sea. Meron nga tayong kasabihan diba, “aanuhin mo yung damo kung wala na yung kabayo, patay na yung kabayo.” So may framework tayong ginagawa with our friends from ASEAN. Eh paano kung nakatayo na ho ng husto yung mga 
imprastrucktura ng China? So ano po ang gagawin natin?

SEC. MANALO: Well, first of all, yung framework involves China. So it’s an ASEAN-China framework for a Code of Conduct.

So I think syempre China also has to be cooperative and we’ll have to, when we negotiate ‘yung framework, we’ll have to take into account yung mga concerns din ng mga all the other countries, 11 countries in the framework.

So yan ang inaasahan namin and all I can say is it was a good sign that it was China herself who’s now very interested in getting a framework.

And they know very well that this framework of a Code will incorporate eventually, if we can agree, the elements of the code. And as I said, the aim of a code is precisely to prevent escalating tensions and to see how we can manage disputes peacefully. Yun ang approach namin kaya we’re really focusing at the moment on coming up with this framework as soon as possible.

In fact, China will be hosting a meeting in May and hopefully, maybe by that time, we will have made significant progress on the framework.

Mr. Palo: So ibig sabihin sir, inano rin sila, hiningi natin sa kanila na ihinto muna ang lahat ng activities doon sa kahit anong isla na pinag-aagawan?

SEC. MANALO: Well ang ano diyan is we have always said, hindi lang tayo pati ASEAN, is we do not want to have actions which would tend to escalate tensions in the region. And I think that’s been made very clear to China, China knows that and yun ang ano. Lagi kami nagmi-meet with China, we always mention that and they agree and maybe that’s one of the reasons why it’s time to move now, to have a real discussion on the framework and the code.

Pia Gutierrez (ABS-CBN): Kay Secretary Manalo, sir. Though you said that we are still seeking clarification on the plans of China in our disputed waters, sir. President Duterte earlier said that because we are a military inferior, we cannot do anything if China pushes through or is actually pushing through with their construction in the Shoal, sir. So how is that consistent sir with the statement yesterday that the 
Philippines is backing the full implementation of the Declaration of the Code of Conduct, sir?

SEC. MANALO: I think what the President is saying is that we are… the Philippines is committed to a peaceful settlement of disputes in the region. But naturally, the Philippines is also prepared to defend its national interest. But in the mean time, we are seeking diplomatic and peaceful settlement of disputes. Kaya if I understood, yung question mo of course, that’s one of the reasons why we are pushing very hard for this Code of Conduct.

But in a way also, we’ll be having a chance to talk with China face to face on the issues of the South China Sea. We have agreed to establish a bilateral mechanism with China to discuss issues on the South China Sea.

So I think the President has been very clear. We want to have a peaceful diplomatic settlement of disputes but we will not fail to protect our national interest if necessary.

Rocky Ignacio (PTV 4): Sir, Secretary Manalo, ‘yung meeting na i-ho-host ng China sa May? Ano po ito?

SEC. MANALO: Yung meeting na yun will be the ASEAN – China DOC, ASEAN – China Declaration of the Code of Conduct meeting. They will also discuss COC. But I think one of the key things that will be considered there will be the work on the framework.

Kasi ngayon, nagmi-meeting yung mga experts groups, yung mga experts natin on the framework itself and the hope, I’m not saying it will happen, but the hope of everyone is that by the time we get to the meeting in May, the senior officials in the ASEAN-China DOC may be able to already have at least a preliminary agreement on the framework. Yun ang aim namin and the Philippines is fully committed to seeing that we can get to that point.

SEN. CAYETANO: May I ano lang, share a page out of history. If you go back to the 1980s, China used a lot of overseas development aid from Japan to develop.

Remember during the 80s marami pang reporter dito na bata pa. So kami na elementary or high school na noong ‘80s di ba ‘sleeping giant’ ang tawag sa China. May dispute ang China at tsaka ang Japan yung Senkaku Islands. But despite that, Japan heavily invested in infrastructure in China, hoping that the horrors of the World War II and the relationship can be rebuilt.

And for a while it worked. And in fact, China naman ang naging strategy nila, the richer we are, the better we are economically, the more also we can protect our territorial integrity.

So, in a sense, the relationship of China and Japan now is — could be much better. But they tried and continue to try. But what has made it hard is that yung public opinion sa Japan versus China and yung public opinion ng Chinese versus the Japanese and makes it very hard for cooperation and for finding a workable solution in their dispute.

But both of them have the economic and military power for a sort of deterrence. So you might think isn’t it against our interest to be friends with China now. But let me ask you this: Hindi ba against the interest of China that the Philippines will gain economic power? Because with economic power, we can build a credible defense.

But that’s why the emphasis is on the trust and building of trust between the two counties in spite of the dispute. So if some people are saying, tingnan niyo ang Vietnam, much smaller but tingnan niyo, they can also be aggressive.

But dual din ang approach ng Vietnam sa China. May aggressive stand but meron ding very diplomatic stand. But, because together with Russia and in their history and economic development, they were able to build a credible defense mechanism or na-build nila yung military nila. So ito yung point ko na there might be things right now that you think are contradictions or tingin niyo, sa tapang ni Duterte, bakit dito hindi ganyan?

But give it a chance, give it a strategy and in the next few years, even past his term, makikita niyo ang resulta nito.

Of course, we’re hoping that we won’t go in the same manner of what China and Japan. That in this case, we will be able to resolve it peacefully. But let me just note, ‘no.

Even if we resolve it today with China, there are disputes with other countries. So you still need the DOC, you still need the, you know, the COC and you still need much diplomacy in the region.

So it will continue to be a[n] emotional issue in all countries but the diplomats and the leaders have to find a way to tone it down so that we can actually manage it and later on resolve it.

But right now, if we — as I said, a page out of history, if we can do it another way, things can get very much worse before it gets better. But now, the President’s trying to do it is you know, let’s try to deal with these issues, so may problema sqa lugar na ‘to sa fishermen or usap. O, tentative agreement, ganyan.

But he’s never given up any of our rights and we’re very conscious of his statements and everyone’s statements and the DFA’s putting on record anything that’s needed.

Can I just make this one point? Iba yung law sa land ha at iba yung law on the seas. Yung land kasi yung pag ka ang undisputed, di ba yung 30 year or whatever time frame, ikaw may hawak niyan, sayo na yan. So many are judging what’s happening in the South China Sea that way. But the experts on the UNCLOS are saying iba.

Sa law on the seas hindi ganoon. Kahit na mag build, at kahit sa kanila, hindi magiging patay ang kabayo because by getting it, it doesn’t mean it’s theirs already. So right now de facto. Yung mga claimants, may kanya-kanyang hawak. Di ba. But even kahit anong i-build mo diyan, it doesn’t mean sa iyo na yan. So again, how do we manage it and how do we deal with each other as Asians while we’re managing it. It’s 
very tedious but I hope we get to a point that you understand that the President is really just following a strategy that so far, is working very well.

Rosalie Coz (UNTV): Good morning po. Kay Secretary Manalo, follow up lang po kung dadalo po ang Pangulo sa ASEAN – China meeting sa May?

SEC. MANALO: Ah hindi, senior officials yun. So, senior officials, deputy minister level.

Ms. Coz: Follow up din po. Ano po yung biggest challenges sa completion ng framework po ng Code of Conduct? May relevance po ba yung magkasunod na chairmanship ng Philippines and Thailand sa pagbuo po ng framework?

SEC. MANALO: Well, syempre may mga challenges in the sense na there were, you know, it’s ASEAN and China so that’s 11 countries, lahat may views. But you know, I think through the years marami nang mga ideas na nadevelop na what kind of elements can go into the code. So every country has a fairly good idea.

That’s why I think even though there would be challenges in agreeing of kung ano yung mga main elements, I think there’s still a good ground as long as countries are willing… political will to arrive at certain agreements on the framework. Kasi as I said, once we get the framework, hindi pa tapos ang trabaho. We will now have to move forward and look at the details of the code.

But on the general elements, I am optimistic that there already is, there have been a lot already talked about in the past years so hopefully we could get some kind of an agreement.

Tandaan mo lang, these are negotiations among the 11 countries so it’s not always easy. But I think with enough will, I think we can move forward.

Ms. Coz: Secretary Teo, tanong lang po namin kung, tungkol lang po doon sa promotional activities na napagkasunduan po ng Thailand and the Philippines. Pwede po bang maki banggit kung ano po yung details sa mga binabalak po nating promotional activities?

SEC. TEO: We would be having, parang yung promotional materials namin would be in line with Thailand. So kung yung tour operators ng Thailand and tour operators of the Philippines, isahin namin yung package namin that we both sell both countries. So yun ang gagawin namin. We don’t only sell kung Thailand, Thailand lang. so when you sell Thailand, you also sell Philippines and Philippines also sell Thailand. Parang ganun. Kasi I talked to the Minister and my counterpart. Sabi ko, bakit.. how come there are more Filipinos going to Thailand and less of Thai coming to the Philippines? And she promised me that she will help on this.

In fact, there are already some… already got some groups who would like to go to the Philippines on a pilgrimage. I was surprised kasi Thailand is more ano ‘to. Yun pala maraming Catholics dito and they are asking for a pilgrimage tour.

And also, Thai Smile would be flying to Cebu, I think it would be a regular flight, dagdag din yan, that would be a good development for us and they plan to do it Cebu-Davao and Bangkok; Bangkok- Cebu- Davao. Hopefully, yung Cebu is already ongoing but Davao, it would be soon so yun ang ginagawa namin. We are working on that because I would like to see more Thai people coming to the Philippines kasi when… if you would see that there are more Filipinos, mas maraming Filipinos pumupunta ng Thailand. So yun yung agreement namin: more flights and more tourist to come, Thai tourists to come to the Philippines.

Ms. Coz: In five years’ time, ilan po yung target natin na tourist arrival from Thailand? Compared po sa last year na tourist arrival from this country?

SEC. TEO: Maliit lang eh. Ang arrivals natin is only around I think 70,000. Mababa lang masyado. So now I’m asking them if they could help us. I even talked to the 2 operators to please help us increase and also the market rep, sabi ko kung pwede. I gave them a quota to do some packages na, entice them to come to the Philippines.

Mr. Uri: Secretary, yung mga pahayag ni Vice President Leni Robredo lalo sa United Nations, nakakaapekto na ba ito sa sector ng turismo sa ating bansa?

SEC. TEO: I have a great respect for VP Leni. Philippines is now becoming a destination, an alternate destination in Asia and the Europe. Yung mga statement na ganoon, it really… nahihirapan kaming i-sell ang Philippines.

So I hope we could, kung pwede and even it does not only refer to Leni, VP Leni but also to the media to please medyo i-tone down natin yung extra judicial killing because I am always asked in… whenever I go even in Asia and Europe, totoo ba ito?

And I would say, “it’s safe in the Philippines” and I would always ask them to come. And in spite of that, I still see that we have more tourists coming to the Philippines especially in China, Europe and Asia. So it has… sana i-tone down na lang yung mga statements na ganon kasi nahihirapan talaga akong magsell.

Help us na lang sell the Philippines. Help us. Because you know it’s really difficult for me to sell the Philippines especially pag napag-usapan na yung extra judicial killing. I am always asked by tour operators, “oh we learned about this extra judicial killing in the Philippines. Is it true?”

And I would always say it is safe in the Philippines. I would like you to invite there, go to the Philippines and see for yourself.

Q: [off mic]

SEC. TEO: No comment na lang.

SEC. ANDANAR: Ano Rocky, si Executive Director Arnel is also leaving for Manila. So if you have a question for Arnel.

Ms. Gutierrez: Kay Secretary Wanda Teo po, two questions, ma’am. First is ano po yung mga bagay na pwedeng matutunan ng Pilipinas pagdating sa Thailand pagdating sa turismo? And second, do we have a strategy po to get you know tourists coming from Thailand, you know the mainland Southeast Asia– Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore to go to the Philippines after. Kasi I understand there is a challenge to go to the Philippines kasi kailangan pang lumipad going to the Philippines kasi medyo yung geography speaking kailangan pa talagang mag-effort na lumipad going to the Philippines.

So is there a strategy to get the, you know yung mga tourists na pumupunta dito to go to the Philippines after?

SEC. TEO: The complaint always of the tourists is mataas yung hotel accommodations natin. The packages are expensive. That’s why I have to sit down with the tour operators. They always compare us with Bangkok.

Sabi nila, how come it’s cheaper to come to Bangkok than in the Philippines? So that is always the problem. Matagal na problema talaga iyan. The package. Our packages. Because Thailand, every time there’s a crisis here. I talked to the Minister and they said parang binibigay na lang nilang libre ang hotel just to entice tourists to come. So yun ang strategy na. Every time there’s a crisis, pag magulo ang Thailand, they give a very, very low packages. So ang mga tao pumupunta.

And they see for themselves. O okay naman pala. So I think we should also do that. Every time, medyo may ano ito dito sa kabila then we sell other destination. Not only if magulo ang let’s say in Davao when there was a bombing, we could sell other places like Cebu, probably Bohol, Palawan. Ang dami namang ibang destination. Yun yung kuwan natin, the strategy. And of course more direct flights. Kasi the flight’s always in Manila, if they could have a direct flight to Cebu of course that is a good development. And Palawan could be one. Davao or Clark yung mga ganon. Direct flights is important for us.

SEC. LOPEZ: Siguro iko-connect ko na lang quickly. That’s why we are also encouraging investments in hotels, resorts. Talagang kulang talaga iyan kaya mahal din ang nagiging rates ngayon. Supply and demand eh ‘no. So we can really expect a lot of supply– I am sorry– lot of demand, basically tourists coming over especially in good indications from China na dadagsa talaga. At baka magdoble this year, one million coming one million from 500,000 or 600,000.

So more tourist facilities and of course the, yung infrastructure development natin. The airports, better airports, the roads that would lead to the resorts. Lahat ng makakatulong sa yun bang mga direct destination na pupuntahan ng mga turista diresto na doon. At very convenient.

Tayo pag nagtu-tour talaga, gusto natin yung shortest ano eh travelling time ‘no then nandoon na tayo. So infrastructure and I guess more investments in tourist facilities.

SEC. TEO: Can I also add to that? I am really happy because right now ang daming mga Chinese investors that have already come to us and they said they are going to develop theme parks. Yun ang kulang natin, theme parks. And also, they are going to build hotels. So yun yung, that’s a good development. They are going to build hotels and theme parks.

And I told them to please invest in the provinces kasi medyo ang Manila madami na masyado. So if they could focus on developing, building hotels and resorts in the provinces.

Saleema Refram (GMA 7): Secretary Manalo, I don’t know if you were asked this in Myanmar but this was issued the other day. Supreme Court, the Associate Justice Carpio advised the President not to issue statements that would imply somehow na wine-waive yung Philippine sovereignty doon sa disputed islands o disputed waters po of the South China Sea.

SEC. MANALO: Well, as I said, all I can really say on that point is that, I think he is referring to the reported plans of China and that’s exactly why we have sought clarification from China, exactly on the nature of these reported plans. And I think we’ll be awaiting a reply from China before we consider what to do next but I think that would be the best approach.

But again, as I said earlier, we are maintaining a close watch over developments on Scarborough.

Ms. Refran: Sorry, Secretary Andanar, can I ask you on that question, sir? Sir your reaction lang doon kay Justice Carpio saying that the President should not issue statements na wine-waive yung sovereignty, somewhat implying that you’re waiving the sovereignty over the disputed waters.

SEC. ANDANAR: Well we defer all of those questions about our, the West Philippine Sea and Scarborough, Panatag Shoal to the DFA. But Sen. Cayetano has something to say.

SEN. CAYETANO: Well, first of all, Justice Carpio is a patriot. He is a national treasure, he is a huge resource, he’s helped build consensus on how to deal with the West Philippine Sea so he’s a voice that we should listen to.

Having said that, it doesn’t mean that the present administration and his ideas will always match in terms of strategy or tactics but personally, I’d like to assure him that the President you know, will not do anything that will endanger our claims. In fact, he’s doing everything and making you know, in leaps and bounds yung gains.

Having said that, we need people like Justice Carpio to continue to guide, to ask hard questions di ba. But if you look at the five steps that he wants, some of them are purely legal, some are purely diplomatic but some are a matter of strategy and geopolitics di ba that the administration has to weigh at this period in time.

Kasi what could have been valid during the last six years and good for the country in the last six years… kasi when you implement ang strategy, iba yung first 5, iba yung last 2 minutes eh di ba. So let me just assure Justice Carpio and you know, Filipinos who are watching over the West Philippine Sea issue that the President is doing everything he can and he will not give up a single square inch or a square centimeter of our territory.

Nestor Corrales ( For Secretary Manalo. Still on Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio. He has called on the President and the Philippine government to file a strong protest against the Chinese building activity and suggested to send the Philippine Navy to patrol on the Scarborough Shoal. He mentioned that if the Chinese attacks the Philippine Navy, the Philippines can invoke the Philippine- US Mutual Defense Treaty.

Since you mentioned earlier Secretary that the Philippine government is maintaining a close watch on Scarborough Shoal, what’s your take on this sir?

SEC. MANALO: Well, I think I only echo what Sen. Cayetano said. I think Justice Carpio propose his options under certain conditions. That’s quite precisely we’re clarifying with China on the so-called reported plans and I think that’s the only way I can really say it. Justice Carpio has been very involved in this issue. I think he’s very knowledgeable and he has proposed certain options. But those options would only swing in under certain conditions. But as of now, that is why it’s really very difficult to comment on them and all we can really do is await for China’s clarification on the reported plan.

SEC. ANDANAR: I would like to just add, I think the point… your question Pia about tourism earlier kay Secretary Teo and you were referring to the fact that Thailand has a multiple number of tourists compared to us because of its geoghraphic location. I’m looking at it right now.

We studied this point at business school. To its north, you have Laos and to the west of Thailand you have also Vietnam, Cambodia. And to the east is Myanmar and how they can jump from one place to the other because it’s bordering countries that’s why they have not only tourism but other industries like cars, they can send it to its bordering countries.

Now, the long-term solution here really is peace and order. Because imagine if we have peace in the land with our Moro brothers and the NPAs, Malaysia and Brunei Darussalam, countries that are also almost a stone’s throw away from Malaysia, they can just cross to Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia, Brunei Darussalam. If there is peace in the land, it’s easier for the tourists also to jump from Brunei, Malaysia, to 
Tawi-Tawi, to the BIMP-EAGA so I think that’s a long-term solution. Peace in the land.

Rose Novenario (Hataw): Good morning, Secretary Manalo. Sir, may mga epekto na po ba o magkakaron po ba kaya ng epekto sa diplomatic relations ng Pilipinas sa ibang bansa yung mga pahayag po ni Vice President Leni Robredo tungkol po sa diumano’y extrajudicial killings sa bansa kaugnay po doon sa drug war ng administrasyon?

SEC. MANALO: Well, wala naman kaming na-ano. Our relations with all countries are still very good. In fact, I haven’t seen any change in that. In fact, dito na lang yung visit ni Presidente dito sa Thailand and Myanmar, I think we have really strengthened our bilateral relationship. And I think all countries are eagerly awaiting our ASEAN chairmanship tsaka yung Summit. So I think our relations have never been better.