Press Conference by Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella with Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, DFA Asia and Pacific Affairs (ASPAC) Executive Director Evangeline Ong Jimenez – Ducrocq and Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano
Drawing Room II, Grand Hyatt Beijing Hotel, Beijing, China
14 May 2017


PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: Good evening. We’d like to begin by stating that the opening session today of the Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation was highlighted by the wide-ranging and comprehensive presentation of President Xi Jinping. 

And that touched on peace and cooperation, openness, inclusiveness, mutual learning and mutual benefit.

Acting Secretary of Foreign Affairs represented the President as his engagements were later today and tomorrow. 

The Silk Economic Road Belt reinvents the ancient Silk Road linking Asia and Europe through trade from Xi’an in China, Central Asia, Middle East, Europe, and Russia. 

The maritime Silk Road starts from Fujian through the South China Sea, Indian Ocean, Red Sea, and the Mediterranean, stopping in Africa along the way. 

Belt and Road symbolizes a platform of international cooperation and development among nations.

Tonight we have with us Secretary Ramon Lopez of the DTI, also Secretary Del Lorenzana of the Department of National Defense, and we have Senator Alan Cayetano.

We’re going to be opening for questions. And also Madame [Evangeline] Ong of the Department of Foreign Affairs.

Before we proceed with the Q and A, is there anybody… would you like to … Belt and Road.

SEC. LOPEZ: Yes, good evening. As reported to you in the middle of the day, after the opening… because I was cornered, I was asked to just give an immediate feedback.

And what we’re seeing here is really China’s platform for cooperation where they are pushing for shared prosperity for all.

And we mentioned earlier that they are really wanting to share the benefit to as many people as possible, to the groups and to the continents that they deal with, as mentioned by Secretary Ernie, following Asian times ‘no, when China was really covering also the world in terms of trade, friendship, cooperation.

So they were saying that they are covering five continents, 100 countries. And today’s forum has about 1,000 delegates over. And citing over 30 cooperation agreements.

As mentioned, these agreements have been issued, entered into not only today, but in the past. So these are… basically what China is doing is consolidating all these efforts in really spreading peace, harmony, cooperation, mutual learning, and the learning through trade and knowledge, and the principle of win-win as their way to say that this is the way to alleviate poverty. ‘Yung sinasabi nating ‘no one should be left behind.’

So when we talk of cooperation, quickly it covers trade, flow, capital flow, technology flow, as well as people flow.

And in summary lang, sinasabi din ni China na we should learn from history. So the history of how they were dealing with other peoples in the world. Policy, connectivity. Isa na dito ‘yung mga economic cooperation agreements as mentioned, infrastructure connectivity, all their support to other countries, trade connectivity, following win-win principles, enlarging market base, financial… finance connectivity, diversified schemes in financing, and people-to-people connectivity.

So this basically would summarize the discussion this morning. And we were privileged to participate also in the panel discussion in the afternoon to represent Philippines, with respect to this cooperation, thematic session on trade connectivity, as it pertains also to investment. 

So ‘yung impact naman ng OBOR sa Philippines, and how OBOR or One Belt One Road can be maximized in the context of ‘yung Philippine Development Goals.

So we shared our plans, our Build, Build, Build infrastructure and all the structural reforms we’re doing to liberalize a lot of our system to attract more investments ‘no and we really maximize the benefits, for let’s say for discussions like this One Belt One Road ‘no.

So they talk about liberalization and equity restriction. We’re doing all this review of equity restriction, ease of doing business, simplification of many procedures so that we can really try to attract more investments as possible. 

Thank you.

SEN. CAYETANO: Good evening everybody. Just three quick points.

The World Economic Forum and then now the Belt and Road Forum are perfect fits to our direction, ‘yung Build, Build, Build.

Not only does it lead to a vibrant and inclusive… a more vibrant and more inclusive economy. A more vibrant and inclusive economy also has a good effect or leads towards more law and order. 

It deals with poverty, it deals with crime, even not only the usual crime that we have but even piracy.

Kasi kung may trabaho mga tao, less ang temptation talaga ‘no for crime. 

Secondly, the attendance of our leaders, may they be from the government or from the business sector, and even the media. One, gives us a venue for cooperation as Secretary Lopez said for trade, for technology transfer, people. 

But also, it gives us the experience and it gives us the insights to develop our own big idea ‘no. So if the Belt and Road is the big idea of President Xi Jinping and of China during our times, the Philippines would also like to come up with a big economic or big idea about inclusivity, the ASEAN and ASEAN and its partners.

Then lastly, there’s a lot of interest in the Philippines not only because of how vibrant our economy is but also because it’s projected that by 2017 this year, more than a third of our population will be below 14 years old.

So much of the talk is about technology, connectivity, not only the visible infrastructure ‘no, roads, bridges, ports. But the invisible or the not so visible infrastructure which is the internet and connecting people and the young people who, as we all know, learn faster and use these technologies ‘no.

So this is really a good venue for us to learn to share and then later on to come up with our own ideas.

Thank you, Secretary.

SEC. LORENZANA: Okay, as far as the Defense department is concerned, this is huge because per our study, the drivers of insurgency and criminality in the South is because of lack of economic opportunities for our people. 

And if we can bring in the infrastructure development in the South, it will be included in this One Belt One Road, the investment will come, then maybe we can address some of the problems, economic problems in the South and improve the security situation in the country. 

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: Thank you. We’re going to open for a few questions. Please, Ms. Ranada.


Q: Sir, may we know what was discussed during the courtesy calls of Chinese companies? Any specific deals or decisions reached? Any specifics projects discussed?

SEC. LORENZANA: I was present during the Poly [Technologies] call on the President and what we discussed was, we will be signing tomorrow a document on intent, intent only.

It’s not yet a document. It’s a letter of intent to deal with them because they’re offering us a lot, a wide array of defense equipment and we… an offer of a loan from the Chinese government at the tune of about 500 million US dollars. 

This is an intent and we are going to send here on the Philippines a technical working group to look at the equipment and see what we need. 

And after that, we’ll go from there. We are not saying that we will buy from them or we will not buy from them but if we need anything from the Chinese defense industry then we’re going to procure using the loan that they are going to offer to us.

Q: Sir, what kind of equipment are we looking to purchase from–?

SEC. LORENZANA: We don’t know yet because we are going to involve the Army, Navy and the Air Force, what equipment they need.

We are not going to choose for them. They are going to choose for themselves, what they need from the Chinese defense industry.

Q: Hi sir. Good evening. Sir, we’re just curious, what’s the reason why the President was not able to attend the opening ceremony earlier?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: I can handle part of that, maybe somebody else can.

But basically it was really not a big deal. He was… because he really has his real engagements later today and for tomorrow.

For example tomorrow, there’s going to be leaders’ roundtable discussions and — Ma’am, can you please? Would you like to expand on that?

EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR DUCROCQ: Tomorrow po, the President will be speaking… he’s being invited to speak two times tomorrow during the leaders’ roundtable. 

Once in the morning, where he will be speaking about generating economic growth and tackling economic challenges.

The second will be he’ll speak again in the afternoon on clean and green infrastructure. 

So in fact, the invitation for him was for tomorrow, May 15, to be speaking at the leaders’ roundtable.

SEN. CAYETANO: Secretary Abella said it’s no big deal because… actually it will be surprising if he attended because remember, the schedule is done much in advance. 

And remember, the President has been travelling and have been meeting, espousing his independent foreign policy. So we arrived very late last night.

It wasn’t really in the schedule for him to attend this morning. As the Executive Director and Secretary said, ‘yung meetings are tomorrow. The important meetings are tomorrow.

And then the President did several meetings this afternoon to this evening. 

Q: Hello sir. I’m Roy from the Philippine Daily Inquirer. I would just like to us what about the other companies that also made the courtesy call because you only mentioned the polytechnic group. What about the other five companies?

SEN. CAYETANO: I was in the meetings. But let me just give you a background ‘no.

Kasi ‘di ba iba-iba ‘yung modes ‘nong procurement. So meron kasing business-to-business, meaning Chinese businessmen and Philippine businessmen. Labas ang Philippine government doon. 

 So sometimes, they just wanna present to the President so that he’s informed of what will be happening.

Sometimes they present because it needs government approval, DoTR or whatever ‘no. Tapos meron government-to-government. 

So all of these courtesy calls or calls ‘no were not meant to sign an agreement there and there or to choose the equipment or to say tuloy ‘yung deal or hindi ‘no.

And these are usual in all of the President’s trips as well as the other foreign leaders’ trips ‘no.

So when we go to a country that is very good in agriculture, so may nagpe-present sa livestock, may nagpe-present sa fisheries, may nagpe-present sa rice for example ‘no.

So since both Japan and China are very good in railways ‘di ba? It’s normal that they will make a call and then sometimes they will show.

It depends ‘no if may presentation or wala. But usually it’s really just a call, so introductions. Then usually it’s the President who does more of the talking ‘no.

So it’s really… how do I put it? Confidence-building ‘no. And networking people. And the President usually just gives them three quick simple messages ‘no.

Number one, no corruption. Come in to the Philippines, there’ll be no corruption. Number two, a direct line to him if there is corruption. And number three, just do your business well and you will have a fair return and you can… the money you make, you can bring home ‘no.

Kasi may ibang bansa that the money you make has to stay in that country. So usually, he sticks to that message and it’s been very well received by businessmen.

Q: Just a follow up sir. Can you be more specific regarding what were the specific ideas that floated during the discussion even if they aren’t really final? And also, because some of these companies, they are part of the things that we, they’re part of the commitments that we brought home from China last October. So they’re not really much of an introduction because we already know them. So can you give us more updates?

SEN. CAYETANO: Let me correct you there. The commitments were a series of loans ‘no. May concessional loan, merong hindi ‘no. Pero wala pa ‘yan kung saan gagamitin.

‘Yung sinasabing may commitment na sa pag-uwi, those were the ones signed in front of the President na business-to-business. Meaning, private Philippine group and private Chinese group.

But as far as government-to-government, that’s not how it works. The way it works is halimbawa, China will say or the Japanese will say depending where we are, ‘O, we’re making… a billion dollar’s available for you.’ Then our people meet.

Will we use it for railways? Will we use it for security? Will we use it for equipment? So in that sense, that’s what I meant that it was more of introductions because there are several, for example railways.

How many railway companies do they have in China? And none of them are sure that they will bag any of these contracts because they will have to follow the guidelines given by NEDA and the DOF ‘no.

So there’s… hindi specific ang pinag-uupsapan diyan, eh, hindi parang sa ministerial level na parang, “O, ano ‘yung rota, saan et cetera.” Here’s it’s more, “Sir, these are the… this is the President, this ganito, this ganyan.”

Then the President speaks. Then after the President speaks, sasabihin nung kumpanya, we’re very interested in going into the Philippines.

So it’s broad strokes eh, hindi ito ‘yung type na dahil, parang salesman na ‘sir, ito ‘yung computer, ito ‘yung specification, ito ‘yung brand, ganyan.’ That’s how the courtesy calls go and then, if Sec. Lopez, siguro about 15 to 20 minutes per meeting? Diba?

Usually it’s a 15, 20 then picture taking eh. So these aren’t the same as when we have state visits na may signing. ‘Yung may signing, ‘yun medyo ano na do’n, mature level na ‘yung pinag-uusapan.

Q: Senator Alan Peter Cayetano, sir, could you tell us — Pia Gutierrez sir from ABS-CBN. Sir, can you tell us more about the bilateral consultative mechanism that the Philippines and China will be launching next week to deal with the issue in the Suth China Sea, sir?

SEN. CAYETANO: Maybe I can ask our Executive Director to answer that since she will be supervising and will be here. But let me just state that we’re building mutual trust.

And as I said ‘no from the start: The President is not only sincere. He is steadfast in protecting Philippine territory. We’ll not give an inch in our claims, territorial and sovereignty rights, our economic entitlements.

Having said that, we have agreed to bilateral talks. And China has had territorial disputes with many countries because of how large China and had success in the past in settling some of these disputes ‘no.

So anyway, let me turn over to the Executive Director for what’s gonna happen on that.

EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR DUCROCQ: Thank you po, Mr. Senator. ‘Yung bilateral consultation mechanism as you remember, it was something that both sides agreed to establish in 2016 after the state visit. It was in our joint statement.

So finally, the bilateral consultation mechanism, or what you call the BCM, it’s going to meet next week. It’s only focus is in the South China Sea.

So in other words, while, as our good Ambassador has already explained several times, we are separating the tracks where we cooperate very well and of course we also have issues between ourselves and that’s where we put it and these issues are usually on the South China Sea, and so the BCM is the venue where we will be discussing these issues both in terms of our concerns, respective concerns, and in where we can cooperate.

Of course we keep in mind that our disputes in the South China Sea, there’s one part that’s purely bilateral but there’s also parts of our dispute that concerns many claimants, not only the Philippines and China.

So as the good senator has indicated, we are currently always guided by the President’s instructions as well as our guiding principle that we keep our national interest top of mind and we are trying to find a way forward with the Chinese.

Q: What do you expect to accomplish during the meetings next week?

SEN. CAYETANO: It’s inaugural so it’s very short. It’s really the, it’s really confidence-building, building of mutual trust ‘no, showing each other that we can start to talk.

Let me give you an example of a side benefit, that benefits both countries.

After the state visit, a tentative fisheries agreement was reached that’s why our fishermen are… can fish freely and then there are talks between our two Coast Guard. When there are storms, pag ka may bagyo o may distress, ang ships doon ay pwede mag usap ‘no. 

So you know, it’s… let me put it this way. Kung baga, kung hindi tayo nag-uusap, it’s guess work and then tension and possible conflict but when you open lines, much can be discussed.

But both countries of course will be guided by their – like us – by our own laws, our Constitution, Supreme Court decisions and past gains ‘no by the past administrations.

So it will be a good start but we’re, you know, you don’t expect to move mountains in the first meeting.

But let me just say it will remove walls ‘no. So from a wall, there will now be a bridge. But we don’t expect moving mountains. You know, at the first, ma’am, am I correct? First few meetings.

First meeting and maybe the first few meetings. Because usually in the first few meetings, you also state your stand and you are usually very harsh in stating your stand because that is the stand of your country.

Q: I understand that but at what point will the ruling of the arbitral tribunal factor in during the —?

SEN. CAYETANO: The… both sides agreed to stop talking without conditions. If any of the two sides starts with conditions, there will be no talks. If there are no talks, we will be worse off where we are now.

But as to when and what we will take up, may I apologize to you sincerely, that’s a matter of strategy and tactics. And you do not announce your strategy o tactics to the world and to the opposite side ‘no.

So kung, you know, if this was a battle, whether it’s sports or ano, whatever, we’re telling you, we intend to win.

We intend to get the gold medal ‘no. Then we intend to fight hard or we intend to use this or that. But we will not tell you we will shoot more or rebound more diba.

Because precisely, the other side and the other sides… Remember, the dispute is not only between the Philippines and China, there are other claimants. And it’s not all of these member states against China. We also have disputes with this other and we also want to settle it peacefully with them.

Let me answer that but shift a little bit. The main goal, initial goal is development, stability and peace in our region. If there is no tension, we can develop on all parts.

Our military can modernize, they won’t be stretched thinly, our tourism can go up.

Take the example of our relationship with the Japanese. We are the model in the world when it comes to reconciliation.

Because despite the experience in the World War II, the Philippines and Japan has, now has a relationship that the President calls “more than brothers” ‘no.

But if we were gonna dwell in the past, for, mostly young kayo dito, ask your grandparents, you cannot even speak about inviting or meeting with them ‘no.

So it’s the same thing with the disputes that we have now not only with China but with others. We’re trying to create the environment where we can talk ‘no and then hopefully, God willing, achieve ‘no the immediate goals we want then the long term goals ‘no.

But again, we are in the Belt and Road Forum because we don’t want any dispute to stop us from developing our economy and using all the resources available from us, from any of our neighbors ‘no.

So we’re pursuing the cooperation with Japan, we’re pursuing the cooperation with China, our efforts in the UN hopefully will bear fruit in our cooperation with the EU. Senator — Congresswoman Pia from Geneva went straight to the EU to talk to European Union parliamentarians to explain the situation and hopefully, you know, increase also the trade.

Secretary Lopez, check his Facebook. You will see he’s not sleeping and he’s visiting all of our neighbors around the world promoting trade ‘no.

So let me just say that we will fight for our territory and our entitlements but at the same time, it’s very important that ‘yung ekonomiya natin, ma-put front and center.

SEC. LOPEZ: A quick rejoinder on what Senator Alan mentioned. Regarding the timing ‘no. Alam mo ‘yung timing is really important and I think we can really trust on the wisdom of our President as to when is the proper time.

Diba parati niya sinasabi, ‘I will raise that issue in due time.’ Hindi niya naman binibitawan.

But at the moment, for the benefit of our country, our people, our prosperity, progress, ito muna ang pag-usapan natin and let’s put that issue aside ‘no.

So the right timing… ako, and hinalal po natin ang Presidente, and we agree a very large margin ang lead niya and that we should really entrust in him that decision.

In the same way that we experience the wisdom of the President on when he decided nga to put this issue aside and diba, we started to talk to China; independent foreign policy; nagbukas ‘yung trade, ‘yung investment with Russia as well.

Dati ni hindi na tayo makapag usap, maka attend ng conference sa Russia because of so many, parang advisory din ‘no that we received, not of our own liking.

So nung nagkaron ng independent foreign policy, we are able to do now what’s good for the Filipino people. That to me is bringing back Filipino dignity ‘no.

Nagde-decide na tayo, attend tayo sa China, attend tayo sa Russia, makipag kaibigan tayo diyan. Let’s build the trade, investment and we are seeing that.

All these talks with the Chinese counterpart, the Japanese commitment, the commitment from Russia. We are talking to Hungary, we are talking to Middle East, Middle Eastern countries freely ‘no. So and a lot of these will redound to, definitely ‘yung benepisyo sa ating mga kababayan, more opportunities, trabaho at negosyo.

And as mentioned, nasa OBOR, One Belt One Road Forum tayo. Ire-relate ko lang doon sa binanggit kanina ni President Xi Jinping. Na  ‘yung prosperity, talagang naka-base sa openness and exchanges, just like what they experienced, what the Chinese experienced in ancient times. Na ‘yung very open sila.

Imagine, nagte-trade sila, pupunta sila sa mga unchartered territories bringing goods. Talagang out of trust, and out of just making good trade and relationship with other peoples na hindi nila kilala, it’s really that openness and ‘yung exchange of this relationship, hindi lang goods, andyan na ‘yung ideas.

In fact after all these, what’s important, ‘yung ideas and innovation that will spring out of all these dealings natin with all other countries. The important thing is that ‘yun nga, ‘yung free tayo makipag usap sa kahit kanino.

Q: Secretary Lopez, Sandra Aguinaldo from GMA 7. Secretary Lopez, para lang po maintinihan ng ordinaryong Pilipino ‘no. Paano ho i-implement ‘yung pwede nating ma-achieve o makuha mula dito sa Belt and Road Forum? Kasi po meron ding warning ang isang expert na baka po pumasok tayo sa more loans at we’ll be financially dependent and it’s gonna ba a debt trap?

SEC. LOPEZ: Even as we speak of ‘yung Build, Build, Build and financing that growth and the infrastructure program, we are not really not talking of loans na heavy.

It will be budgeted, as explained to us by Secretary Diokno. And in fact, in terms of loans, ang pino-project doon, 80 percent local, domestic loans. And only 20 percent ang foreign loans.

So all these discussions are premised on ano ba talaga ‘yung plano rin natin and we’ve presented already those plans. So hindi po tayo maiipit doon.

Pag-uusapan natin para maintindihan ng kababayan natin. For example when we talk of ‘yung infrastructure connectivity. ‘Yan ramdam na ramdam natin. All these talk na makita natin na ‘yung tulay na—

In fact, nabanggit natin before na may donation pa nga na dalawang tulay sa Pasig River in different areas at ano ‘yun… grant ‘yun. 

At meron pa, ‘yung mga official development assistance, infrastructure, be it a railway, a port, seaport, and even possibly, even… of course, the roads and possibly airports.

Pagdating sa trade connectivity, we’re already discussing all these ‘yung trade transaction, ‘yung purchase agreement that they, that we entered with them which is an actual purchase order ng agriculture products. 

Paano mararamdaman ‘yun? Pag-produce ‘nong agricultural products, ‘yung mga farmers na nag-benepisyo doon at may benta na sila.

Dati tinatanggahin ang mga produkto natin, may konting problema lang. Ngayon, pag may konting problema tutulungan pa tayo. Papadala pa sila ng technical expert para masiguradong pasado sa standard.

So, pag ganon ang relationship, tulungan, alam mong walang problema, nagtutulungan. Pag gusto, ‘di ba may paraan. Pag ayaw ka, may dahilan. Isu-suspend kaagad ‘yung produkto mo at iba-ban pa ‘yung exporter.

Yung ngayon, dahil gusto tayong tulungan, tutulungan pa tayo, gagawa pa ng paraan. Papadala kami ng technical expert, para mapa-upgrade ‘yung standard niyo at makapasa sa standards natin.

So example lang ‘yun na talagang may benepisyo sa… more output ng mga farmers, ibig sabihin ‘non mas maraming trabaho, mas maraming income. 

So ‘yun ‘yung trade, investment ganon din. As you know, pag may investment, nagkausap-usap ‘yung company ng China, kung may kumpanya rin sa atin, investment ‘yun, may employment po ‘yun.

So and of course, income opportunities. Down the road, imagine pag lahat ng mga kumpanya lumaki nang lumaki ‘yan, lumaki rin ‘yung consumer base mo dahil may pera ‘yung tao. Mas lalong dadami ‘yung investment.

It’s a virtuous cycle na, we’re entering that cycle. That’s what we call parang breakout na, na parang everything’s good. So tuloy-tuloy na po ‘yun.

More larger consumer base, larger investment attraction, and more investment, more jobs again.

Later on, ‘yung mga OFWs natin, uuwi na. ‘Yun ang ambisyon natin, sa Pilipinas na sila magtatrabaho. Marami nang opportunities, imagine.

So ‘yun na ngayon ang ating ano, ang future. Less OFWs. Meron pa rin ‘yan, pero mababawasan na dahil ‘yung mga engineers, ‘yung mga kumpanya, nagta-trabaho sa kumpanya, kung magwe-waiter or kung ‘yung ibang trabaho ka sa ibang bansa, baka mas mataas pa ang kitain mo ngayon sa Pilipinas.

So these are the opportunities na very real. And in fact, nangyayari na po. The fact na bumababa ang unemployment rate natin, 4.7 percent, ang starting, ang living indication na dumadami na ‘yung trabaho sa atin ngayon.

SEC. LORENZANA: I’m not an economist but I was listening to the talk this morning. 

And the World Bank President said that there are several trillions loanable amount with one percent interest lang. Plus about eight trillion with negative interest. ‘Yun ang ating dapat kunin eh. Negative interest ‘yun eh.

So ‘yung sabi mo na mababaon tayo sa utang, mukhang hindi siguro ano ‘yun kung if all economic managers will just be looking at the offers of financial institutions like World Bank na mag-uwi ka ng ganong generous offers, long-term and very soft loans. Hindi tayo mababaon sa utang.

Q: Secretary Lorenzana, can we, can the Philippines really get defense hardware from China considering our conflicting claims in the South China Sea? And do you consider synergy or compatibility with our loan treaty ally, the United States when purchase, buying military equipment?

SEC. LORENZANA: ‘Yung unang tanong mo, can we really get? Yes we can. In fact, meron silang inoffer sa’ting 14 million dollars in December. 

Sa 14 million dollars na ‘yan, kukuha tayo ng apat na fast boats, 200 sniper rifles, plus several hundreds of RPGs with ammunitions ‘yan. ‘Yun ang unang—those are grants, walang… sa 14 million dollars, 700… Meron katumbas ‘yun sa yuan at tsaka sa pesos, sa atin 740 million pesos ‘yan eh. 

And they will be delivered to us by the end of this year. 

Now for the compatibility, yes we can. I think there is compa—because they also produce NATO specs, NATO standards specifications for their equipment.

And pangatlo, can we get from them without ‘yung ating… I think we should separate our dispute from the South China Sea from our relationship with the Chinese.

Q: Good evening sir. Sir any update doon sa naging bilateral talk ni President Duterte doon sa Mongolian Prime Minister? Ano po ‘yung naging agenda? Tapos sino po ‘yung nag-initiate po ng meeting? Sila po ba or tayo po? And ano po ‘yung purpose ng meeting po?

EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR DUCROCQ: ‘Yun pong humingi ng meeting is the Mongolian side. So, I think also to answer a number of your questions earlier.

This is not the first time for a Philippine President to meet the Mongolian President. Although it is a first time for them for President Duterte.

I think both sides generally talked about the bilateral cooperation. As you know, our bilateral relationship is still very young with Mongolia.

It’s still not very well-developed. This also means that there’s a lot of potential. The two Presidents then spoke… the President and the Prime Minister, they spoke about how to develop these areas of cooperation. 

For example, in agriculture, in tourism, in trade and finance. 

They also talked about some political and institutional relationships. We have a regular meeting between foreign ministries. So I think both sides are very interested to institutionalize this relationship among, between foreign ministries.

And of course, not far from everyone’s mind, because as being the chair of ASEAN this year, they obviously also talked about ASEAN and regional developments.

For the President, he expressed his view that peace is better served when there is more participation by stakeholders in the region. And of course Mongolia is an important stakeholder.

So these are generally the lines that they discussed. It was a very interesting and productive meeting because it’s a young partnership and there’s a long way to go, there’s a lot of potential. Thanks. 

Q: Ma’am, just a follow up. Nag-invite po ba sila kay President Duterte for a state visit in the future? May intent, may ganon po bang sinabi?

EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR DUCROCQ: Yes, I believe that was raised and of course, those kinds of invitations will have to go through channels for that be properly processed. Thanks.

Q: Last na lang po. Last night sinabi ni President Duterte na magkakaroon daw ng bilateral talks with the Turkish leader Erdogan. Matutuloy po ba ‘yun?

EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR DUCROCQ: I believe both sides are very interested ‘no na matuloy sana but it’s a matter of scheduling.

So both sides are still trying to find a common time.

Q: Hello po sir. Sir magsasalita po ako sa Tagalog dahil broadcast language namin Tagalog. Sir, sa layman’s term po ‘nong 8.2 trillion infra projects sir, maraming nagsasabi na… uulitin ko lang po, mababaon daw tayo sa utang at magkakaroon daw tayo ng 197 percent debt-to-GDP ratio. Sir, papaano ho natin maipapaliwanag sa ordinaryong Pilipino ito?

SEC. LOPEZ: Doon sa presentation nga nila, I remember the numbers. Una, hindi 100 percent. ‘Yung debt-to-GDP ratio will even go down from 45 percent to 35 percent debt-to-GDP ratio. 

Okay, so isang numero ‘yun. Pangalawa, that’s the reason why it’s important to pass the tax reform program because the revenues, the net revenues to be generated. ‘Di ba meron babawas ang revenue at may kapalit naman na adjustment ng mga taxes para may net positive revenue.

‘Yun din ‘yung paggagamitan at gagamitan ng infrastructure budget. 

Kaya nga very important ‘yung tax reform program kasi internally generated ‘yung funds to support the build up. And kung may loan man, it will be again heavily on the local kasi napaka-awash with cash ang local ano eh system at 20 percent, 80 percent local, 20 percent lang ‘yung foreign. 

And pag sinumatotal mo ‘yun, the 45 will go down to 35 percent, ratio sa GDP. Kaya mali, it’s a wrong information po ang naipasa.

SEN. CAYETANO:  I just like to quote or paraphrase ‘yung kay Secretary Dominguez ‘no. Ine-explain niya na meron tayong shift sa paraan. 

And correct me Secretary Lopez ‘no if I quote him wrong ‘no. May shift tayo dahil dati naka-focus sa PPP.

But inherently, ang problema sa PNP… PPP, matagal ito. Napakaraming proseso.

Ngayon ang maganda naman sa PPP, ‘yung pera mostly sa private sector nanggagaling kaya ‘yung fear ‘nong iba ‘nong utang. 

Pero ang klinaro ni Secretary Dominguez, hindi ibig sabihin na because binaliktad natin ‘yung proseso gobyerno lahat magbabayad nito.

So sinabi niya ito ‘yung mga susunod na benefits. Una, ang gobyerno’y makakautang sa mas mababang halaga kaso sa private sector.

So the project will be cheaper. Mas mura ‘yung proyekto dahil mas mura ang interes ng private, ng public sector sa private. 

Pangalawa po, sabi nga niya, we can privatize or come out with any scheme after the construction phase or even when it is being constructed.

Kasi doon sa PPP ‘yung risk na matuloy ‘yung deal, ‘yung construction, ano mang problema. ‘Di ba halimbawa sa Pilipinas ang right of way parating very contentious ‘no. 

So ang lalaking mga risks nito ‘no. So pero pag ka gobyerno ang gumawa at maganda na ‘yung takbo ng construction, at any time while it’s being constructed, natapos or it’s already being operated, pwede i-privatize ‘to. So mababawasan ulit ‘yung utang. 

So the economic managers have again and again assured us that this is being monitored.

Secretary Lopez is not only the DTI Secretary. He was with NEDA and they’re working closely with NEDA and the Department of Finance. 

So actually mababa pa ang debt-to-GDP ratio natin compared sa iba. And lastly po—When I say sa iba, sa normal around the world. 

Tapos meron po kasi din tayong tinatawag na ano eh, na incremental capital output ratio ‘no. 

Meaning, ‘yung bawat capital na ipasok mo, ano ang output nito. So kung gagamitin mo kasi sa mga proyekto that won’t be productive, then ‘yung fear na lolobo ‘yung utang at it will be worse for us, totoo. 

Pero kung very productive ang paggagamitan mo ng capital, so isipin niyo po ‘yung mga negosyo. Bakit panay po ang either IPO or bakit po sila nagbo-bonds or nagre-raise ng capital.

Kasi ‘yung inuutang nila, mas mababa ang babayaran nila, mas malaki kikitain nila. In layman’s term ‘no, if you borrow money and you make more, hindi ka mababaon sa utang. 

But kung mas malaki pa ‘yung interes mo kaso sa kikitain mo, mababaon ka sa utang.

SEC. LOPEZ: Tulungan ko si Senator Alan. 

So in layman’s term, kung humiram ka ng two percent, pero ang kita mo ay 10 percent, mas malaki ang kita. ‘Yun ‘yung mas productive ‘yung paggamit ‘nong capital.

Actually, magagamit natin ‘yun sa pang-araw-araw na ano eh. Kaya nga meron tayong nire-retire na mga mas mataas na interes sa loan at palitan mo ng mas mababang interes na loan kung may opportunity ka. 

Kasi kino-correct mo ‘yung iyong portfolio. So ganon din po ‘yun. Kung mas magandang halaga mo na mabebenta, kasi you have taken all the risk, ‘yung kinekwento kanina doon sa infrastructure project, mas lamang ang gobyerno kasi you will now be able to sell it at a better price, sa better value.

Tayo muna ang nagpondo ‘non sa umpisa and then later on mababayaran din natin ‘yun. So ganon din po ‘yun. So mas mababang interes pag tayo ang nanghiram at mas malaki naman ang kikitain natin. So again, panalo po ang taong bayan, ang gobyerno.

Q: Good evening. This is for Senator Cayetano and Secretary Abella. Our special envoy for intercultural dialogue Jose de Venecia, in his speech earlier today, called on ASEAN member states together with China for a joint exploration on energy resources in the disputed South China Sea. Is this also the position of President Duterte or will this be eventually discussed during the bilateral consultative mechanism?

SEN. CAYETANO: If I may ‘no. If you look at the statements of former Speaker De Venecia when he was still Speaker, consistent siya sa mga ideas na ganyan. And when you attend forums or symposiums with ‘yung mga Track II ‘no, ‘yung mga academicians ‘no, mga nag-uusap-usap, mga think-tanks, lahat sila ganon ang direction na parang how do we manage, how do we cooperate, how do you jointly explore.

But hindi ibig sabihin na ‘yun ang direksyon ng gobyerno natin because we are bound by the Constitution and our own laws ‘no. So meron mga ideas na practical at maganda pero not necessarily legal.

May ideas naman na legal pero hindi practical or hindi naman magiging maganda para sa Pilipinas.

So personally ‘no, I am not speaking for the DFA, I am speaking as the chair of the Committee on Foreign Relations. I think ang direction natin, nasa peace, stability at tsaka ‘yung focusing on our claims and then focusing on our economy.

So wala pa tayo doon sa ano ‘no, joint exploration or joint development or any of those schemes. And if ever, whenever that comes up, there has to be a legal framework that is within our Constitution. Because the President, Congress and the Judiciary always has to work within the framework of the Philippine Constitution.

So personal niya ‘yun, personal advocacy ni Speaker De Venecia.

Q: In his previous speeches, I think the President is open for joint exploration with China on the disputed —?

SEN. CAYETANO: No, ang sinabi niya, kapag ka kinuha ‘yung resources doon unilaterally ng iba. Diba? Ibang usapan na ‘yun. He will have to do something about it.

Now, in general, sinong hindi may gusto na lahat nakikinabang doon? But I said, we’re bound eh by our laws so we have to look at the framework ‘no. Ano ‘yung framework?

Pero bago ka dumating kasi doon, medyo malayo pa eh ‘no. But definitely ‘no, the more natural gas, the more oil, the more natural resources that are available to our people and our government. Who wouldn’t want, diba?

But that doesn’t mean we can just go through it because it will benefit our people. There’s a legal framework that we have to follow and look at, diba.

That’s why nung panahon ni President Arroyo, ang tiningnan muna nila… by the way ‘no ‘yung exploration and development, let me just clarify ‘no.

Kung ang sinasabi research, ibig sabihin, alamin muna kung anong nandiyan. May rules tayo diyan. At isa sa rules natin na sa, Secretary — sana tama po ba na pwedeng payagan pero kailangan may Filipino scientist na kasama diba.

And then, they’re required to also share with us ‘yung resulta nung kanilang research. So in many parts of the Philippine archipelago, there has been research conducted in the past by different world powers precisely because hindi makaka-propose ‘yung kanilang mga kumpanya ng joint venture, joint development, kung hindi nila alam kung anong nandoon.

So baka that’s what you’re referring to na ang sinasabi, ang Presidente ay open. But the President has always said that he is bound by the Philippine Constitution, by the Philippine law and he cannot go out of that ‘no.

Q: Sir, just to clarify. Sir, you’re categorically saying that any joint exploration in the South China Sea is, violates the Constitution?

SEN. CAYETANO: No, I’m saying that is Speaker De Venecia’s proposal as of now. It is also the proposal of many Track II people or academicians ‘no, non-governmental.

But before the government even considers it, we have to see a framework that fits within our Constitution ‘no.

Kasi very vague ‘yung ano eh. Pag sinabi mong joint exploration, joint development, ano ang ibig sabihin no’n?

Until you see the details, hindi mo masasabi kung legal o hindi. Pero pag sinabi mo ngayon kaagad na pwede, eh may dispute nga eh ‘no.

So what we’re saying is, para mong inuna ‘yung sampung karuahe sa kabayo o sa kalabaw. It’s malayo pa sa usapin ‘yun.

Even if we didn’t have a dispute in the area, it’s not that simple to come up with a joint development or joint exploration.

Q: Sir, just to clarify. Did Mr. De Venecia consult his message before he… consulted the DFA before he delivered his message?

SEN. CAYETANO: He did not need to because he’s an eminent person, he’s the president ba o chairman of ‘yung political parties around the world. He is just like President FVR, kilala siya sa diplomacy, kilala siya sa inter-parliamentary associations, alliances, unions.

So regardless of his being a special envoy, he is usually invited to forums like this and Speaker De Venecia has always had a knack for putting a disputed area of conflict — peacemaker siya eh.

Kaya actually hindi niya sinabi in a vacuum ‘yung joint development or joint exploration.

Ang sinabi niya, let’s make it an area of peace. And to make it an area of peace, let’s have joint development.

So if you look at his speeches all around the world for the last what… FVR 1992 so the last 25 years, it’s been in that theme diba, na cooperation instead of conflict, areas of peace, areas of cooperation diba.

But when it comes to natural resources, very strict ang ating Constitution so you know, we have to look at it very… kailangan very thorough tayo at hindi tayo basta pwede mag desisyon ng ganyan.

Q: Good evening, sir. DuterteNomics will be presented tomorrow before a number of Chinese companies. May we know the number, exact number of companies who, which expressed their sure attendance?

SEN. CAYETANO: We’ll ask Sec. Martin to get you the numbers. The real numbers.

Q: Okay. So this is the second time that DuterteNomics will be presented before a number of foreign businessmen. The first time was in Cambodia, right? So will this be more frequent everytime the President visits a country?

SEC. LOPEZ: That one we can say yes. Kasi we really want our socio-economic agenda, our DuterteNomics be understood eh by the world and to… for the world to appreciate that President Duterte again is not just about drugs, peace and order but really goes beyond that and is really concerned for bringing prosperity to all Filipinos, addressing inequality.

‘Yun ang parating binabanggit niya eh. Ayaw niya ‘yung may na-o-oppress, may naaapi. Gusto niya i-correct talaga ‘yun.   

As to the number, if you recall, were you with us sa Cambodia, ‘yung WEF? I think mga, ilan ba ‘yun? Maybe about a hundred, lahat-lahat na. Media and companies who viewed that meeting.

Q: Sir, in relation to that. Ano po ‘yung nakuha natin doon sa launching sa Cambodia? May ano na po ba tayo… siguradong benefit from the media launch?

SEC. LOPEZ: Hindi, hindi. ‘Yung mga ganon naman it’s understanding eh. So, understanding of the plans, it’s clearer. Usually when one sees the Build, Build, Build presentation and how it connects to bringing empowerment, prosperity, ease of doing business, investment, jobs and… appreciated na eh.

I mean, that’s the important thing, may alignment, may understanding on the —

 Q: Sir, Chinese President Xi first initiated the B — Belt and Road in 2013 and… coincidental lang po ba ito or malaki ang influence ng Belt and Road sa Build, Build, Build infra projects ng Duterte administration?

SEC. LOPEZ: I think it’s connected because their drive as they pursue the Belt Road I mentioned, there’s that infrastructure connectivity.

So everywhere they go, ‘yung mga kausap nilang bansa, I think they try to inject infrastructure development which is really key to any development objectives ng kahit sinong bansa. 

It’s really infrastructure. And that is where their experience is. So shine-share (share) nila what they have: the companies that they have, the experience that they have. 

Ang maganda sa mindset even as we discussed all these issues earlier and if you heard the speech and ‘yung overarching theme ‘nong discussion, they’ve been talking always about mutual benefit ‘no. 

‘Yun bang ito nga, nilista ko ‘yung mga principles na paulit-ulit doon eh. Mutual benefit, shared prosperity, win-win principle. Hindi nila sinasabing malaki kami, kami lang magbe-benefit. 

It’s parating ganon ang presentation nila sa kahit malaki, maliit na ekonomiya. Non-interference on domestic affairs, not export China system. ‘Yun nilista ko rin.

Ayaw nilang sabihin na itong sistema namin, itong gamitin niyo. They’re not talking about religion, they’re not talking about their system, basta lahat ‘nong pwedeng makatulong sa inyo, gamitin niyo. Not geopolitical.

We won’t form… we’re not doing this form to another grouping, as an, you know economic, big economic grouping. But it’s really just… It’s very… Siguro useful when they presented the history, parang inuulit lang nila ‘yun na parang pag binalikan pala ‘yung history, malalim.

You know that Silk Road spirit, malalim. In other words, the openness ‘no, the positive things happening by just them moving around, ‘yun ‘yung trading, ‘yung investment, the relationship, they’re all positive. 

Parang noon na-imagine ko nga walang tariff na pinag-uusapan. Walang non-tariff barriers. Parang lahat lang free flow of goods, exchanges. And it’s being in prosperity to those communities.

It’s bringing new ideas, discovering like the silk, the spices that are being traded, the porcelain that are being traded.

So parang imaginin (imagine) mo, those are the things right now we’re talking of more advanced. Siyempre we’re talking of the technology, innovative products being exchanged.

So it’s a different modern version lang but it’s following that spirit and principle that makes it hopefully magical ‘no. It’s something really new na babalik, binabalik lang ‘yung dating spirit na ‘yun.

And that’s about, they’re talking about win-win. Pag nag-trade ka win-win eh, ‘di ba? Hindi ka papayag, hindi mo ibibigay pag ka hindi win-win. So both will benefit.

Sabi nila, it’s a bigger family. It’s all about cooperation. So hindi lang makalamang ‘yung isa, kailangan pareho tayong magbe-benefit dito. 

Q: Okay last na lang po sa akin sir. Aside from economic and trade cooperation, nag-express din po ba ang China to help the government about sa peace talks with the Communist Party of the Philippines?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: There were no specific mention regarding that. One last question?

Q: So since the idea of the One Belt One Road was floated back in 2013, it’s been a vision but have we actually done the numbers? How much bump up will we get? For example in GDP terms, by being part of the Belt and Road initiative? In nominal figures, how many jobs can be created because of the Belt and Road? In which countries do you see trade getting a boost, Philippines and China, aside from China which other countries?

SEC. LOPEZ: Well first for the Philippines, they’ve openly mentioned to us, even in the bilaterals that trade will definitely be in the favor of Philippines because they’re trying to balance the trade because it has been imbalanced.

In other words, we are in a trade deficit. Noong maganda rin ‘yung relationship ‘nong araw, five years ago or six years ago. Looking at the numbers, they’re pretty much balanced, we’re in the, I think about six to seven billion, almost equal ang export and imports.

Now when the relationship turns sour or at least nagkaroon ng cold relationship, medyo nahirapan na tayo makapag-export. 

In the meantime, we were importing because I think the goods were really competitive coming from China. So binibili pa rin siya. 

So lumaki ‘yung imports natin pero ‘yung exports hindi masyadong lumaki. And we have I think four billion dollar trade deficit.

I think they’re exporting six, we’re importing 10. So mga four billion dollars ‘yun.

So if you think about it, even in the bilateral, I remember also that bilateral happened in Peru, sidelines ng APEC.

Sinabi rin ni President, because they will [inaudible] the export, because it’s been imbalanced. And in all the discussions here, narrowing the trade gap has always been a, ‘yung trade gap ng bawat countries, sa bawat isa parang consciously you have to maintain it. Hindi pwedeng lopsided.

Otherwise parang kawawa naman ‘yung country na parating deficit. Hindi siya nakaka-build ng kanyang foreign exchange reserves ‘no.

So very important kaya you can sense na they really want to help. Marami silang pera. They’re rich and their poverty has been alleviated ano.

Maraming umangat na na buhay dito and they want to share it based on all these principles being presented in OBOR, in One Belt One Road.

Now as to the benefits, actually as mentioned, even before today’s One Belt One Road conference. Over that… since 2013, I think when they had that realization, they want to help, they want to promote more cooperation. 

I think they’re trying to build all these cooperation relationship with other countries. Nag-umpisa na eh. 

Sa atin lang hindi nagtuloy because we had that [inaudible] kind of relationship. 

But ‘nong na-open up again, again credit to that wisdom of our President, nag-ano na, lumalabas na ‘yung reality na pwede naman pala silang bumili sa atin. 

Pwede rin pala silang tanggalin na ‘yung advisory ng tourism ‘di ba? Pumunta na ‘yung tourists sa atin, umangat na ng 70 percent in January. 

From 500,000 pwedeng maging one million na ngayon taon na ‘to. Kailangan na natin mas maraming hotel, mas maraming driver ng rent a car, et cetera, et cetera, restaurants.

At ang daming… ‘yung multiplier effect ‘non. Those are benefits. That talagang real benefits ‘yun. Jobs, agriculture, market, market access, marami… May susuklian ka ng mga restaurant sa mga pananim mo dahil meron nang requirement ito.

Souvenir shops, gifts and housewares. So again, more jobs, rental business, resorts, hotels. Tuloy-tuloy na ‘yun. So kailangan mo lang talaga i-open up. And that to me is wisdom ‘no.

Kung hindi, wala ‘yun lahat ngayon. Siguro hindi gumanda ‘yung unemployment or employment rate natin.

Q: Sir, just a follow up —

SEN. CAYETANO: Before that, can I just mention ‘no, kasi dalawa na kayong nag-mention na 2013. Remember they started by calling it the Maritime Silk Road or the new Maritime Silk Road ‘no.

Remember before that, President Arroyo had the nautical highway where ‘yung Ro-Ro ang binigyan ng emphasis. Kasi archipelago tayo eh, so kailangan connected tayo. Kailangan ‘yung people travelling and then transport of goods ‘di ba, hindi lang kailangan efficient, effective, kailangan mas mura, affordable ‘di ba?

And then President Aquino came, airports naman ang isa niyang tinulak dahil ang tourism ang isa sa kanyang mga main goals din ‘no.

So with or without the Belt and Road initiative because we’re an archipelago and because naiwan tayo sa infrastructure, kailangan natin to really inter-connect. 

In fact, ang lamang sa atin ng Thailand halimbawa. Let’s say sa tourism, we have about one million, we had around 500,000 ata ‘no before 2016, Chinese tourists.

Thailand had 10 million. Part of that was because of the relationship but part of it was because Thailand had much more infrastructure put in place.

So what does the Belt and Road do for us? It gives us an international context. So with or without them, ‘yung local context natin kailangan talaga natin mag-interconnect. 

We have to really build, build, and build. But with the build, build, build also of the Belt and Road, it opens us up to other markets.

Then let me just mention this because we need your help here, ‘yung media, if matutuloy lahat and God willing and we’re praying na lahat ‘nong projects na in-announce ng economic managers at ng infrastructure group.

Maaring magkulang tayo sa skilled labor ‘no, sa dami ng trabaho.

Kasi ilan trains ‘yan, ilang ports ‘yan. Tapos sumasabay ang real estate, sumasaby din ang BPOs ‘di ba? So we have to get our young people to go to school, to study foreign languages, to go into more technical courses like science, technology, engineering ‘no.

And then we need them more to trust TESDA and actually get trained ‘di ba? So ‘yung kabaliktaran ng aanhin ang damo kung patay na ‘yung kabayo.

‘Di ba ‘yung alam mong dadating ‘yung kabayo, ihanda mo na ‘yung damo para mapakinabangan mo nang husto ‘yung kabayo.

Not only is change coming. Progress is really here and coming. But we also have to do our part to be ready.

So all those who are warning ‘baka sumubora debt,’ that’s fine and it’s good and it’s healthy na mag-warn kayo. But it’s healthier for us to prepare kasi the progress is really coming but there’s much we have to do to absorb ‘no ‘yung amount of investments that will be given the Philippines. Thank you.

Q: Sir, last question. So we’re also optimistic about the Belt and Road and all these things from China. What worries you about these prospects? Is there anything… parang may something that you feel we might not be ready?

SEC. LOPEZ: To reiterate Senator Alan, it’s preparedness. ‘Yung the capacity, the absorption capacity na ito na ‘yung requirements and then wala pa tayo.

So kaya ngayon pa lang, I think balewala itong mga opportunities na-generate kung wala rin pala tayong masu-supply.

It’s a good problem ‘no. Parang at least nandiyan na ‘yung opportunity, pero problema pa rin.

But ang isang nakikitang kong possible impact ‘non is that ‘yung mga ibang engineers abroad mag-uuwian na.

Nandito na ‘yung opportunites. Baka ‘yung 12 million OFWs, baka maging eight million na lang.

And still, ang ating employment level dito, napakababa… ang employment level napakataas. 

So ‘yun ‘yung mga magagandang scenario that we see. Kaya importante lang gawin natin at fingers crossed, pumasok na lahat ‘nong mga opportunities na ‘to and the rest will follow.

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: Alright. This ends our press briefing. 

Just to remind you that tomorrow, the President has several sessions. He’ll have at least two speaking sessions that will be with Leaders’ Roundtable Session I. The theme is going to be policy, synergy for closer partnership.

And in the afternoon Leaders’ Roundtable Session II. It will be connectivity, cooperation for interconnected development.

That’s all. Thank you very much.