Press Conference of Presidential Communications Office Assistant Secretary for Operations and Special Concerns Ana Marie Banaag and Department of Education Secretary Leonor Briones
Press Briefing Room, New Executive Bldg., Malacañang
18 November 2016
ASEC. BANAAG: Good morning, Malacañang Press Corps. Good morning, everyone, Sweeden. Good morning, Secretary.

For more than many years, Secretary Leonor Magtolis Briones has devoted her life to research, writing, teaching, and advocacy on development issues such as debt, structural adjustment, programs and their impact, social development and globalization.

Her field of specialization is public fiscal administration. Secretary Briones was lead convenor of Social Watch Philippines, which is an active member of the global network of Social Watch.

She was also the former National Treasurer of the University of the Philippines, Diliman.

She obtained her Bachelor in Business Administration, Major in Accounting from Siliman University. She’s a Magna Cum Laude.

She finished her Master’s in Public Administration from the University of the Philippines, Diliman with honors.

She garnered and finished her post-graduate diploma in Development Administration with distinction, Major in Public Enterprises from Leeds University in England, United Kingdom.

Ladies and gentlemen of the Malacañang Press Corps, sa lahat ng ating mga taga-panood. Let us all give a warm welcome to Department of Education Secretary Leonor Briones.

SEC. BRIONES: Good morning. Magandang umaga sa inyong lahat. Since this is a nationwide coverage, maayong buntag sa tanan nga mga Bisaya sa Visayas ug Mindanao, ug sa nagapuyo dinhi sa Manila. Maayong buntag kaninyong tanan.

First of all, I’d like to express the appreciation of the Department of Education to the office of Communications for giving us the opportunity to connect with you directly on developments and events in the Department of Education.

But before I do that, I’d like thank each and everyone of you for your support, for your continuous coverage and for your feedback on what is happening in the country, specially as it affects the Department of Education.

I have said time and again, even as a leader of Social Watch, that media is a very important partner of the Filipino people, of civil society organizations and also of government institutions, which are serving the people.

We can only reach—Well in the case of the Department of Education, we have over 700,000 teachers and 24 million learners. But that’s how far as we can go, in so far as official communications is concerned.

But media, five seconds, ten seconds, reach already millions. So whatever we share with you, if transmitted to the Filipino people, immediately reaches them.

And we’re really, very, very, grateful for that and for continued support and coverage from the time that the Department of Education started its programs.

I have been asked to give you a briefer on what are the latest developments in the Department of Education.

I don’t think it is necessary because you have been covering me, at least most of you on a weekly, if not daily basis, starting in the early hours of the morning.

We talked about 100 days report but perhaps, you should even say we should submit a 120-day report because from the time that my selection was announced by the President, the team that I selected had been working very, very closely with the team also of former Secretary of Education Bro. Luistro. This is one month before the actual assumption of office.

And I already have shared with you, I reported to the President that first thing that you do when you move into a house, which you have not stayed in before is to of course talk to the occupants of the house, take a look at the problems, inventory what is there so that we would know what we should still be doing.

I have already announced that we will continue the programs which were started by the earlier secretaries of Education, particularly the Senior High School program which was started on June 13 and we came in in July.

And we support that fully and I have explained why it is necessary for us to continue the Senior High School program, not only because it is legal and it is mandated by law and it was not… the Supreme Court made a decision also supporting the legal basis of Senior High School but also because it is needed, not so much for the international market but for ourselves, for our learners and for our people who seek early employment who seek better skills and who want to be competitive right in their own country.

Because you have to admit there is much competition in our own country for good jobs because of the ASEAN integration and because of globalization.

So we are continuing all the good things that have been started by our predecessors.

But we also have added enhancements and you are aware of that because we keep on repeating them.

As early as May, President Duterte already gave instructions that our curriculum and our studies should be enhanced, particularly on drug education starting at grade 4 or even as early as nine years old for our learners.

This is because as you know, exposure to drugs these days starts at an early age for our learners. We have been doing this.

Another instruction which the President has given us to enhance the program is to also increase awareness of disaster risk and disaster prevention, among our learners.

We know that children and the elderly are the immediate victims of natural disasters and these things happen during school days et cetera. So we are also enhancing our program on disaster, on environment and so on.

Thirdly, we are also enhancing again on his instructions, to us and all the other members of the Cabinet that we should enhance the gender and reproduction aspects of what our learners undergo as they grow up.

And this is because he has expressed increasing worry of the high levels of teenage pregnancy. We have the highest levels of teenage pregnancy. I have mentioned that a long time ago.

But only recently, we saw that it is also correlated with disasters. We have noticed that there is a spike in teenage pregnancies in disaster-prone areas where our people have to be in so-called temporary shelters for months and months and months, where facilities are shared in common, and where they are not relocated immediately to appropriate houses and homes.

And we’ve noticed this in Zamboanga. We noticed this in Davao. We noticed this also in Tacloban, this spike in teenage pregnancy.

So it’s not only increasing the effectiveness of our academic programs but also relating it to how we handle and how fast we respond to the impacts of disasters and to protect our youngsters.

I think all of you who lived on these areas, which have been hit by disasters know what I mean. So you have that.

And of course, we also are made more conscious of the fact that even as we try, very, very hard and this was discussed very lengthily in the Senate — to reach all those who should be in school.

And I’m very sure most of you, those who are sitting are college graduates and so on, maybe undergraduates at the very, very least.

But 40 percent of our workforce, have not even finished basic education. And we have more than four million kids, out-of-school youth, who are not exposed to the benefits of education.

So, a major, major program of President Duterte and which I think will really be his legacy is the expansion of the Alternative Learning Systems wherein those who have not had the opportunity to finish their basic education, through the formal system, through a system of equivalences, with the cooperation of TESDA, with the cooperation of many volunteers and many organizations, we’ll have the opportunity to be on the same level of competency and skill as those who go to the formal schools.

This for me is the major, major additionality to the present program of the Department of Education.

I have said this already. So I don’t need to go into it in great detail and in great length. What I can report to you, that since our press conferences in DepEd, we have been translating these policy declarations, which were stated during the social development summit, the summit with the businessmen, the summit with the multilateral and donor community, and our own educational summit.

Sinabi na namin ‘yan, paulit-ulit, the 10-point program. What we have done is to translate this into concrete plans and programs.

And so what we have done and I’m looking at you. What we have done is… we have undergone a series of planning exercises at the level of the Department of Education.

We spent… we went through a very rigorous planning process and how we are going to translate what I have been saying publicly to you is now going, undergoing the process of [unclear] into concrete programs, which we’ll start in 2017.

And this explains why, this explains why Congress in spite of the massive shortfalls in spending, which go all the way back to 2015, which we have to catch up with, shortfalls in 2016, which we also have to catch up with.

Congress, House of Representatives, and the Senate decided to increase the budget of the Department of Education, aside of course, from the Constitutional provisions.

This is because we know that there are enhancements, there are additionalities.

In 2017, we will start grade 12. So we’ll have a new batch of learners, where there will be greater demands for resources, for school houses, for computers, textbooks, furnitures, teachers, and also we are now in the middle of a series of natural disasters.

I just came from Isabela, where I myself saw the extent of the damage to our school houses, brand new books, brand new computers, and furnitures are buried in the mud.

So we have to start all over again. But I’m very, very proud that even with the disaster in Cagayan, in Tugegarao, in Isabela, where winds were stronger than Yolanda. I think you have reported that faithfully.

Classes have not been interrupted and teachers who even have lost their own homes have continued teaching and so we are in this kind of activity.

So the plans are now… those of you who are in school, you know that from a policy declaration, you translate the policy into programs and we have four programs, you translate the programs into projects and activities and you budget those programs.

And as I said, this explains why there was unanimous support for the activities, the plans of a 2017 budget of the Department of Education.

But in the meantime, you also have the day-to-day challenges of maintaining a huge organization.

And Secretary of Finance has commented, when he briefed the donor community, that the Department of Education has the largest army, larger than the military, larger than the police and so on because we have 722,000 teachers and still we have to increase the number of teachers.

And there are still many challenges, we went to look at the needs of children with disabilities, special children, we have to catch up with our shortfalls in resources.

And we also have to act and to keep track of incidents that happen all over the country and for this we thank media kasi halos mag-sabay.

When an incident happens in some remote barrio or in some city far away from Metro Manila, nagsa-sabay ang media at tsaka ang DepEd sa pag-cover.

I’m very happy to report that the query for example of social media and about that remote barrio in Iligan City where children have to cross a river, parang Harrison Ford. ‘Di pa nga Harrison Ford kasi may footbridge si Harrison Ford. Parang Tarzan walking in ropes to cross a river.

And for that, we thank media. And now the DPWH has committed to build a permanent bridge in that very remote area. Walang kontraktor na lumalaban because it’s so far.

Pero ngayon, they’re going to build it, if they have to build it themselves and also in the meantime, the city authorities are building a wooden footbridge, because there used to be a wooden footbridge.

Also just this morning, one of you reported the burning of one of our makeshift buildings in Camarines Sur by five kids.

And we are already taking action. We have a

protocol for reporting incidents usually… it’s the usual thing. There’s an incident report and then followed by a much more formal report which is always validated and checked. But this takes some time. So kailangan ‘yung incidence report kaagad. 

And I have instructed this morning our Undersecretary for Operations that if there are other interesting incidents which affect our children and our teachers, they should immediately be texted to us, while waiting for the formal report – bullying and so on and so forth.

And since I’m very, very sure many are you are curious about the position of the Department of Education on the matter of the Marcos burial and also the review of the textbooks.

Together with Senator Bam Aquino, we have been having hearings on that. Even before these series of questions from media came out, we already agreed and that was about more than a month ago, thatthe textbooks will be reviewed and they are now undergoing a process of review.

Because it has been pointed out that the information is very sketchy, which is stated in the textbooks, about the accomplishments of the different presidents of the country. So, the curriculum is now under review.

And, this I would like to make a very special request. ‘Cause I have been quoted very often on this issue, especially with the Supreme Court decision.

Firstly, whenever I am asked about the Libingan issue and how it is going to affect the Department of Education, please note, please put it in context, the very first sentence, I always say, I said this during the hearing in the House, I said this during the hearing to which all of you were there, in the Senate, that the framework of the program of Education and please note this because it has never been mentioned, the framework of the program of education is human rights and global citizenship.

We teach our children that they are not only citizens and residents of this country, they are global citizens and there are United Nations resolutions, agreements to which we are signatory, which respects human rights in all its different forms and complexions.

Generally, we identify human rights with political rights which is very important but you also think of the human right, social, the human right of people to homes, to development, this is the so-called ancillary human rights, the right to development, the right to education, the right to food, the right to shelter. All of these are enshrined in UN declarations. And this is the framework, global citizenship.

Part of the framework also is nationalism and recognition of our history as a people which makes us different from all the other countries, our neighbors, and all the other countries in the global community.

So that if you use that as a framework, whatever happens, the children will have a critical framework from which to look at events.

And the third aspect and I have mentioned this, is to develop a critical attitude among our learners.

I have mentioned the fact and you yourself, yourselves have experienced this, after you leave school and go for a job, then you realize that much of what you were taught in school may not necessarily apply.

And this is even much more pronounced at this time, by the time our learners finish their TESDA or their Tech-Voc or their academic programs, changes have been so fast already.

So we go beyond and this is what I would like to emphasize, we go beyond data, we go beyond dates, we go beyond documents, we teach our children a critical attitude.

So whatever happens in a country, whatever developments there are, our learners learn to be critical. And this does not mean that there is support or lack of support for a particular event in a particular stage in our history.

I will repeat it because it has not been mentioned at all in many of the reports and statements attributed to me, and which is the subject of a lengthy comment in the Senate.

One, if you have a very strong framework of human rights, I said this during the Senate hearing more than a month ago. Human rights, global citizenship, nationalism and awareness of our history and our culture plus a critical attitude.

You have to develop a critical attitude because changes are happening so fast. So whatever, wherever, what happens to a child, what he or she is confronted with, she or he is equipped with that kind of framework and will know how to react.

Please, and this I beg of you, because you have been faithfully reporting what I say except this one, please repeat, Department of Education is for human rights, is for global citizenship. That is why we care about environment, this is why we care about prostitution, this is why we care about drugs.

Global citizenship are responsibilities not only to our country but also to the global community and that includes human rights, nationalism, because we have to know ourselves as a people, as other countries know themselves and what they are as a people.

And thirdly, as I said, critical thinking because changes are happening so fast, because if we keep on changing and changing and changing dates et cetera, et cetera, the important thing is that the framework is there which we will instill in the children.

So on that note, if you have other questions and clarifications, especially in regards to our budget, especially in our programs for 2017 and this is what I’d like to share with you and I thank all of you for covering us so faithfully.

There’s so many things happening in this country aside from these supposed disagreements, aside from the supposed quotes which are taken out of context.

Many exciting things which are happening in education.

For example, we are now looking for, in the case of, on the matter of school buildings.

We always receive complaints that since the design of our school buildings are the same and uniform and the cost is also uniform, there is no recognition of the specific, unique qualities of the locations of the school buildings.

But now, we are even considering eventually, we will be using, technology and we will be using… We’ll be working very closely with the DOST in looking at the different characteristics of various locations.

Because for example, a school in an island will require different materials, will cost differently from a school on the top of the mountain and a school located in a crowded urban area.

So there will be multiple designs to choose from.

We are going to use satellite, because we get a lot of reports. You know, the school is like this, the ground is like this, but if you use satellite imaging, you will know exactly what is happening, when we confirm. Yes, eventually.

I don’t know if you have heard, this was started by the previous administration because we have problems with connectivity.

You have heard perhaps of the prototype which was started by Bro. Luistro, whis is called the ‘EGG.’

We’re developing this prototype of a classroom which will seat 50, 50 learners complete, with or without connectivity it produces its own connectivity.

It will even produce its own water. Everything is complete, computer systems whether there is signal or not, whether there is storm or not, it will be very, very safe and it’s called an ‘EGG.’

Why is it called an ‘EGG?’ Because as you are taught, an egg has complete nutrients, with or without any external assistance. If conditions are right, you produce a chick and that is what our ‘EGG’ classroom will be like.

And it can be transported to an island. It can be transported to the top of the mountain and so on.

But these are the things that we are looking forward to beyond of course the day-to-day challenges of keeping track of what is happening in our schools.

So I hope that you will take an interest in these matters because after all, I’m very sure, a good number of you are parents and will… probably some of you are even grandparents.

This is not only for us. This is for our children, for our grandchildren. This is also to ensure that when our learners, by the time they finish senior high school, if they decide to get a job, they will be ready for a job.

This is because business is always complaining that our high school graduates are not ready to work. The kind of exposure they have.

So we’ll have more immersions for those who want to work. But as I said, during our last press conference in the Department of Education, 60 percent of those who have enrolled in senior high school naturally prefer the academic program, whether it is Humanities, whether it is Science and Technology and Math, and so on and so forth.

Thirty nine percent are for Tech-Voc. So perhaps the parents intend their children to find jobs afterwards.

But less than 1 percent and this we need your help and your sharing, less than 1 percent go for sports, go for sports, because we also have developed programs in sports.

Less than 1 percent are for Arts and Design.

And I always say that a country who is not into sports, of course, will not physically survive, it’s not going to have fun.

But a country which does not pay attention to Arts and the Culture and is not producing the future artists, the future designers, the future philosophers, the future musicians will probably lose its soul.

Some of you have covered the recent lecture of Mario Vargas Llosa, where he explained why Literature has a major role in uniting people. 

Literature creates dissent, discontent, because we look forward to a life, to a condition which is better than what we have.

And so, this is what we are interested in. We are very happy that 60 percent of our learners want to finish an academic program.

It’s very likely 60 percent of the parents helped their children make that decision. Thirty-nine percent want their children or the children themselves want to work immediately.

But we want to increase that 1 percent. Less .00 something percent for sports and for Arts, for Culture and for Design.

So that we will be whole, we will be complete as perhaps we are not complete at this time.

Thank you very much.


Vic Somintac (DZEC): Pardon lang ma’am ha. Excuse lang po kay Asec Marie. May importante lang po kasi breaking news na po at putok na putok na sa balita ngayon. General Dela Rosa is now in Libingan ng mga Bayani and he confirmed na that the President instructed the PNP to facilitate ‘yung burial po ni Ferdinand Marcos, ex-President Marcos, this 12 noon. Any other instruction coming from the President regarding the burial of ex-President Marcos?

ASEC. BANAAG: Yes, Vic. Well, so far the PCO does not have any knowledge of that instruction. So we, we don’t have any knowledge about the burial, if the schedule and everything, we don’t have. Perhaps the PNP has.

JP Bencito (Manila Standard): Hi ma’am, good morning. What will be the implication… How does the President view about the recent, that, his instruction to pursue with the burial? What will be implications does the Palace take after this 12 p.m. burial po?

ASEC. BANAAG: Well, so far, since we don’t have instructions, direct instructions, as to what the President has instructed the PNP, as to the Marcos burial, as to the schedule and everything, we still cannot comment on that for now.

Benjie Liwanag (DZBB): Ma’am, ikinagulat niyo po ba ‘yung decision that he will be buried at the Libingan ng mga Bayani today?

ASEC. BANAAG: Yes, yes, yes. Honestly Benjie, it was being texted to me, that’s why I got my phone, we don’t really know, we honestly don’t know.

Mr. Liwanag: Thank you very much ma’am.

Reymund Tinaza (Bombo Radyo): Hi ma’am, kay Secretary Briones. Hi ma’am. Just to perhaps press on to your statement with regards to the review you are conducting with regards to the History books of the grade school students. So, can you please, perhaps give us a picture or overview of how the history or the… regarding Marcos regime, Marcos burial shall be presented to the expected new books of History?

SEC. BRIONES: Again, the Supreme Court decision is not directed towards this, towards the Department of Education. That’s very, very clear.

And before the Supreme Court decision came out, the Department of Education already decided to have that review.

This is an agreement with the Senate and so we are continuing with that review and again this is something which has not been mentioned at all in the media coverage but which is on record in the Senate.

I even commented that if we do a review of the Marcos administration, we should not only concentrate on the happenings in Luzon. Because even these accounts are not complete and we should recognizeit.

Those who suffered and those who are displaced are not only the organized groups. 

Things happened also in the Visayas and in Mindanao ‘cause you have students there. You have, you have peasants, you have workers, and these are not covered.

And again I’m, I was so surprise why the Department was severely criticized for, for its position in regards to review because it is on record in the Senate, that I said that even the present stories are very exclusive, identified with particular organized groups, primarily in Luzon. 

But we have to remember that an entire country underwent for 18 years the experience of Martial law and this is what I said I hope—And this is why I have go back to the context. 

You have to go back to the framework. The framework is human rights and this is want to teach, we want to teach our learners.

If they have an appreciation of human rights, events will be seen through that lens. If you have an appreciation of nationalism, not just of one island, but of an entire country and an entire people.

Then the learner, specially starting at grade six, will perhaps have a better lens than we could ever have.

And this is why I’m asking you to please, when you cover the Department of Education and its position on various issues, please bear in mind that the entire context and framework, and we have a commitment to this is, is human rights.

It is the right, human rights include the right of the child, the right of the unborn, the right of the future generation to inherit a society which is just, which is peaceful, and which takes care of the planet. 

So as far as DepEd is concern, we’re continuing with that review. Perhaps by 2017, we will already have major changes proposed.

But it will go through a process. Because of course it will be vetted, it will be also in consultation with the legislature and all those, those who have studied, that particular period.

And I have also noted, you talked human rights abuses. There were also human rights abuses in other administration. And this also have to be, to be noted, but of course much more excessive violations were during this period. 

So I hope you take all these matters into consideration, otherwise, we will look–Department of Education will look very stupid, as if we don’t know our history.

As if we ourselves have not experienced it. As if we don’t know where we are going. Unless you put that framework and this is not only for history, for social ccience, but as well for supplementary readings, for arts, this is a very good outlet ‘no.

Arts, culture, literature and some of the best literature that has come out globally, of course, it’s about domination, it’s about dictatorship, et cetera.

And it’s not only Llosa, it’s also all people including Jose Rizal, including Andres Bonifacio, including F. Sionil Jose and this have to be–

Thank you very much. I like your question.

Mr. Tinaza: Last point just to, also just to accurately get your wisdom, your context. So what you are trying to say, is this issue of the Marcos burial should not be treated as controversial, or as a concern, as it is being treated right now by well some concerned groups?

SEC BRIONES: No, I’m not saying that it is not controversial. I’m just saying that, there are you know— You have even, even our communications center has not yet received its instruction. 

What I’m saying is that, we… I think all of you, each one of you, myself, we have our own personal, individual positions on this issue.

And if this have to come out, have to be articulated. And if… with the permission of Senator Bam, I hope he does not mind.

He was saying yesterday, during the hearing, if you teach a child to think critically, if you teach a child human rights, if you teach him nationalism and then you read an account of a particular decision in a particular period, that child will know whether it is the proper thing to do or not. As long as we equipped our learners with that kind of framework.

Mr. Tinaza: Ma’am, last point siguro from my end. I understand there is this standing request or demand or however we call it, to increase the salaries of the teachers, specially now that the President doubled the salaries of the soldiers and the police who are undergoing a war against drugs and in the other line, the teachers are also undergoing another set of war against—

SEC. BRIONES: All sorts.

Mr. Tinaza: Yeah. All sorts. So is there–?

SEC. BRIONES: Right now, the situation is the starting salary, salary 1, entrance level of a teacher 1 is 19,000 plus plus, that would be about 23,000 a month.

The starting salary of a policeman and I have very well trained policemen with me is 14,000.

Starting salary of a nurse is 19,000 but the next steps are not on par with the salaries of the public school teachers.

Also, that’s just the starting. A teacher because we need teachers, we put a premium on teachers in Science and Math. Although I’d like to look at the policy again.

I would like to have also a premium on artists. We put a premium on Science and Math. You can get anywhere from more than 30,000 to 40,000 a month.

The starting salary of a teacher in an average provincial private high school, your usual church mission schools, I used to say publicly it is 14,000. Somebody corrected me, said, “What do you mean? It is 8,000.”

I went to Isabela, visited a private church-related school, 8,000 ang starting rate.

So these are the things I supposed that are being taken into consideration.

Yesterday, it was discussed, ‘cause it was brought up by one of the senators, that next year’s budget should start with a 39,000 basic salary starting for a public school teacher.

We made very quick computations. It will cost an additional 200 billion pesos for just to increase.

But then, there will be others who will be getting much higher increases because as I said if you are in Science and Math, if you are senior and you have been in teaching for a long time, that is also taken into consideration.

So I supposed these are matters which are discussed at the level of our financial managers and so on.

My impression during Cabinet meetings is that the President wants to keep his promise, that was an election promise but perhaps, considering that we are the biggest army.

Our budget right now is one-third of the entire national budget. And we will be adding 200 billion minimum to be able to fulfill that promise.

So, perhaps to fulfill that promise, without creating an even wider gap with the policemen and the nurses and the other, the clerks and the janitors and the drivers and so on, this has to be carefully planned in terms of the financial requirements.

I’m not saying that they should not be done. I’m just saying what the magnitudes are because we are asked to make a very quick computation.

Also, another problem is many of you, I can see from your faces that many of you come from the provinces. 

There are an increasing number of private schools which are now closing because they cannot retain their teachers who are migrating to the public sector.

So even as you take care of the public school teachers, as is currently demanded. You have to look also at the situation of the private school teachers. 

Particularly those teaching kindergarten. Particularly the volunteers and many good number of you also volunteers in the Alternative Learning System.

You have a micro picture of a particular sector. The teachers which all who have the sympathy more than any other group in government.

The public is much more sympathetic to that of the teachers, in relation to other teachers from the private sector, in relation to other government employees, perhaps including the rank and file of this particular office.

So those are the things that are considered by the policy makers. And my impression is that, the President will fulfill that promise but not in one fell swoop.

‘Cause you cannot contemplate the inflationary impact. I once told the story of a small university in the South. It’s decided to give the retirement contributions in cash to the, its faculty, in the accumulated.

So some of them were getting seven-figure retirement pay, within a week in that small city where that small university was, prices went up sky high. Motorcycles, refrigerators, trips to Boracay, hotelrates.

So… these are things which have to be seriously considered, specially considering the size of the Department. But I assure you there is much sympathy and an admiration for the teachers from the public and of course obviously, the press.

Thank you very much.

As I said, what the public knows about us is what you transmit to the public, because we can only reach a limited group of people.

So we thank you for the consistent support, the consistent sympathy for education and the caring for the country and its importance in our national development.

Thank you very much.

ASEC. BANAAG: Thank you ma’am. Thank you to one very patient public servant.

We’d like to make a few statements on the satisfaction rating of the Duterte administration.

Again, nagpapasalamat po tayo. We are so humbled sa ating mga kababayan na naniniwala po sa ginagawa ng ating pangulo at naniniwala sa pagbabago.

And with the, the increase in GDP targets for the year, it means that the government is on track doon sa mga economic policies nila.

And second point, on the APEC kung saan po naroon ang ating Pangulo, ang tema po nito ay Quality Growth and Human Capital Development.

It would focus on improvements in doing business through more efficient and responsive governance which would mean that our LGUs must keep up at ayusin nila ‘yung kanilang mga burukrasya doon sa pagbibigay ng permit at pagpo-protekta sa ating mga negosyante na papasok sa ating bansa, at sa iba pang mga ahensya ng gobyerno who are dealing with the business sector.

This would mean economic development that would trickle to the less fortunate or the marginalized sector of our society.

And of course human capital which may translate to more jobs, job opportunities, higher income for those who are already employed.

On the statement of the President on the ICC or the International Court withdrawal, the President is contemplating on such withdrawal from the International Criminal Court.

This is an Executive discretion over foreign relations. However, the President as a lawyer will not renege legal processes such as concurrence of the Senate.

Thank you.

Mr. Bencito: Hi ma’am. Doon po ulit sa Martial law burial… Marcos burial. Hindi po ba masyadong minadali ‘yung– Kasi may claim si General Bato that the President instructed him yesterday to bury the late dictator at the LNMB. So hindi ba masyadong minadali? And then hindi ba also premature pa ‘yung burial since there is still an window for a MR for the, for those who are critics of the burial. Thank you ma’am.

ASEC. BANAAG: Thank you. Since hindi pa natin nakakausap si General Bato kung anong instruction or kung may instruction ba ang Presidente, the President was so vocal about respecting kung kalian ibu-bury or na ibu-bury ang dating Pangulo sa Libingan ng mga Bayani.

And of course, the schedule and the assistance of course would be coming from PNP, kasi siyempre, we cannot avoid na may mga mabigat ang loob pa rin about the paglilibing ng ating dating Pangulo sa Libingan ng mga Bayani.

Mr. Bencito: So ma’am the Palace is saying that it’s already time to bury the late strongman?

ASEC. BANAAG: The President was so clear about that since the campaign period pa.

And those who were opposing it were given the chance. They went to the Supreme Court, the Supreme Court has decided.

Now it is up for the family of the late President as to when to bring the remains of or the body of the former President to the Libingan ng mga Bayani.

Mr. Bencito: Thank you ma’am.

Mr. Tinaza: Hi ma’am, good morning. Ma’am just, siguro much had been said to assure the life and the safety of Mr. Kerwin Espinosa, the… well, one of the alleged drug lords. Anyway, from your end, can we be assured that as—I mean, heads will roll or may bibitayin sa PNP kung meron pang mangyari kay Espinosa?

ASEC. BANAAG: Yes, ‘yun actually ang ina-assure sa atin ni General Bato. And we pray na mapo-protektahan talaga kasi maraming– Well accordingly, sabi ni Kerwin marami siyang nalalaman tungkol sa sindikato ng droga sa bansa and it would be best na he stay alive. Tao din naman si Kerwin at gustong magbago.

Mr. Tinaza: So assured na may tatamaan ng bato pag may nangyari kay Espinosa?

ASEC. BANAAG: We hope so.

Mr. Tinaza: Thank you.

ASEC. BANAAG: Salamat, Sweeden. Salamat sa ating lahat.

SOURCE: PND Transcriber