Press Conference of Foreign Affairs Secretary Perfecto Yasay Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez, Presidential Communications Office Secretary Martin Andanar, OPAPP Secretary Jesus Dureza and Senator Alan Peter Cayetano
Istana Edinburgh, Brunei Darussalam
17 October 2016
SEC. ANDANAR: Today is the 17th of October, the second day of our — of the visit or the State Visit of President Rodrigo Duterte here in Brunei Darussalam. And we are here at the Istana Edinburgh, sa loob po ng kanilang lounge dito.

At magandang hapon sa mga kasamahan natin mula sa Philippine Star, meron din tayo sa ABS-CBN, sa Manila Bulletin, SunStar, PTV, of course, GMA 7, si Cedric nandito.

The bilateral meeting earlier at the Istana Nurul Iman lasted for about 30 minutes with the President Rodrigo Duterte leading his contingent, the delegation and the counterpart, of course, Sultan Bolkiah.

And it was very fruitful for 30 minutes. And I have here with me to talk about what happened inside the bilateral meeting at the Istana, kasama po natin ngayon si Secretary Jess Dureza from the OPAPP and he will be speaking more about BIMP-EAGA, peace process na nabanggit din po doon sa bilateral meeting.

At kasama rin po natin si Secretary Mon Lopez ng DTI para pag-usapan po naman ang mga napagkasunduan doon sa bilateral meeting pagdating sa trading, investments in the Philippines, between the Philippines and Brunei. At kasama rin po natin, ang ating magiting na senador, Senador Alan Peter Cayetano to give us his observations as one of the experts in foreign policy. At pag-usapan din po ‘yung issue na may kinalaman sa — ‘yung security, security — transnational security at marami pang iba.

At, una ko pong ibibigay ang mikropono kay Secretary Jun Yasay as the Secretary of Foreign Affairs to give us his opening statement.

And later on, we only have 30 minutes by the way, pwede po kayo magtanong.

SEC. YASAY: Well, let me just first say that this trip of the President to Brunei has been a breakthrough of all sorts. Our relationship with Brunei, especially at this stage, is encountering a lot of  exciting developments as we also face new challenges.

As you could see Brunei has been affected by the economic conditions resulting in the drop of oil prices. And, to begin with, Brunei is embarking on a vigorous efforts to diversify its economy, not make it solely dependent on oil and gas. And it is in this area because Brunei is one of our closest neighbor that we could, in fact, pursue a lot of joint cooperative activities in the area of economic development and trade.

The President in his engagements with the Sultan and also the members of his Cabinet and official family had thanked the Sultan for hosting this trip and for affording us with all of the warm welcome and support that made this trip a really enjoyable and pleasurable one, indicative of our close friendship with this country.

I would like to emphasize simply on two important things that were discussed and I’m sure that the others will focus more on the economic aspects. I am sure that Senator Cayetano can also amplify on his observations and general comments on what had transpired.

I think Jess would be in the best position to discuss the peace process as had been taken also in our bilateral engagements this afternoon.

But, for my part, I would like to inform everyone that we had discussed the Philippines chairmanship of ASEAN for next year. And that the Sultan himself had expressed his fullest support to our President who will be heading the chairmanship next year towards strengthening ASEAN, towards ensuring that the focus of ASEAN centrality and solidarity will be pursued and be given more meaning and especially in the area of ensuring closer cooperation and ties with all of the ASEAN member-countries in the fight against transnational crime, even in the fight against —the war  against illegal drugs, which the Sultan himself had fully supported.

We will also be engaging Brunei in joint cooperation with respect to maritime security and defense, sharing of information in trying to interdict piracy in the area between the Philippines and Brunei.

We also discussed the… Very briefly the President had brought out his position with respect to our claims over the South China Sea. 

We recognized that Brunei had carried on the position that it’s a claim over a portion of the South China Sea against China is a matter that should be discussed with them exclusively on a bilateral engagement basis but we join in supporting Brunei and Brunei joins in supporting the Philippines as well in our mutual desire and firmness in resolving this issue peacefully within the context of international law, even the 1982 UNCLOS.

But we also recognized that, indeed, this dispute should be resolved peacefully, can really be most effectively pursued insofar as our engagements, our respective engagements with China on bilateral talks.

On the part of our President, he had made it clear that in pursuing these talks with China, maybe now is not the time but eventually when there will be the opportunity to discuss more substantively the — in a bilateral engagement this issue, we will be doing so in pursuing it with the — within the framework of the arbitral tribunal’s decision albeit that we also agree with Brunei that we will be pursuing this and maximizing and ensuring that this will be peacefully resolved.

So that in the main is what I’d like to tell you what was discussed in the area that I have just mentioned.

SEC. ANDANAR: Maraming salamat po Sec. Yasay. At marami ding — actually na-tackle doon sa bilateral meeting or dialogue patungkol sa trade ‘no, investments between the two countries and one of which na talagang paulit-ulit na binanggit ay ‘yung halal products. Can you tell us more about the conversation that happened inside the bilateral meeting?

SEC. LOPEZ: Thank you. Napakaganda po ng discussions with respect to really exploring the immense opportunities in developing halal products. As you know, the estimated halal market in the world market is about two trillion dollars. And we all know the expertise of the Brunei nation with respect to halal certification.

We have our own certification in our country. However, as we try to put more emphasis in creating a halal certified products, we need the certification procedure, the credibility of the certification procedure so that we can really export halal products.

Right now, the halal… Having a halal seal also signifies quality, cleanliness, and, obviously, it’s one area that we really have to maximize when it comes to our ability to export halal products.

So, a good discussion in terms of cooperation in developing that kind of certification quality and credibility. So mag-tutulungan daw po tayo dito pagdating sa pag-iimprove ng certification procedures.

On trade and investments, very good discussion with respect also to encouraging investments in our country. It’s worthwhile to note that our President himself really invited the government of Brunei to consider investing in the Philippines as Brunei companies would like to expand ‘yung kanilang mga operation and also explore ‘yung — if they want to grow, they can consider fast-growing economies like Philippines dahil, in our case, we have several manufacturing activities that Brunei can take advantage of with respect to agri-business, investing in tourism, resorts.

Especially when you talk of tourism and i-combine natin ‘yung halal — being halal-certified tourism areas, that’s one area na napakalaki rin ng potential, if you talk of the tourists who are looking for halal-certified tourist.

Minsan, hindi lang sila pumupunta dahil hindi halal-certified ‘yung tourist areas na ‘yun. So that’s one area. Of course, the strength of Brunei when it comes to energy, power, industries… So that’s…. Those are areas that they can also consider bringing in in our country, in partnership with local entrepreneurs, businessmen.

We have also talked about strengthening and reviving the BIMP-EAGA. As you all know, ‘yon ‘yung talagang — low-hanging fruits ‘yan kasi nangyayari na ‘yan even before pero hindi masyadong nabigyan ng push noong mga nakaraang taon but definitely that’s one area na immense trade can take place because of the proximity ng ating mga lugar na nasa

ibaba ng Pilipinas at napakalapit sa  — of course, sa Brunei, sa Indonesia, sa Malaysia. 

And, of course, as noted by our expert also from BIMP-EAGA, these are areas in these countries na malayo sa central government. And, therefore, talagang they — there is really a… There is some sense in really strengthening among themselves these areas kasi malapit na eh. Very…Magkakalapit sila na madali talagang mag-trade. Movement of people and goods and services. 

So nandyan na tayo and ‘yun ay ire-revive at siguro ipapa-explain na rin natin kay Secretary Jess later.

SEC. ANDANAR: Maraming salamat Secretary Mon Lopez. At para po sa mga kaka-tune-in lang, meron po tayong live broadcast sa Facebook at sa PTV, ay nandito po tayo ngayon sa Istana Edinburg sa Brunei Darussalam. 

Ito po ‘yung palasyo ng hari at dito niya po dinadala ang kanyang mga bisita. And we are now situated inside the sitting lounge of the Palace.

At kasama po natin si Secretary Jun Yasay ng DFA, kasama din po natin si Senador Alan Peter Cayetano at si OPAPP Secretary Jess Dureza.

Nabanggit niyo po kanina Secretary Mon ‘yung halal products. Nabanggit din po ‘yung tourism, business service, oil and gas, agri-business, pharma, nabanggit din po ‘yun ni Sultan Bolkiah at ‘yung energy, oil and gas sector and ‘yung BIMP-EAGA, ‘yung connectivity through air and sea linkages.

And also, the Sultan recognizes the importance of the peace process and the ceasefire that we have between the CPP-NPA-NDF and the Philippine government. At para pag-usapan po ‘yan and to also expound on the BIMP-EAGA, kasama po natin si Secretary Jess Dureza. Magandang hapon po, sir.

SEC. DUREZA: Hi. Good afternoon. Magandang hapon po sa lahat.

Isa sa mga na-mention prominently by both heads of state — ang ating Pangulo at His Majesty Sultan Bolkiah — ‘yung big contribution that Brunei Darussalam has been giving to our peace process. At ito ‘yung kanilang pagpadala of their military elements in the international monitoring team na nakakatulong to maintain the ceasefire in our Bangsamoro peace process.

In fact, His Majesty even remembered that it was first mounted in 2004. So mahigit sampung taon na involve ang Brunei Darussalam and seeing to it that — napakahalaga kasi ‘yung ceasefire dahil habang tinatapos natin ‘yung negotiations before, now we are in the implementation stage of these agreements, napakahalaga that we maintain peace, relative peace or the peace equilibrium in the area.

We have foreign monitors, isa doon ho ang Brunei Darussalam. So, it’s one main issue there. But I was surprised because the — His Majesty mentioned also that he took notice that there is also a ceasefire with the CPP-NPA-NDF. Ibig sabihin nakikita niya na may — all sectors of our problems in Mindanao ina-address din ng ating Pangulo.

The other matter and I will amplify more on the BIMP-EAGA dahil our President really emphasized na why — ‘yung globalization kasi para lang iyan sa mga malalaking, mayayaman na mga countries. Pero tayo, neighbors tayo, sabi niya, we can trade already and we can maximize our being neighbors.

As you know, ang BIMP-EAGA kasi was started during the time of former President Ramos. The idea really was magkalapit kasi ang mga areas in the BIMP-EAGA. Remember sa BIMP-EAGA natin Mindanao at Palawan lang ang nakapasok diyan.

Sa Indonesia, Manado, then the Sulawesi ‘yung nasa ibaba din. Malaysia, Kota Kinabalu, Kudat. If you look at the regional, sub-regional composition of BIMP-EAGA, ito ‘yung mga centers of population na malayo sa kanilang respective capitals.

For example, Davao, is nearer to Manado than Davao to Manila. Ganun din doon sa ibang countries. So, because when governments came, we used to trade historically amongst ourselves doon sa mga areas na iyan. Nagco-cross borders wala pa ‘yung mga gobyerno noon, wala pang gobyerno, wala pang Philippine government, wala pa ‘yung mga colonizers, we have already been trading with each other. But when governments came, governments imposed their immigration rules, taxation rules, all of these rules had, therefore, parang isolated again and delimited the movement of people, goods and services.

The idea of BIMP-EAGA is really to open up again. Make it borderless as much as we can. So marami ng mga mechanisms diyan at sabi nga, unfortunately, mukhang nag-slowdown kaunti ‘yung effort na iyan. And President Duterte has emphasized this that he’d like to revive this strongly again kasi sabi niya tayong neighbors, meron tayong problema sa crime, meron drugs tayo, maybe we can also cooperate there. But then mostly, in order to revive our respective economies and fuel our respective economies, buhayin natin uli ang BIMP-EAGA. So maraming mga detalye pang pag-usapan later on.

And the two heads of state decided at the end — kasi marami pang pag-uusapan na detalye, they said we will direct our respective heads of agencies to follow through in these particular meetings.

SEC. LOPEZ: So I will add lang, actually inatasan niya meron tayong joint commission on bilateral cooperation that will pursue ‘yung detalye ng mga usapan when it comes to trade, ano pa ‘yung mga pwedeng i-export ng Pilipinas sa Brunei, processed food, fresh fruits, fashion accessories, furniture, lahat po ‘yon ay mga isasama natin kung ano pa ng pwede nating bigyan ng push sa exports.

And actually ‘yung kinukwento nga ni Sec. Jess is talagang may natural flow of goods within these countries, ‘yung malalapit na areas. Such that it makes sense really to parang promote trade from within, within this region. Parang may natural globalization happening eh within these areas kasi by proximity kahit iba-ibang bansa sa ngayon but, historically, we’ve been trading around this region.

So, it will be…It’s high time to back and revive itong trading na ito. Thank you.

SEC. ANDANAR: Thank you, Sec. Mon. Ito na po ‘yung ika-apat na bansa na binisita ni Pangulong Duterte. Una ‘yung Laos, pangalawa Jakarta, at pangatlo ‘yung Viet Nam. And kanina, Senator Alan Cayetano, sir, ay inemphasize ni Sultan ‘yung drug problem and how he recognizes the drug problem at transnational crime. Pwede mo bang ipaliwanag ba sa amin kung ano ‘yung observation mo?

SEN. CAYETANO: Well, first of all, una sa lahat, salamat sa Panginoon, sa ating Pangulo, sa inyo sa media at, of course, the Secretaries that nagke-create ng momentum ang pag-ikot ng Pangulo. At sweeping the regions now is a new kind of DDS: Diplomacy Duterte-Style.

Yes, sometimes there are controversial remarks but the one-on-one and the bilaterals are producing results. Inisa-isa na ng ating mga kasama and remember we live in a world not only of a democratic momentum but also of competition. 

So in the next two trips, the China and Japan, you would see na nagka-come na full circle from controversies wherein biglang napansin ang Pilipinas until the mending of ways, the continuous generation of news have actually created a kind of excitement and expectancy. So iyong sinabi ni Sec. Martin, yes, nagiging parating kasama ‘yung corruption, drugs, piracy and crime. Nagiging standard dahil doon siya kilala.

But how — ‘yung tigas ng salita niya sa — or ‘yung tigas ng stand niya sa drugs, ganun naman ang lambing ng Pangulo pagdating sa OFWs in thanking the host for taking care of the OFWs, ganun din ‘yung kanyang panunuyo in investing in the Philippines and how we can invest in their country.

So we do not want to preempt the Secretaries and, of course, the President in the agreements to come but let me say this ‘no: Kasi pag walang competition, people and the countries, their businessmen take their time before they invested ‘di ba.

So makikita mo ‘yung mga na-delay na PPPs from 2014 to 2016, maganda ‘yung preparasyon nung last administration. Marami sa mga hinanda nila maganda ‘yung advertising, maganda ‘yung marketing pero walang una na gustong pumasok ‘di ba.

Itong pag-discuss sa halal, we’ve known for so long that ganung kalaki ‘yung investment pero walang gustong mauna. But now that the President is saying it’s not only safe in the Philippines, not only will we take out red tape and criminality, but we are ready to do business, medyo nagkakaroon din ng unahan ng ibang country ‘no. So ‘yung diplomacy Duterte style. Iyong DDS na ‘yan ‘no I think will greatly benefit our country.

Iyong sa terrorism kasi, you know, just like diplomacy that doesn’t start and end overnight ‘di ba? Alam namin na may criticisms, nakikinig ang Pangulo, if things are correct, he adjusts, kung tingin niya mali he goes harder ‘di ba? Ang diplomacy it takes time, it’s a process. Pero ‘yung pagiging extremist at ‘yung pagiging radical, it’s not only about ideology, not only about religion but in end thing takes time.

So quietly the President and now it can be more open inuna din niya ‘yung mga bansa na maraming Muslim to help us to stop extremism in our country and also to tell them that we will share whatever we can including infrastructure, including jobs, including intelligence to stop the extremism that is happening in the Middle East to go to our region of the country. 

So iyan ang isang priority because kapag nangyari iyan, talo tayong lahat.

SEC. ANDANAR: We open the floor for questions.


Cedric Castillo (GMA 7): Sir, kahit sino po sa mga Cabinet, sir. ‘Yung AmBisyon Natin 2040, sir. I think it’s a project of the Department of Finance or NEDA, sir. I’m just wondering, sir, how is the government…. How is the Duterte administration is planning to make sure na it is implemented considering na six years lang naman. Sabi naman ni President Duterte, after six years, he steps down, sir. Eh it’s a 25-year plan, sir.

SEC. LOPEZ: Oo, kung maalala niyo ‘yung presentation na ‘yun AmBisyon 2040 it talks about ano ba ‘yung hinahanap ng mga Pilipino, mga kababayan natin, the quality of life that they want ‘di ba? At ‘yun ay I think inumpisahan ngayon kahit six years lang. But I think it’s a matter of taking the right steps ‘no, starting with the right steps and that is about like empowering the bottom of the pyramid, ‘di ba?

Pasaganahin ang ekonomiya. Mabigyan ng trabaho at income, pagkakakitaan ang ating mga kababayan. Trabaho kung hindi negosyo para umayos at gumanda ang kanilang — ang kalidad ng buhay nila or ang pamumuhay.

Sabi nga doon na meron pang ipinalabas silang mga survey, ginawang survey that shows na ang gusto ng Pilipino ay tahimik, may kabuhayan, at mga iba pang characteristic or quality ng pamumuhay.

And itong ginagawa naman natin sa ngayon ay talagang bringing back mga — attracting investments, kabuhayan peace, security, lahat ito ay ginagawa at inuumpisahan na nga ng ating administrasyon ng Pangulong Duterte.

So palagay ko, it’s a step at the right direction na inuumpisahan ng pagandahin ang quality of life. For instance, nakikita na natin  ngayon ‘yung pagbaba, malaking pagbaba ng krimen and that’s the quality of life na matagal na nating naranasan. Matagal na, na para bang punta ka, maglakad ka sa kalye na safe ka, sakay ka sa jeep, hindi ka nanganganib masyado na maho-hold up ka.

Naglalabas ka na ng cellphone ngayon dati nakatago ang cellphone mo. ‘Yung mga quality of life na ‘yun. Hindi lamang sa income eh. At of course ‘yung creating opportunities na sa maliliit na negosyante. Meron pa nga kaming iwo-workout ngayon na hindi muna namin i-aannounce but iwo-workout natin.

Isang paraan para talagang mapalakas pa ang pagne-negosyo pagdating sa pagbibigay ng, ‘ika nga palakasin pa ang micro-lending. Things like these, training and seminars na gagawin natin para matulungan talaga ‘yung mga mahihirap nating kasama.

Tapos ayon, napaaala rin sa akin. Part of ano nga ‘no, iniimbita rin ni President nga ‘yun to invest in the Philippines. Gina-rantee (guarantee) na naman uli niya, ang sabi niya, ang mga investments ninyo will be protected, we will honor contracts.  In fact, we will open up… Of course, sinabi rin niyang malinaw na we cannot sell the land dahil bawal sa Constitution. Subalit we are inviting long-term leases ‘no. Kung ano ‘yung nasasaad sa batas. Para matagalan talaga ang tingin. When you invest in the Philippines for the long term.

Ang nakikita po natin is really a — a kind of friendship that the President is trying to revive. Friendship especially within the ASEAN community, with our ASEAN neighbors, ASEAN brothers and sisters. These friendship is the one that is leading to opening up more opportunities in many areas ‘no. Intelligence, trade, cooperation, investment cooperation, and many things that will help doon sa AmBisyon 2040.

Mr. Castillo: Yes, sir. Pero how do you, how will you maintain the — sustain the momentum after six years? Alam naman natin ang political climate sa Pilipinas, ‘di po ba?

SEC. ANDANAR: Merong, merong sagot muna si Senator Cayetano doon sa unang tanong.

SEN. CAYETANO: Siguro ‘yun din ang unang tinanong sa, kay President, kay Chairman Deng Xiaoping when he opened up China ‘no. But China is now on their 13th five-year plan ‘no. And what were the two elements of the success ng China? Among others ‘no, but in the continuity. Number one, they had five-year plans that were — that they were stuck to and every time the next five-year plan came in, there was continuity sa magandang plano and then doon sa may mali, they will tweak it.

So if you see the 10-year program na Secretary Sonny Dominguez presented, most of it is a continuity of the Aquino administration sa fundamental ng economics.

Tinuweak (tweak) niya lang, may mga binago para maging mas inclusive. Para mas marami ang makinabang ‘no.

So if the Duterte administration can only talk about its first — its six years, but in can lay the foundation for the next six years and the next six years. So whether it’s a six-year plan or a five-year plan, the thing is to lay the foundation.

And the Aquino administration had the 4Ps that’s being continued now. So last night, I think 30 minutes to one hour on one topic ‘yung micro-finance, micro small medium enterprise or ‘yung anti-5-6. That’s an example.

If the 2017 budget and the programs of the Bangko Sentral, DTI, DOST, the Cooperative Development Authority and the DILG, if they can work together and then the other thing is peace.

Habang may gulo, balewala ‘yung plano mo eh. So unless the rebellion in the South and the rebellion with our brothers in the left is solved. So that’s why the President is trying to lay this groundwork.

So doon sa naghahanap kay President ng, “Sir, where’s your grand plans? Where’s the picture of this grand palaces?” Grand palaces like these, which by the way were also made by Filipinos, started with the foundation ‘no and that’s what the President is focusing on.

Secretary Yasay reminded me. With three million into drugs, three to four million into drugs, and we, the President came up with a simple computation ‘no.

Pag tatanong namin sa PDEA, sa mga anti-drug sa police, minimum 200 pesos isang hit para sa mga adik. Everyday, 200 pesos, 6,000 a month. Kung three million sila, that’s 18 billion a month, 216 billion pesos a year goes to illegal drugs, minimum ‘yon.

Hindi pa kasama doon ‘yung gastos mo sa health, gastos mo sa law enforcement, ‘yung opportunity cost if they became productive citizens. ‘Yung taxes et cetera ‘no.

So this is part of the foundation. So if you’re gonna ask me, Cedric, sigurado ba ang 2040 AmBisyon, para nating itinanong ‘yung magwo-work ba ‘yung Millennium Development Goals?

It’s an aspiration but we’re working on the foundations to make sure whoever takes over after President Duterte in 2022, will just have to continue and build upon it.

Doris Bigornia (ABS-CBN): Yes, sir. I have a question for Secretary Yasay and Sec. Mon. But Secretary Yasay, a day before the China State Visit, you are confirming that the South China Sea issue will not be discussed and that you said earlier, we will find another opportunity for this to be discussed. So final na? It’s no longer on…It will never be on the table on this visit?

SEC. YASAY: The South China Sea issue will not be discussed in terms of pursuing specifically our bilateral engagements in resolving that issue. But certainly, in the bilaterals that may come about between the President and President Xi Jinping, they might pass upon or talk about the general principles and framework under which to proceed in their engagements for bilateral talks in the future.

So to that extent, they might be able to talk generally right? But I think the President has made it clear that maybe this is not the time to talk about resolving the South China Sea dispute in a manner that we are still continuing to build on trust and confidence — mutual trust and confidence between the two countries.

We also would like to make sure that ‘yung ating other aspects of the relationship must be pursued because these are part of a trust-building measures. Alam naman natin ‘yung relasyon ng Tsina at saka ng Pilipinas ay hindi lamang concentrated, or it’s not the sum total — the South China Sea issue is not the sum total of the relationship between China and the Philippines.

There are other aspects of that relationship that we must pursue so that incidentally the trust-building measures can also be further strengthened and opened up the possibility of, in fact, discussing substantively the issue with the view of peacefully resolving it.

Ms. Bigornia: Certainly, we are not… Certainly we are not afraid or we are avoiding ruffling their feathers because just today, it was announced that Bangladesh got the biggest loan from China, 220 billion dollars; Cambodia got a hundred million dollars worth of loan. So are we… In not discussing it now, are we cozying up to China so that we can get also these kinds of loans?

SEC. YASAY: No I don’t think we should look at it on that basis. We are never certainly afraid to negotiate with China when the opportunity to negotiate is there.

We are also not afraid to tell China that we are in no position to derogate our rights under international law and under the 1982 UNCLOS.

I mean we say this very openly and China recognizes this. But what we’re only saying is that right now, it is not the time to discuss substantively resolving this issue.

We still have to build on the lost trust and confidence that was weakened or eroded during the past administration. 

But then, we should not also miss out on the opportunities for trade and economic relationship that we would need as much as China would need it. 

We should not also miss out on various opportunities with respect to, let’s say, assistance and loans that may be provided but we should be able to pursue these things for the mutual benefit of the two countries without eroding our respective claims over the South China Sea.

SEC. DUREZA: Not really related to what the beautiful Doris had asked…Not beautiful? Your shaking your head. Okay. No, I’d like to mention kasi you know the crowd last night, the Filipino crowd.

You that many of them came even as early as lunch time to be seated and to wait for the President. They waited for five hours. Ang schedule is gabi eh. And I learned from some sources and some Filipinos I talked to na talagang dumating sila, some came from all over to be seated and to be arranged. They even submitted pictures and everything just to be properly seated. And, I think you were there. You heard how they chanted from the very beginning up to the end of the speech of the President.

And you could notice that he was talking from his heart ‘no. Speaking from his heart out. So, ‘yun ang isa sa mga dapat siguro nating tingnan on how our Filipinos here who are now well-employed, looking towards a better Philippines when they return back to their families.

‘Yun kasing inasam-asam nila dahil they’re okay here eh. Sabi daw ng isa dito, nagta-trabaho dito, sabi niya, “Okay na kami dito sir, peaceful kami. Pero ang worry namin ‘yung pamilya namin na babalikan doon. May mga anak kami doon, naiwanan eh.”

Kaya parang they’re well at ease already with the thought that ‘yung basic issues of criminality, drugs, are being addressed.

Ms. Bigornia: Last na lang kay Sec. Lopez…

SEC. ANDANAR: Siguro noteworthy din Doris ‘no na sa lahat ng napuntahan po ng ating Pangulo na bansa dito sa Southeast Asia kasama ‘yung Laos, Vietnam, Jakarta, at ngayon Brunei, sinusuportahan ang programa ng ating Pangulo pagdating sa laban sa ilegal na droga.

SEC. DUREZA: Oo, some light moments during the bilaterals sinabi pa ng Presidente ah pwede akong — gusto niyang hiramin ako dito sa Brunei Darussalam on the issue of drugs, pwede ‘no. Some of these light moments between the two heads of state took place also.

Ms. Bigornia: Sec. Lopez, did we clinch any loan or any assistance from Brunei in this visit?

SEC. LOPEZ: Hindi, wala, wala. It’s really a…

Ms. Bigornia: No pledge at all?

SEC. LOPEZ: Oo, mga show of support muna for advancing technical cooperation, economic, trade, oo. I think malaking bagay na iyon eh kasi trade and all that…We are part already of the ASEAN, may free-trade area ano na tayo na mga agreements. It’s really palakasin ‘yung investments eh, investments from one country to the other.

At nabanggit natin ‘yung mga areas na saan pwedeng lumakas ‘yung investments at may complimentation ‘yung strength nila at ‘yung strength natin pagsamahin, IT, BPM, agri-business, ang daming mga pwedeng pagamitan pa manufacturing activities.

Dagdag ko lang kasi nagtatanong ka about whether meron bang napag-usapan na pera. You know the President is the so-called new kid on the block eh. At makikita mo sa sinasabi niya at ‘yung atensiyon na ibinibigay sa kanya ng Sultan, parang nakikiramdam ang Sultan at kinikilala siya as a person. 

And the President did not even hesitate to disclose sabi niya, “You know, I sometimes speak this way but you know I have gotten the attention of everybody,” sabi niya. 

So that’s something that I had intentionally done because I’d like…Now everybody is taking attention that this new kid on the block that means he can now pursue kung ano ‘yung dapat gawin para sa bansa na dati parang ini-small lang tayo o ini-ignore lang tayo. 

EDITH REGALADO (The Philippine Star): Yes, sir. Secretary Lopez and Secretary Jess Dureza, you mentioned about BIMP-EAGA. In fact, BIMP-EAGA was established in 1994 with President Ramos then and Malaysian Prime Minister…Now the point is this, through all these years, for how many years already, that’s 26? The point is simple, it really was not able to take off simply because there are realities on the ground. Now you are talking about reviving it. Where do you think or what sector do you think you should concentrate for you to be successful in reviving it? Because, you see, we are talking about the same cooperations, we are talking about this education and everything, technical — I mean, environment, tourism, trade and industry even cross-border movement. Now the point is this, in which area do you think you can revive it and be successful in it because there is also a time before when EAGA started that Indonesia had Buraq Airlines and the cross-border and their flights and everything but they could not sustain it. You are talking about traffic between these borders. So how do you think can you make it successful this time? And the second question is you talked earlier about the fight against illegal drugs and now you have a poorest ano and then these areas are you know just each others — backwaters of each others economies. Now the point is, are you going to ano the illegal drug trade reach to that area na…Not…The cooperation should not just be economics, it’s a geo-economic grouping but should it be more than that or should it not be — should it be just that? So the question…Back lang ako sa question, where do you think you would ano revive it?

SEC. LOPEZ: Siguro ‘yung revival immediately transportation. Kapag na-address mo ‘yung transpor[tation], for example, reviving RoRo, may mga projects and plans na ipinu-push ngayon diyan that will increase ‘yung movement of people — airports, mga flights from those areas, from our countries, those ports like Manado, Davao and all that. And iyon nga ‘yung movement ng mga transportation facilities.

That will improve the movement of goods and services and increase the economic activities and in that, with that, you were encouraging also ‘yung ma-revive din ‘yung mga economies in those areas. So, iyong talks about the illegal drugs and ano. 

Of course, nandiyan ‘yung policing pa rin ‘yung illegal drugs. In fact, nabanggit nga kanina ‘yung cooperation and exchanges of information that will prevent ‘yung mga illegal drug trade. So ibig sabihin, hindi ibig sabihin na palakasin mo ‘yung flow of goods and services in these areas lalakas din ‘yung illegal drugs. Nandun pa rin ‘yung kasabay na pagsugpo ng illegal drugs.

SEC. DUREZA: I go very specifically on how to revive BIMP-EAGA. Immediately now by April, we have targeted, there’s going to be a RoRo that will be mounted from GenSan, Davao-GenSan and to Lahad Datu and to Indonesia, sa kabila. That is already now about to be launched, naghihintay lang na ayusin ‘yung mga rules doon sa kabila, their port arrangements can be done. 

You know there is also not spoken publicly because there is a political sensitivity to this, the constraint about the facilitation center ‘di ba agreement between countries. Meron kasing konting issue diyan na may political sensitivity between Malaysia and the Philippines.

Ngayon, meron na tayong nakitang opening on how to address it. Hindi kasi makakabwelo at ma-establish ‘yung facilitation center sa Kota Kinabalu because of certain political considerations. Now, we have a way forward on how to address it na pwede nang ma-establish ‘yung facilitation center.

Ms. Regalado: Where do you consider to be it to be established, saan?

SEC. DUREZA: May agreements kasi hindi mapirmahan dahil may sensitivity pa. And we know how to address it already coming from there before. We have to, therefore, as stated by Secretary Mon, why the connectivity dahil puro laway lang iyan eh. When you want to promote tourism eh walang sasakyan eh paano ka makapag-move ng people? You know very well that there are already cross-borders — cross-border arrangement before.

Now, I take note of your point about transnational crimes ngayon and the drugs. You know the President across the table today mentioned for a long period how he arranged with President Widodo and he invited the Sultan also to come up with the same arrangement. He said that in, for example, pursuit of criminals within the common borders dahil may mga territorial limits tayo, ‘yung hot pursuit against drugs or against kidnappers is always delimited by our jurisdiction. You cannot cross a border of another country. 

He said I have already agreed with President Widodo that they can come into our territory in hot pursuit, provided we are just merely informed. And he invited also the Sultan that the same kind of arrangement we can pursue and this will be given to our respective officials.

Ms. Regalado: I’m just curious if you talked about reviving EAGA, does it also follow that you are going to gather in one meeting or in one conference the heads of state of these four component countries, the Philippines, Indonesia, and Brunei. Will there be a —?

SEC. DUREZA: There will be an ASEAN… We will be the chair of the  ASEAN in 2017, next year. And one of the key organizations where the heads of states will meet will be there four heads of the BIMP-EAGA: Brunei Darussalam, Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines.

And we got a very strong support statement from the Sultan himself today.

Ms. Regalado: But there are realities on the ground?

SEC. DUREZA: Yes, there are realities but then we cannot stop doing and aspiring to improve if we see some hurdles. 

Maybe with the new President now who’s willing to go all the way, we see that we can probably hurdle some of these problems and challenges.

Ms. Regalado: Sandali lang, sir. In terms of concrete ano, walang, walang amount, walang trade ano? Because you talked about bilateral, you had bilateral talks earlier.

SEC. LOPEZ: Yeah, oo.

Ms. Regalado: Were there agreements? Do you have concrete numbers?


Ms. Regalado: So walang perang pinag-usapan?

SEC. LOPEZ: Wala pa pero kasi—

Ms. Regalado: Exploratory?

SEC. LOPEZ: It was tasked to the joint comission on bilateral cooperation–

Ms. Regalado: Ah, okay.

SEC. LOPEZ: To work on the details, the industries to talk about and ‘yung ‘yan siguro ‘yung the money part will come in later.

SEC. ANDANAR: Yes, the Sultan closed his statement by saying that the both countries should meet as soon as possible to tackle these — the investments and all.

Anway, it’s already 5:34 in the afternoon.  And I would like to congratulate all of our kababayans here sa Istana Edinburgh for giving us excellent service at napakadami pong mga Pilipino talaga dito. Five percent of the population Filipinos out of 400,000.

And now I’d like to pass the microphone to Senator Alan Peter Cayetano to close the session.

SEN. CAYETANO: Although na-mention mo na rin, kasi may mga nagtatanong sa mga nanunuod live, ano ‘yung acronym na ’yun ‘no. Basically as you said in 1994 and even before that, maraming nagtatanong parang why reach for the moon when the roses are just beneath your feet ‘di ba?

Ibig sabihin, nandiyan ang neighbors natin eh. ‘Di ba? Brunei, Malaysia, Indonesia, Philippines. And noong Secretary of Tourism si Secretary Ace Durano, sabi niya why are we always going after Westerners? Na although may logic kasi malaki gumastos, sa shopping, mahilig sila magbakasyon pero because of certain conditions at that time, for example, Russians walang direct flight ‘non sa Pilipinas so dadaan ka munang Thailand.

So why will they get on a second plane coming here? Mga taga-US, while they visit Asia, they also visit Europe. So naging strategy ni Secretary Ace Durano ‘non is to go to the Chinese market.

Pagdating ni Senator Dick Gordon, noong Secretary ‘di ba ‘yung Wow Philippines, inaddress niya ‘yung the rest of Asia. 

So ang point lang naman ng Pangulo is tatlo. Number one… And I’ll give you a concrete example. Ang turista ng Thailand na Chinese is almost 10 million. Ang turista natin ng Chinese is about half a million. And every Chinese tourist spends an average of 1,000 dollars on shopping alone ‘no.

So ang strategy ng Pangulo, bago tayo tumingin sa napakalayo, tingnan muna natin sarili, which isn’t a new strategy. The US look at Mexico and Canada with several issues and until now ‘yung issues nila with Mexico sa immigration because they have to take care of home first. ‘Di ba?

Ang European countries, kaya nga may NATO, kaya nagkaroon ng EU, bago tayo pumunta sa malayo dito muna.

So ‘yun po ang ini-strategize ng Pangulo. Bakit may mga bansa katulad ng Japan at China na pagdating natin doon at pag-uwi may pirmahan na at may uwi tayong pera? Bakit may mga bansa like Cambodia, Vietnam, Laos dito na wala pa?

Well, first there are lender countries na may mga institutions sila like ang Japan may ODA. ‘Di ba?

Secondly, ‘yung mga bansa na ‘yon talagang sanay na na mag-invest sa labas. Like, halimbawa, Singapore ngayon, isang active nila ginagawa makipag-partner for infra projects.

But ang sabi nga ng Pangulo, may mga katabi tayong bansa katulad ng Brunei na maraming pera pero kakaunti pa ang investment sa atin at konti investment sa kanila.

So just because we’re coming home na wala pang naka-pirma, it doesn’t mean na successful ‘yung sa China dahil may pirmahan, successful Japan. But ino-open ang doors ng Pangulo. 

So on that point lang, we’d like to thank all of you for extensively covering all of his foreign visits.

We want to thank even the critics at home who followed the international protocol na ‘pag nasa ibang bansa ang Pangulo, suporta muna tayo’t huwag muna tayong mag-criticize kasi it’s not about Duterte. It’s about all the Filipinos.

And lastly, sa OFWs, let me emphasize lang ‘yung sinabi ni Secretary Dureza, pumunta daw dito si President Arroyo, President Aquino, President Estrada, hindi ganon kahigpit ‘yung security. You can just come in. But so far, pinaka-marami pumunta despite a five hours before isasara ang pinto and then kailangan ng ID at saka ng picture.

Hindi tayo nag-impose ‘non kung hindi ‘yung gobyerno dito. Pero sabik talaga ang tao makita siya, ma-suportahan siya. 

But more importantly for me, sabik ang Pangulo makita sila. That’s why you’ve seen in all his visits, the first stop is the Filipino community.

So again thank you very much Sec. Martin at sa inyong lahat.

Mr. Castillo: Sir, if you still have time. Sir, pahabol lang, sir. May part two po kasi ‘yung article ni President Ramos. Has anyone of you read it, sir, and would you like to comment on it, sir?

SEC. DUREZA: I have not read it, so sorry.

SEN. CAYETANO: I heard it’s gonna be many parts. But the point is “kuya” siya. He’s the elder statesman. He said, “treat me as an older brother. I’m in Team Philippines. I’m Team Duterte.”

So we value his advice. He’s helping us navigate the relations with other countries, the West and the East will be invaluable ‘no, and we thank him for that.

SOURCE: PND – Transcriber