Press Conference of PCO Assistant Secretary for Operations and Special Concerns Marie Banaag
Press Briefing Room, New Executive Bldg, Malacañang
21 October 2016

Magandang umaga, Sweeden, magandang umaga sa ating lahat. 21 October 2016, Manila.

President Rodrigo Roa Duterte will undertake an official visit to Japan on October 25 to 27, 2016. The visit will build upon the government’s policy thrust of enhancing relations with our neighbors in the region.

During his visit, the President will meet with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to discuss matters of mutual interest to both countries. The President is also set to make a State Call on His Majesty Emperor Akihito.

Prime Minister Abe, in his congratulatory letter sent immediately after the President’s election, extended an invitation to visit Japan, which the President graciously accepted when the two leaders met at the sidelines of the ASEAN Summit in Vientiane, Laos last September.

The Official Visit is seen to further bolster the strong strategic partnership between the Philippines and Japan. A bold scope of bilateral discussions between the President and Japanese leaders will include security, economic and defense cooperation, infrastructure development and development projects in Mindanao, among others.

Japan has been the Philippines’ top trading and Official Development Assistance partner in 2015 and years prior.

While in Tokyo, the President plans to meet with the Filipino Community, which numbers almost 400,000 in Japan. He is also set to meet and speak before Japan’s top business leaders. The President likewise plans to observe the process of Japanese shipbuilding as maritime cooperation between the Philippines and Japan continues to progress. 2016 marks the 60th anniversary of the normalization of diplomatic relations between the Philippines and Japan.

High-level exchanges between the two countries mark this historic occasion which began with the visit to the Philippines by Japan’s Imperial couple early in the year.

This was followed by the visit of Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida, whom the President received in his hometown in Davao City, August 2016; and the meetings of the President with Prime Minister Abe at the sidelines of the ASEAN Summit in September in Laos.

The President’s Official Visit caps these exchanges, which highlights the warm ties of friendship shared by both countries. The President places great value on the Philippines’ vibrant and dynamic relationship based on mutual trust and respect with Japan.

Thank you.

Sweeden, I’d like to make ano—make some points here.

As to bagyong “Lawin,” we would like to thank our government agencies and private individuals who had been so supportive during monitoring, the monitoring of typhoon “Lawin” and to our local government officials who had been so aggressive in the campaign in order for us to lessen the damage caused by bagyong “Lawin.”

And with that said, we have official reports from NDRRMC, but some of the casualties during bagyong “Lawin” are still being validated. Seven from the Cordillera Region, one in Region I. In Region II, we have a three and we still have two missing persons. They are trying to—we are trying to get in touch with other Provincial Disaster Risk and Management Councils but nahihirapan po tayo because of the telcos, ‘yung walang network pa,  wala pang  electricity kahit may network siguro hindi sila makapag-charge ng kanilang mga baterya.

But right now, Usec. Jalad and [unclear] and our crew from PTV 4 and other officials of the DSWD, other officials who are members of the NDRRMC have started kaninang mga 9 am papuntang Cagayan Valley and Isabela para magkaroon ng aerial inspection at para maghatid na rin ng mga pagkain at iba pang mga goods na kinakailangan ng ating mga kababayan na evacuees.

And on another note, again po we would like also to reiterate our—asking for more pagmamalasakit para sa ating mga kababayan na nasalanta ng bagyo. We would like also to make announcemesnt that ‘yung MC 10 na inisyu po ng Executive Secretary natin na si Atty. Medialdea kung hanggang kailan po ‘yun, we will leave it to the discretion of our local government officials as to when na pwedeng maka-practically makapasok ang ating mga kababayan, mga estudyante, mga kasama natin sa pamahalaan, kung pwede na po.

Kasi ‘yung ibang lugar binabaha, hirap tayong mag monitor kung pwede na po. And ‘yung iba naman pwede naman na pumasok. So we will leave it up to the local government units to declare whether they would be going back to school or not or they would be reporting for work or not already.

And with the announcement on Republic Act 10923, ‘yung postponement po ng barangay elections, we announced that last Tuesday, we can give a copy of that already.

And on the matter of the statement of the President while in China, about cutting US ties. We still have to wait for guidelines, there is no rush po for us to interpret the speech of the President as we have to wait for guidelines, para it would be coming from him, from the Department of Foreign Affairs, as soon as they come back.

And as to the dispersal of the, our lumad brothers and other protesters in front of the US embassy last Wednesday, was that Wednesday? Last Wednesday, the President has already made announcement as to it. That he is looking into—how to—they are looking into and they’re investigating on what really transpired before the—before that incident and as soon as the President comes home, he will make further announcements as to what really happened. And you know that General Bato has already released a statement pertaining to that, that he is so saddened about what transpired there. 



Ronron Calunsod (Kyodo News):  Good morning Ma’am. Ronron Calunsod of Kyodo News. Would you know, ma’am, who will be part of the official delegation of the President when he goes to Japan?

ASEC. BANAAG: Ron, right now, I don’t have a copy of the official delegation. But we may have a copy the day before they leave, we might have a copy because that is—it’s with the DFA. So since 25 to 27 pa naman ‘yun, we might get a copy before that.

Tina Mendez (Philippine Star): Good morning, ma’am. Do you have an idea if the President will bring up the issue on “comfort women” during his visit?

ASEC. BANAAG: That of course we still don’t have any idea whether the President will bring up the comfort women issue with the Japanese officials during his State Visit.

Q: [off mic]

Christian Esguerra (ABS-CBN):  Ma’am, I’d like to ask about your statement that there’s no rush to interpret the speech of the President. Parang I’m just curious about the word that you used, ‘interpret.’

ASEC. BANAAG: We would not like to interpret the pronouncement of the President so that once it’s in paper, it’s clear as to what the President really is wanting us to have with regards relationships with the United States.

Mr. Esguerra: So are you saying that even if the President has already announced in China that he is separating from the United States, there’s still no paper whatsoever to back it up?

ASEC. BANAAG: We will wait for them to arrive because everyone is in China. So I think the question should be dealt with by them who are in China because most of them are there already, perhaps they might have a paper for that. But for now, we still don’t have something to read in order for us to properly comment on the US relationship statement of our President.

Mr. Esguerra: But were you surprised, was the Palace surprised about that very strong statement?

ASEC. BANAAG: I cannot comment on that surprise thing.

Mr. Esguerra: How do you think should the public at this point because there is this timeframe between the President’s– between today and the President’s arrival so how should the public interpret this statement of his that he is separating from the United States?

ASEC. BANAAG: We should not make any interpretations yet and it can wait. So let’s not make any haka-haka muna about it because once the paper is in, I don’t think it would be needed for us to—there is a need for us to make haka-haka on that.

If the paper is out already on that matter, then it would be clear kung anong direction ang tatahakin po natin.

Mr. Esguerra: Ma’am what paper are you talking about?

ASEC. BANAAG: Any policy direction which would be on paper.

Mr. Esguerra: But have you come up with a paper containing the policy direction of the previous statements against the United States made by the President?

ASEC. BANAAG: Christian, I cannot comment on having first a paper before the President announces–

Mr. Esguerra: Pero ma’am, I’m talking about the previous statements that he made against the United States. The first time that he criticized the United States, for example, when he said it’s time to end the joint military exercises with the US. Meron bang paper na sumunod after that statement? Kasi baka naman for all we know wala ring susunod na statement, wala ring susunod na paper after this particular statement made by the President.

ASEC. BANAAG: We cannot preempt, Christian but we can only—what we can only say is that once there is this announcement, whichever agency has the jurisdiction to craft the policy of that matter, they would be– they should address that.

Mr. Esguerra: Ma’am because the US says that they have yet—they are yet to receive any document supporting the pronouncements made by the President. So ‘yun nga, baka naman puro salita ‘yung lumalabas, wala namang lumalabas na papel so those to whom the statements are directed wouldn’t know how to react officially.

ASEC. BANAAG: We leave that to the wisdom of the President whether it should be on paper or not.

Mr. Esguerra: Okay. Ma’am finally, how should the international community particularly—in particular the United States receive this latest statement by the President?

ASEC. BANAAG: We cannot preempt nor dictate how the international community would react such statements. That is their opinion and we would highly respect that.

Rosalie Coz (UNTV): Ma’am, aware po kayo sa nakatakdang pagbisita po ni US Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Daniel Russel para rin po hilingin ang pagbibigay ng linaw dun sa mga naging statements ni Pangulong Duterte sa China?

ASEC. BANAAG: For now we are not yet aware of that but we would be pumped by DFA as soon as the official communications has been given then.

Ms. Coz: And then meron din pong mga nag-express din po kasi ng pagkabahala doon po sa mga naging statements ng Pangulo, ‘yung mga American businessmen na nandito sa Pilipinas and then ‘yung mga Filipino businessmen na nasa United States of America. So meron po ba tayong assurance sa kanila na wala tayong dapat na ikabahala sa mga naging statements ng Pangulo gayong wala pa naman pong clarification, or malinaw na panuntunan patungkol po dito?

ASEC. BANAAG: Thank you for that. In fact that is—on the light of that matter, since wala pa tayong pagbabasehan na papel hindi kailangang mag-worry or mag-react tayo kung ano man yung nasabi ng Pangulo since wala pa sa papel po, especially for private businessmen dito or ‘yung mga nasa America, wala po tayong dapat ikabahala. Kung meron man po na tinutukoy siguro ang Pangulo dito, it would be government transactions. But I’m not interpreting. (Christian tumingin ka)

Leila Salaverria (Philippine Daily Inquirer): Clarification lang, ma’am. For the President’s pronouncement to take effect or become policy would you need some, a formal issuance? Aren’t his words enough?

ASEC. BANAAG: As to that matter, kailangan din kasi para ma-interpret din officially ng—especially with official transactions with other nations. It should be something that should be in paper so that makasagot din sila in paper. Kailangan po na—kailangan po nila ‘yun para klaro ‘yung metes and bounds kung ano ba talaga ang coverage ng isang pronouncement ng Presidente.

Ms. Salaverria: So is there room for the pronouncements to change unless it’s, you know, put on paper?

ASEC. BANAAG: That we cannot preempt.

Mr. Esguerra: Last na ba? Ma’am did the President consult anyone from his Cabinet before he issued this arguably the strongest statement so far against the United States in China?

ASEC. BANAAG: Well, wala pa kaming natatanggap na balita whether meron o wala, Christian. Perhaps as soon as they arrive, we can ask that from them, from the delegation who would be arriving.

Mr. Esguerra: Not to put you on the spot ah pero it must have been a difficult job to try to explain or delay an explanation on a particular statement made by the President and just say that a paper supporting it might be or might not be forthcoming. Kasi parang that’s how it’s ano eh, that’s how it appears so far. Tama po ba?

ASEC. BANAAG: I’ll not comment on that, Christian.

Mr. Esguerra: May tanong siya mas maganda.

Ms. Mendez: Or ma’am you are just as confused as everybody else?

ASEC. BANAAG: Well, not really. I’m sure, I’m sure may direksyon naman ‘yan pagbalik nila. It’s just that we are not the right authority to give or interpret what the President has announced.

Benjie Liwanag (DZBB): Ma’am good morning. Did you ask some of the officials in Beijing noong lumabas yung statement, ma’am?

ASEC. BANAAG: We have actually asked Secretary Andanar and then the same din po ang sasabihin niya, itong sasabihin ko ngayon na we would not pre-empt any– and interpret the metes and bounds of the pronouncements of the President.

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

Ms. Coz: Ibang topic lang po. Palace statement po sa Pulse Asia Survey: Most Filipinos approve of the quarterly performance of President Duterte.

ASEC. BANAAG: Well, if it’s positive, we would be so flattered and we are so thankful sa mga kababayan na—of course, hindi naman, imposible naman talagang lahat ng kababayan natin ay gusto nila ang lahat ng palakad ng gobyerno and kung mas marami ang nagtitiwala pa, kung mas marami ang naniniwala pa na may pwedeng magbago, na nagmamalasakit ang gobyerno na ito, then we would be thankful for the survey and ‘yung opinion ng ating mga kababayan.

Sweeden, thank you. Maraming salamat.

SOURCE: PND – Transcriber