Press Conference of Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella
Press Briefing Room, New Executive Bldg, Malacañang
28 October 2016

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA:  Good afternoon. I would like to say welcome to the Malacañang Press Corps. We just got back from… We just got back from Japan with the President. And we just like to be able to share with you what I… It was a particularly successful visit. It was a very…It was very heartwarming meeting with the Filipino community. 

But it was also especially — especially inspiring to be able to sit with the — with their Japanese counterparts. At a particular… At the last dinner, that was hosted by the Prime Minister, we sat down with the — I sat down with our counterpart — the former spokesperson of Prime Minister Abe — and he was saying how the Japanese people had such a warm response for the President.

And there were two particular things — two things in particular that stood out for him, that stood out for them: one was how they perceived — how passionate the President was for protecting his people from the menace of drugs. And secondly, how — how deeply they perceived the President loved his nation. And how he desired to bring back the — to restore the Filipino dignity and how he so much wanted to make sure that the Filipinos were able sit with the rest of the community of nations as fully equal partners.

That being said, I just like to — I just like to also take note of some of benefits that came from that particular trip. The Japanese…The Japan trip yielded about 12 business agreements worth about US$1.8 billion between…These are not government contracts but private-to-private joint undertakings. Another cooperation which is already present in the Philippines, Marubeni, further made a verbal commitment to the President that in the medium term, they would also invest approximately 17.2 million dollars for the infrastructure specifically for mass transport, roads, water and power projects. 

Also on regarding fishing in Scarborough Shoals, for the past three days it has been observed that there are no longer any Chinese Coast Guard vessels and that Filipino fishing boats are no longer being intercepted and that they are now able to fish in the area without being intercepted.

There were some questions regarding the EO about the firecracker ban, the matter will be discussed during the Cabinet meeting this coming November 3.

I’ll be open to questions.


JP Bencito (The Manila Standard): Hi, sir, good afternoon. Sir, do we specifically carry out the President’s pronouncements the other day that there will be no more foreign troops in the country in the next two years?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: That is the sentiment…That is the President’s sentiment that there will be no more military presence in the country in the next two years. However, it has to be properly worked out under the pertinent processes. 

Mr. Bencito: Sir, are we insinuating that we will be sending a letter to the United States to forma — or during the Mutual Defense Board that we will be formally informing them that we will be — expressing the Philippine intention to remove the foreign forces out of the country?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: There will be a review this coming — next month. And it will…I am sure it will be discussed. Thank you. 

Mr. Bencito: Sir, on another one, the US State Department said that the remarks of the President are not contributing — the tirades of the President are not contributing to the good relationship between the two countries. Do you agree with that, sir, or what’s your comment?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: In terms of ano…In terms of, I think we need to come back to the point that the President is simply underlining certain things, underlining what he has been doing. And at the right time, the things — relationships will be — even the economic situation will be — will also come under its own corrections and it will be worked out. 

Mr. Bencito: Thank you, sir.

Pia Ranada (Rappler): Presidential Spokesperson, is the President aware na there are some MOUs or agreements that he or the government entered in with Chinese companies that may have had shady dealings in the past. For example, there are certain companies who — were apparently banned by the World Bank or blacklisted by the World Bank. Does this worry the Palace? And what will we do about these MOUs knowing that these shady deals existing in the past? Are we really considering these agreements?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: Those are…Simply understandings that they can submit feasibility studies which is still be subject to public biddings and the necessary processes. So these are not necessarily contracts or commitments to contract. Thank you. 

Rose Novenario (Hataw): Good afternoon, sir. Sir, ano po ‘yung reaksyon ng Palasyo sa tila paglarga ‘nung damage control ni Senator Leila de Lima. Nag-iikot po siya sa iba’t ibang unibersidad, Catholic universities actually po. At ‘yung parang istilo po niya ng pagsasalita ngayon ay parang ginagaya na po niya si — ‘yung namayapang Senadora Miriam Defensor Santiago. Ano po ang masasabi ng Palasyo rito?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: Well, you know, at this stage, she is…She can make her own comments and… But at the end of the day, things will still have to be settled regarding her and her position. 

Mr. Bencito: Sir, follow up ulit doon sa Chinese fishermen — iyong sa fishermen, sir. Sir, Representative Harry Roque mentioned in an interview that there was some kind of — the Philippines and China reached a “modus vivendi” on the right of the fishermen to fish in disputed waters. Sir, may we know meron na bang specifics agreed pero hindi lang naput on paper during the China trip of the President?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: Nothing has been official regarding that matter ‘no. Nothing official regarding that matter. But so…But all we know is based on results, the fishermen are now — can now go into those waters. 

Ms. Ranada: Sir, follow up on that. Where did we get the information that the Coast Guard has left the Scarborough Shoal?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: Apparently there have been some physical observations in the area. 

Ms. Ranada: By the Philippine Coast Guard? Can we quote…?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: All I can say is that at this stage it has been observed that there are no longer any Chinese Coast Guards in the area. 

Ms. Ranada: Sir, by the Philippine military can we say that? Observed by the Philippine military?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: Sabihin mo na lang na it’s been observed. Okay, thank you. 

Hannah Sancho (Sonshine Radio): Good afternoon, sir. Palace reaction doon sa Ibon survey na nagsasabing pito sa sampung Pilipino ang itinuturing po sila na mahirap?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: All right, this is one part of the surveys. On the other hand also, the PSA has already noted that for — that the poverty rate has already dropped from 26 to 21 percent especially during 2015 ‘no. And maybe it’s also pertinent to mention here that iyong — the Philippine Development Plan sees that by 2040, our dream, our intention or aspiration, is for the total elimination of poverty that’s under the Ambisyon 2040.

So, given that timeline between 20 — let’s say between now and the 2040, our dream is for poverty to be totally eliminated. So, you know, we will be able to see the actual benefits being enjoyed by the others, a greater number of people over a period of time and not perhaps immediately. 

Ms. Sancho: Sir, other topic. Regarding po doon sa 15 Cabinet officials na na-bypass po sa — 


Ms. Sancho: Ano po ang next move po ni Pangulo, ire-reappoint po ba? 

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: Inabot kasi sila ng recess ano, they will be reappointed.

Maricel Halili (TV-5): Hi, sir, good afternoon. Sir, according to some US officials there is a possibility that President Duterte and US President Barack Obama will have a chance to meet during the APEC in November. Kung sakali po na magkita nga silang dalawa, are there specific issues na posibleng ma-discuss or the President would like to discuss following all the tirades and harsh words?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: You know at the end of the day, these are not specific issues in the sense — in the sense of government issues. But you will…If you will notice where the President comes from it’s basically that he wants to be able to establish mutual respect and dignity and acceptance and support.

If you notice how deeply he was affected by — when he was affected by…How deeply he responded to how to — for example, Japan, where he said that there is a sense of mutual support, encouragement and his terms, for example, mutual interference, non-interference.

So if there is anything at all, I think what would matter during that conversation is that to be able to establish a sense of rapport, a sense of mutual respect and not so much in particular issues, specific issues but the establishment — an establishment of warm relationship. Adding this based on partly a sense of — 

Ms. Halili: Sir, may we have your reaction, just in case po baka meron po kayong detalye with regards po doon sa pagkamatay — pag-ambush kay Mayor Samsudin Dimaukom ng Saudi Ampatuan together with nine other bodyguards. Meron daw po itong kinalaman doon sa campaign ng government with anti-illegal drugs?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: We don’t have the specifics yet. But when we do get the specifics, we will get back to you. Thank you.

Q: Sir, phone-in question po regarding po daw sa plano ng on confirmation po ng Congress na ipapasa po ‘yung death penalty by Christmas po? Matutuloy po ba ito, sir, ipapasa po before Christmas?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: That will be initiative of Congress. Thank you.
Reymund Tinaza (Bombo Radyo): Sir, doon po sa desisyon ni President Duterte na hindi na siya magmumura, he will no longer bad mouth sa mga susunod na mga araw. May kinalaman ba ito sa mga — previously mga negative reactions, international parang sinasabing mga backlash and even ‘yung after ‘yung kanyang meeting with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: Well, as far as he mentioned during the arrival in — in his arrival speech in Davao, apparently it was a personal insight, his own personal insight drove home to him, that — it’s just his decision, his particular decision. It was a particular insight that came to him. He did not describe the process although he did say that he heard a voice that told him. You know, it’s a way of saying that…It’s a way of saying that he had a personal, a deep personal insight into the matter.

Mr. Tinaza: Sir, going back to the question of Ms. Pia. Iyong the MOUs from allegedly contractors which are apparently blacklisted from the World Bank. So how can we parang i-connect doon sa sinabi mismo ng Pangulo na he will honor any agreement, any deal or contract na papasukin doon sa China sa mga investors and you have to remember na ang MOU is already an understanding signed in their presence?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: Hindi po yun ano ha, unang-una regarding that particular company, apparently the ban is lifted by January of 2017, ‘no? On the other hand those are not — those are not hard contracts. Those are simply an invitation to, what do you call it? An understanding that they can submit a feasibility studies and these are also open to others, okay? So there are no hard and fast rules that say yes we have to accept this particular company.

Mr. Tinaza: Sir, so far may mga lumabas na kasi na reports na there are about US$19 billion total of financial package from Japan. Was this figure accurate ba itop or may nadagdagan sa…?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA:  Ulitin ko, ulitin ko yung sinabi ko kanina. Yung talagang may signatures mga 1.8 billion yun, approximately 1.8 billion. Yung 17.2 billion is actually a verbal offer made by Marubeni. It’s a verbal offer so hindi siya ano, wala siyang signed pero andito na sila sa Philippines. They’re already existing here. 

But it says that with in the medium term, siguro within the next five years they’ll be, they’re interested in going into, building infrastructures, specially power I think. Power so iyon yun that has to be very clear okay? Parehong tama ‘yon. On the other hand yun talagang 1.8 meron na talagang ano yun, may usapan.

Mr. Tinaza: So assurance siguro, sir, na during the actual bidding doon sa mga projects lalo  yung mga big ticket projects which will be financed with these loans, grants from Japan magiging fair at hindi naman makakalamang ‘yung mga halimbawa ‘yung mga negosyante na karaniwang sumasama sa business trips ng Pangulo at magiging fair even ‘yung mga hindi ganoon kalakihang mga pamilya o mga angkan ng mga negosyante?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: I’m sure everybody will be benefitted, okay? I’m sure it will be fairly—anong tawag nito? It will be conducted with fairness and regularity.

Johnson Manabat (DZMM): Secretary, good afternoon. Sir, meron ho bang possibility na magkita or ma-reschedule ang courtesy call ni Pangulo kay Emperor Akihito?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: At this stage there’s no specific ano but I’m sure it should give us a, what do you call it? It should give us a window of opportunity to be able to — it should be able to give him a window of opportunity to be able to visit in the near future.

Mr. Manabat: Sir, may we know na lang the schedule of the President on November 1 or 2?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: I think that is private time as far as I know. We can check on that. But as far as I know right now it’s still private time. 

Henry Uri (DZRH): Magandang hapon. Another topic lang ho sa traffic. Traffic is getting worse everyday. Ano ho ang particular instruction ng Pangulo kay Secretary Tugade or sa MMDA para ho once and for all maayos po ang trapiko sa Metro Manila?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: First and foremost this should be under the ano… Ang pinakamagaling pong kausapin natin will be Art Tugade and we’ll try to make an ano — we’ll try to make sure that — we can also ask him to come and explain. 

Mr. Uri: Pero wala hong standing order ang Pangulo sa…?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: So far as I know the standing order is to be able to make sure that everything is worked out. Everything is properly worked out so that traffic will actually flow. 

Mr. Uri: Happy ba ang Pangulo sa performance ni Secretary Tugade, Secretary?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: I will leave that to the President whether he is happy or not. Thank you. 

Ms. Ranada: Sir, may we just know during the China trip if Bongbong Marcos and people like Sandra Cam and Greco Belgica who were in China and in the events of the President, were they part of the official delegation and what were their roles in the trip? Why were they…? Were their trips funded by the government?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: The official delegation is…But the official delegation is really a very small delegation, okay. So but they were part of the I think the bigger delegation which included the…Three, four hundred other business people. 

Ms. Ranada: But, sir, what were their roles? I don’t think they are business people or did they pay for their own expenses there?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: That I cannot ano but we can get back and we can give you the right answer regarding that matter. Excuse me…Yes, two more questions. 

Ms. Sancho: Sir, may feedback na po ‘yung [UN?] doon sa invitation natin?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: So far..So far I think they said that they are waiting for it. We do not have a specific — anong tawag dito? — response that they have already — they are in receipt or what their next action is. Thank you. 

Tricia Macas (GMA News Online): Sir, just I will go back to the MOU signed during the China trip. Does it include the CCC dredging?


Ms. Macas: Sir, kasi if it’s included may we just if it is parang how it will affect our stand on the West Philippine Sea because the CCC dredging was known to have been involved in island building in the South China Sea and if it got a bill daw to reclaim lands in Davao City. So how do you think it will affect…?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: First we have to find out if they have already — regarding that matter, regarding that question. We will specifically get back to you on that. Thank you. 

Tuesday Niu (DZBB): Hi, sir. Sir, may we know kung saan po kinukuha ni Presidente ‘yung data niya on campaign against illegal drugs kasi every now and then sinasabi po niya na may two policemen siyang namamatay every day sa campaign but then the PNP is providing us different data. At the latest, sir, ang record or data ng PNP since July 1 from his campaign up to now ay 7 lang po na mga pulis ang namatay doon  sa anti-illegal drugs operation and I think tatlo lang sa mga sundalo.


Ms. Niu: Yes, papaano po natin ipagji-jive iyon? Parang nagkakaroon po ng confusion doon sa data and as well as doon sa panig ng PNP parang hindi nila tuloy alam kung paano nila ire-release ‘yung data dahil magkaiba doon sa sinasabi ni Presidente?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: Tulad nga ng sabi ni General Bato the last time, the President also has access to other data. So we can also find our regarding that. We will get back to you.

Okay? So, in the meantime can we just get [unclear]. Senator Cayetano is on his way. Thank you very much. Give us a few minutes. 


Source: PCO PND Transcriber