Press Briefing by Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella with Department of Education Secretary Leonor Briones
Press Briefing Room, New Executive Building, Malacañang
06 June 2017

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: Good morning, Julius. Our guest for today is Department of Education Secretary Leonor Briones.

She’s not a newcomer. But for many years, Secretary 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.

Today, she updates us on the opening of the school year 2017-2018. And with her are a number of her executive committee and we’d like to welcome Secretary Lingling Briones.

SEC. BRIONES: Good morning, Malacañang Press Corps. Magandang umaga. Maayong buntag kaninyong tanan. With me are my lead members of the executive committee.

I have Undersecretary Jess Mateo, who is in charge of operations; Undersecretary Alain Pascua, who’s in charge of administration, security, and disaster relief mitigation; and then I also have Assistant Secretary Toni Umali, whom many of you know; and Undersecretary Nepo Malaluan who is my chief of staff and Assistant Secretary as well.

Yesterday, we opened classes. After nearly ten months or maybe a year of thorough preparations, we have had two events, the Brigada Eskwela and also the operation Balik Eskwela, wherein we went through the procedures and we mobilized the entire community, including church organizations, civil society, members of the academe, parents, spouses of school teachers in preparing the schools and the grounds for the return of the students.

We have had tremendous support from all sectors of the country. We also have had the benefit and I think this was crucial and the smooth operations yesterday of pre-enrollment as early as January, students were already, learners were already encouraged to enroll, and this led to very orderly — ‘pag first day ng June, klase na kaagad.

And I went to Baseco, which is a very highly-urbanized community with very large population and no less than President Mayor Estrada was also there for the flag ceremony.

Then I went to Ramon Magsaysay High School as well to take a look at the process and everything and this explains why I said that as of the first day, everything was boringly normal in that we had… This is because we have had mga dress rehearsals in a manner of speaking.

Weeks before, pina-practice na ang procedures et cetera. So first day, diresto klase. And we said classes will start June 5, nag-start talaga ang classes June 5. And we made sure that it would happen.

Yesterday, we could not immediately put together the tentative numbers of the enrollees. For the public sector, we are expecting more than 22 million sa public ano lang, sa public schools 22 million learners.

As of yesterday, first day lang of school, we already have over 13,356,989 learners and still ongoing. Enrollment will be up to end of the month.

One notable feature of this year’s opening of school, classes of course is the welcome, which was accorded to all children of evacuees from Marawi City.

And we have waived the usual documentary requirements. After all, children are not involved in any of these activities at this time.

We have waived all the documentary requirements. We have encouraged them to enroll in the school nearest to where they have evacuated.

Marawi students have enrolled in as far as Tarlac. So we have Marawi evacuees there. Because the tendency, of course, is always to go to relatives and friends.

And I’m sure we are all aware that there are Muslim communities in most places in the Philippines.

Now in Region X, we have 1,147 so far learners enrolled in Region X; Misamis Oriental, 104; Lanao del Norte which is directly under the Department Of Education; while Lanao del Sur if you must be aware is part of ARMM which is autonomous; Lanao del Norte has 705, the biggest number of children; Iligan also quite large, 338.

For Region XII, from total of 169 learners from Marawi, from General Santos City, Cotabato City, 50, Cotabato province, Tacurong City, Koronadal City, South Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, Saranggani, Kidapawan City.

We also have a significant number in Region VII in Cebu because we have a large Muslim community. We have 34 new learners just in two divisions alone.

These are all partial numbers, as well as in Manila alone because we have also a large Muslim community. There are 35 learners from Marawi — from Marawi families who have evacuated to Manila.

And so we have a running total. Right now, we have 1,391 children from Marawi City who are now enrolled in our schools outside of Marawi City.

We continue to encourage the families to enroll their children wherever they are in the nearest school because even as we have hoped and on the advice of our military establishment that we can… Originally, we thought that classes can open within two weeks.

We are still waiting for the advice of our military advisers on when Marawi will finally be ready for the opening of schools.

So in the meantime, we call on, we are calling and with your help, we are calling on Marawi families, which are now — who are now out of Marawi to please enroll your children in the nearest school because they can always return if they wish to.

And if I say that the process yesterday was boringly normal because you always have challenges.

And the most important really, meaningful challenge, of course, is the perception of congested schools in Metro Manila and but… In Metro Manila and in the entire country, 1.5 percent ang sa elementary schools, ang level lang ng shortage; 1.9 percent for junior, senior school; and 6.56 percent ang shortage for senior high school.

This is because building is still — construction is still ongoing. And we hope to resolve this — this is for senior high school in a matter up to two, three months.

The usual image of a child, of children having classes under the mango tree, of course, is long past. That happened during my time, when I was still a student.

We don’t have children anymore under the mango tree because there are school buildings beside the mango trees under our learning spaces and we have dealt with the shortages, this perceived shortages in as creative a manner as possible.

So non-instructional rooms are being used now as instructional rooms. This is particularly true in Metro Manila, in the National Capital Region and the problem is not so much in efficiency or the usual delays in procurement.

The problem and the challenge is the lack of buildable space. We have had congressmen in the Metro Manila area who say don’t give us buildings at all because we don’t have space.

For example, Marikina is very eager to buy available space if there are available space, no sellers even from the side of government or from private persons.

During the early days of education, people were always are quite happy to donate vast tracts of land whether in the cities or in the provinces for, as sites for school buildings and name them in honor of their dynasties. Now, it does not happen anymore. No one wants to sell or to donate, much less donate to schools here in the urban centers.

So we are already considering possible options because we know for as long as our population keeps on growing every year — every year we will also have additional demand and pressure for classroom.

We will have new sets of kindergarten students and so on and new sets of high school, senior high school, et cetera, including the transferees.

So there will be no end to this demand and for the urban centers, places, we are considering the possibility of building school communities just outside Metro Manila, where the children will be bused to these school places — to these schools.

The other possibility is to build high-rise buildings but these will be —  will have heavy cost implications and we will be needing the cooperation of the local government units and their support.

And also, there are very special requirements if you want to have four-story, five-story buildings as school buildings for learners, especially very, very active learners on use of elevators and so on, safety measures, so these will all add to the cost so kailangan.

So these are the strategies that we are now developing in order to respond to the ever-growing yearly additions because as you will notice from the data, enrollment of school children, of learners for basic education does not stop increasing every year. Every year, it increases. We try to catch up and then you have a new batch of learners also, again to accommodate all needing classrooms.

Now, on teachers, generally we have been hearing, of course, from the… We are receiving reports from the different regions up to last night and early this morning, we have been receiving reports from all the other regions in addition to Mindanao and so we ask them also to mention challenges and generally, it is classrooms.

On the matter of lack of teachers, we have places where we have more teachers, there are places also where there are less teachers. Now it is true that we need teachers but we need, particularly those in the field of science and mathematics. And this is where the matching is quite challenging because not very many are into science and mathematics. And if the press corps can help us emphasize this so that we can encourage schools and universities who are capacitating and educating teachers, and also parents to encourage their children to take an interest in science and mathematics and become teachers eventually, then such problems will not be existing.

So whatever the challenges are on the average as I said, in terms of schools, overall elementary, the shortage is only 1.5 percent. On the matter of classrooms, the shortage is highest, of course, not really highest — significant in the senior high school and this is because we are still building senior high school buildings particularly in Manila.

You must also be concerned about the safety of the children. Months before, even before the trouble in Marawi started, we have already been coordinating with different agencies like the Philippine National Police, our security agencies, Department of Health, Department of Public Works and Highways and all other agencies involved in education so that we could get our act together.

And this explains why the first day of school has been overall been smooth and are trouble-free, including Mindanao.

Now, our enrolment numbers of 13,356,989 learners does not include Region IX, we are still waiting for reports from Region IX, although we are told that everything is peaceful. As a matter of fact, Region IX is sending a lot of aid and assistance to Region X because they themselves know what it is like to have refugees and trouble.

And we still have to get the numbers also from ARMM. ARMM is an autonomous region, they have their own Secretary of Education, Assistant Secretary of Education.

Last week, I was in Cagayan de Oro, I met with the ARMM officials and all our regional directors so that we could also get our act together.

So eventually they will be sending us also their enrollment numbers. So we think that for a first day opening of class, the number is already more than one half what we expected and students are still coming in.

The largest enrollment expectedly is in Region IV-A and, of course, Region III, which is the National Capital Region of 1.7 million. Region IV-A, 1.8 million; and National Capital Region, 1.5 million learners.

So we are all set. We have started the first day well. And we look forward to the continuous good news that is coming in. We also look forward to the time when our military advisers will allow us to enter Marawi so that we can also start opening the schools there.

But in the meantime, we strongly advise families who are from Marawi to enroll in the school nearest to them. As a matter of fact, I have issued a statement urging Marawi families to enroll their children in the nearest schools, wherever they are. Because they are as far as Tarlac already, which is quite interesting.

And also, and this would really, really ask for your help. We have a policy in the Department of Education that schools are zones for peace, these are peace zones.

We are starting a campaign to put up tarpaulins in all the schools in Mindanao and eventually in the rest of the country stating that schools are zones of peace and we should protect our learners and our children from conflict because they are not part of all the dramatics going on at present. So we also seek your cooperation in spreading the word.

It has been reported, for example, that in Iligan, three schools are being used as evacuation centers.

However, we are holding classes in these schools because the portion of the schools which are used by the evacuees are the gyms and the classrooms are not used because we are encouraging evacuees not to use the classrooms so that the children will not be deprived of space at this point in time when school is already starting.

So for schools which are occupied, we are asking local government units to please empty the schools which are used as evacuation centers and perhaps assign other appropriate places so that the children will not be traumatized, bothered and disturbed by all the excitement that is happening.

We are also endeavoring to give psychosocial assistance to the learners and perhaps even to their families in the cooperation with the Department of Health and also with our DRRMS staff. They are now there, that’s why they could not come along with me, helping out in making sure that the children are adjusted.

We are not for the separation of classes for Marawi children vis-à-vis the regular students. No. As fast as possible they have to be integrated.

We have so many national problems because we try to separate people and this always encourages whatever discrimination exists. So gusto natin maka-adjust kaagad ‘yung mga bata. And this is why we have also been requesting the ARMM to help us identify Maranao-speaking teachers who have left Maranao to help out in the schools. Because we need Maranao-speaking teachers to help settle the learners in our regular schools.

So with this latest numbers and reports, I hope that we in the Department of Education are contributing to the move towards normalization.

Education goes on whatever the situation is. And for as long as schools are open, for as long as children are not deprived or are always given the opportunity to learn and to be educated, then there is hope for all of us.

And we want to signal that we are contributing to the normalization of the different segments of our society. We are not taking sides at all. Our schools are zones of peace and are neutral.

We are welcoming all children who want to enroll in our schools and they will be treated with love and with care and consideration. Thank you.


Dexter Ganibe (DZMM): Secretary, maayong buntag, naa dire Secretary. Maayong buntag. Dexter Ganibe po sa  DZMM. Sec, sinasabi niyo 1,391 ang na-monitor na ng DepEd na mga mag-aaral mula sa Marawi ang nakapag enroll sa iba’t-ibang paaralan. Alam naman natin na wala pang pasok ngayon sa Marawi, mga ilan po kaya ang mga estudyante sa Marawi na inaasahan natin mag-eenroll?

SEC. BRIONES: Sang-ayon sa ARMM, mga 20,000 ang mga learners nila pero we have to bear in mind na ito ay first day numbers lamang.

And this is why we seek your help in encouraging families who have evacuated na huwag nilang i-allow na ma-interrupt ang pag-aaral ng mga anak kasi iyan ang pinaka-precious na heritage na maibibigay nila at maibibigay ng ating pamahalaan, ng ating society sa ating mga bata, ang libreng edukasyon. Edukasyon natin hanggang high school, senior high school ay libre.

‘Yung mga gusto mag-enroll sa private schools at mag-qualify sila doon, binabayaran natin through the voucher system. Tayo din nagbabayad na mayroon tayong fixed rates para sa nag-e-enroll sa mga private schools.

Although ang mga private schools ‘yung iba pinapatungan nila. Nasa parents na ‘yun kung magbabayad sila sa top off, tinatawag na top off. But generally, talagang sang-ayon sa Konstitusyon, sinusunod natin ‘yan ng seryoso na basic education high-school 12 years libre iyan. And gusto nating papasok ng — ma-eencourage ang mga pamilya diyan.

Mr. Ganibe: Target po ba natin ‘yung lahat ‘yung lahat, ‘yung 20,000 na mae-enroll sa iba’t-ibang eskuwelahan kung nasaan sila ngayon naka- evacuate?

SEC. BRIONES: ‘Yung 20,000 kasi assuming ‘yan na ‘yun ang Marawi population. Pero hindi naman lahat, hindi naman buo, at least — pero marami ‘no, karamihan sabi pa nga nila, up to 90 percent ay nag-likas na pero mayroon pa rin natitira doon.

Kaya ang sabi natin nga, the nearest school wherever they are. Karamihan nga nasa Lanao del Norte, Iligan, Cagayan de Oro, ito ‘yung mga malalapit.

Pero last week, hindi pa nag-uumpisa ang klase hinanda na namin ‘yan. Sinabi na namin sa mga teachers na maghanda kayo dahil talagang magdatingan ‘yung mga bata at walang ano.

Nag-decide kami i-waive ‘yung requirements kasi anong paki ng mga bata  kung anong nangyayari ngayon, birthday, address, et cetera, parents, i-waive ‘yun basta ‘pag sasabihin lang taga-Marawi sila, tatanggapin sila. Saka na lang ‘yung mga requirements later.

Maricel Halili (TV 5): Ma’am, good morning po. Ma’am, nabanggit niyo po kanina na hindi pa po sigurado kung kailan magsisimula ‘yung classes sa Marawi. But what will happen to the teachers, public school teachers in Marawi? Will they still continue to receive their salary? Paano po?

SEC. BRIONES: Hindi naman nila… Ako tingin ko lang ito ha kasi ang desisyon na ‘yan nasa ARMM dahil ang ARMM may sariling Department of Education. Although we coordinate very closely.

Ako sa paningin ko, hindi naman kasalanan nila na nagkaroon ng giyera doon. Hindi naman ‘yun deliberate na nag-absent sila or what. Pero ‘yung mga nakalabas kasi everyday may mga  nakakalabas naman ineeskortan sila ng military, ine-encourage namin na tumulong sila, lalo na mga lugar like Iligan or Cagayan de Oro kung saan malaki ang population ng children from Marawi City, oo.

Kasi ang ARMM ang nakakaalam. Sila ang nag-iimbentaryo kaya ang role nila ngayon, ang usapan namin, mag-identify sila ng teachers na idagdag sa mga teachers namin sa Iligan at saka sa Cagayan de Oro, sa Region X kung saan man para hindi naman sila madi-displace at saka iyong mga bata.

Mahalaga kasi iyong language eh. Napakahalaga ‘yung language for communicating at saka ayaw nating nalilito ‘yung mga bata, ‘yung mga learners.

So ang usapan namin, ARMM ang mag-identify nitong mga teachers na ito, tatanggapin sila ng mga sa regional directors o sa schools kung saan sila ma-assign tapos ang DepEd central, kami, kami ang magbabayad ng sweldo nila.

Kung sakali mang sabihin ni ARMM hindi sila susuwelduhan, kami ang magsusuweldo at saka kung, maski bagong teacher. Halimbawa, hindi sila member ng teaching force pero may degree sila in Education at saka irerekomenda sila ng ARMM para pangdagdag kasi, halimbawa, dito sa Iligan lamang ay 705 na learners, ang DepEd Central, sa amin, kami ang magbabayad. So ganoon ang division ng responsibility.

Ms. Halili: Ma’am clarification lang, how many teachers were affected in Marawi due to incident?

SEC. BRIONES: How many teachers? We have not heard yet from ARMM pero sa kanila ‘yon kanila ‘yon toka na mag-identify at mag- recommend ng mga teachers whether ‘yung mga nandoon na teacher na talaga o mga teacher na hindi bahagi ng ating school system, oo.

Elijah Rosales (Business Mirror): Good morning, Sec. Secretary, itatanong ko lang po, I would like to get your reaction on this. Are you in favor of Secretary Diokno’s policy stand that President Duterte should veto the chalk allowance bill intended for public school teachers? Ito po ’yung 100 percent increase ng chalk allowance para sa mga teacher natin.

SEC. BRIONES: Ang masasabi ko lang, hindi kita sasaguting diretsohan kasi marami kaming iniisip na problema. ‘Yung chalk allowance is actually in addition to the allowance of the teachers themselves.

Kasi ang mga schools down to the principal level mayroon silang pondo na tinatawag na MOOE — Maintenance and Operating Expenditures. Naabot ‘yan ng mga milyones depende sa size ng school, may formula yan. The superintendent has MOOE, the principal has MOOE at saka may pondo sa regional.

Kami pagkatanggap naming, halimbawa, ng budget ng DepEd downloaded ‘yan, nasa principal na ‘yun. Hindi naman kami makasabi kung saan nila gagastusin ‘yan kasi ano nila.

Pero calculated iyan, on the number of students, the distance et cetera, et cetera. Maintenance pambayad ng kuryente, pambayad ng supplies.

So para sa amin, ano na, kumpleto na. Ang chalk allowance ay para talaga ‘yan sa teachers, hindi ‘yan ina-account. So siguro doon natin makikita ang punto de vista ni Secretary Diokno.

Mr. Rosales: But on your personal stand, ma’am, do you suggest? Do you recommend passing this bill or no?

SEC. BRIONES: There is a separation between the legislator — legislature and the executive. ‘Yan ang proposal ng legislature, oo, na mag-increase ng chalk allowance.

Pero klaruhin natin ‘yan, ‘yung chalk allowance ay para sa teachers, tinatawag lang ‘yan ng ‘chalk allowance’ maski wala naman, hindi naman halos gumagamit tayo ng chalk. ‘Di ba mga computer na, mga LCD na, power… Kung sa Bisaya pa may PowerPoint na tayo. That is really an increase of subsistence allowance for the teachers.

Mr. Rosales: Thank you, Sec.

SEC. BRIONES:  I mean, sabi natin sa education, honesty is the best policy. But we really have a way with language, in all of us.

Joseph Morong (GMA 7): Ma’am, good morning po. When did the… As far as the military is concerned, when did they say is the soonest time you can open the schools in Marawi?

SEC. BRIONES: Remember, the incident happened in the 24th.

Mr. Morong: Yes, ma’am.

SEC. BRIONES: Now sa 25th, kaming mga naiiwan na Cabinet members, apat kami: si DBM, si Environment, si General Cimatu; ako at saka si DSWD, nag-meet kaagad kami at binigyan kami ng briefing.

At that time, sinabi ko na — humingi ako ng payo, dahil as far as DepEd is concerned, gusto namin na ipagpatuloy ang opening ng schools. Humingi kami ng advice, sabi nila okay, that is why we announced that we will hold classes in Marawi, sa nationwide, lahat-lahat.

Ngayon, nung last week, nung I was in Cagayan de Oro, we had a briefing na, at saka at that time ano na — nage-escalate na ang labanan, tinanong namin ‘yung aming Security Adviser at saka tinanong ko rin ang Presidential Adviser on Security, si General Esperon.

Ang sabi niya, at that time na within 2 weeks after June 5, kasi sabi niya, ‘huwag munang isabay, kasi maski na mate-take over natin, mabawi natin ang Marawi, kailangan pa rin ng clearing operations, malay mo kung anong maiiwan doon sa mga buildings at saka kung ano-ano pang mga surprise na iiwan doon.’

Kaya sabi niya 2 weeks, so ‘yun ‘yung sinunod namin. Pero ngayon, considering the developments, hindi natin masasabi and we are waiting for their advice kung talagang matutuloy within two weeks.

But the way things are, baka the extension might be longer. And this is why we are encouraging Marawi families na naka-likas na i-enroll nila ‘yung mga bata nila para talagang walang interruption at saka ma-feel ng mga bata na at least there is a move towards normalization, na normal ang buhay nila, na magpatuloy ng klase.

So we are waiting for their advice, at we are seeking it now, humihingi na kami ng advice kasi alam namin na we will be meeting the press today. But the way things are, baka tatagal ‘yung clearing up operations even if mabawi na ang Marawi.

Let me give you ang example, kasi kayo lahat ay siyempre you are all, siguro at the very least, 50 years younger than I am, oo. At saka ang experience ko ng giyera at conflict was during the Japanese occupation, which is very brutal, and very violent.

Tapos nag-originate ng ward… Kanina tuwang-tuwa ako sa isang radio station na, ‘yung isang announcer nagsabi “bakwit”, kasi in Visayan kapag magsabing mga “bakwit”, ibig sabihin mga evacuees. That originated during the Japanese time.

Now, so we all fled at the mountains. I was only a baby at that time, I was newly a baby and mga 2 years ‘yun, 2 to 3 years old na ako, kasi ganun katagal ang gyera.

My mother was a teacher, alam mo ang ginawa niya? Kasi maririnig mo ‘yung mga bomba, mga eroplano maglilipad, she opened classes in the mountains.

Dinadan niya ‘yung mga bata, at saka tinuruan niyang magsulat gamit ang dahon ng saging, kasi ang dahon ng saging may lines ‘yan, kasali na ako, salimpusa ako, from 2 to 3 years old.

Kaya ‘yung mga bata natutuwa na natuto silang magbasa, magsulat, at hindi na nila naisip ‘yung mga — ‘yung tunog ng eroplano. At saka ‘yung mga istorya, hindi na nakakarating kasi everyday pumapasok sila, may school bell.

At saka ginawa ‘yan ng mother ko na isang teacher. So by the time na bumalik na kami sa peace time, usually ‘bakwit’ ang peace time, eh ano na, I was accelerated twice at the age of three dahil alam ko nang magbasa at mag-sulat.

Iyon ang personal ano ko, that’s why, I strongly believe whatever is happening in our country, for as long as we continue teaching our children, we continue classes, we add to normalization.

We make the children feel that there is something that they can look forward to aside from violence, the stories that they hear from the grown-ups. Ako I would hear of people beheaded, pregnant woman eviscerated and so on, bata pa ako but I remember.

Ang earliest memories ko siguro between 1 to 2 years old, and pero that gives you a sense of everything is all right, and everything is going to be all right.

Kaya kailangan namin ang tulong ninyo to encourage parents ngayon na nag-hesitate sila for whatever reason na ayaw nila, worried sila sa security, et cetera.

Yesterday showed that it is — our schools are safe. Yesterday showed that our schools are protected. Yesterday showed that our teachers are around. They are not waving placards. Iba ‘yung nag we-wave ng placards.

Ang teachers, they all reported for work. So and they are now teaching. So that kind of sense gives you the feeling, as I said, not only the feeling, the reality of normalcy, and of hope, of things to look forward to.

Mr. Morong: Ma’am follow up lang, at this point, would we be able to know how many schools are affected at kung ano ang estado ng mga school na ‘yun, baka naman mga na-bomba or whatever?

SEC. BRIONES: ‘Yung sa Marawi? 69, according to Tony, ang na-receive namin na report, 69 schools are affected.

There are 69 schools in Marawi. Pero ang tanong ni Joseph, how many are… Wala pa kasing report sa ARMM eh.

Mr. Morong: Okay. And are these damaged by the conflict?


Mr. Morong: Not yet?

SEC. BRIONES: Oo, kasi hindi tayo makapasok. Pero we have been continuously pleading na i-spare ang schools, huwag isama. Although, alam natin first day ang natamaan si Dansalan College. I feel very hurt, of course, kasi I’m from UCCP.

Mr. Morong: Ma’am, just one last. Just to encourage the families, because you have 20,000 and ‘yung mga naka-enroll lang parang 1,003 lang so you are looking at maybe 19-18 thousand students. Just to outline the procedure papano nila i-e-enroll ‘yung mga bata and wala nang hahanapin, sabi niyo bottom line, wala nang hahanapin just say Marawi, pasok na sa school, right? Procedure lang ho.

SEC. BRIONES: Ang procedure, simple. Para sa ordinaryong bata kumplikado kasi nag-pre-register sila January pa, at saka ‘yung… Kaya nga June 5 pasok na sila kaagad.

Ang procedure, punta lang sa principal. Kahapon lamang nasa Baseco ako, sa opening ng school day doon, eh while I was speaking may dumating, freshly arrived from Marawi, tatlong anak, kasama — isa elementary, isa junior high, isang senior high school.

Sabi lang namin, tinurn-over lang namin sa principal.

Mr. Morong: [off mic]

SEC. BRIONES: Wala, wala, wala. At saka hindi… At saka bawal ‘yung maghingi ng pera, oo kasi libre — libre ‘yan lahat.

Kaya nga… And I’d like to thank the press, ang laki ng suporta ninyo sa budget ng DepEd.

Kaya nga malaki ang budget ng DepEd, para makabigay ng all the assistance possible. Kaya nga it is possible for us to fund the salaries of the additional Marawi-speaking teachers na who may not be in our payroll at this time. As long as ARMM submits the list of their names.

Meron akong ano ‘yung memorandum 98, na which I issued June 2, 2017, nandito ‘yung emergency measures na sinabi ko, maybe we should distribute it, na sinabi ko na ano ‘yung emergency — opening of classes sinabi na namin, ‘yung reasonable measures, displaced students from Marawi City, we’ll seek to be accommodated.

I have directed to accept these emergency transferees even with the unavailability or insufficiency of the required transfer credentials. Tapos to track the emergency transferees, the receiving schools shall collect and record the relevant learner information.

Iyon lang, pangalan lang nila, name, address of learner if known, kung alam nila, tapos school of origin, receiving school, kung anong information na ibigay nila pero yung the usual long list, mga birth certificate, ‘di ba? Hinihingian kayo ng grado, transfer na pipirmahan ng principal, clearance, wala na yun, oo.

So nandito, maybe we should distribute this memorandum which is addressed to our officials in the Department of Education, and it is in the website, it just tells us. Okay. Ipapa-reproduce namin.

Henry Uri (DZRH): Hi, Secretary, good morning. Additional lang po doon sa binabangit ninyo regarding your memo. Any financial assistance ho doon sa mga apektadong mga bata from Marawi na lilipat sa ibang lugar considering the fact na siguradong medyo mahirap ang kanilang financial status ngayon?

SEC. BRIONES: Actually meron kaming external partnership service sa DepEd mismo. So far last night, six big business organizations have already expressed an interest even in the repair of the school buildings that is — these are damaged, financial assistance, et cetera.

Although ang tendency naming, of course, is to prefer material assistance, pero ‘yung magbibigay ng financial assistance lalo na sa private schools, kasi ang private schools dito gusto magbibigay ng assistance also to fellow private schools.

Ang sabi ko, kung pera gusto nilang ibigay, ibigay nila diretso kasi we are very — we want to be very careful about accountability.

Ayaw naming sabihin na nangongolekta si DepEd dahil sa ilang mga disasters, ang experience namin eh maraming tumatawag kung sinu-sino, sasabihin ay ‘si Secretary Briones pupunta sa ganito, pwede bang magpadala kayo ng pera sa ganitong account, i-LBC ninyo sa ganitong bank account.’

Eh hindi kami naggagawa ng ganun. Usually material assistance ang aming tinatanggap, kung pera, diretso sa school.

Mr. Uri: And another one, ma’am, posible hong mangyari na may mga bata from Marawi or any part of that region na apektado ng giyera na lilipat sa ibang lugar na ma-bully ng mga kapwa estudyante which is I think normal naman hong nangyayari ‘yan, na kakantiyawan ng kung anu-ano, terrorista, blah, blah, blah. Anong paala-ala po ninyo sa mga teachers, sa mga magulang, and then sa mga estudyante na magkaroon ng mga ganoong pangyayari?

SEC. BRIONES: Yes. Natake-up din yan last week sa Cagayan de Oro kasi na-expi…

Alam mo napakalakingtulong ng ating karanasan sa Zamboanga kasi marami din ‘yung evacuees, at saka yung bullying nagiging issue of concern.

Kaya ang sinasabi ko nga na kasi nandoon naman ‘yung mga regional directors na kailangan i-brief nila, instructionan nila ‘yung teachers dahil we have an Anti-Bullying Policy na where we have really very strict sanctions.

So ang sabi namin na bantayan at saka sila ang mangunguna sa pag-aruga ng mga bata na para maintindihan.

This is a good learning experience for our learners both evacuees and bakwit and non-bakwit pupils na mag-learn sila to be together.

Mayroong proposal nga na bakit hindi natin sila ihiwalay para ma-protect sila from bullying? Hindi ako sang-ayon doon kasi lalong titindi ‘yung whatever discrimination or misunderstanding might arise.

So as early as possible dapat i-integrate talaga sila. Pero ‘yan mag-uumpisa sa teacher at saka ‘yung mga bata palaging ulit-ulit na turuan ‘yan. Lalo na sa mga lugar na maraming — significant ang number ng Marawi children or even Muslim children as in Manila.

Mr. Uri: Thank you, ma’am.

Hannah Sancho (Sonshine Radio): Hi ma’am, just to follow up doon sa sinabi ni Kuya Henry regarding sa bullying. In case po na-bully po ‘yung mga Muslim students po na inilipat dito sa iba’t ibang part ng — na nag-eenroll na ngayon sa iba’t-ibang part ng Philippines. May liability po ba ‘yung mga public schools sakaling ma-bully po yung mga Muslim children doon, ma’am?

SEC. BRIONES: Depende sa circumstances no, kasi halimbawa, school, mayroong commitee, Jess, mayroong child protection, ano ‘yan sa United Nations eh, mandato ‘yan ng United Nations, mandato ng ating pamahalaan na lahat ng bata kailangan i-protect ‘no and from bullying, ‘yun ang pinagbabasehan ng ating policy.

So at the level of the school, merong anti-bullying committee, policy. At saka ako mismo, nakapunta ako sa mga barrio barrio, may mga posters na nag-aannounce na “Bullying is forbidden” and saka nasa teacher ‘yan. ‘Pag may mapansin siya na behavior na hindi kanais-nais, kailangan aksyunan niya kaagad.

Ms. Sancho: Kasi, ma’am, ‘di ba we have a lot of students, I mean, kaya ba i-monitor ng teacher ang ganoong kadaming student kung may nabu-bully ba doon sa mga bata?

SEC. BRIONES: Kung ano, kung ikaw ay teacher, kung trained ka na teacher, lalo na experienced ka na teacher, mahahalata mo, makikita mo naman ‘yan.

Kaya kung minsan, ‘yung mga bullying, sa labas ng eskwelahan ginagawa ‘no pero dapat bantayan talaga natin. So mayroong level of ano yan eh, review and imposition of sanctions, at saka kung mayroong lalabas na may neglect ang teacher… Sige, Jess.

USEC. JESS MATEO: Doon po sa… Una meron tayong Child Protection Policy na sinasabi ni Ma’am, ni Secretary Briones.

Sa katotohanan nga ‘yung Anti-Bullying Law, nangyari ‘yan after we issued the Child Protection Policy. Nandoon sa polisiya na ‘yun ‘yung mechanismo kung papaano matutugunan itong mga bullying na ito. Iyong Child Protection Committee, hindi lang po DepEd ‘to, kasama po dito ‘yung local community.

At ang ginagawa diyan kung may nangyari, ‘yung magulang at ‘yung batang nam-bully, kasama ‘yung binully at tsaka ‘yung magulang para sa ganoon ay mapag-usapan ‘yun, at depende yan doon sa gravity ng bullying.

SEC. BRIONES: Pero I would also like to emphasize na ang position ng Department of Education is dini-discourage namin ‘yung criminalization at a young age.

Kasi kung halimbawa when you’re 9 years old, a boy bullies another boy and that will be on record for the rest of his life, eh sisirain natin ‘yung buhay ng bully na ‘yan, so-called bully na baka hindi pa siya nag- grow-up.

So even as we are not completely in favor of lowering the age of, you know, ‘yung sinasabi natin na discernment on the part of a child, we have also very strict anti-bullying policies.

At saka tinitignan natin kung, halimbawa, nagpapabaya ang authorities and then at the level of the Central Office and the regional director, we take action. Yeah, an administrative case.

And this has happened, oo. We keep on reminding our teachers as well as students na hindi na tayo sa dark ages na ‘might is always right.

Ms. Sancho: Ma’am, balikan ko lang ‘yung schools sa Marawi. Sakali pong nasira po, sino po ‘yung magfi-finance ng rehabilitation, ‘yung ARMM or magpo-provide din po yung DepEd ng funds?

SEC. BRIONES: Mayroon nang policy, it will be the military kasi kung — ‘yun ang kanilang ano. Kasi they have, they have infrastructure groups ‘di ba?

Ano nga ang tawag ng mga bata…? Engineering Brigade. They will immediately, as soon as ma-regain na ang ano, they will move in and do the repair work.

After all, some of the damage was also… Kasi combatants sila, oo. They were part of the battle, and so on.

So gagawin nila kaagad kasi para hindi na tayo maghihintay nang napakahaba na proseso ng mga — at saka napakakapal ng dokumento na kailangan. Eh when the military moves, it moves. So ganoon.

Ms. Sancho: Secretary, pinapatanong po, sakali… I-a-allow po ba ng DepEd na maglalagay ng tents sa labas po ng schools na inaayos para makapagpatuloy po ng pag-aaral ‘yung mga estudyante?

SEC. BRIONES: Yes, yes. ‘Yung tawag nila diyan it’s a very nice word, and we always—

Ms. Sancho: Sorry po. Tent po sa evacu —

SEC. BRIONES: Temporary Learning Centers.

Ms. Sancho: Pwede na po sa evacuation area na tent para gawing — doon magcontinue pag-aaral ng mga bata or sa school lang po ‘yung tent?

SEC. BRIONES: Sa school, sa school.

Ms. Sancho: Hindi pwede doon sa evacuation area?

SEC. BRIONES: Not, not… Kasi ‘yung, ayaw nga naming gawing evacuation center ang schools eh. Kaya we want them freed. ‘Yun ang aming pakiusap sa local governments. Kung meron schools na ginagamit. Like in Iligan ta-tatlong schools lang naman eh.

At saka ang ginagamit dito ang gyms, usually kailangan nila big spaces. Hindi naman adequate ang isang classroom intended for 40 children as an evacuation center. Hindi talaga adequate, both for the evacuee and also for the child who is deprived of his classroom.

So, nasa gym sila et cetera. Pero as much as possible, mas maganda rin na talagang nasa ibang lugar sila para ‘yung disruption maiiwasan natin, okay.

Evangeline Fernandez (Police Files): Hi. Good afternoon, ma’am. I would like to ask, this is the first year of the K to 12 right? Now—


Ms. Fernandez: Second?

SEC. BRIONES: Last year, we had the first year.

Ms. Fernandez: Yes, yes, first year, yes. What are your platforms of program installed for the K to 12 this year?

SEC. BRIONES: As I was saying a while ago, we have challenges insofar as the classrooms are concerned, because some of the classrooms, particularly in Quezon City, the buildings are not yet finished and we know that we can resolve this in two or three months kasi nagka-catching up tayo.

But in the meantime, we are seeing to it that no child is left outside, in the mango tree or out in the street holding classes or attending classes because we are adjusting our schools and we have been going around the schools.

This afternoon, I will go to Quezon City to look at the status. We are making sure that space is available for each child, including halimbawa mga dating ginagawang opisina o ginagawang lounge et cetera, gagawing classroom in the meantime while waiting for the buildings to be finished.

But eventually, because this is going to be a never-ending problem, for as long as our population keeps on growing. And it will be a nightmare proportions, kung every year you have how many millions na madadagdag ‘no.

So we have to think of ways, unless there is a national policy. So we have to think of ways of accommodating every child, because the Constitution tells us to accommodate each child.

So we are thinking of creative ways like school communities. Kasi the problem is not so much laziness or inefficiency, perceived laziness of the DepEd, but it is DPWH who builds the schools.

It’s a question of the lack of buildable space. No one wants to sell to government for school buildings. No one wants to donate in the urban areas, spaces for schools.

Even if you want to build schools, we cannot build them. And so, we are thinking of school communities outside of the Metro Manila area.

We are considering four to five story or even high-rise buildings as they do in Japan, for basic education. But this has to be very carefully studied because the cost implications will be more than what DepEd can shoulder.

We will need the full cooperation of local governments units for this multi-story buildings. We are considering clustering, for example, in regions where schools are far from each other, with very, very few students na pagkumpul-kumpolin sila.

We are considering… I have mentioned this earlier. Relief… Developing what we call the ‘egg’, which is a complete computer classroom for 50 kids. Pwedeng dalhin ng helicopter, can produce its own water, and complete ‘yung educational facilities. Maski may bagyo, may signal, walang signal, it can produce its own signal. Very, very advance para madala sa remote areas and remote islands.

One school is offering the youth of its computer buses. Each bus will have 25 computers and one instructor to bring these… Ang motto namin with this school, I will mention the name of the school because I don’t have his permission.

Ang motto namin, “If Muhammad will not go to the mountain, this is the student, the learner, then the mountain will go to Muhammad. The school will go to where the kids are.” Kasi wala ngang classrooms.

So we have to think in these terms instead of thinking always of where to build schools. Kasi wala na talagang lugar sa urban places. And this goes true really for senior high school. Iyon ang talagang nangangailangan at this point in time. Okay.

Ms. Fernandez: Yes, ma’am. Regarding your concern about the communities, here in Metro Manila. Kasi ang problem po nila is this comfort room. Have you coordinated with the LGUs? Or have you ever inspected these some areas in this school that is in Metro Manila?

SEC. BRIONES: Ang design kasi ng schools is for each school building, halimbawa, right where the school building is inside, there would be comfort rooms. We had a very long debate about this in the Cabinet na… Kasi we have classrooms where the comfort rooms are inside the classrooms na.

Because you know how children are. They have… They may have sudden digestive problems and so on. So ayon. But this is related to a problem which is beyond DepEd and this is water.

So konektado ito sa ibang policy ng government, water and health. And Department of Health is also acting and campaigning very strongly. They have this wash… tawag nila wash na ano, where children—

If you have visited elementary schools, you will see washing area na sink ‘yan, panay gripo naka-hilera where children are taught to wash their hands before eating, wash their hands after eating and going to the comfort rooms.

So ayan, that’s part of the discipline. But the basic need of course is water. And that, government policy and the water agencies have to respond to because we have a few hundred municipalities which don’t have access to water. So ‘yung iba, well, buhangin siguro or—

But these are not, not their usual, regular ano. We’re talking only about one percent or just 1.5 percent shortages like what you are talking about.

I would like to apologize to my execom. They didn’t have a chance to talk. Yes… Thank you very much Malacañang Press Corps for always having a listening ear.

And again, we beg for your support insofar as convincing the parents are concerned and insofar as also encouraging students to go into science and mathematics and eventually become teachers of science and mathematics.

By the way, five of our kids ha, merong taga-Luzon, ilan ‘yung taga-Mindanao? Five kids joined an international contest, international contest and they were awarded for their research, iba’t-ibang research and asteroids are going to be named after them.

Yes, Filipinos kayang-kaya. We just have to suggest it to them, that they go in to these areas.

We are very, very capable of producing scientists and mathematicians. And for all you know, maybe your children or your nephews might become Nobel Prize winners.

Thank you. Maraming salamat.

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: We’ll name an asteroid after you.

SEC. BRIONES: I will interrupt you.


SEC. BRIONES: No, we just got word from ARMM Secretary of Education John Magno.

There are 22,000 affected students and there are 2,205 teachers but we still have to get from them the enrollment numbers in the ARMM regions kasi sa kanila ‘yun. Oo.

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: Thank you. All right. Yeah, we’ll give you an update on Marawi first.

As of [Monday, 5th of June] 2017, civilians rescued, 1,469; recovered firearms, 112; government casualties, killed in action, 39.

Significant developments as of 7 p.m., 5th of June 2017: Elements of the criminal Maute Group burned a portion of Banggolo area last night causing a huge fire and destroying the area. This is most likely part of their original plan;

  1. More trapped civilians from Saduc, Marawi City were rescued by elements of the 1st civil military operations battalion and personnel of G7, 1st Infantry Division;
  2. PRRD’s offer of P10 million additional bounty for the capture or neutralization of Isnilon Hapilon on top of all existing monetary rewards both from the Philippines and the US Government. PRRD’s offer of P5 million additional bounty for the Maute brothers also in addition to all existing monetary rewards. The monetary reward will be given in cash, no questions asked;
  3. Troops continue to make headway into inner areas of the city;
  4. Compounding development remains to be the use of civilians as human shields and madrasahs, mosques as staging and harbor areas.

Also, as of 7 p.m. 5th of June 2017: Troops recovered 52.2 million pesos cold cash in Marawi. It has been duly secured and turned over to the headquarters Task Force Marawi for safekeeping.

This debunks the claim that troops have been involved in looting as alleged by some quarters. The AFP clearly shows it’s doing its job with honor, integrity and stands on high moral high ground.

As of June 5, a total of ₱45,316,760 worth of augmentation assistance has been provided by the DSWD. This is not yet the consolidated report coming from the NDRMMC. But this is simply referring to the aid provided by the DSWD.

Also, as of 8 [am] last night, the Lanao del Sur Electric Cooperative reported that the 1st district of Lanao [del Sur] is still — comprised of 15 municipalities, still 0 percent energized. But the 2nd district of Lanao del Sur comprising 16 municipalities is 100 percent energized; Marawi [City] is 20 percent energized; Lanao del Norte is 100 percent energized.

We may entertain a few questions now.

Mr. Uri: Hi, Secretary. Do we have reports regarding the damages in terms of properties and ‘yung mga apektado negosyo ho?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: Regarding that, wala tayo. But tomorrow, we may have some updates about Lanao initiatives coming from the Department of Trade and Industry.

Mr. Uri: Opo. May posibilidad pa ho ba na ‘yung 20 million reward kay Mr. Hapilon is madagdagan ngayong may pera ng pagkukunan, plus 20 or 10? I think it’s 20?


Mr. Uri: Ten. May possibility ho na madagdagan? Kasi we have 52 million na ho eh baka ho may mas pagkukunan, mas lumaki ‘yung reward?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: ‘Yung 52, isinobe na ‘yon okay.

Mr. Uri: Sinobe? Teka ho muna. Ano ho ba ‘yung ibig sabihin ‘nong sinobe?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: Itinago na. I mean it has been put in safekeeping.

Mr. Uri: O, ‘yun. Okay for safekeeping.


Mr. Uri: Okay. Sige, sala… Iba ho kasi ‘yung isinobe baka— Thank you, sir.


Mr. Uri: Itinabi? Okay.

Leila Salaverria (Philippine Daily Inquirer): Good afternoon. Sir, what’s the funding source for the reward offered by the President?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: We do not have details regarding that. I do not have details regarding that. Okay. We can find out if you want.

Ms. Salaverria: Sir, yes. May we know later?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: I don’t know later but we will find out.

Ina Andolong (CNN Philippines): Good afternoon, sir. I believe along with the cash found doon sa Marawi this morning, meron din pong mga cheke. Is there any directive to AMLC to maybe investigate the bank records of the signatories of the checks?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: I’m sure that will be part of the progression of the investigation.

Ms. Andolong: Sir, just to clarify, under martial law and given the circumstances by which the money was found, mali-lift po ba ang bank secrecy law?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: We cannot make ano… I cannot make—

Ms. Andolong: I mean suspended or?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: Yeah, I cannot make any opinion on that. But we will find out as it progresses. Anything else? Yes?

Mr. Morong: Sir, the discovery. How is this going to help as far as uncovering those who may be behind Maute and ISIS is concerned?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: I don’t know exactly the direct — the direct implications of this. Although, I did inquire and apparently the money has been compiled over from the time of — between 2014 and 2016.

So it… I mean, all I can say is that, that it’s the… Based on the records I think, it has been — it has been slowly accumulated over the past two years.

Mr. Morong: From whom to whom, sir?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: We do not have those details.

Mr. Morong: Okay. So what kind of… Well, aside from AMLC, ano pa, sir, ‘yung mga areas of investigation, as far as this discovery is concerned? What are the directions…?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: The discovery was made very recently so we do not have details regarding that.

Mr. Morong: Sir, right now you can’t divulge pa ‘yung sino ‘yung consigned — ‘yung inisyuhan ng check?


Mr. Morong: We know or we don’t know yet or you don’t want to reveal muna?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: The checks have not been made… We’re not privy to the checks.

Mr. Morong: But the bank account numbers, yeah?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: I do not have the numbers but… I suppose that they can also ascertain the particular banks.

Ms. Salaverria: Sir, may I just know, get what — the Palace comment on the statement of Justice Carpio that the Philippines is not doing enough to protect our territory in the South China Sea? And he’s warning that we may be in danger of being independent in name but actually being made to follow the foreign policy of China?


Q: [off mic]

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: No, no, no, no. I’m just… I have two or three statements that I can read for you. First, I’d like to read this:

The President has respect for Justice Carpio. And he can assure the justice and the people of the Philippines that the policies of this administration are not only directed at protecting the sovereignty of the Republic.

They also directed that ensuring that our nation and our region remains conflict-free.

The President sees those two objectives as complementary and in the best interests of our country.

The President and his Cabinet are working with the governments of all nations with legitimate interests in the South China Sea to ensure that our national interests are protected and the region remains a zone of peace.

Confrontation does not serve the interests of our country and that is why we are committed to a process of engagement and negotiation that will ensure that our rights are respected and protected well into the future.

Having said this, our current China policy has achieved: 1. Substantive progress in talks in Beijing; 2. Reduced tensions; 3. Economic cooperation.

Question is, is it really better to sue China?

Ms. Salaverria: Sir, how about… Do you have anything to say about the concern that if the China becomes our biggest creditor, we will have our hands tied when it comes to maritime disputes?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: That’s better left with the DOF to say. Okay.

Deo De Guzman (RMN DZXL): Sir, paano natin pinaghahandaan ang rehabilitation ng Marawi to the point na — sa panahon na matapos na ‘yung gulo doon? Paano pinaghahandaan ng government? Do we have enough funds for it?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: Like I said, it’s… The plans are comprehensive. And it would be interesting for you to listen in tomorrow because DTI is going to have a… Meron po silang, they’re going to share, Marawi — Lanao initiatives tomorrow.

Mr. De Guzman: How comprehensive, sir? Can you give example of it na papanong pinaghahandaan ng government ‘yung rehabilitation and funding? Saan manggaling ang funding?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA:  I cannot give you the details, those are things under NDRRMC, National Disaster Risk Reduction Management.

So if you want, we can also invite them to be able to share those details.

Mr. De Guzman: Push ko lang konti, sir, ha. Funding, saan manggagaling, sir?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: Like I said, the NDRRMC would be the one to be able to answer you that.

Mr. De Guzman: So hindi niyo gagamitin ‘yung calamity fund? Walang—?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: I will not speculate. Okay. But there are agencies that will be able to answer that.

Mr. De Guzman: Sige, sir. Thank you.


Mr. Morong: Konti lang. Is the Chinese helping us in our operations in Marawi?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: As far as I know none. As far as I know.

Mr. Morong: Tapos, sir, doon sa pera, once established, who are the owners of the bank accounts, what possible charges are they going to face?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: That we’ll have to leave to — I supposed Sol Gen and DOJ.

Mr. Morong: DOJ. Sir, SC matter. Nag-file po ‘yung ilang senators including Senator De Lima to — sa Supreme Court, mandamus to ask Congress to convene in joint session, sir?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: Okay. We don’t have any… It’s a democratic process. They can go ahead and do so.

Mr. Morong: But is this not, parang ano na, hindi man overruled, pero parang irrelevant already because both Houses have expressed support, you think?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: Well, perhaps it really is irrelevant. Okay.

Rosalie Coz (UNTV): Sir, may we get the official statement of Palace regarding po sa mga OFW na nasa Qatar?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: On the overseas Filipino workers affected by Saudi Arabia, UAE, Egypt, Bahrain cutting ties with Qatar:

The decision of Saudi Arabia, UAE, Egypt, and Bahrain to cut diplomatic ties with Qatar may have some ripple effects on our overseas Filipino workers.

Concerned government agencies are now looking at the matter and would extend assistance and other support to OFWs who may be affected by such action.

End of statement.

Ms. Coz: Sir, ‘yun pong mga OFW na right now nagi-intend mag-apply ng trabaho, ang pamahalaan ba’y nagrerekomenda na i-consider po muna for the meantime?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: We will have to leave that to DOLE. DOLE. Okay. To Sec Bello.  We will defer to him.

Ms. Coz: Sir, second question. Sir, follow up ko lang po kung meron na pong issuance ng ad interim appointments sa mga bypassed Cabinet secretary?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: As far as we know, there’s nothing official yet.

Ms. Coz: Thank you, sir.

Mr. De Guzman: Sir, additional lang doon sa Middle East. Meron po bang orders from the President to Department of Foreign Affairs na kung ano pong dapat na gawin ng DFA regarding sa mga OFWs natin? Will they order repatriation of those who are going to be affected?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: We’ll have to… We’ll have to wait on DFA to be able to come out with that statement.

It’s a fairly recent development so we’ll just have to wait.

Mr. De Guzman: Thank you, sir.

— END —