Press Conference of Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella and DOT Secretary Wanda Teo (Sept 1, 2016)

PRESS CONFERENCE OF
PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ERNESTO ABELLA
AND
DEPARTMENT OF TOURISM SECRETARY WANDA TEO
[Press Briefing Room | 01 September 2016] 

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: Good morning. This morning we’re going to be joined by Secretary of Department of Tourism Wanda Tulfo Teo.

Let me just give you a brief introduction. She has been the forefront of Philippine tourism, most of her professional life. She rose from the ranks, starting her modest professional career in travel and tourism as a flight stewardess.

She eventually ventured in the travel and tours business by putting up her own very successful company called the ‘Mt. Apo Travels  & Tours,’ serving as its president and CEO from 1994 until she divested herself of any involvement in the company by June 2016, following her appointment to the Department of Tourism.

She has been unstoppable as a Philippine tourism ambassadress and she was chosen to become the President of the Davao Association of Tour Operators, Secretary of Tourism Congress, and President of the National Association of Independent Travel Agencies or NAITAS, the biggest travel agency organization in the country.

I’d like to introduce to you and call Secretary Wanda Corazon Tulfo Teo.

SEC. TEO: Good afternoon everybody. Morning pa ba? Sorry. Good afternoon everybody. Good morning everybody.

I believe you have the list of what we’ve been doing in the Department and I’m here to answer your questions and your concerns about what is it that you would want to know about our Department.

Pia Ranada (Rappler): Good morning, Secretary. I just like to ask how much money has the private sector already committed to the DOT for the hosting of Miss Universe and how sure are we that the government will not shell out any money for the–?

SEC. TEO: That’s a very good question. So far, DOT is not going to spend any money as I have promised the President and it’s the private sector, which is our partner, which is Chavit Singson’s group that’s going to raise the 11 million dollars fund for the Miss Universe.

And I’m very sure, 100 percent sure, that the government is not going to spend any money for the Miss Universe.

Ms. Ranada: Ma’am, how much money has Mr. Chavit Singson already raised as of today? Would you know?

SEC. TEO: I believe he has already raised half of that, which is the requirement of the Miss Universe, 60 percent– 50 percent down payment.

Chona Yu (Radio Inquirer): Ma’am, final na ba ‘yung magho-host, si Steve Harvey?

SEC. TEO: Oo, it’s a final because—Actually, under contract siya for five years I believe. So definitely, he’s again going to host the Miss Universe. Medyo, medyo—When I told the President about that, negative agad ang sabi niya: “Hindi pwede.” That was what he said. And he said: I’m going to talk to the Miss Universe na dapat hindi siya. So, that’s my problem.

Q: [off mic]

SEC. TEO: Yeah, that’s what he told me during our meeting with him. “I’m going to talk to Miss Universe because I don’t want him to be the host of the Miss Universe.”

Ms. Yu: Ma’am, siya lang po mag-isa, si Steve? Or, merong Filipino na magco-cohost sa kanya?

 SEC. TEO: Siguro, that is what I’m going to do, para medyo hindi talagang magiging—magagalit ang Presidente. Siguro maglalagay ako ng a girl that will… from the Philippines that will cohost.

Q: [off mic]

SEC. TEO: Wala pa. Probably one from the media.

Henry Uri (DZRH): Secretary, magandang umaga po. Anong inaasahan nating magiging tulong nito or adbentahe nito sa bansa pagkatapos ho ng pageant na ito?

SEC. TEO: I’m sure that after the Miss Universe, the Philippines will be in the world map. Everybody will be looking at us because during the Miss Universe contest, all the beautiful places, the destinations will be featured.

So makikita nila ‘yung Philippines and the candidates will be going around the country. There are places that we have identified wherein, they will be going. So after that, I’m very pretty sure that we will be in the world map after.

 Mr. Uri: Opo. ‘Yung pagpasok ho ng mga private sector, wala hong silang hininging kapalit, like Chavit Singson and the rest?

SEC. TEO: Wala naman. They’re the one that will put out the money, will shell out the money.

Joseph Morong (GMA 7): Ma’am, just staying on the topic and there’s another one. Can you announce na ba the mga cities that are being considered na pupuntahan and then the main city where that pageant will be held?

SEC. TEO: We have identified Davao, Cebu, Iloilo, and Vigan. But there are other countries that would like to host but then, so far, ito pa lang ‘yung final namin. And then, the main event will be in Manila.

Q: [off mic]

SEC. TEO: Yes.

Hannah Sancho (Sonshine Radio): Morning Secretary. Kino-consider po ba natin like sa mga previous hosting ng Philippines, laging nakikita ‘yung mga iba’t-ibang sayaw ng Pilipinas, pero hindi po masyadong nasho-showcase ‘yung mga ganda ng sayaw ng mga, ‘nong mga indigenous people. Like sa Davao, ‘yung mga Indak-Indak. Are you going to take this opportunity, since taga-Davao naman kayo, na ma-showcase din po ‘yung magagandang sayaw ng Davao. Like ‘yung mga magagaling sumayaw sa Indak-Indak, sa Kadayawan.

SEC. TEO: Yeah. We will consider that.

Ms. Ranada: Ma’am, before si President Duterte was bringing up the issue na ‘yung traffic po ng mga major events in Manila would be one reason why he doesn’t want to hold his events here. Didn’t he raise the concern na, Manila as the main venue of Miss Universe might cause traffic?

SEC. TEO: Kaya nga ‘di ba, we have transferred the ancillary events in the provinces, para ang, para medyo ma-lessen ang traffic dito sa Philippines, sa Manila. That’s why we have moved it to the provinces.

The main events na lang will be in Manila and it will be at MOA Arena and then the pre-pageants will be in the hotels, somewhere in that area also.

Mr. Morong: Ma’am may date na ba tayo? Month at least, or if you have the date already?

SEC. TEO: The date is January 30, 2017. But the candidates will start coming in by January 13.

Q: [off mic]

SEC. TEO: Two weeks, yes.

Marlon Ramos (Philppine Daily Inquirer): Secretary, last night, Senator Alan Peter Cayetano raised his concern about the effects of the negative effects of the, negative perception on the drug war in the tourism industry. Do you share the same concern with Senator Cayetano?

SEC. TEO: Sa akin naman if—Actually, when the ambassadors made a courtesy call to my office, the European ambassadors, they also raised this concern. I said, pag hindi naman siguro sila magko-commit ng crime and they will not going to bring drugs here in the Philippines, ba’t sila matakot pumunta sa country natin, ‘di ba?

Mr. Ramos: Ilan po ‘yung—What’s your target for foreign tourist arrivals for this–?

SEC. TEO: For 2016? Six million.

Mr. Ramos: For the remaining half po?

SEC. TEO: So far, as of July, kalahati na. So we will hit the target or even more.

Reymund Tinaza (Bombo Radyo): Hi, Ma’am. Good noon. Ma’am have we finalized the venue for the coronation night of the Miss Universe? Coronation night?

SEC. TEO: The date?

Mr. Tinaza: No, the venue.

SEC. TEO: It will be at MOA Arena.

Mr. Tinaza: Have we considered or how do we deal with that alleged threat of the ISIS to the Miss Universe?

SEC. TEO: We’re not actually worried about that because the military will take care of that. We’ve been coordinating, we’ve been meeting with the National Security Council.

Mr. Tinaza: Last, and how do we go about with some to be considered as eyesores in the Metro Manila? Meron ba kayong planong magpa-bakasyon din sa mga kababayan nating mga street dwellers?

SEC. TEO: I think we’re going to do that too, like when we did with the APEC and during the arrival of the Pope, when they came over, when he came over.

Mr. Tinaza: Thank you, Ma’am.

JP Bencito (Manila Standard): Good morning, Ma’am. Ma’am, magkano po ‘yung tinitingnan natin na revenues or kita ng tourism sector after the Miss Universe hosting next year?

SEC. TEO: We’re not focus on the monetary consideration because wala kaming makukuhang pera dito because as I said, the private sector will take care of it. It will be the group of Mr. Singson.

Ang sa amin na lang is the tourist arrivals, the tourists that will come here after the Miss Universe and during the Miss Universe.

Mr. Bencito: Ma’am, on another topic, ‘yung ASEAN po we’ll be hosting next year po. Meron na po ba tayong nakikita na dates or preparations na ginagawa po ng gobyerno?

SEC. TEO: Inaayos pa namin ‘yan. We’re working on that.

Mr. Bencito: Thank you, Ma’am.

Kris Jose (Remate): Ma’am balikan ko lang po ‘yung ayaw ni Pangulo kay Mr. Steve Harvey. May binigay po ba siyang specific na reason or simply ayaw niya lang na mag-host si Mr. Harvey?

SEC. TEO: Medyo pabiro eh, when he told me, when I said: Mr. President, ‘yung emcee will still be Steve Harvey and he reacted, he said: “What? Ayoko ‘yun.” That was what he said. I said, but, he will really be because he’s under contract. He said: It’s okay. I will talk to the organizers. ‘Yung ang sinabi niya.

Ms. Jose: Thank you Ma’am.

Maricel Halili (TV 5): Hi, Ma’am. Good morning. Ma’am, meron bang preference si Presidente kung sino gusto niya pumalit kay Steve, if ever?

SEC. TEO: Wala siyang sinabi. So, I think para to balance, para hindi siya magalit, I’ll suggest that we will have somebody from here, probably a media woman to host. You could be one of them.

Q: [off mic]

SEC. TEO: Baka pwede ikaw. ‘Di ba? I’ll suggest.

Ms. Halili: Ma’am, on other issue. Ma’am is it true that the Department of Tourism is planning to change the slogan?

SEC. TEO: Yes, definitely. We will change it by next year.

Ms. Halili: Ma’am meron na ba tayo na slogan in mind na pwedeng ipalit doon sa ‘It’s more fun in the–?’

SEC. TEO: Wala pa. We’re working on… We have contracted the advertising company to submit so probably by mid-next year.

Ms. Halili: Ma’am, ano po ‘yung ating consideration in choosing the new slogan?

SEC. TEO: It’s more on change. They would, we would like to show them that we have a new Philippines.

Mr. Morong: Ma’am, ita-timing niyo ba ‘yan doon sa—Kasi January ‘yung Miss Universe, ‘di ba? I mean, might be a good time to launch a new slogan, just in case.

SEC. TEO: Probably middle of the year.

Mr. Morong: Middle of next year?

SEC. TEO: Next year.

Mr. Uri: Secretary, do you have like five or 10-point agenda that you would want to achieve before the end of your term?

SEC. TEO: Before the end of my term, I would like to focus – these are the agendas that I would like to focus: Infrastructure development, that is very important to me, the roads and bridges going to the destinations must be improved; we would like to have a product development; we would like to develop new destinations. There are some destinations that are underdeveloped and we would like to focus on promotions.

Mr. Ramos: Secretary, did the President say anything if Steve Harvey insists on hosting the pageant? What would happen to him?

SEC. TEO: ‘Yun ‘yung problema ko eh, up to now.

Mr. Ramos: But seryoso po ‘yung sinabi ‘nong Presidente na he would talk to the organizers?

SEC. TEO: I don’t know if he was serious. But when he told me, medyo he was not laughing. So medyo serious siguro kasi he was not laughing.

Mr. Ramos: How about ‘yung mga—Would you bring the matter to the pageant organizer?

SEC. TEO: Yes of course. I will tell them.

Benjie Liwanag (DZBB): Ma’am, good afternoon. Yes, Ma’am, one of the points that you’re considering is the security. Right now may problema tayo somewhere in Mindanao, but not actually in some parts. Did also the Department of Tourism consider the security?

SEC. TEO: Yes, when the group will be—We will be bringing in five candidates in each provinces. So, when they go to Davao, the military will take care of it. So every places will have their own security that will take care of the candidates.

Mr. Liwanag: Have you received any threat coming from any other group as of right now, validating or something, Ma’am?

SEC. TEO: Wala naman.

Mr. Liwanag: Thank you very much.

Dexter Ganibe (DZMM): Secretary, good morning. Clarification lang, ‘yung June 30, ‘yun na po ‘yung coronation night o start pa lang ng mga activities?

SEC. TEO: January 30. January 30 would be the coronation night. The candidates will be coming in on January 13. They will be staying here and they’ll be going to places.

Mr. Ganibe: So activities would be before January 30, 2017?

SEC. TEO: Yes, before January 30.

Ms. Ranada: Ma’am just a follow-up on the Metro Manila traffic. Does President Duterte know that the main event will be in Manila and if so, what are the measures he will take to prevent traffic? For example, will you be not hosting mga parades on main thoroughfares; is that something you’re considering?

 SEC. TEO: Yes, that’s what I’ve been considering – no parades. The event will be at MOA Arena. So it’s more focused on that place. Let’s say the pre-pageant will be in the hotels, so to avoid traffic. Kasi ‘yun ang unang concern niya eh. And, I’ve been coordinating with Secretary Tugade on this.

Mr. Morong: Sino pong—May magiging bang official broadcaster? TV broadcaster I mean.

SEC. TEO: 
‘Yung, the one that’s going to handle the media is Solar. Ang Solar.

Mr. Morong: ‘Yung kay Tieng ‘yan ‘no?

SEC. TEO: Kay Tieng, yeah. And then siya ‘yung, siya ‘yung nag-handle and then he’ll care of kung saan–

Mr. Morong: Distributing it?

 SEC. TEO: Distributing it. Yes.

Mr. Morong: So ang official partner will be the Solar?

 SEC. TEO: Yes, Solar.

Thank you very much and–

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: Alright. Thank you Secretary Teo. Alright. Before we begin, we’d like to start with about five key points. We’d like to begin with a bit of good news, especially to SSS members who cannot visit the SSS offices during weekdays, given their working schedule.

In celebration of their anniversary month, a 109, 1-0-9, SSS branches will be open on all Saturdays of September to accept Loan Restructuring Program applications.

The 109 branches of the Social Security will be open every Saturday for— and from 8, regular office hours and there will be 43 in the National Capital Region or Metro Manila, 43 branches will be open; in the rest of Luzon, 31 branches will be open; in Central Visayas and Western Visayas, 14 branches will be open; and Mindanao will have 19 branches open.

And this will all be open to accepting Loan Restructuring Program applications. The whole of September.

Number 2, regarding the Libingan burial, LNMB issue, we’re still under sub judicial restrictions, so it applies and the government’s position will be presented next week by the Solicitor General.

Also, we’d like to refer to Bishop Bacani’s statement that drug killings are worse than Martial Law. First, we just like to refer to the fact that drug killings again are not state-sanctioned. And that, we also have to clearly and carefully make reference to the fact the certain deaths involving policemen may actually be cleansing operations by scalawags in uniform. And that these matters are already under investigation.

We’d also like to emphasize the fact that phase one of the campaign against drugs has been successfully, has been successfully implemented and mainly to create awareness of the depth of the drug menace.

That phase two of the campaign has already started, with the investigation of police officers involved in illegitimate operations.

It is important to note that in less than a hundred days or just about a third month, just under the third month of the Duterte administration, we have already achieved positive results.

Regarding Martial Law, the President himself has again and again stated that he will not invoke that. And in fact, he has not invoked emergency powers in the campaign against the terrorist ASG group.

Number 4, regarding the Constitutional Commission, it is hoped that the President will be signing this on, by, in the month of September so that they can begin to study, to begin to study the provisions of the revision, for the revision.

And number 5, a recent survey indicated that – well, anyway, 2016 Happiness Index Report, based in July, the month of July show that civil servants in the country gave their jobs the highest rating of 6.6, using a scale of zero to 10, in which 10 meant ‘extremely happy,’ 5 ‘neutral,’ and zero ‘extremely unhappy’ according to JobStreet.com.

So, you’ve got a happy government.

Mr. Morong: Doon sa phase two, you said that there are investigations of police officers in illegitimate operations. Number 1, how many are these; and when you say illegitimate operations–?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: I mean thought to be illegitimate operations.

Mr. Morong: Sir, ilan ‘tong mga police na ‘to?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: I don’t have the numbers but it’s already in the investigation.

Mr. Morong: So doon sa 700, there were illegitimate operations there?

 PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: I mean–

Mr. Morong: 700 deaths sir?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: Yes.

Mr. Ramos: Sir, ‘yung binabanggit po niyo tsaka ni Secretary Martin Andanar na the government, the Duterte administration’s drug war is now on its second phase. Isn’t that contradicting to what the President has repeatedly said that those drug users are beyond rehabilitation, they are beyond redemption, ‘yung mga gumagamit ng shabu.

 PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: How is that contradictory?

Mr. Ramos: That now you’re entering the second phase which is rehabilitation, when the President said–

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: Well, among other things I said, for example, swift disposition of justice, looking into the cases, investigating. This is part of a whole menu of the second phase.

Mr. Ramos: But the main part of the second phase is rehabilitation–?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: Also, rehabilitation, yes.

Mr. Ramos: Tapos, sinabi rin ng Presidente that the government has in fact no funds for going into that?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: Ang ano—But we do have people who have already promised and have committed to—for example providing for rehabilitation centers and so we have that, we have access to certain provisions.

Mr. Ramos: Private groups, sir?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: May mga private donations.

Mr. Ramos: Sir, hindi siya sir contradicting doon sa sinasabi ng–?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: Hindi naman lahat ang ano, basically the President was highlighting the fact that there are certain elements of those who have already, have been taking the drug… that are in effect rehabitable.

 Mr. Tinaza: Sir, as you have, I think you mentioned the last briefing, that you will clarify whether the police officers are entitled, allowed, or qualified to also–?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: To receive ‘no.

 Mr. Tinaza: Yeah, to receive two million?

 PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: Well, you know, I did check out on that and it looks like there are within the police, P. Dela Ro… I mean — what’s his name? — Chief Dela Rosa did say they have their own system of rewards and then he quoted the President as saying that whoever will—He quoted the President… He seems to have quoted the President as saying that there will be financial rewards also.

Ms. Halili: Sir, I know the government is proud on the achievement with regards to drug campaigns but apparently the Human Rights Watch described our situation as, at least we already have human rights calamity. Kasi ang sabi po, for the first eight weeks of Duterte administration, ‘yung number daw ng mga suspects na napapatay is already times 10 compared doon sa first six months of the year. What can you say about this, sir?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: Well basically, I think si Senator Cayetano has made explanation and made proper representation of the government position that first, they should come and observe what really is happening on the ground and that secondly also, that the statistics, if properly looked at, showed different picture, that show a different picture.

That he’s also asking that these people really should come and not just base their opinions on headlines, sound bites, and he also made reference that there are certain people who are out to discredit the current administration and that for a proper and objective assessment, they should come and observe.

Mr. Morong: Sir, meron daw pong na-aresto and then smuggler, I think, and then nagsabi ‘yun na may assassination plot against the President. Does the Palace know about it?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: I’m sure by this time they heard about it.

Mr. Morong: And what is the reaction of… this is an assassination plot against the President?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: Well, if I put it, with the President, he seems to be pretty much untouched by all these threats.

Mr. Morong: Not worried about it?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: Not worried. Concerned but not worried.

Ace Romero (Philippine Star): Sec, question. About the reward for policemen. We’re just wondering, why are we giving extra rewards for these people considering this is part of their job? Bakit po?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: Well, I don’t know the– but based on the logic of the thing, these are extraordinary times and they demand extraordinary measures. Okay.

Mr. Romero: Kasi merong parang regulations, I think, if I’m not mistaken, sa military you cannot… they’re not entitled to rewards kung napatay nila ‘yung mga wanted. So parang may mga ganoong rules.

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: So, whatever it is, it will just– the President has mentioned that there are rewards and they will have to work it out, the process of it. Okay?

Ms. Sancho: Sir, is President Duterte open sa idea, doon… Sinabi po ni Abuera, Leyte Mayor Espinosa na gusto niya maging state witness po? Ready po siyang ilahad lahat ng information, even confirming Senator De Lima and other na nasa matrix na minention po ng Pangulong Duterte pero hinold niya po ‘yung ibang information unless maging state witness po siya at maging under ng Witness Protection Program.

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA:  I suppose that’s under consideration.

Trisha Macas (GMA News Online): Good morning, sir. Sir, the PDEA, NBI, and the DOJ Secretary Aguirre denied involvement in preparing Duterte’s narco list. So, yesterday po ito during the budget hearing. So may we know the source of the President when he released the list?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: Well, he is privy to certain other sources of intelligence and what he had is a consolidated report.

Ms. Macas: Sir, the investigation, did it start when he assumed office?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: What investigation?

Ms. Macas: Sorry, did the list– Sabi niya po kasi the list, parang it went through revalidation. So did… ‘yung consolidation po ba nagsimula when he assumed office or before?

 PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: I’m, not sure about exactly when it happened but a list has been in existence even before he came into office. Thank you.

Ms. Macas: Thank you sir.

 Ms. Yu: Sir, ano pong update doon sa sinabi ng Pangulo na ‘yung China tutulong sa pagpapatayo ng mga rehab centers? Tapos pangalawa po, kung meron na po bang naumpisahan na construction ng rehab center?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: That was mentioned by the President, right? It was mentioned. Actually, there is… the groundwork has begun. Groundwork, initial groundwork has begun.

 Ms. Yu: Saan po sir?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: As far as I know, it’s in Northern Luzon.

Ms. Yu: Nueva Ecija?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: Alright. Anybody else?

Mr. Liwanag: Sir, can you update us on the matrix?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: I don’t have any updates on the matrix.

Mr. Liwanag: Okay. There are also lists that the President is holding right now. What happened to that? Did the Palace or anybody validated the report that the President received, sir?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: I’m sure they’re going through their own processes.

Mr. Liwanag: Kailan po ilalabas ng Pangulo ‘yun, sir?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: You know, the President is a very strategic thinker. So it will come out when he believes it’s in the right time.

Mr. Liwanag: Second, ipapasok ko na lang pero it’s not related on drug. Pero doon sa mga government na corrupt daw sir, magkakaroon din siya ng another list. Are you privy about the list?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: No, the names are very confidential.

Mr. Liwanag: Okay. Thank you very much sir.

Ted Tuvera (Daily Tribune): Sir, related pa rin po ‘to sa drugs. Kasi former Pangasinan Governor Espino released the statement kagabi na he met with President Duterte last Tuesday po ata. Parang sinabi niya po doon na parang pinagkakaisahan siya ni former Secretary De Lima at ni former Secretary Mar Roxas. How did the President reacted to such claims?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: I’m not sure about how he reacted to that but he did make that statement ‘no? I don’t know about the personal reactions of the President.

Mr. Tuvera: So is the President encouraging ‘yung ibang mga napangalanan na, na i-meet siya personally, sir?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: That would be best. That would be best. Okay.

Ms. Ranada: Sir, the President always says that the summary killings aren’t sanctioned by the State but what are the targets of the investigation on the drug syndicates he claims are responsible for this? Like, is there a task force to crack down on these drug syndicates given na nga na the ones they’ve killed is even more than the ones that police have killed during operations? It’s extraordinarily large number.

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: Alright. Okay. That’s going to be– We assume that’s going to be part of phase two, the speedy disposition of justice and looking into the specifics.

Mr. Bencito. Hi sir, good morning. Sir, may we know the rationale why the security in Davao, Cebu, and Manila were heightened by the military?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: Were heightened by the military?

Mr. Bencito: There’s heightened alert being— that was raised by the military sir on these metropolitan areas.

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: That was quite recently, right?

Mr. Bencito: Yes sir.

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: Alright. Considering the activities down south, it’s only logical, I believe and this is my opinion, but it’s only logical that security be tight, heightened in the major metropolitan areas outside of Metro Manila.

Mr. Bencito: Sir, may we get a statement from the Palace on the comments… in reaction to a statement yesterday night by the Abu Sayyaf? They warned the military that they must prepare because a terrorist group, Abu Sayyaf, plans to launch attacks against the military sir. They will test the strength of the soldiers of Duterte. That was the quote and they will launch attacks against the military.

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: All I can say is that the President is aware of these and the President is very determined to make sure that the sources of terrorism in the country shall be properly neutralized.

Mr. Bencito: Sir, do we have specifics or do we have steps that will be undertaken in the next few days? Because they promised to start the war starting today, September 1.

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: Well, like you said, the heightened security all over metropolitan areas.

Mr. Bencito: Aside from that sir, specifically in Sulu and Basilan?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: That would be strategy and we’re not privy to that.

Mr. Bencito: Sir, another question. Are the soldiers that were sent by the military sir, the 7,500 soldiers in Sulu, specifically, are they prepared to combat the ASG sir?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: We assume so.

Mr. Bencito: Okay. Thank you sir.

Mr. Ganibe: Sir, other issues. Can you elaborate ‘yung ‘concerned but not worried’ on the security ng Pangulo? Doon sa assassination.

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: Well, you know, like if you listen to the President, he eats it for breakfast, You know, this threat, he eats threat for breakfast. Meaning to say, it’s not something new to him. It’s just that, I said again and again, that he puts his life, his honor, the presidency on the line for his campaign. So it’s something that the President– it should give us cause. He is, you know, you might call it– It’s a very heroic stand, it’s a very heroic stand and in that case, it’s… because he really understands that there is a call to war, in several fronts already. War on drugs, war on terrorism, and war on crime. So he’s really engaged in several fronts and he is very, very well aware that his life is constantly under threat.

Mr. Ganibe: Follow-up sir. Ngayon nabunyag at may nagsabing meron ngang assassination plot ang Pangulo, mababawasan ba ‘yung kanyang mga biyahe sa mga lalawigan?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: Well, I doubt it. I doubt it.

Mr. Tuvera: Secretary, Vice Mayor Paolo Duterte also requested for heightened security para sa pamilya nila sir. So ibig sabihin po ba sir… ano po ba ‘yung thoughts ni Presidente naman sa pag protekta sa pamilya niya naman sir?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: The President is very inclusive and he feels the same way for the people as for his family so I’m sure he also takes care of his own family. Thank you.

Mr. Liwanag: On the security. Meron po ba tayong reports coming from intelligence na meron daw mga foreigners na sumasali na sa Abu Sayyaf?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: That has been mentioned. That has been mentioned in the past.

Mr. Liwanag: How true, right now are they in Sulu right now?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: We don’t know about those things. I mean– these things are mentioned in passing.

Mr. Liwanag: Okay. So they have a cell here in the Philippines, alive?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: I don’t know about the cell. I don’t know about the cell, about who, but it has been made mention that there are foreign-looking people around as there are many foreign-looking people around here.

Sandali, we need to give way to Secretary Teo.

SEC. TEO: I just like to clarify because there is a pearl that was found in Palawan. I think 35 kilos. I would just request the people in Palawan that’s in the Office of the Mayor to take care of it while we’re looking for a [gemologist] to check on the authenticity of this pearl.

And also, I would like to clarify because I think I missed out the Manila eyesore that somebody asked me. Anyway, we will take care of them in a more humane way. Secretary Judy will take care of them, I assure you that. That’s all.

Mr. Liwanag: Why MOA, not Araneta? Why Mall of Asia and not Araneta, ma’am?

SEC. TEO: I think MOA is bigger. It’s bigger. In fact, the Miss Universe people already went and checked the area and they wanted MOA to be the place where the contest– Yeah, sila mismo ang pumunta doon.

Mr. Liwanag: Okay. Thank you very much for that Ma’am.

Q: Secretary, ‘yung mga vendors po, ‘yung mga vendors, mga street dwellers, magkakaroon din sila ng excursion? Will they be–?

SEC. TEO: I leave that to Secretary Judy to take care of them. I think we will be doing… We’ll take care of them in a more humane way.

Q: But they will be taken off the streets during the duration of the pageant?

SEC. TEO: I’ll just leave it to Secretary Judy to take care of that.

Ms. Vanz Fernandez (Police Files): Ma’am, how will you coordinate with other foreign countries to boost up tourism in the Philippines?

SEC. TEO: The foreign?

Ms. Fernandez: How will you coordinate with the other foreign countries to boost up tourism in the Philippines?

SEC. TEO: They will be coming in. Their candidates will be coming in, so I’m sure these— the people in their country will take care of them. I’ve been meeting with the ambassadors. They’ve been doing courtesy calls and I’ve been asking them that we would like their tourists to come to our country and we would like to invite their tour operators as well as media to come and see our country.

Ms. Rocky Ignacio (PTV 4): May phone in question daw ma’am, kung ire-request niyo daw na magkaroon ng holiday sa Miss Universe?

SEC. TEO: I leave it to the President. Baka papayag si Presidente.

Ms. Sancho: Sir, can you confirm sir kung nasa Office of the President na po ‘yung draft ng Executive Order on the appointment of members of a Constitutional Commission?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: I was informed… That was supposed to be the process, it should have been submitted yesterday. Okay.

Ms. Sancho: Pero nasa Office of the President na po? Ay wala pa?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: Hindi ko chineck.

Ms. Sancho: Okay. Kasi ang follow-up ko sana sir kung nasa Office na, kung may timeline po ‘yung Pangulo, kailan po niya ia-appoint ‘yung mga taong members doon?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: Antayin na lang po natin ‘yan, okay? Thank you. But we’d like to do it, like I said, we expect that things will be proceeding within the month of September.

Ms. Sancho: Sir, last question. May mga bagong appointments ho ba tayo sir? Kasi may mga confirmation, may mga statement na po sila of–?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: Right, right. I will come up with a complete list either today or tomorrow.

Ms. Sancho: Like, Terry Ridon sir, Commission on Urban Poor? Can you confirm po?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: We’ll clarify the entire list by either this afternoon or tomorrow.

Ms. Sancho: Thank you sir.

Ms. Fernandez: Sir, I’m here.

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA:  You’re there.

Ms. Fernandez: Kasi you were staring on your notes. Who is behind this assassination plot? Do you have any idea? Don’t tell me you don’t know because you have an intel.

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: The plot thickens. I wish I could tell you that and you know, I’d charge you a fee for that. But no, I do not know.

Ms. Fernandez: Are you sure, sir?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: Do you actually doubt my integrity? No, no, honestly–

Ms. Fernandez: Sir because you’re a spokesperson, maybe you could probably say a certain group?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: I would if I could but you know, if I did. But I cannot honestly say and for whatever its worth, whatever I say ought to be fact-based, not opinion-based.

Mr. Morong: Sir, punta ng Indonesia si Presidente and I think the family of Mary Jane has attempted to talk to someone in the Palace just this morning. Ano po ‘yung plano ni Presidente? Is he going to meet with Mary Jane in Indonesia?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: Given the opportunity, I think he will.

Mr. Ramos: Sir, ‘yung order lang po ni Presidente Duterte to the police and the military not to arrest Nur Misuari if in case he surfaces. Isn’t that an order to violate the law?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: Hindi naman, it’s, you know, it’s not a question of violation because if the man is not fleeing anyway, you know, the man is there and he’s willing to talk and they’ve made arrangements and they will meet. It’s just that it’s a strategic move because again and again, he says, if the man– should anything happen to the man while he is in our custody, it would really be trouble for us.

Mr. Ramos: But sir, we all know that only the courts can either issue or lift arrest warrants. Why didn’t he just order, for example, the DOJ to file a motion to dismiss the cases against Nur Misuari?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: I don’t think the cases are being dismissed. He is still meeting up, it’s just a question of strategic choice, tactical choice, I’m sorry. It’s the tactical choice.

Mr. Ramos: Thank you sir.

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: Thank you very much. Happy weekend, guys.