Press briefing by PNoy on February 14, 2011

Press briefing by His Excellency Benigno S. Aquino III, President of the Philippines:
On the possible emissary to Taiwan, on Comelec & Cabinet appointments, Senator Trillanes, General Carlos Garcia, Commodore Rex Robles, and on working on Valentines Day

East Avenue Medical Center, Quezon City
February 14, 2011; 11:00 hrs. EST

Q: Sir, have you chosen an emissary to Taiwan and will it be a government official or a private citizen?

PRESIDENT BENIGNO S. AQUINO III: It will most probably be a private citizen. As you know, there are restrictions under the One China Policy. Have I chosen? I’ve talked to the person I had in mind. He’s going through dotting the I’s and crossing the T’s, just to make sure that there are no other attendant issues. He hasn’t agreed yet, and, we are still looking for others who might. We will determine who is the best to convey all the details of the incident.

Q: Sir, the person you’re thinking about; was he formerly with government?

PRESIDENT AQUINO: One of the people I’m thinking about. It might even be a set of people that we will send.

Q: Sir, follow up lang po. Does the government feel that it’s between a rock and a hard place in dealing with this issue, since you have China, which you want to normally reach relations with and Taiwan which holds 80,000 Filipino workers?

PRESIDENT AQUINO: That is a reality that we find ourselves in, but at the same time, I think the main focus here was most states informed us of criminal activities happening on our soil. Our first priority has to be addressing the criminals, getting them behind bars, and sending them through the appropriate processes. That’s the primary interest.

Q: Happy Valentine’s, Mr, President. Any plans for your Valentine’s Day today, sir?

PRESIDENT AQUINO: Yes, I have plans and I’ll keep them to myself.

Q: Birthday wish daw po kay Kris?

PRESIDENT AQUINO: Alam mo, magkasama kami noong isang araw. Mayroon siyang birthday celebration. Parang napakagaan ng dating niya; napakasaya niya. Sabi ko sa kanya, ipinagdarasal ko na “tuloy-tuloy sana ‘yung kagaanan ng kalooban mo”—ang absence of problems niya, at saka ‘yung pagiging talagang masaya.

Q: Sir, mayroon pong itatanong ang lahat. Si Len Lopez daw po ba ang ka-date niyo?

PRESIDENT AQUINO: As I’ve said, I will keep my plans to myself.

Q: Pero, you’re personally happy this Valentine’s?

PRESIDENT AQUINO: It’s … I can’t take a day off for any day, be it my birthday, Christmas, New Year, etc. There are attendant duties. Somehow, you cannot really divorce yourself from the seriousness of the job and try to have a few light moments. Somehow … it’s the heavy stuff that intrudes into the light moments, every time.

Q: Sir, you promised this week you will announce ‘yung revamp ng Cabinet. And also, can we expect the appointment sa Comelec?

PRESIDENT AQUINO: ‘Yung sa Comelec, we’re still vetting. Alam mo as soon as we have finished vetting some of the candidates—and there are close to about 20 … actually over 20. Everyday, mayroon parin mga nagpapadala, putting in their two-cents worth as to better candidates; so we haven’t finished with the Comelec. ‘Yung sa Cabinet, we’re just finishing a few more details, pero hopefully we’ll be able to execute it this week.

Q: Sir, there were reports that it will involve the Foreign Affairs Secretary. Is that report more or less true?

PRESIDENT AQUINO: Can we just finish this week? We’ll have clarity before the end of the week. Ok?

Q: Sir, the government is pusing for this Responsible Parenthood Bill. Can we say now categorically that we will not be pushing for iyong pending Reproductive Health Bill in Congress; and we will be seeking the Responsible Parenthood Bill instead?

PRESIDENT AQUINO: ‘Yung Responsible parenthood, Basically … there are a lot of common grounds … there are also common grounds with the Catholic Church, but we want to have a focus on the idea that bringing children into this world really is a responsibility of the parents, who would know best as to their capabilities to nurture all of these children. So it’s really a reorientation of what the reproductive health debate has been. This is really a refocusing on the fact that we are focused on the quality of life afforded the children, and also, focused on the idea that responsibility has to be borne out by the parents together with the churches they belong to and the State.

Q: Sir, this Responsible Parenthood Bill does not set a population growth target. Sir, does this mean that the government does not see population growth as a threat to economic growth?

PRESIDENT AQUINO: Marami ho kasing nakikialam at nagseset ng ideal number. Those who have advocated one child per family are now regretting that they did so. Those that didn’t have a policy also regretted they didn’t have a policy. So ulitin ko lang no? Sino ba ang makakaalam kung paano o kung kaya nilang tustusin sa pagaaral, sa paggamot, etc.? They are aware of their limitations and capabilities; therefore it is really an empowering of the parents themselves, and even the unborn for that matter—that we are striving to achieve, not the absolute numbers. We really believe that it will be best left to the discretion and decision of the parents themselves.

Q: Have you spoken to Senator Trillanes? Because Rex Robles is claiming that he told you kung sino ‘yung protector talaga ni General (Carlos) Garcia.

PRESIDENT AQUINO: I haven’t had the opportunity to talk to Sonny Trillanes. At most our communication has been through formal documents—letters … after he has been released, baka letter; singular—and this was not the topic that was discussed in the letter. ‘Yung kay Mr. Robles, parang marami siyang free time siguro; eh ‘di kung ano-ano ang nako-concoct.

Q: Sir, you have no idea what he is talking about? About kung sino ‘yung protector talaga ni General Garcia?

PRESIDENT AQUINO: I have my ideas, but I am the chief executive. I execute the laws of the land, and part and parcel of that is that you do not make accusations without the corresponding evidence already at hand. And once we have it, it will be the DOJ at the forefront of filing the necessary cases.

Q: So you have an idea kung sino ‘yung talagang protector ni General Garcia?

PRESIDENT AQUINO: We had, a few years back, a general concept of what transpired. Maybe we’re getting more and more details of each and every facet of what transpired. Then it will be up to, primarily, the Secretary of Justice, and other members of the Legal Team, who, for one, determine what cases can be filed and should be filed, and then in what sequence we should be filing them to afford the maximum chances of conviction, so that these things will not be repeated.

Q: Sir, so you’re just saying that we’re really going to do something about it?

PRESIDENT AQUINO: It’s really just a question of timing. We’re at the stage wherein we are collating—not just for this issue, but on so many issues. It has gotten to the point that you really have to choose, sa dami ng isasampang kaso. Masyadong madi-dilute iyong resources ng Estado—meaning iyong personnel, yung people who are responsible—‘pag sinabay-sabay natin itong mga kasong ifa-file.