Press briefing by Communications Secretary Carandang on NEDA, Sen. Panfilo Lacson, 3 filipinos on death row and other topics


Press Briefing by Communications Secretary Ramon A. Carandang:
On the National Economic Development Authority board meeting, the surfacing of Senator Panfilo Lacson, the subsidy on oil, the three Filipinos on death row in China, and other topics
Briefing Room, 2/F New Executive Building, Malacañang, Manila
March 28, 2011; 12:20 hrs. EST
Q: [Palace reaction on the statement of Sen. Panfilo Lacson that he is not an ally of the administration]
CARANDANG: Well, I think Sen. Lacson said earlier this morning na there were times na ang pakiramdam niya that he was being prosecuted even under with Aquino Administration at pinapaliwanag ni Sec. [Leila] De Lima na may prosesong sinusundan. Nevertheless, he’s back, the process has gone to the point where he is able to return and [unclear]
Q: Palagay po niyo magkikita sila ng Pangulo?
CARANDANG: Tinanong ko si Pangulo tungkol doon. Wala pa naman daw pinapadalang mensahe si Sen. Lacson kung gusto niya makipagkita kay Pangulong Aquino. So, I wouldn’t know if there’s going to be any kind of meeting.
Q: If Sen. Ping wants to meet the President, is it OK with him to meet Sen. Lacson?
CARANDANG: I’m not sure, Marie. I haven’t asked him whether he would want to meet with Sen. Lacson. But, right now, off hand, I don’t see any reason why the President would not meet with any Senator who wants to speak to him.
Q: Doon ba sa NEDA [National Economic Development Authority] board mamaya, mayroon bang discussion on the lowering of the growth target because of what’s happening in Japan?
CARANDANG: I don’t think that’               s part of the agenda, Joel, ‘yung posibleng pagbaba ng ating economic growth targets. alam kung pinag-uusapan na ‘yan sa BSP [Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas] at sa Economic Cluster, pero hindi ko alam kung specifically na pag-uusapan ‘yan sa NEDA board meeting, kasi iba naman yata ‘yung agenda sa NEDA board meeting.
Q: Pero kino-consider ba ‘yun, sir, na puwedeng… might lowering the target?
CARANDANG: Well, at this point, Joel, nakikita na natin na may idea na tayo kung ano ang posibleng maging epekto ng nangyayari sa Japan at sa Middle East sa ating ekonomiya. ‘Yung mga umuwi mula sa Libya alam natin na hindi kaagad makakahanap ng trabaho ‘yan at hindi kaagad makakapagpadala ng pera sa kanilang mga pamilya. Dito naman sa Japan nakikita natin na nagkakaroon ng bottleneck doon sa pag-export natin ng mga semiconductor sa kanila. So nakikita na natin na may talagang magiging epekto sa ating ekonomiya. Ang huli kong pag-uusap doon sa Economic Team ay sa ngayon ay wala pang pormal na proseso para baguhin ‘yung ating Economic Growth target. So until that happens, we’re still looking at seven to eight percent, pero aminado naman tayo na magiging mas challenging na umabot tayo sa seven to eight percent given ‘yung mga nangyayari sa mundo.
Q: When do you think can government have a better picture of what’s happening in relation to economic situation?
CARANDANG: I think we should have some better idea about the impact on the economy in the next few weeks. ‘Yung nga, some of the effects are still being quantified. Hindi rin natin alam kung ano ang magyayari sa ibang bansa sa Middle East na medyo nagkakagulo din. In the case for example in Yemen, we have about 1, 000 to 2, 000 registered Filipinos there. So hindi malaki ang impact doon. Sa Bahrain naman, mayroon tayong 45 to 47 thousand. Kung may mangyari doon ay siguradong magkakaroon ng impact. All of these factors need to be looked at before we can come up with any formal revision.
Sa ngayon uulitin ko lang, wala pa tayong revision sa ating economic growth target, pero aminado tayo na dahil sa mga nangyayari sa ibang bansa ay posibleng magkaroon.
Q: Sir, anong klaseng revision if ever?
CARANDANG: Well, I would think there will be some possible revision. Again, ayaw kong pangunahan ang Economic Team at Bangko Sentral. Pero kung ako ang tatanungin niyo, kung anong posibleng ma-revise na targets, posibleng magkaroon ng minor revision sa ating remittance figures; posibleng magkaroon ng impact dito sa ating export figures over the short term. At lahat ito ay posibleng magkaroon ng impact sa over all growth target ng Pilipinas.
Q: Meaning lower, sir?
CARANDANG: Well, if you look at the event there the revisions would most likely be the downward revisions, not upward revision. But again, I just want to emphasize, ayokong pangunahan ang Economic Team. Ayokong pangunahan ang BSP at ang NEDA. Wala pa tayong pormal na revision sa ating growth targets.
Q: How will the Economic Managers, given any indication to suggest that this might have…
CARANDANG: Well, the BSP has been talking about the possible impact. Informally, DTI [Department of Trade and Industries] has also been looking at possible impact. So, napag-iisipan na at napag-uusapan na.
Q: Si Sally Ordinario-Villanueva, she executed an affidavit noong Sabado pinning down her recruiter as the one who give her the drugs. Will this have a positive effect doon sa death penalty niya? Will this result in a stay in the execution if the Chinese authorities decide to push through with the case?
CARANDANG: That is something for the Chinese authorities to decide not the Philippine government. Ang magagawa ng gobyerno ng gobyerno ng Pilipinas ay tingnan itong mga affidavit na ito at habulin ang mga recruiters. Pero doon naman po sa nangyari sa kanila ay sinabi na ng  gobyerno ng China na hindi na magbabago kanilang desisyon. So, nasa kamay ng Chinese government ngayon kung magkakaroon  ng stay o hindi. Alam naman natin ‘yung mga sinasabi nila. Ganun pa man, umaasa pa rin tayo na kahit papaano magkaroon sana ng pagbabago sa sentinsiya nila. Pero mahirap nang sabihin na magbabago ngayon dahil doon nga sa mga sinasabi ng gobyerno ngayon ng China.
Q: The recruiter was recently arrested by the NBI [National Bureau of Investigations].  Tapos, mayroon ding kaso pinile [file] sa kanya. May effort ba tayo for info swap sa China? Will that help doon sa appeal natin?
CARANDANG: I’m not aware if there some kind of info swap and whether that will have an impact on the sentences, but it’s good to know that—’yun nga ‘yung sinasabi natin—this was crime committed by more than one person. And we’re going after the syndicate now that lead the death sentences of the three Filipinos.
Q: ‘Yung sa PAL [Philippine Airlines]. ‘Yung PALEA [PAL-Employees Association] is planning to appeal yata ‘yung naging decision po ng OP [Office of the President]. Ano po ang posisyon ninyo dito?
CARANDANG: Well, that’s part of the process and they’re perfectly within their rights to appeal the decision, and we would expect that they would do that.
Q: Follow up lang doon. Tinawag yata nang PALEA ‘yung Malacañang na nag-conspire with Lucio Tan. Reaksyon lang po?
CARANDANG: Katulad ng sinabi ko noong weekend, sinubukan namin balansehin ang interest ng labor, ang interest ng management at interest ng buong bansa. There is a public utility—well, hindi naman siya public utility—pero nakita naman natin na may public service ang PAL lalo na ngayon sa panahon na mukang nag-uuwi tayo ng maraming OFWs. So I would not think that was—I think is to far to say that there was some kind of conspiracy. There was an attempt to balance the competing interest. We understand that in trying to attempt that balance, not everybody will be happy with it. But there was absolutely no conspiracy here.
Q: Sir, just last year ‘yung dalawang companies na paglilipatan ng empleyado ng PALEA, kinukwestiyon po nila ‘yun kasi sabi nila parang dummy lang ng PAL ‘yung dalawang pag-aari ni Manny Osmeña. They’re saying na ‘yung companies na ‘yun— iyong Sky Kitchen at Sky Logistic—dati ring pag-aari ni Lucio Tan. Tapos, si Jaime Bautista was also involve there. May efforts ba ‘yung Palace to look into that?
CARANDANG: I think the Department of Labor is the one who will be looking into to that not necessary the Palace.
Q: So, mag-hands off na po kayo, sir?
CARANDANG: I don’t know if your going to call it hand-off. We got involved. We made a decision. We already made a decision, so I can’t say that we’ve been hands-off. In fact, ‘yun nga, nag-intervene nga ang Palasyo dito eh.
Q: May repercussions ba sa PAL ‘yun if it’s proven na dummy corps. lang nila ‘yung kay Osmeña?
CARANDANG: You have to ask the legal minds about that. I wouldn’t know exactly what the repercussions are.
Q: Sir, the Pulse Asia Survey release today saying na the Top 3 most corrupt agencies are unang-una po ‘yung AFP [Armed Forces of the Philippines], PNP [Philippines National Police], and DPWH [Department of Public Works and Highways]. Ano po ang masasabi niyo po doon?
CARANDANG: Well, noon pa naman kahit sino man ang nakaupo, ganoon talaga ang perception ng taongbayan na itong ilang mga ahensyang binanggit mo are considered as the most corrupt. Let me just note two things. ‘Yung sinasabi po niyo na AFP, I think dahilan doon is that nakikita ‘yung mga kaso ni Gen. [Carlos] Garcia na pinag-usapan sa Senado at Kongreso kaya medyo lumalabas ‘yung perception na ‘yun na corruption sa AFP. Nakita naman siguro ng tao na mayroon tayong ginagawa as far as procurement reform is concerned there. We understand why the public would think that because it was on the headline. But we do not want to condemn the entire AFP because of few very bad eggs there. Isa pa, I also want to know on the positive side, noon kasi sinabi nila pinaka-corrupt na government agency is DPWH, at kahit papaano tumaas ang tingin ng tao sa DPWH na hindi na po sila ‘yung considered pinaka-corrupt and I think I have to give credit to Sec. [Rogelio] Singson for the reforms that he’s undertaking in DPWH.
Q: On the same matter, it showed that 50 percent of those surveyed actually believe that walang government agency ang hindi kurakot. So medyo malaki po ‘yun 50 percent.
CARANDANG: Malaki nga ‘yun. At makikita natin na medyo cynical nga ang taongbayan when it comes to issues of corruption. Kaya mahirap nga ang ginagawa natin to fight corruption. First of all, there are so many barriers in the way. Secondly, the public has become so sceptical about it. I think the only way that you can reverse that sentiment is to actually show results dito sa ating reforms at gusto ko lang banggitin ulit—sorry, kung parang plug—pero kita naman natin ‘yung mga reporma na ginagawa ni Sec. Singson sa DPWH at kahit ‘yung nagiging tingin sa DPWH ay hindi kasing sama compared to the past. So again, medyo na naging cynical na ang tao ‘pag dating sa corruption. We hope that as we show more results, we will able to change the public minds.
Q: Going back sa paglutang ni Sen. Lacson, there are still speculations na nagsasabing it’s orchestrated at may kinalaman ang Palasyo doon po sa paglutang niya?
CARANDANG: That speculation that coming from who? Whose speculating that because you’re telling me there’s speculation. Alam natin na hindi naman malakas ang Aquino Administration sa judiciary. I think that’s very clear. It’s not like we have power to influence the judiciary. We’ve had many disagreements with the judiciary and I think most of the public believe that the judiciary is independent. That’s putting it mildly. So, I don’t know where the speculation is coming from and people who speculate that I think should come out and show some evidence instead of whispering out there in the public without any basis.
Q: Sir, ano pong dapat gagawin ngayon ni Sen. Lacson while kasi ‘yung ang Dacer camp assertive about pursuing the case?
CARANDANG: Well, you have to ask Sen. Lacson what he is going to do. As far as we are concerned, he is back. He can resume his duties. He has some legal processes he still has to undergo, then he will do that. But again, it’s more of a question for Sen. Lacson than for us. I won’t presume to speak for the Senator.
Q: Sir, parang kanina may himig ng sama ng loob si Sen. Lacson kay Justice Secretary Leila De Lima. Do you think ginawa lang ni Sec. De Lima ‘yung kanyang trabaho or may merit sa paghimutok ‘ika nga ni Sen. Lacson?
CARANDANG: I don’t know, but I want to point out in previous question na may nagsa-suggest o may nag-speculate na nagkaroon ng ayusan. You can see na—katulad nga ng sinabi mo, Reymund—nagpalabas ng sama ng loob si Sen. Lacson doon sa mga nangyari sa kanya. You can’t have it both ways. Speculate that we’re doing something to help Sen. Lacson and then Sen. Lacson publicly complaining about how you treated even in this administration. So it’s one or the other. Ako, I like to think that the process would be simply allowed to take its course. Nakita naman natin na si Sec. De Lima was very vigilant in trying to pursue the case of Sen. Lacson kaya siya nagbitaw ng salitang ganoon. So, I think that should belie any kind of suggestion or speculation that there was some sort of interference from the Palace.
Q: Sir, gusto di malaman ni Sen. Lacson kung ally ba talaga siya ng administrasiyong ito?
CARANDANG: Well, I know the President and Sen. Lacson were good friends in their days in the Senate. I don’t see any reason why that would change.
Q: Sinabi ni Sen. Lacson pumunta lang siya dito if the President would ask him to come here. Mayroon bang ganoong [unclear].
CARANDANG: Sa ngayon, wala.
Q: Sir, do you think the President will initiate that?
CARANDANG: I dont know. I haven’t asked him about that.
Q: [On the NEDA board meeting details]
CARANDANG: NEDA board normally it takes up investments. I think we’re also going to take up the Medium Term Development Plan. Dapat kasing i-take up ‘yun noong nakaraang Cabinet meeting pero humaba ‘yung Cabinet meeting at nag-schedule kami ng panibago para ma-take up ‘yung Meduim Term Development Plan.So that will be main item on this meeting.
Q: Will you discuss the EO [Executive Order] on the fuel subsidy?
CARANDANG: I don’t think that’s on the agenda.
Q: Kino-consider pa ba ‘yun, sir?
CARANDANG: Which one?
Q: Fuel subsidy? Government subsidy for…
CARANDANG: I understand there are proposals for some limited subsidy on the DOE [Department of Energy] level but hasn’t been decided by the President yet.
Q: Any deadline for that, sir?
CARANDANG: I don’t know if there’s any deadline but I suppose it has to happen.
Q: Can we afford that, sir?
CARANDANG: It will depend on the proposals, the mechanics, the amounts—again, that’s why I don’t want to commit the President to saying that we’re going to agree to that because we need to go over the details of that.
Q: Pero, you’re studying the proposal?
CARANDANG: Well, the DOE has studied the proposal. That has to be presented to the President.
Q: But it will be drawn from the windfall revenues on VAT on oil, would it be a good set up?
CARANDANG: Ayokong pangunahan si Presidente diyan. He may have his opinion about that. It might be different from mine.

ENDS