Press Briefing by the Deputy Presidential Spokesperson Abigail Valte on Ombudsman's Impeahment, ARMM election, UN attack to Libya and other topics


Press Briefing by Deputy Presidential Spokesperson Abigail Valte:
On the Department of Interior and Local Government’s award to the  municipalities with good housekeeping, the Lower House vote on the Ombudsman’s impeachment, the postponement of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao elections, the Philippine’s take on the United Nations’ possible air strike to Libya, and other topics
Press Working Room, 1/F New Executive Building, MalacaƱang, Manila
March 22, 2011; 11:30 hrs. EST
DEPUTY PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABIGAIL F. VALTE: Good morning.
MalacaƱang Palace, the residence of the Philip...Image via WikipediaJust a bit of good news for everyone. ‘Yung una po, mag-a-award po tayo doon sa 15 na LGU [local government units] ng one million each. Galing po ‘yan sa DILG [Department of Interior and Local Government] for good housekeeping. Mag-a-award po tayo ng total of 15 million to 15 fourth and fifth class municipalities in the country on Thursday—na-award na pala ito, pasensya na—in recognation of their good housekeeping or excellent performance and governance in their respective localities.
Gusto po lang natin din i-reiterate ‘yung call ng ating Department of Environment and Natural Resources to participate doon po sa Earth Hour on Saturday, I think, on the 26th. So, turn off po tayo ng lights for an hour. And again, we are taking it a step further. From last year, nag-comply po tayo doon sa lights out for an hour. Ngayon naman po, we ‘d like to take it a step further and to ask everyone who will participate not just to turn off their light but also to minimize ‘yung electrical consumption po natin for that particular hour, and sana po maging habit natin to moving forward.
So yes, question please.
Q: Can we get the Palace statement on the impeachment vote yesterday?
VALTE: Well, masaya naman po tayo na nagkatotoo naman po ‘yung optimism natin when it came to the impeachment vote yesterday. And as Sec. [Edwin] Lacierda has said kanina pong madaling araw, para pong nagkaroon talaga ng daylight emanating from the Plenary doon sa Mababang Kapulungan kagabi. And moving forward, na ngayon po magsisimula na po ‘yung trial sa Senado, gusto lang po ulitin na we owe it to the public and to the Filipino citizens in general to really put force, a strong case, and to essentially show the Senator judges kung ano po ‘yung lakas ng magiging kaso kay Ombudsman [Merciditas] Gutierrez.
Q: … because the number are better than expected. Does it boost the Palace’s confidence that same would happen in the Senate?
VALTE: Umaasa po tayo. Confident naman po tayo na magkakaroon din po ng, more or less the same, not number but the same result in the Senate.
Q: Has the President predicted that the allies in the Senate support or back the impeachment?
VALTE: We recognized the independence our Senators, but yet again we would like to reiterate our confidence doon po sa magiging outcome noong trial at the Senate.
Q: [inaudible]
VALTE: If you remember ni Sec. Lacierda in the past that during the Liberal Party fellowship that happened in the few weeks back, hindi po kasama ‘yung mga LP Senators, precisely because we respect their independence.
Q: There’s an Executive Order being drafted by the DOE [Department of Energy]. Kung baga 600 million daw will be given to the transport sector. So mababawasan ng 3 pesos per liter ‘yung diesel-gas. Gusto ko lang malaman kung ano na po ang status noon?
VALTE: It will discussed in the President. Until that discussion happens, hindi pa po muna tayo makakapagbigay ng komento doon, but certainly we will update you either bago po lumabas ‘yung Executive Order na sinabi po nila or after the discussion with the President.
Q: Ma’am, did the President stay up late to monitor or to watch ‘yung proceedings last night?
VALTE: I have not asked him that, but sila Sec. [Ramon] Carandang is with him at that moment, at si Sec. Lacierda. I will double check po. From what I know, he was abreast of what the events that transpired in the House last night and early this morning.
Q: Pinal na po ‘yung desisyon ng CA nai-lift ang warrant of arrest laban kay Sen. [Panfilo] Lacson. Mayroon na ba tayong [unclear] from the Senator na lulutang na siya?
VALTE: Ang nakuha lang po namin is ‘yung lawyer po ni Sen. Lacson ang nagsabi na he will resurface soon—publicly Media.
Q: Doon sa Libya, ma’am. I understand even the President says na best effort pa rin tayo even ‘yung last call ng DFA sa mga naiwan na OFWs, pero sa latest ngayong umaga ayaw pa rin nilang umalis kasi they feel it is safe to stay there. So, surrender tayo sa ating call na mag-evacuate na sila?
VALTE: Well, the last call has been issued. Hindi naman po sa aalis ‘yung mga tao doon sa embahada doon. I understand na may bago po kasi silang circumstances na finactor-in [factor-in], ‘yung mga employer daw po ay nag-offer ng double pay at ng hazard pay doon po sa mga nurses in the government hospitals, and they are seeking the government’s assistance para po mai-remit ‘yung kikitain nila. But again, having said that, nandoon pa naman po ‘yung ating embahada to extend any assistance kung sakali pong mayroon pong magpalit ng isip sa kanila.
Q: As a member of the UN [United Nations], mayroon ba tayong statement doon sa gingawa ngayon ng coalition forces?
VALTE: As member of UN, we are bound respect ‘yung naging decision po ng security council on the situation in Libya. But again, as the President said, ang focus po natin ngayon is how to take care of our citizens who are still in Libya.
Q: We respect it, but do we support it?
VALTE: As a member of the council, we are bound to respect the decision. Kasama po tayo doon sa membership ng United Nation, but again that doesn’t detract us from our pressing need to really take care of the welfare of our citizens.
Q: ‘Yung question kanina: iyong the Palace respects the independence of the Senators na member ng LP. So, paano kung bumoto sila hindi i-impeach si Ombudsman Gutierrez?
VALTE: Well, I’d like to reiterate na hindi lang po ‘yung independence ng mga LP Senators ‘yung ating nirerespito, but again the independence of each and every Senator that is going to sit as Senator judge. Again, kung doon po sa tanong kung ano po ‘yung mangyayari at this point, we choose to remain confident and hopeful of what the outcome will be.
Q: [On the postponement of the ARMM elections] Sen. [Miriam] Santiago has said na it’s unconstitutional in several points?
VALTE: Alam naman po natin that there are several concerns in the Senate, but then again if I’m not mistaken, nagbotohan po yata kahapon sa Lower House on that. We are yet to receive word kung ano po ‘yung naging turn out. And again, gusto lang po natin ulitin na ginagawa po natin ‘yung priority measure to push for the postponement of the elections in the region para po it gives us time to do housekeeping also in that particular area. Alam naman po natin that public support is, again, behind the particular measure. Umaasa naman po tayo na maririnig po ng mga Senador ang sentimyento ng mga tao pong mismong galing sa ARMM.
Q: … [Ano po ang reaksyon po niyo]  iyong sinabi ni Senator Santiago na dapat ang advisers ni PNoy on the ARMM postponement should be—itapon sa Fukushima, Daiichi?
VALTE: Hindi naman po nakakatawa iyong sitwasyon ngayon sa Fukushima. Siguro po, hindi naman pong magandang gawin nating example or analogy doon sa sitwasyon.
Q: [On Architect Jun Palafox’s request for structural editing]
VALTE: I think that’s a bit technical already, iyong sinasabi ni Architect Palafox. But from what I know, si Secretary [Rogelio] Singson has already ordered iyong inspection po of buildings in conjunction with local government units—lalo po iyong mga bridges po natin.
I know that they are the inspection already in light of what has happened to Japan.
Q: Kahapon po nagkaroon ng paglindol. Hindi po ba gagawa ng earthquake drill ang Palasyo?
VALTE: Iche-check po natin kasi alam ko pong standard po iyong earthquake drill. But again, nandito rin po ako kahapon noong lumindol. Siguro, part of it was a little… Mayroon po tayong isang office na nag-earthquake drill: iyong MARO [Media Accreditations and Relations Office] office po natin. But again, siguro po, part of it is that medyo sandali po siya, so a lot of it was people were not sure kung lumilindol po talaga o hindi kasi medyo low intensity naman ‘yung naramdaman sa Manila kahapon.
Q: Nadismaya ba tayo sa laban ng Philippine Azkals, kasi na-draw iyong result versus Myanmar, at last minute iyong score ng Myanmar?
VALTE: It goes to show that every minute in football counts. So hindi naman po tayo nadismaya. We share the sentiment that we still support the Azkals. Kahit ano pong mangyari, we still support our own. Siyempre, proud of our Filipino players.
Q: The British Ambassador wants a clear and unambiguous statement of support from the Philippines regarding the UN-sanctioned airstrike. Can we give that or are we just limited to just saying that we respect it?
VALTE: At this point, we are respecting the decision of the Council on the Libya situation.
Q: Are we not yet ready to express clear support for it?
VALTE: So far, iyun lang po kasi ang naibigay po sa atin that we are—as a member of the body—we respect the decision of the majority.
Q: … [the statement is] based on the presence of some of our nationals there?
VALTE: Siguro po, at this point, we’d rather focus on the safety of our nationals nandoon.
Q: Is the Palace prepared ba ‘yung ma-pass iyung  postponement ng ARMM election within this—‘yung sa session—kasi until Friday na lang. Okay lang na, it will be passed pagbalik nila sa May 9?
VALTE: Siguro po, mas mabuti pong the earlier it is passed, the better. We know that time bound po ‘yung particular priority measure na ito and ayaw naman po nating… Siguro mas mabuti po kasing malaman agad, para hindi po magkaroon ng confusion kung magkakaroon po talaga ng eleksyon o hindi, at para hindi rin po magkaroon ng kasayangan doon sa mga resources that will be spent for preparing for the elections.
Q: [On the passing of the Bill before Friday, March 25, 2011]
VALTE: From what I know, alam naman po ng proponents iyung urgency of the measure.
Q: [On the two Filipino casualties in the Japan quake and tsunami]
VALTE: ‘Yung advice po sa atin ng Department of Foreign Affairs is that they have already contacted the loved-ones of the two victims. Nag-release na po sila ng mga pangalan, and I know that they will render assistance whether that assistance will extend to repatriating the remains or for the family to go to Japan is unclear as of the moment.
Q: Have you expressed your sympathies to the family of the victim?
VALTE: Ngayon lang po kasi nakuha iyong pangalan ng mga, I believe, mag-ina. And again, we’d like to express our sympathies to the family, to those who were left behind. Unfortunate po talaga na dalawa na po tayong kababayan na nasama doon sa trahedya.
ENDS