Press briefing by Deputy Spokesperson Valte on the execution of the three Filipinos in China and other topics

Press Briefing by Deputy Presidential Spokesperson Abigail Valte:
On the statement of the Presidential Spokesperson on the execution of the three Filipinos in China, the PIATCO settlement with the government, the transport strike, and other topics
Briefing Room, 2/F New Executive Building, Malacañang, Manila
March 30, 2011; 11:40 hrs. EST 
Malacañang Palace, the residence of the Philip...Image via WikipediaDEPUTY PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABIGAIL F. VALTE: Hello, Marie. Hello, ladies and gentlemen of the Press Cops.
Medyo natatawa ako doon sa “refreshed.” Hindi naman masyado…
So, we can go straight to the question. I understand we are waiting for something.
Mia Gonzales [Business Mirror]: Does Malacañang have a last appeal to transport groups planning to join the strike tomorrow? Will you urge them to conduct the protest without having to paralyze commuter traffic?
VALTE: Yes, in fact, we do. I’d like to—’yung sinabi na po recently ni Sec. [Edwin] Lacierda is for them to rethink their position, mainly because their premise of their planned strike is questioning something that’s beyond the government’s control. Second, we’d like to remind them as holders of franchises of public transport that the holding of such franchise is a privilege and it’s not right. As such, it has to be exercised responsibly in such a way that any planned action should not prejudice the riding public.
Joel Guinto [Bloomberg]: What’s Malacañang’s position on a possible wage increase at this time because yesterday sabi ni Trade Secretary [Victor] Domingo na if inflation reaches ‘yung five percent gap baka, way this should be adjusted to a higher level?
VALTE: Yes. I’m not quite sure if has been discussed already. If has been discussed to the Secretary of Labor. But, from what I understand—May or June pa po kasi ‘yung magiging lifting noong one-year moratorium on the increase. But again, there is a special provision in case inflation goes up beyond the certain number. So again, we will get back to you on this kasi ichi-check lang po natin if there have been discussions with the Secretary of Labor and the other concerned Secretaries as well as with the President on how this proposal will be addressed by the President.
Guinto: We’re most likely to wait out ‘yung one-year moratorium before any discussions can be made?
VALTE: Well, not at this point. Titingnan po natin kung ano po ‘yung magiging meat ng magiging recommendation kung sakali—ni Sec. Domingo—and we will see from there.
Reymund Tinaza [Bombo Radyo]: Ma’am, kumusta po ‘yung monitoring natin doon sa hinihintay natin na desisyon? Mayroon ba tayong kausap sa ating counterparts with regards to pagbitay?
VALTE: From what I understand, ‘yung government po ng China ang magno-notify sa atin po kung ano na po ‘yung magiging as to carrying out of the sentence on the three. I understand the DFA [Department of Foreign Affairs] has said that, out of respect to the family and to the three Filipinos, they will not issue any statement as to any confirmation of the carrying out of the sentence as respect to the three and to their family. So, talagang manggagaling na po ito sa gobyerno ng Tsina.
Tinaza: Baka mayroon naman po kayong mensahe sa mga pamilya ng tatlong Pilipino ngayon.
VALTE: Maging matatag po kayo. Naiintindihan namin po namin ang inyong pinagdadaanan at naiintindihan po natin ‘yung dalamhati ng isang—na mawalan po ng isang mahal sa buhay ay lalo na po doon po sa pinagdadaanan ng tatlo, but yet ang inaapila po natin sa kanila ay maging matatag po sila lalo po doon sa mga maiiwan anak ng tatlo. Maging matatag po tayo para doon sa mga bata.
Jess Caduco [IBC 13]: May assistance po ba na i-extend ‘yung pamahalaan sa mga anak noong tatlong Pilipino?
VALTE: I will have to check. ‘Yung DFA po kasi ay on the top of that situation, but again, titignan po natin ‘yung puwedeng pa pong assistance na puwede nating i-render. I think by way scholarship ‘yung tinutumbok mo. Titingnan po natin kung ano po ‘yung magagawa. Certainly, mayroon naman po tayong funds for that.
Caduco: Ma’am, may nakalatag na po bang programa ang pamahalaan to intesify the campaign versus illegal drug trafficking and illegal recruitment?
VALTE: Yes. Napag-usapan na po doon sa Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking dahil sa lumalabas po ngayon. ‘Yung trafficking in persons, nagiging close—nagiging meshed with the illegal recruitment problem. Tinitingnan po noong mga ahensiya ngayon kung ano pa ho ‘yung internal controls na puwede nilang gawin para po maiwasan ‘yung mga ganito pong sitwasyon. Ang involved po diyan ang Department of Justice, ang opisina po Vice Pres. [Jejomar] Binay, ang DOLE [Department of Labor and Employment], ang DFA , ang Bureau of Immigration, at ang PNP [Philippine National Police] po kung hindi ako nagkakamali.
We are looking to see those numbers go down—’yung cases po ng illegal recruitment and human trafficking not because they remain unreported but because talagang bumababa po ‘yung insidente.
Julie Fernando [DZEM]: Ma’am, sabi po ng Migrante International nasa 76 pa daw po na Pilipino nasa Death Row sa China nga na kaugnay po nitong illegal drugs din. Tatlo po doon nag-aantay ng execution dates. Mayroon po bang impormasyon  na natatanggap po kayo tungkol po dito o pinaabot ang DFA sa inyo?
VALTE: Julie, alam mo kung hindi ako nagkakamali, iyung stat kasi anim kasi ‘yung kasabay ng tatlo. May tatlo pa dapat, but they were given a reprieve already. Iyun po ‘yung dalawang taon na may posibilidad po na ma-commute to a life-sentence kapag may good behavior po sila sa loob nang dalawang taon na iyon. I-double checked ko po ‘yung figures na ‘yan sa DFA.
Fernando: Sabi po nila kanina, 70 ‘yun. Tapos, ‘yung tatlo naging 73 po ‘yung reprieval na ‘yun. Tapos, ‘yung tatlo nag-aantay ng execution date.
VALTE: I will have to check the figures first with DFA kasi parang hindi po nag-jive sa pagkakaalala ko.
Gonzales: Hong Kong based PERC [Political and Economic Risk Consultancy] conducted a survey among business executive working in Asia and they perceived the Philippines have a serious corruption problem. The figures that the Philippines received this time is even lower than the last survey period despite having a new administration that is anchored on its anti-corruption campaign.
Can we get the Palace comment on this?
VALTE: Yes. First, the problem on corruption is not something that will go away over night. The President has said in the past that to be able to push forward with the reforms intended for the anti-corruption agenda, there will be certain things that will has to be done. We understand that we have laid the basis for these steps so far. However, I believe the period of the survey was from November of 2010 to February if I’m not mistaken. It was a sample of [a thousand expatriates.]
But again, we really cannot comment on the method that was used because—to tell you honestly very contrary to what we have been hearing from CEOs, CFOs, COOs that have come to the Palace. In fact,  the President just concluded the meeting with Representative from the US [United States] ASEAN Business Council this morning. I believe the meeting started at ten. And the Representative did welcome the thrust of the government when it came to anti-corruption, and they agreed with moves to rationalize laws when it came to investment and in incentives. They did support the fact that optimism is up among businessmen and the investors in the country. So again, it’s quite at odds with the result of the survey.
Joyce Pañares [Manila Standard]: Ma’am, just got a text from the DFA. We will be observing a minute of silence at 12 noon for the memory of the three drug mules. Does the Palace have an official statement on this now that they have confirmed that the execution [will] push through?
VALTE: Well, I’m not quite sure that is the confirmation but rather than a notice that they will be observing the moment of silence at 12. However, once we do get confirmation, we will release the statement on the matter. So, we can advice you to wait as well.
Pañares: Nakalagay kasi, “in the memory of the three, God bless their souls” parang ano na siya, Ma’am?
VALTE: Allow me to confirm and then we will release statement shortly thereafter.
Tinaza: Vice Pres. Binay already confirmed the execution.
VALTE: We have a statement for this. Allow me to release it later thereafter, once we finished the briefing. Wait, just so we don’t waste anymore time, allow me to read.
Ina Andolong [RPN 9]: Usec, you mentioned may meeting si Presidente kanina but did he also or how did he monitor events/developments in China?
VALTE: At least for your information as well, we have for every issue that wants the attention of the President, we have monitors who send updates for the President as needed. So if the situation requires, that’s an hourly update or every 30 minutes or as it breaks, we do send information immediately to the President.
Andolong: Usec., are there any plans to may be form a team or special group to look in to this ‘yung mga syndicates involved in drug trafficking? You mention kanina may DOJ?
VALTE: But that is particularly for human trafficking—’yung Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking. That is already in existence as composed of the agencies that I mention earlier.
Gonzales: Ma’am, on the different topic. Just going back to the PERC [Political and Economic Risk Consultancy] survey, how does Malacañang plan to may be enhance the perception in the Philippines regarding corruption?
VALTE: Well, it’s not really about enhancing perception but it’s really about stamping out these incidents. From—just a little insight on my part—the survey period of November to February. If you recall, the recent investigations on corruption on AFP [Armed Forces of the Philippines], ‘yung “pabaon” system, ‘yung sa plea bargaining with Carlos Garcia, doon po nai-report mga insidenteng po na ‘yun. Again, if you speak perception—something that has happen in the past but it’s only reported now or is only brought to the attention of the general public now, may also have a significant impact on the survey that was taken during that particular period especially consider that you deal with perception when it comes to that particular survey.
Francis Rivera [UNTV]: Sent question lang po Ma’am. Babasahin ko na lang. Kailangan na daw pong magkaroon ng compromise settlement sa pagitan ng gobyerno at ng PIATCO [Philippine International Air Terminals Co. Inc.] para daw po mabuksan na itong NAIA Terminal 3 according to Cong. [Rufus] Rodriguez at saka po PIATCO. ‘Yung Palace comment lang po doon?
VALTE: Matagal na nating sinabi natin diyan is that ‘yung settlement po dito is that the government is willing to pay what is reasonable and what is fair to PIATCO. As we have discuss in the past days, mayroon pong pending na kaso ‘yan sa Pasay RTC. Ang hinihintay lang po is ‘yung determination ng just compensation but to whether a settlement will be an out-of-court settlement or will be one that will be handed down by the court, the government willing to pay what is just and what is reasonable.
Christina Avedaño [Philippine Daily Inquirer]: Ma’am, did the President personally monitor ‘yung happening doon sa China?
VALTE: Mayroon po kasi siyang 10AM at mayroon po siyang 11AM na meeting. So, hindi ko lang po alam kung if he was able to pay personally monitor. What usually happens po kasi is when he is in between meetings lalo na po mayroong pressing issue—naka-open po kasi ‘yung TV doon po sa kanyang office. When he has mga five minutes, siya po ‘yung personally nagmo-monitor. But again, for this morning, I know that he had a 10 AM and he had an 11AM. So, hindi ko po alam if the President had any opportunity in between to monitor the situation.
Thank you, ladies and gentlemen of the Malacañang Press Corps.