Nov. 30, 2016 – Press Conference of Presidential Communications Office Assistant Secretary for Policy and Legislative Affairs Kris Ablan and PAGCOR Assistant Vice President for Community Relations and Services Arnel Ignacio
|Press Conference of Presidential Communications Office Assistant Secretary for Policy and Legislative Affairs Kris Ablan and PAGCOR Assistant Vice President for Community Relations and Services Arnel Ignacio|
|Press Briefing Room, New Executive Bldg., Malacañang|
|30 November 2016|
ASEC. ABLAN: Good morning to everyone. Welcome to the press briefing today, November 30, 2016.
Our guest and resource person for this morning is Mr. Arnell Ignacio. He is a well-known TV host, comedian, singer,songwriter and performance artist. He graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree from the College of Music University of the Philippines, Diliman. For most of his life from 1997 to 2007, he was a TV host for the major broadcast stations and led in game shows.
He is currently a member of the executive committee of the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation or PAGCOR and is the officer-in-charge of the Community Relations and Services Department. This public service is not new to him because his heart goes easily for the poor and the disadvantaged.
From the field of entertainment, Arnell, the versatile and multi-talented actor has taken the chance to serve the people under President Rodrigo Roa Duterte. Today, he shares with us his new experience as a public servant and the role of PAGCOR in the government’s agenda for change.
Ladies and gentlemen, Mr. Arnell Ignacio.
IGNACIO: Thank you very much, Asec. Good morning.
I am here to talk about the role of PAGCOR in government. The role that people are not so aware of na ang PAGCOR po ay napakaraming tinutulungan.
In fact, recently, we’ve turned over 5 billion — 5 billion to the socio-civic fund of the President and a host of others. Ang PAGCOR po ay…The primary role of PAGCOR is to produce funds for the government.
Maraming, maraming…Kasi ang laging napag-uusapan sa amin ay ‘yung mga nangyayaring kontrobersiya. And so sometimes the good vibes na role ng PAGCOR ay nakakalimutan and that is the role of the Community Relations and Services. And that’s the department I head. And if…
We also have mandated allocations that we automatically give to the government like sa gross namin — sa gross income, five percent kaagad nito pumupunta sa franchise, franchise tax; 50 percent of our gross immediately goes to the National Treasury; and then five percent goes to the PEC, then to PSC and also to Dangerous Drugs Board.
Ito ho ‘yung mga bagay-bagay na karamihan hindi na nadi-discuss at madalas ikinagugulat nang napakarami na ang dami palang binibigyan ng PAGCOR. And isa pang gusto kong linawin ang PAGCOR ay — nalilito kasi ang iba, akala nila nasa PCSO ako.
And most of the time ipinapaliwanag ko pa nga kung ano ang pangalan ng PAGCOR eh kasi madalas hinahanapan nila kami ng role ng ginagawa ng Philippine Charity Sweepstakes.
So I’d like people to get to know more about PAGCOR, the people behind PAGCOR, how hardworking these people are, the problems that we encounter at saka ‘yung mga misconceptions about this GOCC.
So, nakakanerbiyos pala ‘yung nagsasalita ka na merong Malakanyang sa likod mo ano. Hindi ba natin pwedeng gawin lang sa restaurant ito ‘yung nakaupo tayo na nagkakape. (laughter)
And recently lang, we have provided Davao, noon pong nagkaroon ng pagsabog doon, immediately we were there to turnover 5 million pesos to the local government of Davao. And ‘yung nakaraan ‘yung pagkakapanalo ni Hidilyn Diaz, five million, sa amin din po nanggaling iyan.
At saka ‘yung 2,500,000 kay coach Aldaneta and…Nga pala kay Martin — sa inyo pala, nagbigay din kami sa inyo ng 3 million.
Rocky Ignacio (PTV-4): PTV-4?
IGNACIO: Hindi, hindi sa PTV-4, para doon sa picture ni Presidente. Sa amin iyon. And a host of ours.
We have a very long list of items na I hope the people would be interested to find out para hindi naman — hindi naman kami lagi tinatanong kung araw-araw kaming tinitingnan na parang puro kontrobersiya ang nangyayari sa loob ng PAGCOR.
Actually, there are very beautiful stories that happens everyday and especially with the very able stewardship of Ms. Andrea Domingo. Bakit parang ang tahimik ninyo? Hindi ba kayo masaya sa sinasabi ko? Parang hindi kayo happy ‘no?
And recently, doon sa Lawin, Lawin disaster-stricken areas, I’ve already gotten in touch with the governors. Binigyan namin sila ng 11 million, which is about to be turned over probably next week. Maganda rin na kwento rito kasi parang nakasanayan yata nila na sila ‘yung tumatawag for assistance. Eh noong Undas when everybody was — ay nagbabakasyon, ako na ‘yung isa-isang tumawag kila Governor Imee, kila Governor Bojie Dy, si Governor Baac, Lacwasan ng Mt. Province.
And nakakatuwa kasi hindi nila maintindihan bakit ako ang tumatawag eh and offering them the funds and all we needed was a request letter. And these are the little stories that happens inside the office that we would like people to know that there is a — there are remarkable changes that has been happening, which are very pleasant stories to inspire the people that there are very, very good changes that are now in place.
And meron din kaming…Ito ‘yung aming feeding program na matagal na ring ginagawa para sa mga schools. One hundred twenty days po itong ginagawa. Tinitimbang ‘yung mga bata and then titingnan din kung ano ang development nila at ano ang kanilang naging benefit out of the feeding program of PAGCOR, 120 days po ‘yan. Ni-launch na ito last month. Inumpisahan namin sa Pampanga and there are several schools na magbe-benefit dito, about 13,000 students.
And this month, siyempre meron tayong Pamaskong Handog. And meron pa kaming Balikatan, ito ‘yung mga naglilinis ng eskwelahan bago po nagbubukas ito. And the construction of school buildings noong nakaraan ay ipinagpapatuloy ‘yung iba.
So, what I am trying to say is na there are a lot of other things that PAGCOR is doing aside from gambling. Kasi tatlo nga ‘yung core thrust ng PAGCOR: It’s gaming, licensing and social responsibility. At iyon po ang ginagawa ng Community Relations and Services, which I head.
At ‘yon din pagka merong mga bagyo kami ang nandiyan kaagad to provide relief goods or funding for them. Noong nakaraan ‘yung Pampanga, Bulacan, Bataan, Zambales, Dagupan, sa Valenzuela City, Iligan, iyan din po ang mga natulungan ng PAGCOR.
And sa mga maliiit ding mga barangay, nakakapagbigay din kami ng mga request nila na mga office supplies, mga mesa, typewriter, computer and things like that.
Ms. Ignacio: Questions?
IGNACIO: Oo, para mas exciting. Yes, ma’am.
QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS:
Pia Ranada (Rappler): Hello, good morning, po.
IGNACIO: Good morning, Pia.
Ms. Ranada: Sir, yesterday si President mentioned that the 5 billion from the PAGCOR will be used to fund a drug rehab in Visayas. Can we have more details about this facility like ‘yung timeline po and maybe how many patients could be admitted, more specific details?
IGNACIO: Well, iyon mga tinurnover. When we turned over the five billion, his original plan is for the resurrection of the Botika ng Bayan.
Kasi ang gusto ni Presidente kapag ka merong — ang pasyente ay binigyan ng reseta ito ay mabili ng libre.
So, we may be…We may be doing the same project of GMA before. So ikakalat ito all over the Philippines — ‘yang Botika ng Bayan.
Ms. Ranada: So, sir, no mention of the 5 billion going to any drug — drug rehabilitation effort…?
IGNACIO: Well, when we were with the President ito ang kanyang particular — specifically ito ang sinabi niya eh.
And ano rin ano, I’d like to make it clear na each time we provide funds, hindi naman kami ‘yung ano — ‘yung nakakapagsabi kung paano ito gagamitin. It’s the direction of the President.
So if he wants to use it for Botika ng Bayan or rehabilitation center, siya ‘yung nagde-decide.
Marlon Ramos (The Philippine Daily Inquirer): Good morning, sir.
IGNACIO: Hi, Marlon.
Mr. Ramos: Sir, the President already ordered ‘yung the shutting down of all online gambling sites. But very recently there are a number of online, e-bingos and other gaming — electronic gaming areas, which again opened. Ano ang latest instruction from the PAGCOR?
IGNACIO: Ah, ano ‘yan noong simula na ito ay isinara, meron kasing mga ibang mga outlets na merong mga violations. So ito ‘yung mga nasara.
And aside from that, nag-expire na kasi ‘yung license ng PhilWeb eh. So hindi naman ito isinara because — kasi iyon ang order. Their license expired kaya ‘yung iba nasara. Iyong iba naman na nakapag-apply for license, they are now open. But under very, very strict regulations from PAGCOR.
Mr. Ramos: Sir, do you know, sir, how many of this kind of gaming establishments are now open? Sir, these are illegal gambling sites?
IGNACIO: Let me check kung ilan ang mga nabuksan pero it’s difficult — it’s difficult to give you exact figures eh.
Kasi ‘yung iba nabuksan, ‘yung iba talaga nasara, and ‘yung iba nag-a-appeal. But again, we’d like to reiterate na if you have violations, eh iyon na ‘yon.
Mr. Ramos: Sir, you mentioned earlier that the PAGCOR also provide funds for the DBB — Dangerous Drugs Board?
IGNACIO: Dangerous Drugs Board.
Mr. Ramos: Mga magkano iyon, sir?
IGNACIO: That’s five million a month. And since this year hanggang September we have given about 45 million.
Mr. Ramos: Will you be increasing it, sir?
IGNACIO: Well, it’s an RA. RA, so ‘yun na ‘yung nakatalaga doon. It’s a mandatory allocation.
Mr. Ramos: Thank you, sir.
IGNACIO: Sana rin, Rocky, I hope that you get to find out the little stories that happens inside my department. Na ito merong mga natutulungan — na there are very, very interesting human stories that happens dito.
Mr. Ramos: When you were appointed, sir, and several other showbiz personalities to the government, many had questioned your credibility, your competency as a public official, sir. How do you respond to these criticisms, sir?
IGNACIO: Well, Marlon, ako naman taga-showbiz naman ako eh. And I get that — I get to be bashed everyday.
And it’s really nothing new to me. And…Kumbaga sanay na ang dibdib ko sa nilalait ka o pinipintasan. Eh hindi ko na rin napansin.
Ang importante lang gusto kong makasama sa — kasama dito sa pagbabago na ito. And so far, and so far I think we are doing a very good job in PAGCOR.
Leo Palo (DZME): Sir, tanong ko lang kamusta ‘yung mga kaso o mga anomalya ‘nung last administration?
IGNACIO: Ano ba ‘yung mga kaso at anomalya ‘nung?
Mr. Palo: Regarding pa din doon sa mga lease contract?
IGNACIO: Ah probably you are talking about the Vanderwood. Well, ang pinakamaiku-kwento ko lang sa inyo siyempre nagkakasuhan kami at isasauli nila ‘yung ano — isasauli nila ‘yung 234 million na pinauna.
Mr. Palo: So wala pang update?
IGNACIO: Ngayon ay nasa ano ‘yan eh — nagkakasuhan iyan eh.
Mr. Palo: Actually kaya ko tinatanong din ito dahil may mga info din na parang — itong kayo na nandun sa ano…
IGNACIO: Makakasuhan din ako? Huwag naman ako. Kadarating ko lang.
Mr. Palo: No, may sinasabi lang na nagco-compromise kayo or compromise deal or something?
IGNACIO: Well, hindi, let’s not say compromise. Well, the new administration is finding out kung — finding ways kung papaano mas maging okay para kasi hindi ba…Kaysa mag-dwell kami doon sa makipagbakbakan nang makipagbakbakan hindi ba? Ang dami pang gagawin ng PAGCOR eh.
Remember the main product of PAGCOR eh funds to provide the government. Ang dami naming allocations eh.
So, hangga’t maaari mapiga natin kung ano ‘yung best deal in the interest of the government eh iyon ang gagawin natin.
Mr. Palo: Kasi kapag sinabi mo compromise so baka ano baka mamaya makalusot naman ‘yung iba.
IGNACIO: Hindi naman. Ikaw ang nagsabi ‘nun eh. Hindi naman. Alam mo I assure with Ma’am Andrea Domingo on top, sir, mahirap, mahirap.
Ako na ang nagsasabi sa inyo na pagkatiwalaan ninyo ‘yung bagong head ng PAGCOR.
Benjie Liwanag (DZBB): Good morning, sir. Sir, tanong ko lang ang isa sa mga thrust ni Pangulong Duterte is hospitalization at saka ‘yung mga hospital. Well, may programa ba ang PAGCOR right now na magpatayo pa ng mga karagdagang hospital kasi ito isa ito doon sa mga sinabi niya noong siya ay makapanumpa?
IGNACIO: Iyong magpatayo, Benjie, wala kami pang solid plans na magpatayo. Pero doon naman sa department ko, meron kaming sinisimulan na mag-allocate ng funds sa PGH, sa National Kidney at saka sa Philippine Heart Center.
Sisimulan namin ito with small funds sandali and then if it works lalagyan namin nang lalagyan. But then ang thrust nga ng Presidente ay doon sa huli naming pagkikita ay buhayin uli ‘yung Botika ng Bayan.
Kasi mabigat sa loob niya ‘yung meron kang dalang reseta pagkatapos hindi mo mabili ‘yung gamot. So parang papel lang ‘yung ano — papel lang ‘yung magpapagaling sa iyo, eh siyempre alam natin hindi mangyayari iyon.
Mr. Liwanag: Actually PGH is doing it right now. Iyong mga pasyente doon sa Philippine General Hospital pwedeng bumili ‘nung gamot na at a lower cost. Sir, iyon pa rin ba ‘yung isusulong or aside from that?
IGNACIO: Ang gusto ni Presidente dito ililibre eh.
Mr. Liwanag: Ah libre.
In fact, parang tingin niya kung pwede pwede lahat na iyon eh ilagay doon. But, of course, ito pa lang ‘yung kanyang instruction.
Ms. Ignacio: So pwede sa mga areas na ma-identify ‘yung pinakamahirap talaga din ‘yung…
Ms. Ignacio: Ano ang mga areas na iyon?
IGNACIO: Well, noong huli ang sabi niya basta gusto niya ito lumaganap sa buong Pilipinas lalung-lalo na doon sa mga lugar na ang hirap makabili ng gamot.
Mr. Ramos: Under DOH, not LGUs?
IGNACIO: Yes, oo, sa DOH.
ASEC. ABLAN: Thank you, Sir Arnell.
Ms. Ranada: Sir, online may mga nagse-spread na mga news or rumors that the IED explosion yesterday that hurt the advance party of the President was not really — did not really happen na apparently parang soldiers were just accidentally shot at the convoy and parang may rumor na they just made it up para ‘yon nga ‘yung conspiracy na ito ‘yung reason to suspend habeas corpus. So parang it’s spreading online, some people are sharing it. Is there any statement from the Palace regarding this?
ASEC. ABLAN: Yes, that remains to be a conspiracy theory, Pia. So we ask citizens to always verify the news that they receive in social media.
The government will not sacrifice the lives of our soldiers, you know, for the conspiracy theory that some citizens have been thinking about. So it is a conspiracy theory.
Mr. Ramos: Sir, just last Saturday during the Alumni Homecoming of the San Beda College of Law, the President said decent and criticisms are very important part of a democracy. But then the other night, Monday night, the President said he may just include the human rights activist advocates doon sa mga ipapapatay niya in this drug war. How…What do you make of that statement coming from the President?
ASEC. ABLAN: We appeal that citizens decide or — decide on the President’s actions more than his talk. Although he may have said that last Monday, I have not verified that statement, as of now, you know, there is no censorship at all in media or in human rights groups or in any those who protest against the government.
We respect the right to assemble. We respect free speech. We appeal that citizens observe that the President walks the walk rather than his talk.
Mr. Ramos: So ano iyon parang salita lang just all talk coming from the President? It’s not in any way like a veiled threat?
ASEC. ABLAN: Oh, no, no. Let’s not…There is no threat at all. As you have been covering the President, you know his frustrations with working in government as well as with, you know, how being President.
So, I think his statement last Monday was just another expression of his frustration on the difficulty on running the country. But in a way is his statement a statement on curtailing media or his critics or curtailing free speech, none of that because as you know you are asking questions here, anyone can post a report. So there is no censorship.
Mr. Ramos: President Ramos…Former President Ramos yesterday he said that while the President Duterte’s Cabinet members are competent, they seem to be disorganized. Ano po ang masasabi ng Malakanyang doon sa statement ni FVR?
ASEC. ABLAN: Well, we respect the sentiments of former President Ramos. And just to maybe put some contextualization, the time when President Ramos was president and the time when President Duterte is president are, you know, generations or decades apart.
And if I may just mention that 20 years ago, there is no such thing as social media. And so what may be glaring to all of us today might not have been that glaring few decades ago. So just to put things in context.
But we at the Cabinet are striving our best to deliver the public services, honoring the commitments of the President during the campaign.
JP Bencito (The Manila Standard): Hi sir, good morning. Sir, the President said yesterday or in his previous speeches that he is mulling on talking with the Maute group to resolve the security situation in Mindanao. Isn’t it peculiar, sir, na this is the first time that the President makes this kind of statement on a small group compared to bigger ones like ASG, et cetera?
ASEC. ABLAN: You see the thought process of the President. He is trying to exhaust all means in order to attain peace and order.
And so when he stated that the other day, I think he was just mulling the idea of discussing because the end goal of the President is, of course, to maintain and to achieve peace and order.
Mr. Bencito: But, sir, is the Palace somehow thinking of pushing for an all out war against the Maute group?
ASEC. ABLAN: That information I am not privy to. Thank you.
Mr. Liwanag: Sir, good morning. Any update on the meeting of President Duterte with MNLF founding chairman Nur Misuari and also Pampanga Representative Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo?
ASEC. ABLAN: Thanks, Benjie. From my end, I do not have any update on that meeting between Mr. Misuari and Congresswoman Macapagal-Arroyo.
Mr. Ramos: Just a follow up to JP’s question, is the President joking or is he serious when he said yesterday that he wants to talk with the Maute group which he said had already connected with ISIS?
ASEC. ABLAN: Like I said, the expression of the President the other day is try to exhaust all possibilities to achieve peace and order.
And so is considering, you know, discussing with the — with that particular group is in his line of thinking.
But insofar as the AFP is concerned, I do not have information whether they are going to follow through with that proposal
Mr. Ramos: So the President said that with sincerity? He is not joking?
ASEC. ABLAN: Like I said, when the President expresses his opinion, he express — with regard to peace and order, he wants to achieve peace and order. And if speaking with that particular group would somehow achieve peace and order and security in the area then…
Mr. Ramos: So this government, the Duterte administration is open to talking, to negotiating with a terrorist group?
ASEC. ABLAN: It’s just considering. There is no confirmation or denial but it’s just considering.
Mr. Ramos: Denial of what? Consideration of what, sir?
ASEC. ABLAN: Well, like I mentioned a while ago, Marlon, when the President expressed that opinion, he merely wanted to express his desire to exhaust all legal ways and proper ways into achieving peace and order.
But with regards to the AFP and probably the National Security Council, I am not in a position to give a statement whether they are serious — whether the statement was going to follow through.
Alexis Romero (The Philippine Star): Just to press the point, Asec, the President himself said that the group is already connected with ISIS. Aren’t we sending the wrong signal considering just the mere fact that we are considering talking to a group linked to ISIS?
ASEC. ABLAN: We’ll leave it to the President and to his National Security Council to move on with regard to dealing with this particular group.
Suffice to know that there is no written statement that the government will coordinate or mediate or negotiate with this group. There is no written policy on that. It was just an expression made by the President the other day.
Again, the expression was made because the President wants to exhaust all means on how to achieve peace and order in the country. But again, there is no written policy on that effect.
Celerina Monte (Manila Shimbun): Good morning, sir. Regarding to what is happening right now, this incident in Butig and supposedly an incident in Marawi and this one near the US embassy ‘yung bomb. Would that warrant the declaration of the suspension of writ of habeas corpus or as a lawyer, sir, ha? And…Or there is an ongoing assessment by the National Security Council regarding — or National Security Cluster regarding the possible suspension of that writ?
ASEC. ABLAN: There is no talk of any suspension of the writ or any declaration for that matter.
These are incidents that occurred and the authorities have tried to address, for example, if there are any lives in danger.
But going back to your question, there is no sentiment of declaring any such declaration or any suspension of any writ for that matter.
Whether or not that merits a suspension is a — something that only the President can decide on.
Ms. Monte: So the lawlessness going on right now is still controllable?
ASEC. ABLAN: I don’t know. Do you feel that there is lawlessness outside?
Ms. Monte: At least in some part of the Philippines like in Mindanao.
ASEC. ABLAN: From what I know the proclamation — Proclamation 55 or 56 for that matter is still in effect.
But as you can see, we are able to go on with our day-to-day lives. The proclamation is there just to make sure that there is security, peace and order around the country.
Mr. Liwanag: Sir, binigyan kayo ng 10 days Malakanyang binigyan ng 10 days ng Supreme on doon sa Marcos burial. Any reaction, sir?
ASEC. ABLAN: I don’t know…I read the news that the Supreme Court gave the respondents including Malacañang 10 days to respond to the motion.
I am not really whether or not the Office of the President received that particular action of the court and we would just have to abide with the process.
So I am sure the Office of the President will tackle that instruction of the court.
Rosalie Coz (UNTV): Good morning, sir. Statement po ng Palace sa mga ongoing protests as well as coinciding with the Bonifacio Day?
ASEC. ABLAN: Well, we respect the right to assemble and freedom of speech of all citizens.
And so Malacañang respects the protest actions being organized today, Bonifacio Day.
And, of course, has instructed the authorities to exercise maximum tolerance. And so we hope that those who are pursuing with the protests today that they peacefully assemble.