President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. at the Kapihan with the Media
PRESIDENT MARCOS: Hello. Good morning. Ang bilis lang ano? Pero maraming ano, marami tayong nagawa. So medyo busy pero okay worth it.
Yes, I think although very quick visit lang, kasi isang araw at kalahati more or less from the fourth and half of today. And it must been very — a little bit hectic pero that’s okay at marami naman tayong na — ‘yung mga ating iniisip na gustong pag-usapan, especially with the political leadership of China, eh napag-usapan naman natin and furthermore again, as you were witness to the roundtable discussions, ‘yung mga investment opportunities na ipinakita natin sa mga potential Chinese investors, present and potential. Kasi ‘yung iba doon mayroong presence na sa Pilipinas.
Ang sinasabi natin sa kanila ay palakihin na ang involvement nila sa Pilipinas. At ‘yung mga ibang hindi pa nakapasok sa PIlipinas ay sinasabi natin maganda ngayon ang investment climate sa Pilipinas, kaya’t marami tayong opportunities na pwedeng mag-partner at again, at every — in every way G2G, PPP, joint venture, private sector, kung ano man ang sa kanilang palagay ang pinakabagay doon sa kanilang operation.
So I think altogether, it is a very full one and a half days but it is very productive one and a half days and I think everything that we intended to do, we were able to do despite the very quick visit.
So I’m sure that this will not be the last one and hopefully the President and Madame Peng, his wife, will be — will take us up on our invitation na bumisita sa Pilipinas.
Q: Good morning sir. Sir, on the issue of fishing, you mentioned that Chinese President Xi Jinping hopes to find a compromise together with the Philippines. Will there be a separate negotiation specifically on this or will China make an arbitrary decision and just inform the Philippines on their decision? And how soon will the compromise be reached? We all know fishermen live day by day.
PRESIDENT MARCOS: All right. No, it is not a unilateral thing that will — the whole point is that when we spoke — I said the incidents that have been happening for example, in terms of our fishermen, in terms of our Coast Guard et cetera, lahat ‘yan mga incidents na ‘yan, sabi ko, I see it as a lack of communication or rapid communication.
So sabi ko, gumawa tayo ng paraan para kung may problema from either side, sabihan niyo — magsasabi kami sa inyo kaagad, sabihan niyo rin kami kaagad. Kung magpapalipad kayo ng rocket, sabihin niyo sa amin. Kung may bumagsak sa Pilipinas, ire-recover namin, bibigay naman namin sa inyo eh. Hindi naman — wala kaming interest na itago ‘yan.
So all of those things, kung pinag-usapan lang — hindi lang talaga napag-usapan. So we talked about strengthening the communications between governments and also at a ministerial level and also at the Coast Guard, Navy level.
So that is something — malaking bagay ‘yun. Because if the commanders of the Philippine Coast Guard and the Navy and the commanders of the Chinese Coast Guard and their Navy, magkakilala ‘yan, eh madali silang mag-usap bago may mangyari pa. So that is what I — that’s essentially what the general agreement that we came to. Now, as to timetable, we already have mechanisms that exist. Mayroon na tayong bilateral group na pinag-uusapan, ang mga issues between China and the Philippines.
Ang aking proposal ay iakyat, pataasin natin ang bilateral, ang mga member ng mga bilateral. Sabi ko, ang pinakamaganda, sana ‘yung Chinese members of the bilateral group have a direct access to the President.
Ako naman, [inaudible] President Xi, ako naman on my part, titiyakin ko ‘yung mga nakaupo sa bilateral team natin ay may direct contact din naman sa atin para diretso, para hindi tayo nag — nothing will be lost in translation. Hindi magkakaroblema sa misinformation na maaring mangyari kapag napakatagal bago nakapag-usap kami.
Q: Sir, just a follow-up. Will this mean that there will be less or no harassment at all anymore of our Chinese fishermen who are fishing on their natural fishing ground, like for example, Scarborough Shoal and the like?
PRESIDENT MARCOS: Well, clearly that’s a very important issue for us. And siguro naman, after we came to an agreement with the President Xi that this is an important aspect of our relationship and it’s something that is easily remedied, relatively easily remedied.
We will — when we get back, the Foreign Secretary and his counterparts here in China will finalize the organization of that and the situation with our fishermen will be number one on the agenda.
Q: Actually that’s also my question sir. Sir, do you think sir that direct communication between our governments would lessen the tension and the encroachment in the West Philippine Sea?
PRESIDENT MARCOS: Well, that’s entirely the point of having the bilateral team — that is continuing to discuss but as I said, I wanted to raise the level of discussion to maybe a ministerial level and that and with a direct access to both presidents. Kaya’t — the intention of course is to minimize all of these “incidents.”
Siyempre, ‘yung report nila naiba doon sa report natin. But hindi bale, let’s just call it an incident and sana mabawasan na ‘yun. I think it will, definitely.
Because when lines of communication are open at mabilis makapag-decision si President Xi, makapag-decision ako kaagad, palagay ko marami tayong mababawasan diyan sa mga problemang nakikita natin ngayon.
Q: Good morning sir.
PRESIDENT MARCOS: Good morning.
Q: On the other issues po, following this historic state visit of yours Mr. President, are you now inclined to impose the proposed COVID travel restriction for inbound Chinese travelers to the Philippines?
PRESIDENT MARCOS: Well, I think it will have to do it, again, based on science. If there is a — you know, the approach that I’ve taken when it comes to what remains of our COVID response, is to assess the actual risk factors.
Is there really a risk? For example, if a Chinese national has tested three times already to be negative, and that was what, 48 hours before their travel, hindi na kailangan sila i-test.
But if they have not been tested, then we will ask for them to be tested before they get on the plane. Nothing new. Ganun na rin ang ginagawa natin ngayon eh. And we’re not doing it only for China. We do it for other countries who we feel are — have a higher risk factor than the Philippines.
‘Yun lang naman ang ano eh. Kasi tingnan natin, ano ba talaga ang risk? Huwag tayong mag — huwag tayong gumagawa ng rules, sabagal pa sa ating mga ginagawa. Gusto nating mag-tourist, gusto natin magpadala ng…
Pero, it’s not, I think the problem is the management of COVID here in China, sa ngayon. So sila man, sabi nila hindi naman immediate na makakapagbiyahe na naman ang mga Chinese national. Kaya’t siguro in the meantime, we just watch and wait and I’m sure that hindi naman sila magpapaalis ng tao na positive.
Q: Good morning sir. You just had a meeting with business leaders and investors this morning. May we just know if you have a ballpark figure on the investment pledges that we secured from China?
PRESIDENT MARCOS: Well, yes we have ballpark figure as to what the — well the pledges amount to about 22 billion dollars of pledges for investment. And these are — some of these investments have already started their construction, have already started the opening their offices, all of that.
So these are not — these are pledges but they are pledges that are backed up already by concrete actions in the Philippines. Nagbukas na sila ng mga opisina, kumukuha na sila ng mga permit. ‘Yung mga iba na nakakuha na ng permit, inumpisahan na nila ‘yung mga construction. So that is included in that number.
But there are other areas na medyo bago-bago, kagaya ng sa processing ng minerals at saka sa battery production at saka sa electric vehicle production. Ito bago lahat ito. Kaya’t siguro, kailangan natin pa ipakita sa kanila na mga Chinese, potential Chinese investors na maganda mag-invest sa Pilipinas.
Pero handa naman sila basta’t mabigyan sila ng pagkakataon na — that they are given, recognized as a — I guess as a primary industry, as an infant industry in the old parlance.
Dahil nabago kasi, so maybe that they are asking for some concession. So pinag-aaralan natin ‘yan and — but it is very important to the Philippines na maipasok natin ‘yung mga ganung klaseng industriya dahil that’s the green economy that’s coming up. So we have to be part of it.
And that is where the global economy is headed. So kailangan makapag-position tayo and I think we’re heading in the right direction.
Q: Sir, meron na rin po ba tayong estimate how many jobs could it generate for Filipinos?
PRESIDENT MARCOS: Oh, wow. ‘Yung today lang, siguro at the very least, close to — kasi it’s operation, 10,000 jobs, 30,000 jobs. Ganun ang kanilang pinag-uusapan eh. Kaya’t mahirap mag-estimate but it is — it’s certainly going to produce many, many jobs, when the investments come into play, when they start their operations. Mag-uumpisa pa ‘yan sa training and ano, capacity building doon sa ating mga — doon sa magiging empleyado nila. So that will start — that will be starting very soon.
So let’s watch and wait because of course, some of the estimates are a little optimistic. So I don’t want to put out new job problem — job numbers.
So that’s what we are looking for now. To make sure that these investments, not only provide jobs for the local economy, but there’s also a transfer of technology that the repatriation of profits are minimized and the value added is left in the Philippines.
Q: Thank you sir.
Q: Good morning, Mr. President. Last time, there was a deadlock between the Philippines and China [inaudible] joint venture — to the joint exploration, with regard to the oil and gas and the West Philippine Sea. How do you plan to settle that deadlock? Did you already come up with a sharing agreement that’s agreeable for both sides?
PRESIDENT MARCOS: No, no, the — what we had decided was that we will resume because as you know the negotiations over that were abandoned early last year when they came — there was an impasse on the law.
But the — I think the opportunities are still there. It’s very important I made mention of it in our meetings that this is very important for the Philippines as we move from traditional sources of power to more renewable power sources, that it is an important part of that — of the interim shift.
So I think the Chinese government — the leadership understand that it is an important part of the Philippine economy and they promised to do all that they can to come to an agreement and as do we in the Philippines promised to do all we can to come to that agreement.
Q: Sir, just a follow-up question. Another reason why there was an impasse or why the Philippines withdrew from that agreement last year, was that because two survey ships commissioned by the Philippines were supposedly harassed by Chinese vessels. How do you ensure that that won’t happen again under your administration? What safety nets do you put in place?
PRESIDENT MARCOS: I don’t think that that was the reason why the negotiations were stopped.
Q: Sir, Foreign Affairs Secretary Teddy Locsin was quoted saying that it was an impingement on…
PRESIDENT MARCOS: Yes, but that wasn’t the core reason. The core reason was that there was a disagreement on which local law will apply.
Q: Okay. Sir, but under your administration, what kind of safety nets would you put to ensure that that kind of friction would not happen under your watch?
PRESIDENT MARCOS: Well, these are two — they are talking about two different things. You’re talking about the communications that we have with the Chinese and you’re also talking about the — although they are slightly connected, they are two different subjects.
So we cover the proposal to ease communication and to make it more rapid. So that these incidents are lessened and become less severe. We are worried that mistakes might happen that might cause — magkamali lang, magka — misinterpretation, whatever. Para hindi natin mag-ano, hindi na tayo magkakapro — mabawasan ang mga problemang ito.
Ngayon, going back to the joint exploration. We have to discuss some of the legal aspects of it. And the — I think the central issue there is the difference between sovereignty and sovereign rights. And that what we are asking for are sovereign rights. We are not demanding sovereignty over those areas.
So that is — that I think is where this is our — kung baga sa ano, it’s the wiggle room that we have to negotiate with. I think that’s the direction that those talks will take.
Q: Good morning, sir. [inaudible] result of the motu proprio investigation on the unauthorized convening of the Sugar Board and the issuance of the unauthorized sugar order last year. Do you have any plan to reinstate Agriculture Undersecretary Sebastian?
PRESIDENT MARCOS: Well, whatever plans we have for Usec. Sebastian, I think he should hear them first, not over the news. So pag-uusapan namin. Because we are mindful of the decision. It was basically a mistake, a procedural mistake that happened. So we’ll proceed on that basis.
Q: Good morning po, Mr. President.
PRESIDENT MARCOS: Good morning.
Q: Sir, House Speaker Martin Romualdez said po yesterday during our interview that it has been resolved that the two — that the two countries po can discuss the contentious issues po in the West Philippine Sea in a very amicable matter bilaterally. Also po, si Chairman ng National People’s Congress suggested to take the issues po one-on-one instead of the third parties coming into the conversation. What’s your take on that, Mr. President?
PRESIDENT MARCOS: Maybe, we’ll get the Speaker to put in his answer.
HOUSE SPEAKER MARTIN ROMUALDEZ: Well, upon the instructions and the directives of our President, we are now undertaking an initiative whereby at the very highest levels, we’ll have direct contact and coordination.
In fact, I had already written the Chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress, my counterpart. And in that — we shall be accepting an invitation for these bilateral engagements such as an invitation by the chairman of a delegation from the Philippine Congress to Beijing, perhaps when it’s warm or the spring or the summer and coordination and direct interaction will actually [inaudible] to a better understanding and better lines of communication.
And this I communicated to the Chinese ambassador to the Philippines last night and was very delighted to see the draft of the letter which I transmitted this morning. So yes, that’s the [inaudible] by which I made that statement, per the directive of the President. So Mr. President, I’ve sent the letter off this morning.
PRESIDENT MARCOS: All right. Very good. This is the — actually this is the continuing effort that we are trying to do to open all lines of communication for — as we have much to discuss with the Chinese. It’s not only the South China Sea, it’s not only the incidents that have been happening. But we are talking about of many other things such as trade. We are talking about trade, we are talking about investments in agriculture. Today, we talked about agriculture. We talked about mining. We talked about energy, renewable and traditional. All of these things we’ll be discussing.
So we will need to open many, many lines of communication so that we can talk at many different levels. I’ve said it before, but I will say it again that some of — when it comes to these negotiations between countries, many — much work is done not in the public eye, much work is done quietly, maybe in the back rooms and sinasabi you have to find the — you have to find another way in and so we are trying to give ourselves as many options as possible. So that if there is anything that needs to be discussed, marami tayong lalapitan dito sa gobyerno ng China. At ganun din naman sa lahat ng ibang bansa. That is our — that’s our general approach — the more communication, the more lines of communication, the more points of contact the better to make things run smoothly and to be able to energize our economy once again with these strong partnerships that we are forming, especially now with China.
Q: Good morning sir.
PRESIDENT MARCOS: Good morning.
Q: Were you able to talk with Philippine Ambassador to China Jaime Florcruz po regarding sa situation ng Filipinos here? Kumusta po ‘yung mga Pinoy ngayon mas mahigpit ‘yung…?
PRESIDENT MARCOS: ‘Yung mga?
Q: ‘Yung Filipinos po dito kumusta? Were you able to talk po with the…?
PRESIDENT MARCOS: Oh, that. I don’t think… There are no outstanding problems in terms of the — our Filipino nationals here in China. They have made their way here at marami doon — in fact, a few of the briefers that came for the roundtable meeting were Filipino already because they work for these Chinese companies and they have been asked to established offices in the Philippines.
So I think especially at the business level, hindi naman — wala naman tayong nakikitang problema. When it comes to the — I supposed the rest of the Filipino nationals, it’s the same thing. The Chinese people have treated us like neighbors, like brothers. So we do not have any particular problems in that regard.
Q: Sir, sa mas mahigpit na COVID protocols, ‘yung surge po ngayon, meron po bang problem sa Filipino community? May nare-report po bang problema?
PRESIDENT MARCOS: Ang pinaka-malaking problema ‘yung sa foreign service dahil marami sa mga embassy natin at saka sa mga consulate natin eh talagang tinamaan. And that’s the one. But I think the — since the — those who are not in the foreign service have always have — are following the protocols and have to — in fact even the — even our diplomats, despite the fact that they have been — some of them have tested positive, they have — they continue to work from home.
So I think we have found a way around the lockdown which is really what they are undergoing right now, and well-attended to by the local officials in terms of their health.
So I think we can — we have done, they have done as much as we can expect. I mean — by them, I mean the Chinese authorities.
Q: Good morning po, Mr. President.
PRESIDENT MARCOS: Good morning.
Q: Not only in Chinese, but also Japanese waiting you for state visit?
PRESIDENT MARCOS: Are?
Q: Are waiting for your state visit in Japan.
Q: And just would like to ask you, have you decided your schedule?
PRESIDENT MARCOS: We are presently — I mean the… Immediately, when I met with the Prime Minister Kishida in New York and he invited me to come to Japan, I immediately accepted. And so we are now talking to the Japanese authorities as to — the Japanese foreign service as to when would be the most suitable time for me to come. I have a trip to — later this month to Davos and Japan maybe will be the next one after that.
I think the tentative date is around the second week of February, right now.
Q: [off mic]
PRESIDENT MARCOS: I’m sorry?
Q: The agenda, sir.
PRESIDENT MARCOS: The agenda? Well, the agenda will be what we — will be a continued discussion of what we started in New York which essentially centers around economic security because with the — Japanese have many concerns about regional security and we are seen, of course, the Philippines is seen as an important part of maintaining that security in partnership with friends and partners like Japan and the other countries around the Indo-Pacific, Asia-Pacific region.
And economic security comes from — the term actually is the — it comes from the Japanese Prime Minister when he says that — when we generally talked about things like aid, grants, which is what we usually start off with when we are talking with our Japanese counterparts.
The subject of security also came up. And the two things are interconnected, as conceived by the Japanese Prime Minister. So I think that that is where the discussions will center.
Q: Mr. President, sorry. When we were in Cambodia, you mentioned that you want to reach a finality when it comes to the Code of Conduct, were you able to at least raise this to President Xi Jinping at the bilateral meeting?
PRESIDENT MARCOS: Well, all the issues about the DOC, the Code of Conduct, UNCLOS, all of these issues were discussed. But I think that they were in private discussions so we have not yet formulated a complete, shall we say, position.
Q: Mr. President, any reaction lang po doon sa mataas na 8.1 na percent na inflation rate nung December?
PRESIDENT MARCOS: Yeah, well at least 8.1 nag-increase lang ng 0.1 and the rate of increase is slowing.
It’s still agricultural products, 38 percent of the inflation — 11 percent is fuel, 38 percent is agricultural products pa rin. Kaya’t kailangan talagang ayusin ‘yung production natin. Kasi import tayo nang import. So ‘yung inflation doon sa ini-importan (import) natin nadadala dito sa Pilipinas.
Kaya’t we have to improve our production. We have to improve all of that. Kaya naman talagang central ang agriculture sa lahat. Thirty eight percent of the inflation comes from the agricultural products. We talked about fuel. Eleven percent ang fuel. So ‘yun ang dalawa talaga na kailangan natin tutukan.
All right. Thank you.
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SOURCE: OPS-PND (Presidential News Desk)