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    Atty. Barry Gutierrez Interview with Karmina Constantino Dateline Philippines, ANC

    Atty. Barry Gutierrez Interview with Karmina Constantino
    Dateline Philippines, ANC

    [START 11:20]

    KARMINA CONSTANTINO: And here to tell us about what this latest endorsement for Robredo’s presidential run means to their campaign is the Vice President's Spokesperson Atty. Barry Gutierrez. Atty. Gutierrez nice to see you again, welcome to the program. Thanks for joining us today.

    Barry Gutierrez: Happy to be here Karmina.

    KARMINA CONSTANTINO: Alright so first off, how much of a boost will this be for the campaign of the VP?

    ATTY. BARRY GUTIERREZ: Well first of all we think it’s a really significant development. The Vice President already expressed her thanks yesterday. And given the number, and the scope, and the stature of these former members of the Aquino cabinet and the Aquino administration that came forward, we feel that this will actually encourage more people to actually support the Vice President. It’s a direct-hand testimony attesting to her qualities as a leader. It’s a show of confidence in her capacity to take on the highest office of the land, from a very well-respected group of individuals. So we think this is a pretty significant development and it will be a huge boost for the campaign.

    KARMINA CONSTANTINO: But Atty. Gutierrez, when people say, “C’mon, it was expected, these are the people that she’s been allied with for a long time already. What’s the surprise with that?” What’s your take on those kinds of opinions and observations?

    ATTY. BARRY GUTIERREZ: While it’s true that some of the names that appeared on the list endorsing the Vice President were– are long time allies, and, to a certain extent, might have been expected, I will have to point out that, well to begin with, there are 42 ambassadors and members of the diplomatic corps who signed this. And that’s something somewhat unprecedented. This is a very professional group that normally does not actually enter into political discussions as openly as they did yesterday. But they saw the need to express their full support for the Vice President, their trust in her leadership and to come out publicly to make plain that support. So it’s not true that this is just a group of, well you know, expected people as a supporter because they're our long-time allies. This a very, very varied group of individuals, all of whom have served in government at the highest capacities, all of whom, taken together, have, you know, probably decades of experience serving the public in very, very key capacities. And you know that’s no small thing, it’s ‘a— it’s proof that for people who really know what governance is all about, Leni Robredo is the clear choice to lead our country in the next six years.

    KARMINA CONSTANTINO: And to the opinion or belief of some that this is exactly why they want change because it’s the same people all over again. That this further boost, you know, the fear of some that it’s going to be or may be the same people running the show again if the Vice President wins the presidency. What is your opinion, what’s your take on that?

    ATTY. BARRY GUTIERREZ: The Vice President has made it very, very clear that insofar as members of her administration will be concerned, the people will be appointed, will not be appointed on the basis of prior affiliation or party loyalty, or previous, you know, support for her. It will really be based on capacity and competence and a track record of integrity.

    [14:49]

    ATTY. BARRY GUTIERREZ: And she has shown this already in the Office of the Vice President itself. Even though she was elected under the aegis of the Liberal Party, most of the key staff, most of the staffers are actually not LP members. They come from a very, very wide array of backgrounds. In fact, many of them are young, people who have joined government for the first time, people who used to be in the private sector or from civil society. So I think it’s clear that both based on the Vice President’s pronouncements on what she expects her cabinet to look like, where she will draw talent from, as well as her own record in choosing her team at the Office of the Vice President, that this is not something we should be afraid of and that she will really be true to the position that the people who will serve in her administration will really be the people who are most qualified, literally the best, the brightest and most honest people to serve in these capacities.

    KARMINA CONSTANTINO: Is it also a possibility for you guys to look to the other side, to help the unification of the country after a most polarizing elections?

    ATTY. BARRY GUTIERREZ: Definitely! As I said, the standard will really be competence, and experience, and integrity. And you know, definitely that is something that those supporting the Vice President do not have a monopoly of. There are equally competent, equally experienced, and equally trustworthy individuals who are supporting other candidates. And when the time comes, if she is given the opportunity to serve as president, the pool of people she will look at to fill key positions in the government will definitely include people who may have supported the others in this election.

    KARMINA CONSTANTINO: I want to set our sights now on the fact that there are generals, military men included, in that list of people who have endorsed the presidential run of Vice President Leni Robredo. How significant is this for you, considering that some of my sources also say that the military right now at this point seem to be inclined, or at least not as an institution but as individuals, they are inclined to vote for Ferdinand Marcos Jr. And the fact that you have military men here endorsing the Vice President's Presidential bid, do you think that these names are significant enough to sort of pull some of those votes away from Marcos Jr. and towards Vice President Leni Robredo, Atty. Gutierrez?

    ATTY. BARRY GUTIERREZ: Right now we’re really not looking in terms of influencing votes from the military to our side. But we look at it in the sense that if senior military leaders, individuals who have served as chief of staff, individuals who have served in the highest levels of the command structure of our military, have expressed this kind of confidence in VP Leni’s leadership capacity, which will include her capacity to assert our rights, in you know, the West Philippine Sea, to defend our sovereignty, you know, to clamp down on threats to national security, then we look at that as, you know, that should be an indicator of what her true mettle is.

    Then we have been you know, we have been subjected to a lot of bashing, baseless bashing, supposedly because of, you know, her weak position or her incapacity to deal with, you know, “macho issues” like national security. And what is clear here is that if people who have actually been in that hot seat, people who have been on top of that institution think that she has what it takes, then maybe everybody should take a second look at what she has really done, at what she is capable of and, you know, dismiss some of the attacks and fake news that the other side has tried very, very hard to circulate against her.

    So, you know, we feel this is a step forward, although I would point out that this is not the first group of military officers or military leaders that have come out to support the Vice President. Previously, she has already been receiving regular briefings from retired members of the AFP and the PNP. And again, this is an indicator that, you know, they have– they are giving her their vote of confidence and we hope that that will also encourage more people to look at her in a more balanced, fair way.
    [19:42]

    KARMINA CONSTANTINO: Balanced and fair way, we’re gonna talk about that in a bit. But as she is getting support from the military, she also just got the endorsement from the Left. We all know what the Makabayan Bloc did just a couple of days ago, endorsing the Robredo-Pangilinan tandem. With the support that she’s getting from the military, the support that she’s getting from the Left as well, where will the principles of the Vice President be, if and when she wins the presidency? I mean I can understand it might be a tough juggling act for her.

    ATTY. BARRY GUTIERREZ: I think it’s clear. [laughter] If you are going to ask me where will her principles fall? They will fall on the side of what is in our national interest and what is in the interest of the Filipino people. She will not define herself as either, you know, a Leftist or a Rightist. She will be someone who stands for what is best for the Philippines. And that will cut across every policy that she will be asked to handle as President. Definitely, we have already expressed our gratitude at the support of Makabayan. This is an election, every group that comes forward to say that they trust you and they will support you will definitely be welcome. But in so— and you know, she has also expressed her support to her— I’m sorry, her willingness to work with every group along, you know, the principles that she follows. So, this is— all of this is going to be a work in progress but it's an indicator that the government of Leni Robredo, the leadership style of a President Leni Robredo will be one that will be inclusive, it will try and engage as many actors as possible. It will try to achieve unities and it will not be based on simple organizational loyalties.

    KARMINA CONSTANTINO: Talking about inclusivity, you know at the beginning of this season, she was really trying hard even before she declared her bid for the presidency to sort of unify the Opposition. And one person that she really talked to then was Sen. Ping Lacson. So that a lot of people were really surprised about the statements she said a couple of days back when she said, in so many words, that he talks a lot but doesn’t do much. So, how do you then reconcile that with the fact that she was talking to him to form an alliance and yet this is actually what she thinks of him? Explain that to us, Atty. Gutierrez.

    ATTY. BARRY GUTIERREZ: Well, first of all you have to put that in context. She was asked, ‘Why do you think that people should not vote for these other candidates?” So, she gave her honest opinion, and what she said was not "he talks a lot but doesn’t do much." What she said was, "he talks well but he lacks on the ground experience." And I think the reference was really to the fact that in contrast to the Vice President who has worked as a public interest lawyer, who has worked with poor communities in the most remote areas of this country, who has spent so much time listening directly to the concerns of people in the laylayan as we have come to call it, you know many of the other candidates including Sen. Lacson, might not have the same kind of experience. We have no doubt he has a lot of experience in government. He has served in the executive, he has served in the legislature, but you know, she was asked. Why would you wan– why would you not vote for this person, so she gave her honest opinion. It has nothing to do with trying to forge alliances. The idea behind forging alliances is finding common ground. And you know, you won’t always completely agree with people you are trying to find common ground with, di ba? What’s important is at that point in time, you are able to reach key agreements on key issues and move forward on that basis. But unfortunately, this did not materialize, and I think that a lot has already been said as to why that did not happen, so I won’t add anything more to that. But you know, if the implication is that he was acting in bad faith, I think that’s completely unfounded, and, you know, and that is completely against what actually happened.

    KARMINA CONSTANTINO: You know what’s about to happen? The first Presidential Forum that’s slated to happen in a couple of days. How are you guys preparing for this? What are your expectations? How do you see the Vice President performing in this Presidential Forum?

    ATTY. BARRY GUTIERREZ: One mantra of our entire campaign is so long as the Vice President is herself, so long as we are able to actually project her authentic self—who she really is, what she really knows—that will always be enough to sway voters and to sway our fellow Filipinos who watch her and who see her. So, the preparation is really more along the lines of giving her the adequate preparation in terms of knowledge of issues so that she feels comfortable. The Vice President, you know, one thing about her is that she feels most comfortable whether it’s in a meeting, or in a forum, or in giving a speech when she has all the facts at hand. She likes to study. She likes to review. She likes to have a full grasp of the topic being discussed. So, our job is really just to provide her that so that she can be— so that she can confidently participate here. But we are fully, fully confident that once she does, once she’s there, the depth of her experience, the depth of her insight, the reach of her vision, will be made clear.

    KARMINA CONSTANTINO: Atty. Barry Gutierrez, Spokesperson of Vice President Leni Robredo there. Thank you so much for joining us today, really appreciate it.

    ATTY. BARRY GUTIERREZ: Thank you, Karmina, always a pleasure to be here. And stay safe.

    KARMINA CONSTANTINO: You too, take care and you keep safe.

    [END 25:50]

     

     

    Posted in Transcripts on Feb 02, 2022