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    Interview with Atty. Barry Gutierrez at ANC Headstart

    Interview with Atty. Barry Gutierrez at ANC Headstart
    ANC Headstart, ANC 24/7


    KAREN DAVILA: And now we talk to Vice President Robredo's Spokesperson, Attorney Barry Gutierrez, still on the endorsement of Partido Reporma. Good morning to you Barry.

    BARRY GUTIERREZ: Good morning, Karen. Happy to be here.

    KAREN DAVILA: Alright. First of all, when did Vice President Leni Robredo know that she was going to be endorsed? Was that the reason why she visited Congressman Alvarez or she was really there just to campaign?

    BARRY GUTIERREZ: We were informed a few days before the actual event. So, she really made it a point to go to Davao del Norte to actually meet with Congressman Alvarez and the leaders of Partido Reporma.

    KAREN DAVILA: So interestingly, if you had known it a few days ahead and according to Congressman Alvarez, he just told and had exchanges with Senator Lacson by text, would it be fair to say that VP Robredo knew it first?

    BARRY GUTIERREZ: Well, I wouldn't know. We're not privy to the internal workings of Partido Reporma. We were simply the very fortunate beneficiary of their decision. So you know, we respect their internal processes and we assume, given the very very positive sentiments expressed by both Senator Lacson and Congressman Alvarez and the other leaders that this was really something that was, you know, a mutually agreed upon decision that you know, it was a– that everything was fine.

    KAREN DAVILA: Alright. Now, sinabi ni Robredo: Napakaimportante ng public endorsement na ito as it gives other officials the courage to choose for themselves. What can Partido Reporma, at least, this isn't the national party just yet, but Congressman Alvarez’s province, bring to VP Leni Robredo in terms of vote, influence. How helpful is this?

    BARRY GUTIERREZ: It's very very helpful and I think that the Vice President was very very clear on that yesterday in their press conference, because aside from the sheer support in terms of the party’s numbers, in terms of the leaders that will now be campaigning for the Vice President, there is a huge symbolic value to the support from Partido Reporma. As mentioned by Congressman Alvarez earlier, he and VP Robredo have not always had a good relationship. They have been on opposite sides of the political fence at one point. But now, they are together and that's a very, very strong symbol that people who may have had disagreements before, it's possible for them to find common ground moving forward, and work together. And that's really what the entire campaign of VP Leni has been anchored on: the idea that this is a campaign that will welcome people from different groups, from different backgrounds, so long as they can agree on common values and common principles moving forward. So, I think that's a huge thing.

    Of course, the fact that the leaders from Davao del Norte, a province that VP Leni placed third in in 2016, again, is a huge symbolic boost, as well as a practical one, to the campaign. And lastly, considering that they were actually openly endorsing another presidential candidate before, the fact that they were willing to make the shift even though it was a difficult decision as they themselves put in their statement, and the fact that they are doing this because they think, it serves the greater good in this election, I think, again, is a very important message to convey to other leaders, other Filipinos who at this stage in the campaign, 45 days before the election, are still contemplating where they should actually throw their support behind.

    KAREN DAVILA: Now Barry, let's talk about Mindanao, this is a boost for the Vice President in Mindanao. But of course, you do have the tandem of Marcos-Robredo in the surveys essentially lording it over in Mindanao. Let's talk about the kind of support that you still believe are soft that you can still get for the Vice President in Mindanao.

    BARRY GUTIERREZ: Well, it's a– I think that Mindanao, along with many other places in the Philippines, can still actually be reached in terms of the message the Vice President is presenting in this election. I don't think that there's any place that we can or we should simply write off and say, wala na tayong magagawa diyan, di ba? Hindi na maaabot 'yan. Sa dulo, Pilipino lang naman lahat ang mga kababayan natin, di ba? Kahit pa saan man silang probinsyang nakatira, puwedeng makausap, puwedeng makumbinsi, puwedeng makasama pa, and I think that, exactly, the endorsement of Speaker Alvarez and Partido Reporma is proof positive of that, na puwede pang magkaroon ng pakikipag-usap at kumbinsihan regardless of previous histories and regardless of perceived alliances in this election.

    KAREN DAVILA: Okay. Now, Senator Manny Pacquiao, among the presidential candidates, other than of course Mr. Marcos at this point, has strong showing in Mindanao. Is the group of the Vice President, your whole team,still trying to dialogue? Are there backdoor negotiations or talks of asking Senator Manny Pacquiao to withdraw and instead, support the Vice President? Because those are votes that could go to one or the other.

    BARRY GUTIERREZ: Well right now, the campaign is really focused on just doing it's own thing. After all, there are only 45 days left in the campaign before we all go out to vote. But that said, there are groups outside of the campaign who have been continuously working since last year, since the filing of candidacies in October, to still try and bring together candidates from different groups to form a broader alliance, you know, trying to unite them under one tent and under one banner. So, these are ongoing efforts and the Vice President has always been very very clear, she is open to having conversations, she is open to exploring these unities and 45 days is still an eternity in politics so, a lot of [things are gonna] happen.

    KAREN DAVILA. Okay. Now, there are 9 Million votes I believe in CALABARZON, am I correct?

    BARRY GUTIERREZ: More or less, yes.

    KAREN DAVILA: More or less. Okay and you have the Remullas clearly going all out for Mr. Marcos, you have Batangas, which is a big voting block that’s committed to Isko. In terms of the CALABARZON Region, Barry, where do you believe is Robredo strong? Do you have a bailiwick in CALABARZON?

    BARRY GUTIERREZ: Well, you have to understand, although there might be local leaders, [which] supports other candidates at the moment, we cannot say that simply because a prominent provincial leader supports a candidate that that’s the way the votes in that particular area will go. Talking about Cavite, for example, while admittedly the governor is supporting another candidate, the fact is that when VP Leni had her own political rally in Cavite, 47 thousand people came. I mean, we did not expect that, I think even the local leaders did not expect that, that’s why there is such a rush immediately after that event to try and explain away the numbers.

    But the thing is, this is a campaign and this is an election where the people themselves are slowly showing that they are willing to come out, they are willing to stand up for a candidate and a set of principles they believe in, and I think that that is true for CALABARZON as it is true for every other place in the country. That’s why our emphasis is really reaching out with the message and people will respond regardless of the current political configurations.

    KAREN DAVILA: Okay. Now, you have seen reports. I mean, prior– I actually covered former senator Bongbong Marcos' motorcade that day for our special–

    BARRY GUTIERREZ: Yes.

    KAREN DAVILA: –yes. But you’ve seen reports of Governor Johnvic Remulla handing out 25 thousand pesos na pa-premyo in a mini rally before Marcos came. And just yesterday, another local official in Laguna which was Sara Duterte's rally–of course, Sara was not there yet, I think, or was not there anymore when money was given–but, in rallies were there in proximities so to speak, or there for them, there is money being handed out. Are you disappointed with the lack of action from the COMELEC?

    BARRY GUTIERREZ: Definitely. I mean, the thing with– in the age of the social media is, these things can no longer be concealed. So, if somebody gives away money at a political rally, chances are within minutes of it happening, it will already be on social media. That’s why we know that these things are happening. So, it should be a case, where the COMELEC should also be responsive to this kind of information. After all, we do not want the impression to arise that this election is being decided by, you know, out and out rampant vote buying. And quite honestly, I cannot frame it in any other way if you are at a political rally and you are giving away money blatantly to the people attending, then that is really something of concern, and that is really something that our Commission on Elections should be taking action on.

    KAREN DAVILA: Okay, my last question, because I still have another interview. A viewer is asking, since sacrifices are being made, will Senator Kiko– is he willing to step down and VP Leni instead endorse Sotto as a partner? Which is a Leni-Sotto ticket, 'cause you do have other local officials that are now RoSa, Robredo-Sara, right? Which is not unique because there was NoyBi, PNoy-Binay, so this is quite common. Is that a possibility?

    BARRY GUTIERREZ: Well, right now I do not think it’s a possibility. The Vice President has been very very clear, her choice for VP, the person that she will be campaigning for up to the end will be Senator Kiko Pangilinan, and that has been clear from the start. We understand that there will be hopes, there will be parties, there will be local officials who will choose to have some other configuration. And we respect them, that’s the thing with our system, the President and the Vice President are not elected in tandem. But insofar as the Vice President, and insofar as the campaign is concerned, our Vice Presidential bet is Senator Kiko Pangilinan, and we will be doing everything we can in the next 45 days to ensure that he, who has been chosen by the Vice President as her preferred partner in governance, will be elected as VP come May.

    KAREN DAVILA: Alright, in my interview in Pulse Asia, and actually when I was with Mr. Marcos in Cavite, reiterated by Pulse Asia is it seems he has the C, D, E crowd, that is why Pulse Asia did not even include the B the survey, the B class. Ang tanong marami, supporting Vice President Leni Robredo, how will she connect or does she even have the C, D, E crowd, Barry?

    BARRY GUTIERREZ: I don’t actually agree that she does not have the C, D, E crowd. Because if you look at her support over the years, some of her strongest support actually comes from class E, and the reason for that is simply that the VP has been very very active in her anti-poverty Angat Buhay program, which targets mostly poor communities, the communities on the laylayan, and works to actually make their lives better. So, insofar as her own background, her message, her platforms, these are really targeted more towards class C, D, and E. And I think that it’s just really a matter of time before there is a realization, on the part of more voters coming from these classes, that their interests are better served under a Leni Robredo presidency. The biggest thing that we have contend with, not just in this election but in previous years prior to the election, has been disinformation particularly disinformation in social media.

    And I think that is the reason why many of the accomplishments and many of the advocacies of the Vice President have not reached the people, or have not been made known to more people in our country, unfortunately. But this is a campaign, we have been working on that the past few months, we still have 45 days left, and I am confident that we are slowly actually getting our message across to more people and that’s reflected in the growing support on the ground for VP Leni, and hopefully that will snowball in the remaining 45 days of the campaign.

    KAREN DAVILA: Alright. Thank you very much for joining me today, Barry Gutierrez. Good luck to you, sir.

    BARRY GUTIERREZ: Thank you, Karen. Always happy to be here. Stay safe.

    [END]

    Posted in Transcripts on Mar 24, 2022