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    Press conference with OVP Spokesperson Atty. Barry Gutierrez

    Quezon City Reception House

    ATTY. BARRY GUTIERREZ: [opening statement] Well, obviously the past few days, we’ve been monitoring iyong developments and announcements from the Department of Justice after the PNP-CIDG last week referred a number of names to the DOJ for preliminary investigation, based on iyong affidavit ni Peter Advincula, and the Vice President was included in the list of around 38 names that were forwarded. As of now, I just want to officially say na wala pa kaming natatanggap na kahit anong communication from DOJ—no subpoena, no copy of the affidavit—so we don’t know any of the specifics as to how and why the Vice President was included in the referral of PNP. Obviously, this is something that we’ve been monitoring. We’ve already consulted with a few lawyers, although I’m not yet at liberty to say sino iyong officially na magre-represent kay VP Leni for the preliminary investigation. But we expect that if the subpoena will be given next week, then we will have our legal team study it and prepare the appropriate response.

    In the meantime, as the Vice President already stated previously, if the only basis for this particular referral is the old affidavit ni Mr. Advincula, then, you know, very, very clear na walang basis ito, sinungaling na tao iyan, and this is clearly a case of political harassment. This morning, nakita ko sa balita na iyong lawyer ni Advincula—lawyer ba tawag doon, sorry—si Gadon, said that if the process will result in the filing of charges, mauuwi daw sa impeachment. So I think this is clear, a clear indicator kung ano ba talaga iyong agenda dito. Hindi ito criminal case na ordinaryo. Hindi ito batay sa isang maayos na imbestigasyon. Ito ay clearly politically motivated.

    But gaya nga ng sinabi ko, ayaw ko—hindi pa namin nakikita iyong affidavits. Ayaw naming pangunahan kasi hindi pa namin nababasa. But definitely, the Vice President is ready to face whatever trumped-up charges ang mailalagay sa kaniya. Her legal team is already in place and we will take the appropriate steps at the right time.

    ABS-CBN: Ready to face, Sir—is she ready to personally appear sa DOJ or…?

    ATTY. BARRY GUTIERREZ: Well, ako, I wouldn’t be surprised if she does that. If you’ll recall, sa lahat naman ng mga legal processes that the Vice President has been involved in, such as the protest, when she has been required to be present, she goes, ‘di ba? Wala namang special treatment na ine-expect si VP. She has repeatedly said—paulit-ulit na rin naming sinasabi—iyong taong walang kasalanan, walang kailangang ikatakot, kailangan handang humarap. So if she will be required, let’s say, to file a counter-affidavit, according to the rules of the Department of Justice, then she will do so. Even if it means going to the DOJ itself para siya iyong mag-o-oath before the prosecutor.

    GMA-7: Sir, iyong pag-oath, talaga sa department, tama ba?

    ATTY. BARRY GUTIERREZ: Well, ang rule diyan is it has to be sworn under oath before a prosecutor. So ang option na ginagawa ng ibang tao—if I remember, si VP Binay before, he went to another prosecutor, doon siya nag-oath, and then isinubmit na lang nila to the investigating panel. I mean, technically puwede naman iyon, but sa amin naman, the regular process that, you know, most ordinary Filipinos will have to go through is kung ikaw ay magfa-file ng counter-affidavit, pupunta ka mismo doon sa piskal na nag-iimbestiga, at we don’t see any reason here why the VP would not do that. Basta she’s around and puwedeng actually physically magpunta siya doon sa, well, sa DOJ.

    GMA NEWS ONLINE: Sir, to clarify—

    ATTY. BARRY GUTIERREZ: Naku, kinabahan na ako, si Llanesca…

    GMA NEWS ONLINE: Kasi you mentioned Gadon saying something about impeachment. So the end goal of this case is to use this pending case as a ground for impeachment?

    ATTY. BARRY GUTIERREZ: Well, iyon ang implication ng statement ni Mr. Gadon. Kasi last week, noong finile itong referral na ito, they were all saying, “Ah, hindi, talagang batay lang ito doon sa mga ni-reveal ni Mr. Advincula. This is part of the ordinary process. Dadaan sa imbestigasyon. The DOJ will be impartial.” Sabi ni Sal Panelo, “Wala kaming kinalaman dito, etc.

    But you know, this morning, the lawyer of the principal witness na sinasabi nila, siya na ang nag-open nitong impeachment. So obviously, it’s something na nakakagulat at this point in terms of admission, pero tingin ko very revealing iyon, kung ano ba talaga iyong agenda nila dito, especially given the very, very weak basis kung ang pagbabatayan lang natin iyong original affidavit ni Mr. Advincula.

    RAPPLER: Sir, iyong mga kasama po doon sa case—iyong mga kasama po doon sa sedition complaint—hindi lang po si VP Leni, but several others: IBP members, Otso Diretso candidates, and even her comms officer po, si Sir Boom—

    ATTY. BARRY GUTIERREZ: Well, her former comms officer.

    RAPPLER: Former comms officer po, yes. Sa legal team niyo po, for the protest, at least… May plano po ba tayong tulungan sila sa pagpe-prepare nila ng response if ever tawagin din sila ng DOJ?

    ATTY. BARRY GUTIERREZ: Well, not as such, ‘di ba? Obviously, I anticipate there would be some level of coordination, kasi obviously lahat naman kayo correspondents, so at the minimum, I suppose, the lawyers would have to talk about paano iyong magiging responses, particularly if what will be involved ay hindi lang counter-affidavits but motions that they will make before the DOJ panel. But as of now, I can tell you, we have not met with any of them. We have not attempted to reach out. Ang problema kasi doon sa napakaraming respondents, pakyawan ito, eh. It’s basically everybody na naging critic of the administration one time or another, eh. It’s IBP, it’s FLAG, it’s members of the Otso Diretso, as you said. It’s members of the church. Eh lahat na lang ng taong puwedeng isama, isinama dito, eh. Ang hirap namang kausapin ng lahat ng iyon.

    So right now, what we’re doing is we’re focusing on the specific allegations against the Vice President, kasi napakakaunti lang naman noon, actually—if you base it on the original affidavit, kasi we have not seen the one that they actually filed with the DOJ last week. So walang ano… walang coordination, though I do expect that at some point, obviously, the lawyers will have to have a minimum level of coordination.

    GMA-7: Sir, puwedeng detalye pa doon sa specific allegations that you’re going to focus on?

    ATTY. BARRY GUTIERREZ: Well, gaya ng sinabi ko, it’s so difficult to comment on that, since hindi pa namin nakikita kung ano ba iyong laman ng ngayon, okay? Wala pa kaming nakukuha na kahit ano. So we’re simply basing it on iyong dating inilabas—kailan ba iyon, two months ago?—noong unang nag-press conference itong Mr. Advincula na ito together with the PNP. So in that allegation, may binanggit siyang nangyaring event sa Ateneo, may meeting daw, and then nagpunta daw si VP Leni. So kung iyon lang iyong basis, that’s going to be very, very easy to—it’s going to be incumbent upon us to establish na hindi ito totoo at kung nasaan si VP Leni at that date. Kasi ang isang maganda naman sa Vice President, you know, her schedule is a matter of public record. Very clear where she is every day and iyong kaniyang activities are well-documented. We post them on iyong website, it’s on Facebook, and of course the media, if there is a public event, can attest as to where she is and so forth. So I suppose, as of now, iyon pa lang iyong aming nakikita, absent seeing iyong current affidavit na finile nila with DOJ.

    MANILA BULLETIN: Sir, can you comment about the, ano, the OSG’s hand in the complaint?

    ATTY. BARRY GUTIERREZ: Well, again, ang aming alam lang diyan iyong nabasa lang namin sa news, na apparently somebody did an analysis of the file, and lumalabas it was actually written and revised by employees of the OSG. Naguguluhan nga ako ngayon, kasi hindi ko alam kung dine-deny ba o ina-admit, kasi may nabasa ako na hindi daw totoo, at may nabasa naman ako na totoo pero okay lang. So actually it’s not too clear to us ano ba iyong buong kuwento doon. So at this point, all we can say, really, is if it can be validated na talagang OSG employees had a hand, then it’s something that they’ll have to explain. Because as far as my understanding goes, wala sa mandate ng OSG ang makialam sa pagfa-file ng PNP ng mga kaso within the regular criminal justice system. Their role is really to represent government agencies before courts. And obviously, helping prepare a complaint-affidavit that will initiate a criminal investigation by the Department of Justice falls way outside iyong mandate ng OSG.

    PNP has its own legal unit, who, I expect, deal with these things on a day-to-day basis. Kasi ganito lang ang tanong natin diyan, eh: ilang kaso ang nire-refer ng PNP for preliminary investigation in the course of an ordinary workday, at ilan sa mga kasong iyon ang may sawsaw ang OSG? ‘Di ba? Sa tingin ko ang magiging sagot diyan, ito lang, eh, ‘di ba—kung totoo iyong allegations. So that is something that they have to explain. And I’m bothered by the legal calisthenics na ginagawa na naman ng ating administrasyon to justify something which is clearly irregular and outside the regular mandate of OSG—and which is not done in any other case na I am familiar with. But gaya nga ng binanggit ko, hindi pa tayo sigurado ano bang buong kuwento diyan, so I suppose it has to be validated, and obviously OSG has to come up with a satisfactory explanation.

    CNN PHILIPPINES: Sir, pero you said kasi na clearly irregular, but mayroon bang laws talaga na mava-violate if in fact nakialam nga iyong OSG? Or as state lawyers naman they can do that technically?

    ATTY. BARRY GUTIERREZ: Well, ganito iyan. I really can’t say if specific laws were violated. Ibang standard kasi iyon kapag sinabi mo nang may nalabag na batas. But the simple route would be to just take a look at ano ba talaga ang mandate ng OSG under its own enabling law? You can look at the Revised Administrative Code of 1987, for example. Ano ba ang trabaho ng OSG? And sa akin, the more important question is: Has OSG actually done this for any other case? Okay? Kasi ang PNP, I suppose, refers thousands of cases in a year, okay, for investigation. Ilan sa mga kasong iyon ang nag-draft noong complaint ay taga-OSG? Iyon ang gusto kong malaman. Kasi obviously, even if they say, “Legally, puwede namang i-allow ito dahil walang express prohibition,” I think they still have to explain—if it is true na sila talaga ang nag-draft—why in this particular case they chose to participate? And single it out from all the hundreds of other cases? Particularly since last week, noong finile ito, parang pinapalabas nila na ordinaryong criminal investigation lang ito at walang any special focus, walang political motivation. Pero ang lumalabas nga ngayon, with the OSG—the alleged involvement of OSG—with the statement of the lawyer of Advincula, mukha talagang may ibang agenda na tinutulak dito sa pangyayaring ito. But as I said, iba pa kasing problema, o iba pa kasing isyu iyong political motivation doon sa need namin to actually address the complaint on a legal level, once we receive a copy of the complaint.

    ABS-CBN: So may link kayong nakikita doon sa impeachment na sinabi ni Larry Gadon saka itong OSG hand? May link, may coordinated effort kayong nakikita?

    ATTY. BARRY GUTIERREZ: Well, you know, hindi naman kami ang… hindi naman si VP Leni at iyong mga taong pinangalanan sa complaint ang mahilig sa conspiracy theory, eh. Ibang tao iyong mahilig magturo ng conspiracy. Pero iyong sa akin lang, ganito: Whatever link there is, ang nag-establish si Gadon, eh. Siya iyong nag-open ng idea of an impeachment. He was the one who said that, “Itong kasong ito, tutuloy ito to impeachment.” So I think that’s very revealing. I think that it’s him—whether deliberately or not—showing iyong hand, ano ba talaga iyong habol dito? ‘Di ba? Kasi ako, ilang beses ko nang sinabi ito, kung ang basis lang talaga iyong original affidavit ni Advincula, ako, as a lawyer, I wouldn’t even forward this to the DOJ. Talagang napaka-walang basis, eh. Pero ginawa nila. Sinasabi nila may iba pa daw na ebidensya. Pero kami, we’ll wait and see. Before that, obviously, we’re very, very bothered by these statements, na impeachment pala talaga ang patutunguhan nito, mukhang may hand ang OSG dito. Kasi all of that taken together would seem to indicate that this is not an ordinary criminal proceeding, as they would have us believe, but this is really, as we have been saying from the start, politically motivated, and, you know, calculated to harass the Vice President.

    RAPPLER: Sir, balik ko lang po doon sa OSG. They have been… Dine-defend po kasi nila iyong pagpe-prepare noong affidavit. They’re arguing na because they are the legal counsel of the government, they generally represent the government agencies and departments—in this case iyong CIDG daw. So legally speaking, can the VP herself actually ask the help of the OSG?

    ATTY. BARRY GUTIERREZ: [laughs] Well, ganito ha—

    GMA NEWS ONLINE: Sir, ‘di ba, remember, Florin Hilbay argued for the case of Grace Poe. Tapos and they won in the Supreme Court, she was eventually allowed to run. So—

    ATTY. BARRY GUTIERREZ: Well, you’ll have to ask my friend, Florin Hilbay, anong—

    GMA NEWS ONLINE: So iyong mandate ng OSG, parang masyadong malawak, ‘di ba?

    RAPPLER: So in this case, can VP—

    ATTY. BARRY GUTIERREZ: Okay, ito ang pagkakaintindi ko, ha: OSG regularly represents government agencies in court. So halimbawa, maiintindihan ko kung PNP-CIDG was sued. Let’s say may nag-file ng kaso on EJK and umabot sa Supreme Court. I wouldn’t be surprised if OSG will represent them, kasi that’s the ordinary mandate that we’re used to seeing.

    But this is not a court case. It is a regular criminal investigation that PNP-CIDG, at least, according to them, ginagawa nila in the ordinary course of things. Totoo naman iyon. Gaya nga ng sinabi ko kanina, sa isang ordinaryong araw, I suppose, they refer dozens of cases, in a year thousands of cases, to the DOJ, kasi may nahuling tao, may na-report na krimen, iimbestigahin nila, tapos sasabihin nila, “O, may violation dito,” murder or theft, etc. Isa-submit nila iyon sa DOJ.

    Ang tanong ko dito: Ilan sa mga kasong iyon ang nakikialam ang OSG para mag-draft? Kasi mayroon namang internal na lawyers ang PNP eh. They are trained to actually prepare these kinds of complaint-affidavit. So the question is, why in this particular case ay parang lumalabas na sila ay nakialam? Kung totoo nga, kasi gaya nga ng sinasabi ko, hindi pa verified o hindi clear sa akin—o baka naman in-admit na nga pero paiba-iba kasi iyong kuwento…

    GMA-7: May statement na sila…

    ATTY. BARRY GUTIERREZ: Iyon… So kung totoo, they have to explain what makes this case different—what makes this case unique, in the sense that it requires an involvement ng OSG.

    RAPPLER: So you doubt, Sir, that the OSG—given with what’s happening in the administration—will help the OVP?

    ATTY. BARRY GUTIERREZ: Well, considering that in this particular case, mayroon na silang ginawang intervention in the preparation of the complaint, according to reports, then may conflict of interest na dito. Besides, ako, ang distinction naman na naintindihan ko diyan ever since: the OSG represents government agencies and government officials when they are being sued for acting in their official capacity. This is a criminal case. Obviously, it’s not related to the functions of OVP, so I don’t even think puwede na i-represent. At least iyon iyong aking pagkakaintindi. Pero hindi ko na kasi alam kung ano ang interpretation ni Atty. Calida dito sa kaniyang trabaho, eh.

    GMA-7: Parang na-stretch na?

    ATTY. BARRY GUTIERREZ: Although iyong kay Florin kasi, parang ang kine-claim yata niya, he was acting as, what, “tribune of the people”? Mayroon siyang ganoong theory, eh. Mayroon siyang ganoong theory… Actually, hindi ko rin alam kung anong statutory basis noon, pero, ‘di ba… pinayagan ng Supreme Court, eh. So ‘di ba, I suppose…

    GMA-7: So iyong pakikialam ng OSG, does it make it closer to the, ano, to Malacañang?

    ATTY. BARRY GUTIERREZ: Well, in the sense that the OSG is really part of the Executive, and they are really the lawyer of the government. Iyon iyong idea. Although, ako naman, we are willing to take at face value iyong mga sinasabi ni Sal Panelo. So if he says, “Wala kaming kinalaman diyan at walang mali sa ginagawa ng OSG,” eh ‘di sige, we will take that. I mean, it’s not up to us to sit in judgment of iyong credibility of these people. It’s really up to everybody else who is observing iyong process to determine. But as far as we are concerned, you know, all of these things taken together would seem to indicate that this is not really an ordinary criminal case. There is clearly a political motivation behind all of this, and kung makikinig tayo at maniniwala tayo kay Larry Gadon, impeachment talaga iyong end-game nila.

    GMA-7: Kumusta naman po si Vice?

    ATTY. BARRY GUTIERREZ: Iyon naman, sanay na sanay na iyon, eh. Tatlong taon nang binabato nang kung ano-ano iyon—everything from a protest to fake news to ito. So si VP does not let these things bother her. She’s been focused the past few days—actually, since last week—on implementing iyong projects under Angat Buhay. For the first three years kasi, halos 400,000, ‘di ba, ang natulungan namin, and she wants to increase that number for the last three years of her term. So that’s what occupies her time and her focus. I suppose trabaho noong mga abogado niya na mag-alala tungkol dito sa mga bagay na ganito.

    GMA NEWS ONLINE: Wala ba, Sir, na frustration on the part of the Vice President? Kasi as you mentioned, she does well for the communities, and yet you have these cases, and then you have this approval rating na bumaba? Tapos kung umaangat, very, like, maliit lang iyong pag-angat. So may frustration ba amid all these?

    ATTY. BARRY GUTIERREZ: I suppose ordinary naman to feel frustration in this job, not really because of surveys, because I think the surveys have been largely positive. If you look at her numbers from the start of the term, they’ve more or less maintained the same level—hovering around mid-50s to low-60s. So we’re not too concerned about that. Iyong sinasabi mong pagbaba, well, SWS, pero 57% ang approval, which tracks iyong Pulse Asia na 55, so I mean halos pareho lang naman talaga iyong approval. It’s still majority approval of Filipinos, so it’s not something na cause for concern. In fact, very grateful kami that, you know, a majority of Filipinos continue to support and trust the Vice President and appreciate kung ano iyong trabaho na ginagawa niya. Ako, I’ve been in government a long time. Sa akin, ordinaryong ma-frustrate because of iyong limitations ng opisina, because of iyong public scrutiny, because of iyong sakit ng ulo dahil sa politika dito sa bansa natin. But that is not something that the Vice President has ever dwelt on. There are days that, I think, siyempre hindi ka naman matutuwa kung may lalabas na naman na fake news tungkol sa iyo at kailangan mo na namang i-correct. Hindi ka naman siguro matutuwa kung pati iyong mga anak mo tine-threaten ng rape, ‘di ba, ng mga trolls. Pero sa dulo, tanggap niya iyon at tanggap namin dito that it’s part of the job that we signed up for. When she ran for Vice President, she really ran on a mandate of helping iyong mga taong nasa laylayan. And she has strived to be as true to that as hard as she can over the last three years—not letting distractions get in the way. So I think that she is a tough person, she is a person with a clear focus on what needs to be done, and she can get past any personal frustration she might feel sa mga issues na ito.

    RAPPLER: Sir, how would you— Ano po iyong base niyo, Sir, doon sa Pulse Asia approval ratings ni VP, majority support pa din, then lumabas the other day na net satisfaction rating, bumaba si Ma’am?

    ATTY. BARRY GUTIERREZ: Well, first of all, you have to distinguish kasi between the Pulse approach and the SWS approach. Pulse kasi just releases iyong approval, indifferent—undecided—and disapproval. Ang SWS kasi creates a net. So kaya parang mas malaki iyong mga movements, ‘di ba, either pataas o pababa, kasi ‘di ba, obviously, kapag bumaba iyong approval mo by, let’s say two points, lumipat sa disapproval, four points iyong net change noon. So it seems bigger.

    But if you look iyong numbers lang ng approval, more or less pareho iyong Pulse and SWS. Mas mataas pa nga iyong SWS, actually; 57 iyong SWS. So within the 2%, it’s basically the same, kung ±2% ang margin mo. And if you look at iyong numbers ni VP since 2016, it’s basically stayed the same. Minsan bababa ng 5%, tapos tataas ulit ng 5%. So it’s not really something that we’re concerned with—particularly given the amount of effort that has been poured into attempting to destroy her credibility online. Itong past few weeks na lang, kung ano-anong lumalabas na mga fake news na naman: fake quotes na ina-attribute sa kaniya, mga kung ano-anong mga memes na negative. So mayroon talagang concerted effort to do that. But despite that, we’ve maintained the numbers. In fact, feeling ko tumataas pa nga, gaya ng binanggit mo. And ako, that’s a huge gain, and testament to the fact na may mga tao pa rin talaga who appreciate the fact that she goes to all these far places, she makes an effort na magpunta sa malalayong lugar, magbigay ng tulong, and so on. And I think that’s also reflected dito sa mga surveys na ito, despite the noise that we get online and on social media attacking the VP.

    GMA-7: Gaano kalaking contribution kaya noon? Iyong nagsisipag siya, pumupunta siya sa malalayo?

    ATTY. BARRY GUTIERREZ: Ang hirap i-quantify. Pero ganito lang iyon: una, regardless of the effect on numbers, gagawin naman talaga niya iyon. Iyon ang pangako niya, at talagang naniniwala siya na iyon ang dapat niyang trabaho na ginagawa. That’s what she promised to do. It’s something that she’s really happy doing. She feels it’s fulfilling iyong kaniyang responsibility as a public official. Kasi if you remember, when she was a congresswoman, ganoon din iyan, pinupuntahan iyong malalayong lugar sa distrito niya, na dati naman hindi pinupuntahan noong kanilang kinatawan. So it’s something na gagawin niya regardless of the numbers.

    But secondly, I would like to think—ito, admittedly, hindi ito scientific; wala akong ginawang pag-aaral dito—naniniwala pa rin ako na ang mga Pilipino will always appreciate a person na nakikita nilang talagang nag-go-go out of her way na tumulong and pumunta doon sa kanilang lugar. Ako, marami na akong nakita na mga public officials na umiikot; iba pa rin talaga iyong reception kay VP Leni. Kasi nakikita iyong ano, eh, iyong sincerity—talagang nakikipag-usap nang maayos sa mga tao, walang ere, hindi special treatment. And may genuine—ano ba—warmth. She’s happy to be there. She’s happy to see people. And I think reflected iyon. Nakita naman niyo, halimbawa, iyong dalaw niya doon sa mga mangingisda noong Gem-Ver, iyong reaction ng mga tao. And I think, iyon, na-appreciate lang ng mga dinalaw niya doon the fact that she was actually willing to lend an ear. Pinagkuwento lang niya, ‘di ba? And I think that went a long way to, kumbaga, creating an atmosphere na open at maganda. At ako, tingin ko, that still matters sa panahon na ito, kahit we spend so much time, you know, talking about paano ba magpe-play iyan on social media or what. Mayroon pa rin talagang malaking value iyong personal na interaction and iyong nakikita kang nagpupunta sa iba’t ibang mga lugar para makipag-usap sa mga tao.

    REPORTERS: Thank you, Sir!

    – 30 –

    Posted in Transcripts on Jul 25, 2019