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    Press Conference with OVP Spokesperson Atty. Barry Gutierrez

    Quezon City Reception House

    ATTY. BARRY GUTIERREZ [opening statement]: Una, i-confirm ko lang that at around 2 p.m. ngayong hapon, natanggap na namin iyong sulat galing nga kay Executive Secretary Medialdea, na inaalok iyong designation kay VP Leni Robredo na maging co-chair noong Inter-agency Committee on Anti-Illegal Drugs, iyong ICAD.

    Una, klaruhin muna namin: malinaw na malinaw dito sa pagpadala ng ganitong klaseng designation after three and a half years na si Pangulong Duterte ang namumuno mismo sa anti-drug campaign, na ito ay pagtanggap na mayroon talagang kakulangan iyong drug war. Kaya ngayon lumalapit kay VP Leni para siya na ang gawing co-chair nitong ganitong klaseng komite.

    Pero klaro din from iyong natanggap namin na memorandum na medyo walang kalaman-laman itong inaalok na posisyong ito. Una, very clear na iyong co-chair, kapag tiningnan mo iyong Executive Order No. 15, ay hindi nag-e-exist na posisyon under the EO itself. Hindi namin alam kung paano mareremedyuhan iyon dahil wala namang naka-attach na any amendment to the executive order doon sa memorandum na pinadala.

    Pangalawa, nagulat kami na instead as being designated as iyong drug czar, o iyong head ng buong operasyon na ito, ay siya ay co-chair. At iyong kaniyang co-chair ay iyong head ng PDEA, na ang ranggo ay isang undersecretary.

    Bukod dito, the very same person na head ng PDEA, si Usec. Aquino, ay kahapon lamang ay nagsalita at nagpahayag na wala daw karanasan si VP Leni Robredo dito at ine-expect niya na siya ay magfe-fail. So paano ka naman magkakaroon ng— Paano naman namin ite-take seriously itong ganitong klaseng offer, kung mismong magiging co-chair niya sa isang komite ay kahapon lang—klaruhin natin, kahapon lang iyon—nagpahayag na kaagad na hindi daw siya naniniwala doon sa magiging co-chair niya?

    At siguro, pangatlo, kapag binasa mo iyong EO 15, talagang implementation lang ito ng polisiya. Wala itong kontrol, wala itong supervision over the 41 agencies included in the ICAD, at hindi nito, sa tingin namin, kina-capture iyong original na sinasabi ng ating Pangulo dito sa usaping ito.

    Pero ganoon pa man, kahit mukhang hindi seryoso ang Malacañang doon sa pinadalang memorandum kay VP Leni ngayong hapon, si VP ay seryoso dito sa usapin ng ilegal na droga. Seryoso siya na kailangan itong ayusin. Seryoso siya na kailangan matigil ang mga pagpatay ng mga inosente. Seryoso siya na iyong pang-aabuso na lumalabas sa mga imbestigasyon na nangyayari sa course nitong drug war na ito ay dapat matigil. At seryoso siya na ang mga dapat habulin ay iyong malalaking mga sindikato ng droga, at hindi iyong maliliit na mamamayan na nagiging biktima nitong kampanyang ito.

    At dahil seryoso siya dito, bukas siya ay magbibigay ng isang pahayag tungkol nga dito sa usapin ng drug war, at ano iyong tingin niyang direksyon na dapat puntahan nito sa darating na mga taon na naiiwan sa termino ng Pangulo at ni VP Leni.

    So siguro, hanggang doon na lang muna. May questions pa ba?

    RAPPLER: Hi, Sir. Mara Cepeda po from Rappler… So the Vice President is not accepting the position being offered by the President as co-chair of ICAD? Hindi niya po tinatanggap?

    ATTY. BARRY GUTIERREZ: At this point, tingin namin kasi ang usapan hindi iyong pagtanggap ni VP Leni o hindi. We have to remember that the VP never asked for an appointment. It was the President who raised it in the first place. It is the President who has been leading the drug effort for the past three and a half years. And even with this appointment, it is clearly still the President who will call the shots. Walang power itong co-chair ng ICAD—even granting that that position will be created sometime in the future, dahil ngayon hindi siya nag-e-exist. Ina-appoint siya to a non-existent position. So on that note, we’re not yet responding to the letter. But tomorrow, she’ll be giving a statement, not just on the issue of the appointment, but more clearly on iyong direction that she thinks the drug war should take—specifically in relation to the Palace. Dahil alalahanin natin dito naman nagsimula itong usapang ito, eh, okay: nagsalita si VP Leni tungkol sa mga tingin niyang pagkukulang dito sa drug campaign, at ang naging response ng Palasyo, aside from dismissing iyong kaniyang mga sinabi, ay biglang-bigla mayroong ganitong klaseng offer. Eh tingin namin palabas ito, eh, and hindi ito seryoso, ito ay pamumulitika. We don’t want to be caught in that. We would rather focus doon sa importanteng isyu, which is paano ba natin maaayos ito para matigil iyong mga pagpatay ng mga inosente, paano ba natin maaayos ito para iyong mga totoong malalaking mga operator ng drugs, iyong iyong mahuli.

    RAPPLER: Sir, one of the Vice President’s party mates in the Liberal Party, si Congressman Lagman, said that by offering this position to the Vice President, the President is setting her up for failure. Is that among the apprehensions of the VP and her advisers in the meeting that you had earlier?

    ATTY. BARRY GUTIERREZ: Well, to begin with, klaruhin natin, iyong drug war clearly has been a failure on several levels already, okay? Iyong paglabas pa lang over the past few weeks noong mga imbestigasyon, ito iyong mga ninja cops, na klaro na that there have been abuses that have taken place in the context of the drug war; the fact that majority of Filipinos fear na maging biktima sila ng extrajudicial killings; the fact that there have been innocents killed here—mayroon talagang indications that there is a failure. And we think that attempting to pass on, you know, the failures of the past three and a half years to the Vice President, eh medyo hindi naman yata kami basta mauupo at tatanggapin iyon.

    Hindi kami ang nangako na aayusin iyong problema ng droga in six months. Tapos in a day, they expect na kami ang aayos ng lahat ng ito? Parang feeling ko naman mali yata iyong magiging focus ng Malacañang kung ganiyan ang kanilang intensyon dito.

    ABS-CBN: Undecided pa si VP? Bakit tumatagal iyong pagdedesisyon niya?

    ATTY. BARRY GUTIERREZ: Actually, hindi desisyon ang tumatagal; ang pine-prepare dito iyong kaniyang mga proposals na ipe-present bukas, okay? Kasi to be clear, the Vice President started this entire conversation when she said she had certain observations regarding shortcomings doon sa… in the way that the war on drugs was being waged, okay? So ang nag-raise noong isyu ng “O, maupo ka diyan” ay si Presidente; hindi naman si VP Leni iyong humingi ng posisyon dito, eh. So that’s what she’s focusing on. So tomorrow that is what will be presented: specific recommendations to the President as to what should be done in order to address iyong mga failings noong current campaign.

    ABS-CBN: So proposals as Vice President? Or as co-chair?

    ATTY. BARRY GUTIERREZ: Well, proposals currently as Vice President, because obviously she is not yet… she is not co-chair. Sabi ko nga sa iyo, I don’t even think the position exists as of the moment.

    ABS-CBN: Sir, may mga legal ba kayong tinitingnan, kasi iyon nga, walang position talaga na nag-e-exist? May mga ganoon bang pinag-aaralan?

    ATTY. BARRY GUTIERREZ: Well, obviously lawyers will have the next few hours to look at iyong legalities. Beyond legalities kasi itong sitwasyong ito. We feel that iyong buong context—kasama na siyempre doon iyong legal shortcomings—establishes na parang hindi seryoso ito, eh. Hindi seryoso itong offer na ito. This is clearly just a way to attempt to pass off iyong mga pagkukulang nitong drug war kay VP Leni, na in fact, hindi naman siya ang tatlo’t kalahating taon nang nakaupo diyan, eh, para tutukan ito, eh. Hindi siya ang nangako na anim na buwan matatapos itong drug war na ito.

    But despite all that—isantabi na natin iyon—handa siyang laging tumulong, and from the start, iyon naman ang kaniyang intent. So tomorrow, she will be presenting to the President iyong kaniyang mga proposals as to specific steps that can be taken para lalong mapaayos itong kasalukuyang kampanya.

    GMA-7: Attorney, just to be sure: Meaning the Vice President will not be part of the ICAD?

    ATTY. BARRY GUTIERREZ: Well, hindi pa iyon iyong— Well, as of tonight, obviously hindi pa. Iyon iyong ano diyan. But tomorrow definitely she will be delivering her position on iyong kaniyang tingin na direction that the war… the campaign against illegal drugs should take. And that’s when she will lay out iyong kaniyang position on this issue.

    GMA-7: Is it something that can be negotiated? Halimbawa Malacañang will make some adjustments and maybe revise the EO or offer more details about the position?

    ATTY. BARRY GUTIERREZ: Ang hirap pumasok kasi into the conversation of negotiations, eh, kasi as of the moment, ang tingin talaga namin, this is not even a serious offer. Abogado ako, abogado si Presidente, abogado iyong kaniyang executive secretary, abogado iyong mga nag-prepare nito. I cannot believe that lawyers who know the Constitution, who know the Administrative Code—if they were serious—would have given this kind of memorandum. Iyan lang ang sinasabi ko. So it’s a measure of iyong seriousness nila. And as long as klaro na hindi pa seryosong offer ito, I don’t think that there’s really a conversation about negotiations, eh.

    But we’re willing to set all that aside and focus on what the VP has always deemed to be important from the start, which is ano ba iyong mga hakbang na puwede na nating gawin—kahit wala pa siyang posisyon—para maayos itong war on drugs and so forth. Kasi remember, right now, the President has the power na ayusin. The President can do it on his own. In fact, he should have been doing it in the past three and a half years. So tomorrow, the VP will be communicating directly, or to actually make it clear ano iyong mga steps that can be taken. And she doesn’t need to be chair in ICAD to actually do that.

    INQUIRER.NET: Sir, two questions. Gabriel Lalu po pala from Inquirer.net. Two things, sir: Una, iyong sinabi niyo na as a lawyer, iyong pananaw niyo, is that also the view—I know that you’re the spokesperson of Vice President Robredo, but is that also the viewpoint of the Vice President, na walang posisyon talagang ganoon, na co-chair? And second, sir, will there be a meeting between— When you say na magpe-present si Vice President, will there be a meeting between President Duterte and the Vice President?

    ATTY. BARRY GUTIERREZ: Unang una, first question: Hindi iyon opinyon ng abogado o opinyon ng isang tao. Tingnan niyo iyong ICAD. Tingnan niyo iyong EO 15. Tingnan niyo kung may posisyon ng co-chair doon. Iyon lang. Ganoon kasimple. Look at it. If there is a position there that says co-chair, then there is a position there that says co-chair. If there is no position there that says co-chair, then that is the legal fact. It’s not a matter of whether naniniwala ako doon o posisyon ni VP iyon, o posisyon ng opisina iyon. Ang sinasabi ko lang, bilang abogado, bago ka mag-prepare ng isang legal document, kailangan sinisigurado mo na ayos talaga, tama at sang-ayon sa batas. Ang sa akin, glaring omission, if you look at the EO itself, medyo wala yata iyong position to which she is being designated.

    Pangalawa, walang naka-schedule na actual meeting, but she will be communicating directly with the President, probably through a letter.

    Kasi in this entire conversation, if you look at it naman, isa sa… one of the strangest things that we have found dito sa buong pangyayaring ito since last week, lahat ng mga alok, lahat ng mga sinasabi tungkol sa appointment ay dinadaan through press conferences. Sinasabi namin noong una, kung seryoso, sana maupo sila at mag-usap. Never nangyari. Never silang nag-set ng kahit anong pag-uusap. Saan ka nakakita na i-a-appoint ka o ide-designate ka sa isang posisyon na hindi man lang kayo nagkaroon ng pagkaklaro kung ano ba talaga itong posisyon na ito at ano iyong expectations.

    Pero sige na, ‘di ba, iyon na iyon. That’s the way they do business, so hindi na namin sila sisitahin pa on that matter. But definitely she wants her position and her recommendations made on record and taken to the President.

    RAPPLER: Sir, so hindi magpapa-presscon si VP? She’ll be submitting a letter?

    ATTY. BARRY GUTIERREZ: As far as I am aware, wala namang naka-schedule na press conference bukas. She’ll be— She has several public events tomorrow, but she’ll also be communicating itong recommendations na ito to the President.

    RAPPLER: By communicating—just to clarify, Sir—she will be writing a letter to the President tomorrow? A letter or a document?

    ATTY. BARRY GUTIERREZ: Yes, some kind of written instrument, yes.

    ABS-CBN: Sir, so ano iyong wala doon sa ibinigay ngayon na communication na hinahanap ninyo at, iyon nga, kaya hindi pa makapag-decide si VP? O hindi pa niya matanggap?

    ATTY. BARRY GUTIERREZ: Wala iyong posisyon ng co-chair. [chuckles] Hindi siya nag-e-exist, eh. So iyon pa lang, indicator na sa akin iyon na hindi seryosong offer ito, eh.

    ABS-CBN: Ano ba iyong parang kumbaga iyong expected ninyo? Ano iyong mas makakapag-function siya against illegal drugs?

    ATTY. BARRY GUTIERREZ: Ang ine-expect namin, kung seryosong offer, unang una, the position actually exists. Pangalawa, kung totoong offer, naka-specify doon kung ano iyong mga kapangyarihan noong magiging posisyon na ito, at mga responsibilities. Walang ganoon. Hindi klaro.

    ABS-CBN: How about iyong mga nandoon sa EO, iyon, hindi kayo satisfied na iyon lang iyong gagawin, as co-chair nga siya and pareho iyong functions ng chair? Hindi kayo satisfied doon?

    ATTY. BARRY GUTIERREZ: It’s not a question of being satisfied or not. It’s a question of whether serious iyong offer to begin with, or is this just really theater para masabi na “Ah, hindi, ang dami mong sinasabi, VP Leni, so ito, ito ang trabahong ibibigay namin sa iyo para ikaw ang umasikaso.” Pero kung hindi naman seryoso, ‘di ba, wala naman talagang balak na pangatawanan itong ganitong klaseng alok—iyong inaalok na posisyon sa iyo hindi nag-e-exist, iyong gagawin mong trabaho supposedly ay hindi klaro, hindi mo naman ma-i-implement any of the things na binanggit mo na dapat baguhin doon sa ano—eh parang hindi seryoso talaga iyong offer, ‘di ba?

    DZBB: Sir, binanggit kanina ni Aaron Aquino, sir, ng PDEA na dapat si VP is tutok doon sa advocacy, rehabilitation, pero pagdating sa law enforcement, talagang nanindigan siya na mukhang mahihirapan si VP Leni.

    ATTY. BARRY GUTIERREZ: Iyon nga, eh. Iyan ang unang unang problema. Kasi anong basis ni Director General Aquino sa pagsabi noon? Opinyon niya. I suppose all other 41 members noong ICAD will have their own opinions as to ano dapat iyong gagawin ng co-chair. Iyon iyong problema kapag gumagawa ka ng trabaho na hindi naman nakatakda doon sa actual na batas kung ano iyong trabahong iyon. Mag-aaway-away at magkakaroon ng disagreement kung sino ang gagawa ng ano. Ako, I’d love to know kung ano iyong basis ni Director General Aquino doon sa sinasabi niyang “law enforcement hindi kasama si VP Leni diyan, advocacy si VP Leni”. Sinong nagsabi noon? Hindi nakalagay iyan sa kahit anong batas na nakikita ko. Certainly wala iyan doon sa memorandum na ipinadala ngayon.

    Kung aalalahanin natin, ang sinabi ni Presidente last week, “iyong law enforcement powers, ibibigay ko sa kaniya!” Hindi ko alam. Iyon ba iyong basis ni— Ang interpretation ba noon ni DG Aquino ay hindi kasama iyong actual law enforcement sa enforcement powers, advocacy lang? Hindi ba that’s precisely the problem, kaya ang tingin namin hindi seryoso itong ganitong klaseng alok kung ganito pa lang kaaga, iyong mga taong kaniyang makakatrabaho ay hindi na magkaisa, hindi na naiintindihan kung ano ba talaga iyong actual na gagawin.

    GMA NEWS ONLINE: Llanesca from GMA News Online. Sir, would you say that the offer was problematic? And second, ano bang… kumbaga— Kasi you mentioned that walang laman. So para magkaroon ng meat iyong offer, should the Vice President have hiring and firing powers?

    ATTY. BARRY GUTIERREZ: Una, problematic talaga iyong offer. That’s one very clear way to put it. Problematic siya in the sense that, one, iyong sinabi ko, the office does not exist; two, hindi clear what actually… what powers, what responsibilities this office will actually have. Very clear nga na even the people na she will be working with don’t understand or don’t have a clear notion kung ano iyong magiging hatian ng trabaho dito. So that’s one very, very important point to note.

    As for specifics—mayroon ba dapat hiring or firing power—that’s not up to us, ‘di ba? They are the ones making the offer. So at the minimum, they should make a serious offer, not one na on its face klaro na walang laman, questionable pa iyong legality, at ‘di ba, mukhang lumalabas lang ay ano lang, part lang of the ongoing drama from last week.

    Huwag naman kasing— Si VP Leni, from the start, klaro naman ang posisyon, ‘di ba? Handa siyang tumulong dito, handa siyang gumawa ng kailangang gawin kung talagang humihingi ng tulong si Presidente sa kaniya. Pero daanin naman sa isang maayos na usapan. Daanin naman sa isang klarong designation—hindi iyong ganitong klaseng lumalabas na pamumulitika lang, para maipasa lang sa kaniya iyong usapan na failure nitong drug war for the past three and a half years.

    GMA NEWS ONLINE: Thank you, sir.

    OVP: Anyone else? Okay?

    ATTY. BARRY GUTIERREZ: Salamat!

    – 30 –

    Posted in Transcripts on Nov 04, 2019