Salvador "Sal" San Buenaventura Panelo is a Filipino lawyer who serves as the Presidential Spokesperson of President Rodrigo Duterte. He previously served as Duterte's Chief Presidential Legal Counsel from 2016 to 2018 and was the legal adviser during Duterte's 2016 presidential campaign. As a private lawyer, he has handled cases involving politicians and other controversial personalities. He is a former Director of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines.[1][2]

Salvador Panelo
Salvador Panelo (cropped).jpg
Presidential Spokesperson
Assumed office
October 15, 2018
PresidentRodrigo Duterte
DeputyChina Jocson
Preceded byHarry Roque
Chief Presidential Legal Counsel
In office
June 30, 2016 – October 15, 2018
PresidentRodrigo Duterte
Preceded byAlfredo Caguioa
Succeeded byVacant
Personal details
Salvador San Buenaventura Panelo

Naga, Camarines Sur, Philippines
Political partyKilusang Bagong Lipunan
Alma materUniversity of the Philippines Diliman
OccupationPolitician, radio journalist

Early life and educationEdit

Salvador Panelo is a native of Naga, Camarines Sur.[3] He moved to Manila for his college education at the University of the Philippines Diliman in 1966, where he earned his BS in Political Science and BA English degrees in 1971. As a student at the UP Diliman, he was involved in student activism during the pre-martial law period.[3] He stayed at UP Diliman and completed law school at the University of the Philippines College of Law in 1974. He passed the Philippine Bar Examination the same year.[4][1][2]


Early worksEdit

Panelo first practiced law at United Laboratories where he served as the company's legal counsel from 1977 to 1987. He assumed the directorship of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) in 1983 and presidency of the IBP Rizal Chapter in 1985. In 1987, he was hired as a radio anchor at DZEC Radyo Agila where he worked for one year. It was also in 1987 when he started his private law practice.[1]

Notable casesEdit

In his 40 years of law practice, he served as the defense lawyer of prominent politicians such as Datu Unsay Mayor Andal Ampatuan Jr. who was implicated in the 2009 Maguindanao massacre, Calauan Mayor Antonio Sanchez who was tried for the 1993 Eileen Sarmenta and Allan Gomez murder, and the family of former President Ferdinand Marcos in relation to recovering their ill-gotten wealth.[1][5]

Panelo also lawyered for former Commission on Elections Chairman Benjamin Abalos who was embroiled in the 2007 elections scandal, Philip Medel who was convicted in the murder of actress Nida Blanca, and the family of slain racing champion Enzo Pastor. His other clients include celebrities such as Deniece Cornejo in her 2014 rape case against actor Vhong Navarro, and Dennis Roldan who was convicted of kidnapping a Filipino-Chinese boy in 2005.[1][5]

Other worksEdit

Panelo is a member the Rotary Club of Makati Southwest chapter, a member of the Board of Trustees of the San Beda Law Alumni Association, and Secretary General of the Asean Law Association Golfers’ Club. He was an unsuccessful candidate of the Kilusang Bagong Lipunan in the 1992 Senate election. Prior to joining the government of Rodrigo Duterte on June 30, 2016, he was his legal counsel and defense lawyer on the charges of hidden wealth by Vice Presidential candidate Antonio Trillanes during the presidential campaign. He eventually served as the President-elect's transitional spokesperson before being designated as Chief Presidential Legal Counsel.[1][5]

Personal lifeEdit

Panelo had a son, Carlo, who died of heart complications from Down syndrome on January 6, 2017, at the age of 27.[6]


  1. ^ a b c d e f Inquirer Research; Pacia, S.I. "The Duterte Administration". Philippine Daily Inquirer. Retrieved 12 July 2016.
  2. ^ a b "The Duterte Cabinet". Interaksyon. 1 June 2016. Archived from the original on 9 June 2016. Retrieved 12 July 2016.
  3. ^ a b Natividad, J. (26 May 2016). "Naga City, Bicol mediamen vouch for Sal Panelo's designation as permanent Press Secretary, spokesman". Bicol Today. Retrieved 12 July 2016.
  4. ^ "Lawyers List". Integrated Bar of the Philippines. Retrieved 12 July 2016.
  5. ^ a b c Gavilan, J. (18 May 2016). "Duterte's spokesman Salvador Panelo and his high-profile cases". Rappler. Retrieved 12 July 2016.
  6. ^ "Panelo son passes away at 27". Philippine Daily Inquirer. January 6, 2017. Retrieved January 6, 2017.
Political offices
Preceded by
Harry Roque
Presidential Spokesperson
Legal offices
Preceded by
Alfredo Caguioa
Chief Presidential Legal Counsel
Order of precedence
Preceded by
Jesus Melchor Quitain

as The Head of the Presidential Management Staff
Order of Precedence of the Philippines
as Presidential Spokesperson
Succeeded by
Jose Calida
as Solicitor General of the Philippines