Duterte offers Roque new post; tells him he won't win as senator
President Rodrigo Duterte has offered Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque with a new post instead of pursuing his plan to run for the Senate in the 2019 elections.
In a speech during a dinner with the Philippine Military Academy Alumni Association, Inc. on Thursday in Malacanang, Duterte told Roque that he would not win as a senator.
"I will give you other job. You can't win there. Why? The soldiers do not want you," he said.
It could be recalled that in 2014, the Armed Forces of the Philippines filed a disbarment case against Roque, who was the lawyer of the family of transgender Jennifer Laude, who was killed by US Marine Private First Class Joseph Scott Pemberton in Olongapo City.
Roque led Laude's family and marched to the gate of the Mutual Defense Board-Security Engagement Board inside Camp Aguinaldo where Pemberton was detained. Laude's German fiance and her sister jumped over the fence of the MDB-SEB compound.
In a press briefing on Friday, Roque confirmed Duterte offered him a new position, which does not exist yet.
He did not say which post, but he said it was the one suggested by Senate President Vicente Sotto III.
Sotto, in an earlier Senate hearing, has proposed that the Presidential Communications Operations Office be reverted back to the Office of the Press Secretary.
Currently, PCOO is headed by Martin Andanar.
"I said, I will think twice about my options. I need a weekend now to decide. It goes without saying that if I do file, I’m considered resigned from this position. But I do confirm as the President said that he offered me another job, which is still related to being a spokesperson," Roque said.
But he admitted he has the apprehension of accepting the post since it does not exist yet.
I’m already a year as Spokesperson, I do not have an Executive Order creating the position of the Office of the Spokesperson. So in making a decision on what to do ? it’s difficult to actually consider position that currently does not exist, and the track record that I have served for a year with no Executive Order," he added.
Roque said he also felt he was not effective anymore as a spokesman after he denied that Duterte went to the doctor on Wednesday when he skipped his scheduled event in Malacanang.
"I appreciate the trust and confidence of the President that, unlike other spokespersons, I had access even to his daily schedule. But you can see what happened, I was in the dark… and now how can people believe me when I just said that he had private time, and apparently he had a diagnostic examination?" he lamented.
Duterte, in the same speech on Thursday night, admitted he did not attend to his supposed schedule on Wednesday because he went to a hospital to undergo endoscopy once more.
Roque said he would think about his options this weekend on whether to accept Duterte's offer of a new post, stay as the spokesman, or run for the Senate.
He said he will decide next week. Celerina Monte/DMS