Panelo takes over as Palace spokesman

October 11, 2018
Salvador Panelo

CHIEF Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo will serve in a concurrent capacity as presidential spokesman with the expected senatorial candidacy of Secretary Harry Roque, President Rodrigo Duterte’s chief aide bared yesterday.

“Sa ngayon po, sabi ni Presidente, concurrent muna si Secretary Panelo as presidential legal counsel at the same time as spokesman,” Secretary Bong Go told reporters covering Duterte’s participation in the ASEAN leaders’ gathering in Bali.

Panelo also confirmed the development, two days after Duterte said Roque was bent on seeking a Senate seat in the 2019 midterm elections.

He did not say when he would begin his new role as concurrent spokesperson and top legal counsel of the President.

Duterte earlier said he was considering Panelo to head the soon-to-be revived Office of the Press Secretary, a move that will give way to the abolition of the Presidential Communications and Operations Office (PCOO) headed by Secretary Martin Andanar.

The President said he plans to make  Andanar a consultant and would be in charge of “re-configuring” the programs of state-run PTV-4 “to make it more responsive.”

Roque meanwhile is not certain of joining the elections. Asked if he were he said, “no decision.”

“Still not sure I will run for Senate,” he added.

Roque also described as “absolutely false” the claim of Kabayan Party-list that he had expressed a desire to be the group’s nominee in the 2019 midterm elections.

Roque made the remark yesterday after Kabayan issued a statement, claiming that it received “a feeler” from Roque supposedly expressing his intent to be one of its nominees again in the House of Representatives.

Before his appointment as President Duterte’s spokesman, Roque, who has been widely known to be eyeing a Senate seat in the 2019 polls, was a Kabayan representative.

In response to Roque’s alleged request, the Party-list stressed that he was no longer a member of the group and that its nominees were already set.

In January 2017, Roque was removed by the Kabayan as its representative in Congress for his “severely damaging” statements, including a call on the Senate to oust Senator Leila De Lima.

This, however, was contradicted by Roque.

“We’re the real Kabayan as per Constitution,” Roque told reporters in a text message.