Roque sends President’s head spinning

October 12, 2018
Harry Roque
Harry Roque

“BIGLA akong nahilo,” President Rodrigo Duterte said referring to Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque who has been reported as planning to run for the Senate.

“The flight was smooth. When we were talking about it kay Harry, bigla akong nahilo. ‘So saan ba tayo pupunta nito, Bong?’” Duterte told reporters in Davao City, recalling his conversation with his top aide Christopher “Bong” Go while on the flight from Bali, Indonesia where the chief executive attended the ASEAN Leaders’ Gathering.

“I’ll just talk to him [Roque]. Better. Ano ba talaga tatakbo, hindi, tatakbo, hindi, tatakbo, hindi?  Abutin na naman ‘yan [ng] 2021. Much longer space to make the choice with finality.”

Meanwhile the President has designated Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo as his spokesman.

Duterte said he is going to talk to Roque who remains undecided about seeking a Senate seat in the 2019 midterm elections.

Roque is currently in China for a private engagement and will return to the Philippines on Monday, October 15, two days before the deadline for the filing of certificates of candidacy for the upcoming polls.

Duterte earlier said Roque is free to go if he wants to resign after being kept out of the loop as regards the chief executive’s checkup at Cardinal Santos Medical Center last week.

The President said Roque told him that he wanted to resign after he was put in a bad light with the media when he said that the President only took the day off on October 3 and stayed at Bahay Pangarap inside Malacañang complex.

Duterte then decided to consider Panelo for the post of the soon-to-be revived Office of the Press Secretary which was initially offered to Roque.

“Ganito ‘yan eh. I hope I would not offend Harry. Sabi niya, magtakbo siya ng senador. O ‘di sabi ko sige. So automatic may ano na may naisip na ako, ‘Sal, ikaw muna. Well, if you want it then I’ll scout for another legal adviser,” Duterte said.

“Ta’s kinabukasan sabi niya hindi na raw. Sabi ko nasabihan ko na si ano [Panelo] pero wala pang replacement. Tapos kinabukasan sabi niya tatakbo na naman siya. Kanina sabi ni Bong na hindi naman tatakbo.”

Roque, however, insisted that he had yet to resign his post even as Malacañang officials announced that Panelo would serve as the President’s next mouthpiece.

The President had said that Roque, a former party-list congressman, should stay in government rather than seek a Senate seat because of his low chances of winning.