Roque reacts to prof’s dare for him to quit: ‘I have nothing to prove’
I have nothing to prove.
This was the reaction of presidential spokesperson Harry Roque to the challenge of his former friend and colleague, professor Danilo Arao of the University of the Philippines (UP) if he still considered himself an advocate of press freedom and free speech.
Roque said on Saturday that he would not hesitate to resign if he thought that his boss, President Rodrigo Duterte, had violated human rights, particularly against free speech.
“Wala po akong dapat patunayan sa aking paninidigan para po sa kalayaan ng malayang pamamahayag at pananalita,” Roque said in a press briefing in Aklan.
[I have nothing to prove in my advocacy for press freedom and free speech.]
“Kung sa tingin ko po na lumalabag sa karapatan ang Presidente hindi po ako mag-aatubili, magre-resign ako,” he added.
[If I think that the President is violating human rights, I would not hesitate to resign.]
Roque cited his achievements and contributions to the human rights movement, especially in defending press freedom, including representing journalists accused of libel as well as the families of murdered journalists.
“Napakadami na po naming pinaglaban na mga mamamahayag na nademanda ng libel. Napakadami na pong mga pinatay na mamamahayag na aming linitis ang mga pumatay sa kanila,” he said.
[I have fought for several journalists who were accused of libel and I have prosecuted several killers of slain journalists.]
During his speech at the Black Friday for Press Freedom rally in Quezon City, Arao dared Roque to resign if he still advocated press freedom. Otherwise, he should stop calling himself a “stalwart” of the cause and admit that his stint at the Palace was just another “opportunist” move for the next elections.
“Hinahamon kita Harry: Kung hindi mo na masikmura ang ginagawa mo ngayon bilang tagapagsalita ng isang mapanupil na pangulo, you should [leave] at dapat magresign ka na,” Arao said.
[I am challenging you, Harry: If you cannot stomach what you’re doing now as the spokesperson of an oppressive president, you should leave and resign.]
“At kung ayaw mo magbitiw sa tungkulin, talikuran mo na ng tuluyan ang sinasabi mong pagiging stalwart ng karapatang pantao at kalayaan sa pamamahayag at aminin mo na na ito ay isang oportunistang layunin mo lamang para manalo sa susunod eleksyon,” he added.
[If you do not want to leave your job, you should stop calling yourself as a stalwart of human rights and admit that this is just one of your opportunist moves for the next elections.]
Roque maintained that Duterte had no hand in the controversial Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) order to revoke news website Rappler’s registration for allegedly violating ownership rules.
According to him, Duterte supports press freedom, noting that for more than 30 years of being public service, the chief executive has not filed a libel case against any journalist. /atm
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