Duterte tells Roque to forget Senate run; offers him new job
President Rodrigo Duterte has told Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque to quit his Senate ambition and offered him a new job in government instead.
“Ayan sila si Roque, gusto mag-senador. Sabi ko, ‘Tama ka na…Standby ka. Bigyan kita ibang trabaho. Hindi ka manalo diyan’,” Duterte said in a speech before members of the Philippine Military Academy Alumni Association, Inc. in Malacañang on Thursday.
According to Mr. Duterte, the military doesn’t like Roque. He did not elaborate.
“Ah ‘yung mga sundalo ayaw sa iyo,” he said.
Sought for his comment, Roque said he would think about the President’s offer to him this weekend.
“While there was no categorical agreement on what to do, I did say I will consider it and I wanted the weekend to think it over,” Roque said in a Palace briefing.
Asked what position was offered to him, the Presidential mouthpiece said the post is still non-existent.
“What I’m saying is because wala pa pong ganung position. It’s a suggestion made by the senators and it came from the Senate President, and I understand that they in fact had discussed about this matter. That much I know,” he said.
Senate President Vicente Sotto III on Wednesday said he wanted the revival of the Office of the Press Secretary (OPS) to replace the current role of the Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO).
Duterte apparently wants Roque to head the OPS when he offered him a new job.
Roque is widely believed to run as senator in the 2019 midterm elections but has yet to announce his plans.
“Let’s just say as I said I will think twice about my options. I need the 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 has said, that he offered me another job. Which is still related to being spokesperson,” he said.
“I have said that I needed the weekend to think about my options, but as you can see I cannot be effective as a spokesperson unless I know everything about the President,” he also said.
Roque admitted that he was unaware that Duterte went to the Cardinal Santos Hospital in San Juan City on Wednesday for diagnostic tests.
He earlier told reporters that Duterte was just having his “private time” at the Bahay Pangarap in Malacañang when asked on Wednesday about the President’s whereabouts amid rumors that he was hospitalized.
On Thursday, Duterte admitted he went to the hospital for checkup.
“Now people think I lied. I’m telling the nation, I did not, I did not know,” Roque said.
He said Duterte’s admission came to him as a “complete surprise.”
“You know this came as a complete surprise to me as well because he announced it in the command conference. So there was really no occasion to talk to the President, I just knew that oh, people will think I lied. But honestly, ladies and gentlemen, I did not know. And not knowing is not the same as lying,” Roque said. /kga
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