Roque ponders future as Duterte doubts he’ll be elected senator
Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque will be taking the weekend off to ponder whether he should accept President Rodrigo Duterte’s offer of a yet-to-be created position or join the 2019 senatorial race.
Roque admitted that his situation was complicated by his being kept in the dark about the President’s hospital visit in the early morning of Oct. 3, during which he underwent tests for a possible cancerous growth.
“The President asked me to stay and offered me a position which currently does not exist yet. 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,” he said in a press briefing on Friday.
Roque spoke his mind a day after Mr. Duterte publicly discouraged him from running in next year’s midterm elections, saying he could not possibly win.
In a dinner he hosted for the alumni of the Philippine Military Academy on Thursday night, the President said: “Roque wants to be a senator. I said, ‘Stop it. You’re on standby. I’ll give you another job. You won’t win. Why? Because the soldiers don’t like you.’”
It was a complete turnaround from the President’s previous statements in which he addressed Roque as a senatorial candidate.
Roque declined to comment on the way the President dissuaded him from running, saying it was Mr. Duterte’s typical “cariño brutal” (affectionate yet frank) style.
He did not elaborate on the new job that was offered to him, but said it was a still nonexistent position related to his present work.
Roque admitted being “taken aback” when Mr. Duterte revealed he underwent an endoscopy on Wednesday for a possible cancerous growth and was not simply on “private time” as indicated on the President’s schedule.
“In my decision on whether or not to run or to accept whatever the Office of the President may have, I will consider the fact that in this capacity as spokesperson, I must know everything about the President,” Roque said. “I do concede that his going to that diagnostic exam was something that I did not know, and therefore I am inclined to believe that perhaps I am not in a position to continue with this current function.”
“Now people think I lied,” he said. “I’m telling the nation: I did not, I did not know.”
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