Duterte says ‘go and file;’ Roque says ‘I’m going where I’m happy’
After months of speculations about his political plan, presidential spokesperson Harry Roque declared on Monday he would run as a party-list representative under Luntiang Pilipinas in the 2019 midterm elections.
On Wednesday, he showed up at the Commission on Elections (Comelec) headquarters in Intramuros, Manila to file his Certificate of Candidacy – not as a party-list representative but as a senator.
Roque’s decision shocked the public although he was initially widely believed to seek a Senate seat.
Wearing a red polo shirt, the former mouthpiece of President Duterte arrived at the Comelec before noontime with his wife, Mylah.
“I’m going where I’m happy,” Roque told INQUIRER.net in a telephone interview when asked about the change in his decision.
In his last press conference in Malacañang on Monday, he said he heeded the advice of the President to go back to the House of Representatives.
Prior to becoming a presidential spokesman, Roque was a Kabayan representative.
“While it was always my intention to file a certificate of candidacy for the position of senator, I will actually file tomorrow (Monday) a certification of nomination for party list under Luntiang Pilipinas party list which is an environmental party-list group,” he told reporters during the briefing.
Roque said he met with the President at the Manila Hotel on Sunday night to discuss his political plans.
But why did he suddenly change his mind and ran for senator?
“Between Monday and now, the decision was where am I really happy?” he said.
“From the beginning,” he said he knew he wanted to run for senator.
When he made his last minute decision to run for senator, he said he “relayed” the information to the President, through Duterte’s trusted aide Christopher “Bong” Go.
“I relayed it also to him (Duterte) that I’m going for the Senate,” he said.
The President, he said, has told him to “go and file.”
“Issue was whether to stay as press secretary or to seek elective post. He didn’t care if it’s the party list or the Senate. It was OK for him that I was not staying to be press secretary,” Roque said.
Duterte earlier dissuaded Roque from running for senator and offered him to be his press secretary since it has been the President’s wish to revive the Office of the Press Secretary.
Roque then told the media he needed time to weigh his options.
“From the beginning [I wanted to run for senator]. My decision only changed when he (Duterte) offered me the position of press secretary but I couldn’t accept the job anymore because the stress of the job was just too much. Since leaving the post, my blood sugar finally normalized,” he said.
Asked about the status of his relationship with the President now, he said: “All is well with us.”
Miriam’s party; Sara’s role
Roque filed his candidacy for senator under the party of the late senator Miriam Defensor Santiago’s People’s Reform Party (PRP).
He said it was presidential daughter and Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte who “arranged” for his Senate run under PRP even before the President offered him to be his press secretary.
“Siya ang kumausap kay Jun (husband of Miriam),” he said, adding that Jun called him after the conversation with Sara.
He said Jun told him “you’re perfect” to run under PRP.
“The decision to go with PRP really was because we stand a better chance of winning if we follow the footsteps of MDS (initials of Miriam) in the Senate. I’m convinced people can see the parallels between us, having run for party-list in the past; this option was simply more feasible,” he said.
He said the Sara was supportive of his senatorial bid.
“Following the footsteps of Miriam under PRP seems like the best way to beat the Senate old timers and movie stars,” he said.
Roque believes he has a fighting chance in the Senate race given his “proven track record” to come up “with quality legislation.”
Asked for his platform, he said he would continue his advocacies on health, housing and livelihood./ac
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