Roque withdraws from Senate race
Calling it “the saddest decision” of his life, former presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said he was pulling out of the May 2019 senatorial race due to medical reasons.
Roque made the announcement on Friday morning through his social media accounts, and in an interview with reporters in the afternoon.
“It is with a truly heavy heart that I announce the withdrawal of my senatorial bid,” he said in a statement, which came immediately after his hospital confinement.
In a letter sent to the Commission on Elections (Comelec) on Friday, Roque ended his Senate run before it even begun as he withdrew his candidacy just a day after the poll body listed him as one of the 63 official senatorial candidates.
Roque was running under the People’s Reform Party of the late Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago.
The erstwhile human rights lawyer, who staunchly defended President Duterte amid criticisms of police abuses done in the name of the administration’s war on drugs, said his decision to pull out of the Senate race was due to a heart condition he recently suffered from which may affect his campaign.
“I recently suffered from an unstable angina coronary disease which required me to undergo a percutaneous coronary intervention. The recovery process needed by my heart and body will not be compatible with the physical rigors of an earnest and sustained election campaign,” Roque said in his statement of withdrawal signed on Wednesday but sent to the Comelec on Friday.
According to the American Heart Association, unstable angina is a condition wherein there is reduced blood flow to the heart due to fatty buildups in the arteries.
Someone suffering from this condition feels pain often while resting or sleeping. This condition can also lead to a heart attack.
Roque was confined in an undisclosed hospital since Monday and was only discharged on Thursday.
“Although the doctor said I won’t die if I campaign, the campaign is not apt for the change in lifestyle that I must undertake to completely recover from my illness,” he told reporters.
He added: “It was one of the saddest decisions that I have made. I told my wife that this must be one of the saddest decisions, if not the saddest decision. But I think God has other plans for me.”
The decision for him not to push through with his senatorial bid was made by his entire family, as he stressed that “life and health comes first.”
Meanwhile, presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo said Roque’s decision to withdraw from the senatorial race due to health reasons “is a very good decision.”
“If the reason for change of his mind is health, then that is a very good decision. What use will you have for a position if you are sick? Health first before anything,” Panelo said.
Roque’s voluntary withdrawal from the Senate race means he could no longer be substituted by anyone from the party since the period of substitution ended in Nov. 29.
Until midday of election day, substitutions will only be allowed if the candidate with a political party has died or was disqualified.
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