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Opposition lawmaker calls Roque threat to critics a hollow bluff

/ 07:20 AM November 01, 2017
Edcel Lagman

Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman. (File photo from the Philippine Daily Inquirer)

Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman continues to call out incoming presidential spokesperson Harry Roque, saying the latter’s critics are trying to lead him back like a lost sheep.

Lagman was apparently displeased with Roque’s statements in Japan, where he joined President Duterte on a two-day working visit.

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In a video interview with Communications Assistant Secretary Mocha Uson, Roque said he would throw “hollow blocks” at anyone who throws stones at the Duterte administration. He went on to tell critics to “just die of envy.”

In a statement, Lagman described Roque’s threat as an “irresponsible response to well-founded criticisms and a hollow bluff so unlike the moderation and composure of Pastor Ernesto Abella.”

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President Rodrigo Duterte is set to formally replace Abella.

Lost sheep gone astray

“His critics are not mortifying Roque with stones like the wicked woman in the Bible, but are trying to lead him back like a lost sheep gone astray,” Lagman said.

He reminded Roque that criticism and dissent formed the bedrock of democratic institutions.

“As the anointed new presidential spokesperson, Roque must not act as a vicious silencer of the responsible opposition. Roque’s mouthpiece was misaligned when he accused his own critics of envy on his appointment as presidential spokesperson. Not in their wildest dreams did his critics wish to be Mr. Duterte’s mouthpiece,” he said.

Lagman said no one “envies Roque’s tragic transformation from a deputy minority leader [of the House of Representatives] to an apologist for Mr. Duterte and from a human rights advocate to a defender of a gross violator of human rights.”

Lagman’s fellow opposition lawmaker, Caloocan Rep. Edgar Erice, said Roque “then champion of human rights, [now] threatens critics with physical harm!”

House ally

Roque, however, found an ally and defender in Deputy Minority Leader Luis Campos.

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In a statement, Campos, a Makati congressman, said Roque should be given “a chance to do his job.”

He was apparently defending Roque from Lagman’s earlier reminder to Roque that he was a mouthpiece and not the justice secretary, when Roque said he took the position of presidential spokesperson to advise the President on human rights issues.

“And if the President is going to listen to anybody on policy matters, he will likely listen to somebody like Harry, who is not afraid to speak his mind and who can argue a case quite convincingly,” Campos said. —Nikko Dizon

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TAGS: Edcel Lagman, Ernesto Abella, Harry Roque, Mocha Uson, Rodrigo Duterte
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