By Arjay L. Balinbin, Reporter
PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON Harry L. Roque, Jr. has gone on leave beginning Monday, Oct. 8, according to his office.
“Please be advised that Presidential Spokesperson will be on leave starting today, Monday, October 8. All requests for statements kindly post here for his corresponding response,” Director Dennis Ting of the Presidential Communication Operations Office said in a Viber message to Palace reporters on Monday morning.
President Rodrigo R. Duterte, in a speech on Oct. 4, said he wanted Mr. Roque to stay because he will not win in the next year’s senatorial election.
The President said: “Si Roque, gusto mag-senador… Tama ka na. Tang i*a. Standby ka. Bigyan kita ibang trabaho. Hindi ka manalo diyan. Bakit? Yung mga sundalo ayaw sa iyo.” (Mr. Roque wants to be a senator. Enough. Son of a bitch. Be on standby. I’ll give you another job. You won’t win. Why? The soldiers don’t like you.)
In a press briefing last Friday, Mr. Roque said the President offered him another position “that currently does not exist yet.” Communications Secretary Martin M. Andanar said in an ANC interview on Monday that Mr. Roque was offered the job of press secretary.
“Well, he said that he would think about it over the weekend. The reason why I’m willing to take the sacrifice is because we were trying to convince Harry not to run anymore by 2019….We need him in the communications arm. So one of the offers…I’m willing to take the sacrifice and give him the Office of the Press Secretary, even my function para (so that) at least (it will be) worth it naman for Harry,” Mr. Andanar told ANC.
Mr. Andanar said the Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO), which he currently heads, will be reverted to the Office of the Press Secretary, the position being offered to Mr. Roque
For his part, Special Assistant to the President (SAP) Christopher Lawrence T. Go said on Monday the President was not aware about Mr. Roque’s leave. “Sa ngayon hindi pa. Mamaya [Cabinet meeting] malalaman niya,” Mr. Go said. ([The President] doesn’t know yet. But later, at the Cabinet meeting, he will know.)
He also said he had talked with Mr. Roque who said he will attend Monday’s Cabinet meeting.
On whether Mr. Roque is expected to resign, Mr. Go said on Monday: “Antayin na lang natin si (Let’s just wait for) Sec. Roque. Sabi niya (He said) he will talk to the President later.”