The Daily Manila Shimbun


Roque, new presidential spokesperson, said he is ” not condoning violence surrounding the government’s anti-drug campaign”

October 28, 2017

President Rodrigo Duterte appointed Kabayan Partylist Representative Harry Roque to be the new presidential spokesman.

“You’re no longer a congressman. You are now a secretary,” Duterte told Roque during the celebration of his 53rd birthday in Davao City last Friday.

“He will be attending the first cabinet meeting (as presidential spokesman on) Monday (November 6),” Duterte added.

In a statement issued Saturday, Roque confirmed he has accepted the offer of Duterte but he added that he is "not condoning the violence surrounding the government's anti-drug campaign."

He will replace current Presidential Spokesman Ernesto Abella.

“After much deliberation and careful consideration, I have decided to accept the President’s offer to be his spokesperson, as was announced by the President himself last night,” said Roque.

“I considered the position with the specific purpose of getting an audience with the President to address key human rights issues in the Philippines. As a member of Congress, my voice is limited. Politicians who relentlessly criticize the administration are simply ignored and labeled as 'destabilizers,'” he said.

“By taking this position, I hope to be able to advise the President directly regarding the manner and methods he has used to tackle the problem of drugs. I have already expressed my willingness to serve as an adviser on the matter,” he added.

“By accepting this position, I am not condoning the violence surrounding the government’s anti-drug campaign, nor do I intend to further the same. Regardless of whether I am a member of Congress or of the President’s Cabinet, I continue to value the right to life and dignity of every person and do not support the arbitrary killing of any person by the State,” he added.

Roque said “the statements uttered by the president on human rights issues are precisely what drew me towards the position of spokesperson.”

“Over the past two years, the administration has repeatedly clarified and reinterpreted the remarks of the President. More often than not, the media and the Filipino people have looked to the spokesperson to determine the true intention behind the President’s statements,” he said.

“Thus, the spokesperson plays a pivotal role in confirming the policy of the State. By taking up this position, I intend to refocus the attention of the people more towards the fundamental position of the State, and less towards the manner by which such has been declared. Similarly, I am committing to reduce, if not totally eradicate, the impact of statements which appear to support genocide or violations of fundamental human rights,” he added.

Roque stressed that despite his acceptance of the position as the new presidential spokesman, his stance on human rights has not changed.

“I am a firm advocate for the protection and preservation of fundamental human rights of all persons. My track record in legislation demonstrates this. In particular, I have lobbied for universal health care, the protection of internally displaced persons, and the rights of journalists from extralegal violence, and I look forward to these bills being enacted into law,” he said. Robina Asido/DMS