MANILA – Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque Jr. on Tuesday said he would bring up with President Rodrigo Duterte the call of some of the chief executive's social media supporters that he be sacked as the president's mouthpiece.
Staunch online supporters of the President, led by Thinking Pinoy blogger RJ Nieto, have called for the ouster of Roque after the latter said he wants to teach the President’s supporters on social media the value of mainstream media.
On his Facebook page Thinking Pinoy, Nieto said Roque should resign and that his appointment as Presidential spokesperson was a “big mistake.”
In a news conference in Malacañang, Roque said the ouster call should be raised with the President since the latter is the appointing power.
“We serve at the pleasure of the President. All Cabinet members serve at the pleasure of the President,” Roque said.
“What I will do is I will facilitate receipt of this information by the President. I will tell the President that Mr. Nieto has said that I should be removed. I will relay that to the President.”
Roque on Monday told reporters he wants to teach Palace Communications Assistant Secretary Mocha Uson and the so-called diehard Duterte supporters (DDS) the value of mainstream media, saying it helped expose the supposed failures of the previous administration, which in turn helped catapult then-Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte to the presidency.
Meanwhile, another popular pro-Duterte blogger, Sass Rogando Sasot, blasted Roque for supposedly siding with mainstream media.
“Your job is to undo the damage being done by your legitimate media friends and not to police our criticisms,” Sasot said on her Facebook page.
Roque, however, said he only wants to highlight the importance of mainstream media since he deals with journalists on a regular basis.
“My role is spokesperson. I communicate Palace messaging to the people in general, that includes the social media,” he said during Tuesday's press briefing.
“Asec. Uson is in charge of social blogging. And, of course, the President really does not need a spokesperson to speak to his own followers, die-hard followers ‘no…So I speak as a spokesperson of the President to all Filipinos especially to those who, I believe, should have a better understanding of what the President is doing and what the President is saying.”
In a separate statement, Roque also stressed the importance of free expression.
“We cannot have a democratic state if citizens are not able to freely discuss issues that concern them in a rational, informed, and peaceable manner,” he said.
“Free expression rests on this assumption: that we can all engage in a deliberative and rational discourse, to arrive at a moment of solidarity, or at least, of understanding, the conflicting views notwithstanding. That applies to both journalists and social media activists.”