MANILA - (UPDATE) Former Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque said Friday he was dropping his Senate candidacy after undergoing a heart procedure.
President Rodrigo Duterte's former mouthpiece thanked his supporters, adding he decided to seek public office to "be of service in a way that I know I will be highly effective."
"In the days since the procedure, I have been forced to confront the reality of my physical situation and what it ultimately means for my aspirations to public service," he said in a Facebook post.
He said he informed the Commission on Elections that he was withdrawing his candidacy.
Roque told radio DZMM that he was brought to the hospital on Monday and was discharged on Thursday after the procedure, which he described in his Facebook post as "percutaneous coronary intervention following the discovery of an unstable angina coronary disease."
His doctor told him that it would be "better that I opt for complete recovery before undertaking an activity like an election campaign."
Roque, a human rights lawyer, initially said he would be a party-list group nominee in the House of Representatives, but instead filed a certificate of candidacy for senator.
"Whatever they may think of my politics, those who have seen my work in both the public and private sector can attest to what I would have brought to the Senate. Unfortunately, for the moment, it seems that God has other plans," he said in the social media post.
Calling it the "saddest decision" he ever had to make, Roque said his withdrawal from the Senate race is a "tactical retreat," but it does not signal his retirement from public service.
Asked in an ANC interview if his decision was due to his poor showing in surveys, Roque said he was confident his numbers would have improved upon the release of his advertisements.
Roque said he hoped to one day serve "as a legislator, or in whatever other capacity I may be of service."
"I continue to support our President and this administration and wish only the best for our country," he wrote on Facebook.