Harry Roque back as Duterte spokesperson

Arianne Merez, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Apr 13 2020 11:57 AM | Updated as of Apr 13 2020 01:39 PM

MANILA (3RD UPDATE/CORRECTED) - Harry Roque said Monday he will return as President Rodrigo Duterte's spokesperson just as the Philippines is in the middle of the fight against the coronavirus pandemic.

Roque, who left the post in 2018, said he will return to work on Monday afternoon. He will get the rank of Secretary.

Salvador Panelo, who replaced Roque, meanwhile will remain as Duterte's chief legal counsel.

"I will be performing the same role as the President’s chief lawyer and issuing statements as such," Panelo said.

Asked why the sudden changes, Panelo said "the present crisis requires a new tack in messaging."

Roque, an activist-lawyer known for taking the cudgels for marginalized sectors of society, first took on the job as Duterte's spokesman in 2017. He was representative of the Kabayan party-list group in the House of Representatives before he was tapped to become the presidential spokesman.

He resigned in October 2018 to run for Senator, but later withdrew due to health reasons.

(Editor's note: An earlier version of this story stated he lost in the 2019 party-list elections. He withdrew from the senatorial race. We regret the error.)