MANILA (UPDATE) - President Rodrigo Duterte conceded that Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque has a slim chance of winning the Senate race and said he plans to just give a new job to his fierce mouthpiece.
Duterte said he told Roque to remain on “standby” for another job at the Palace, as he admitted that the spokesperson is unlikely to win the Senate race.
“Ayan sila si Roque, gusto mag-senador. Sabi ko, ‘Tama ka na. T*** i** diyan. Standby ka. Bigyan kita ibang trabaho. Hindi ka manalo diyan.’ ‘Bakit?’ ‘Ah ‘yung mga sundalo ayaw sa iyo,’” Duterte said in a speech before Philippine Military Academy alumni in Malacañang.
Roque described the President’s words as “typical Duterte” and a form of “cariño brutal” (tough love).
He said he will need the weekend to think about his options and weigh the President’s offer. He said the post offered by Duterte “does not exist yet.”
“Prior to the speech we had a command conference where the President asked me to stay and offered me a position which currently does not exist yet,” Roque said in a Palace press briefing.
“While there was no categorical agreement on what to do, I did say I will consider it and I wanted the weekend to think it over.”
Roque would not win in the senatorial elections if it were held last September, according to the latest Pulse Asia survey.
The spokesperson lamented that Senate race seems to have become a popularity contest in the Philippines, as old and familiar names in Philippine politics dominated the top spots in the survey.
As he pondered on his future in the Duterte administration, Roque said being the President’s spokesperson is perhaps not suited for him after he was left “in the dark” about the President’s apparent hospital visit last Wednesday.
Roque said it appeared he lied about the President’s hospital visit since he was adamant on Thursday that the chief executive only took a “day off.”
“In my decision on whether not to run, to accept whatever the Office of the President may have, I will consider the fact that in this capacity as spokesperson, I must know everything about the president,” he said.
“I do concede that his going to the diagnostic exam was something I did not know and therefore, I’m inclined to believe that perhaps I’m not in a position to continue with this current function,” said Roque.