MANILA - President Rodrigo Duterte's former mouthpiece on Wednesday sent a warning to the chief executive's vocal critics in the Senate as he eyed a seat in the chamber.
In an ambush interview, former Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said he would be intensifying his defense of Duterte if elected senator.
"Mas masusupalpal ko na ang mga kumokontra sa Senado laban kay Presidente. Pangako ko po. Huwag na kayong mag-ingay sa Senado dahil 'pag ako nabigyan ng mandato, mas matindi po ang depensang gagawin natin sa Presidente," he told reporters after filing his certificate of candidacy at the Commission on Elections (Comelec).
(I will now be able to better snap back at those in the Senate who are against the President. That's my promise. Do not make any noise anymore because if I get a mandate, I will defend the President even more.)
Duterte had earlier said Roque would not win in the elections.
Roque earlier told ABS-CBN News that he would file his certificate of nomination and acceptance as first nominee of Luntiang Pilipinas, but things changed when he arrived at the Comelec office on Wednesday.
He said he would be running for senator under the People's Reform Party founded by the late Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago.
"Hindi naman po ako nagbago ang aking isipan. Simula't simula, Senado talaga ang pinag-iisipan nating takbuhan bagama't narinig niyo namang sinabi ni Presidente, kung pupuwede e mag-press secretary ako. Pero matapos pong pag-isipan, talagang ang tawag ng panahon, nagdesisyon na akong bumalik sa Kongreso," he explained.
(I did not change my mind. From the start, I had been thinking of running for the Senate, but you heard what the President said, if I can serve as press secretary. After mulling it over, what the times really call for, I've decided to go back to the Senate.)
Roque was representative of Kabayan party-list before joining the Cabinet. He said he would continue the bills he pushed for when he was a lawmaker.
In January 2017, Kabayan removed Roque as representative, citing "loss of confidence and trust" because of "behavior, acts, and statements" that members deemed "severely damaging" to the group. Roque challenged this, but he eventually became Duterte's spokesperson.
He said he does not regret serving as the President's spokesperson and that he still believes Duterte is "the best president, given the condition of the country."
"Babala ko po sa mga korap, bobo, tiwali sa gobyerno, magtago na kayo dahil babalik na ang People's Reform Party," Roque said.
(My warning to the corrupt, stupid in government, you should hide now because the People's Reform Party is coming back.)