Roque: I did not give up my principles during Palace spokesperson tenure

Katrina Domingo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Oct 17 2018 08:00 PM

MANILA - Resigned Palace official Harry Roque on Wednesday said he "did not give up" his principles during his service as President Rodrigo Duterte's spokesperson.

Roque, a human rights lawyer-turned-lawmaker, had been criticized for defending Duterte's remarks against women, and extrajudicial killings allegedly committed by police under Duterte's brutal war on drugs.

"I did not give up my principles," Roque told reporters after filing his certificate of candidacy.

"I served the president because he was given a mandate by the people. I served the people by serving the president," he said.

Earlier this year, Roque justified Duterte's rape joke, citing a supposedly "more liberal" culture in Mindanao.

Critics should not be offended by Duterte's sexist slurs as he is "old enough" to know if he is crossing a line with his jokes, Roque had said in several occasions.

Roque also blamed Church leaders who criticized the government's war on drugs, and said the President was "not serious" when he blamed a priest for a deadly landslide in Benguet.

"Maraming issues na hindi kami nagkakasundo ni presidente, kasama na diyan ang death penalty [pero] walang problema diyan dahil nagkaintindihan kami na isinantabi ko muna ang aking paniniwala," he said.

"As a presidential spokesperson I was not allowed to have a personal opinion, I could only articulate what the President stands for," he said.

But Roque lamented when he was left uninformed about President Duterte's hospital check-up. 

Despite this, Roque said he would continue to support Duterte.

"I will continue to defend the president even if I ceased to speak for him," he said.

"Mananatili ang ating suporta sa Presidente at inaasahan din natin ang kaniyang suporta," he said.