Abella still Duterte's spokesperson, says assistant

Dharel Placido, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Oct 27 2017 03:44 PM

MANILA – Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella has not yet left his post, his assistant said Friday amid rumors that he will be replaced soon. 

China Jocson, Abella’s assistant, made this clarification after Abella was absent in today’s regular Mindanao Hour press briefing in Malacañang, triggering speculations he has indeed been axed.

“As of the moment, as you could see, the Office of the Presidential Spokesperson, likewise the Presidential Spokesperson, we are carrying out our task as always,” Jocson said.

“He is still the Presidential Spokesperson. He is carrying out his mandate. He is not here right now and it is not unusual, I have done several briefings on his behalf.”

Journalist Ellen Tordesillas earlier reported that Abella will soon be replaced by Kabayan party-list Rep. Harry Roque as Duterte’s spokesperson.

Tordesillas said Duterte was apparently unhappy with how Abella handled the media on the latest Social Weather Stations (SWS) survey results that showed a two-digit decline in his satisfaction and trust ratings as well as the issue of Duterte ordering the expulsion of ambassadors of European countries.

Duterte’s scheduled attendance to Roque’s birthday party on Friday evening also fueled speculation that the President will indeed tap the vocal lawmaker as his new spokesperson.

Still, Jocson insisted Abella remains the President’s spokesperson and that he may still give regular press briefings in the coming days.

“As of this moment, he is still Presidential Spokesperson and since he is in town, we may… you may hear from him next week. He may still give briefings if he is in town. If he doesn’t push through with the trip, he may still give briefings next week,” Jocson said.