MANILA - The President's marching orders for his new spokesperson: "Do not lie."
Incoming presidential spokesperson Harry Roque shared this Wednesday as he girds to take on the role of the new Presidential spokesperson.
"Malinaw ang sabi niya. Gawin mo ang tama at huwag kang magsisinungaling (What he said was clear. Do your job right and do not lie),'" Roque said in an interview on DZMM.
Duterte last week announced Roque's appointment, choosing the media savvy human rights lawyer to replace Ernesto Abella.
Critics questioned Roque's acceptance of the post as the outgoing Kabayan Party-list representative, a known human rights lawyer, would be joining an administration heavily criticized for alleged human rights abuses in the drug war.
But Roque said he does not believe the President could have ordered summary killings.
"Hindi ako naniniwala na ang ating Presidente ay mago-order na pumatay ang mga kapulisan. Hindi dahil akusasyon na, ibig sabihin ay 'yan ay katotohanan na (I do not believe that the President ordered the police to kill. Just because there is an allegation does not mean it's true)," he said.
He said the President's statements should not always be taken literally.
"Kailangan seryosohin ang sinasabi ng Presidente, pero hindi dapat na literal ang pagbasa sa kaniya. Mahilig mag-exaggerate ang Pangulo... bilang isang politiko, gawain ko rin yun (We have to take the President's statements seriously, but we should not read him literally. The President is fond of exaggeration... as a politician, I also do that)," he added.
Duterte earlier said that he chose Roque to replace Abella as the lawmaker shared his knack for bold and hard-hitting statements.
But Roque said he intends to imbibe Abella's calm demeanor when facing the press.
"Kung gaano ka-feisty ang President, ganon naman kahinahon si Sec. Abella, kaya susubukan kong maging gaya niya (Abella) dahil kailangan ko ng konting pagiging mahinahon," said Roque.
Roque said he would step down from the Cabinet should he see an "incompatibility" between him and the President, especially when it comes to defending the right to life.
"...Trabaho lang naman ito... Hindi naman tayo mamamatay kung tayo ay mawawalan ng trabaho (This is just a job. I will not die if I lose the job)," he said.