MANILA – Incoming Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque on Thursday said there is no reason to doubt President Rodrigo Duterte's statements, stressing that the Chief Executive would not make claims without factual bases.
Roque said this when asked to comment on Duterte’s oft-repeated claim that the United States’ Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) is out to remove him from office or even kill him, an allegation that US Ambassador to the Philippines Sung Kim and a White House official have denied.
“Well, if that is true, we’re happy,” Roque said of the statements from the two US officials.
“But if the President says that there is, I have no position to dispute what the President says. The President has access to information that he only has access to. I have not seen it. But I trust and believe that my President will not say anything without factual basis. I stand by whatever my President says,” said Roque.
Critics have called out the President for supposedly making incorrect claims in his speeches, including his estimate that there could be 4 million "drug users" in the Philippines.
The Dangerous Drugs Board's (DDB) count was at 1.8 million. In May, Duterte fired DDB chairman Benjamin Reyes for supposedly contradicting his estimate.
The President has also given various figures on the number of policemen supposedly involved in the illegal drug trade.
In an interview on state-run PTV4 aired on Sept. 29, Duterte claimed there were 17,000 cops “involved in drugs.”
But in a speech in Balangiga, Eastern Samar on Sept. 28, he claimed that at least 9,000 cops were involved in the illegal drug trade.
Administration critics have accused Duterte’s supporters, including his appointees, of allegedly spreading fake news that seem to demonize members of the opposition and mislead the public.