MANILA - Former Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella is not leaving government yet despite his replacement as President Rodrigo Duterte’s mouthpiece, Communications Secretary Martin Andanar said Friday.
In a radio interview, Andanar said he is sure Abella will stay in the government but could not say yet what his new role might be.
“Si Ernie will stay with the administration. Kung saan siya ilagay ni Presidente Duterte, nasa prerogative na iyon ni Presidente. But I’m sure that hindi naman masi-zero si Ernie,” Andanar said.
There have been reports that Abella, an undersecretary, is being offered an ambassadorial post. ABS-CBN News has tried to reach Abella for confirmation but has yet to receive a response.
Abella, a pastor who served as Duterte’s spokesperson for over a year, has been known for his calm demeanor opposite that of his principal’s. He has been instrumental in softening the impact of some of the President's controversial statements.
He welcomed Duterte's decision to replace him with human rights lawyer and Kabayan party-list Rep. Harry Roque, saying the latter meets the Chief Executive’s expectations.
Roque, for his part, said the “calm” Abella would be a tough act to follow.
The President has not made public his reason for replacing Abella, saying it was a “personal decision.”
“Ang prerogative kasi nasa Pangulo. So siguro mayroong gusto si Presidente na istilo na para sa kaniya so kaya pumili siya ng kapalit ni Ernie Abella. But then again, at the end of the day, ano iyan eh, kung saan komportable ang Presidente, doon siya,” Andanar said.
“But hindi naman inalis si Ernie as an undersecretary. He is still an undersecretary, and he will still serve under this administration. So iyon ang mahalaga doon,” he added.