Kabayan votes to remove Harry Roque as House rep

Patty Pasion
Kabayan votes to remove Harry Roque as House rep
Harry Roque, ousted by his party's board for his 'behavior' at a congressional probe into Bilibid drugs, asks the Comelec to nullify the party's resolution

MANILA, Philippines – After investigating him for alleged “dishonorable behavior” at a congressional inquiry late last year, Kabayan party list has removed lawyer Harry Roque from its roster of members and unseated him as its House representative.

Kabayan announced the decision of its board of trustees in a press statement on Tuesday, January 24, or over a month after it began its investigation into Roque’s behavior at a House hearing on the drug trade at the New Bilibid Prison. (READ: Lawmakers feast on De Lima-Dayan love affair)

Removal of party-list representatives has to go through a process with the Commission on Elections (Comelec). Roque on Tuesday asked the poll body to nullify Kabayan’s resolution.

Kabayan said 12 board members voted to remove Roque from the party and “consequently from representing Kabayan party list” at the House.

“The Board adopted the Committee Report (dated January 11, 2017), which found Atty Roque’s behavior, acts, and statements as severely damaging to the Partylist, and recommended the immediate removal of Atty Roque as member of Kabayan Partylist pursuant to Article VIII of Kabayan Partylist By-Laws, and consequently, from representing Kabayan Partylist in the House of Representatives,” it said.

The results of the board’s investigation showed that “Roque’s behavior and statements during the November 24, 2016 hearing have gravely affected the moral sensibilities of Kabayan Partylist members and supporters.”

Roque and several lawmakers were strongly criticized for their inappropriate line of questioning toward Ronnie Dayan, Senator Leila de Lima’s former lover and alleged bagman, at a congressional inquiry on November 24, 2016. (READ: The House’s ‘climax’ congressmen: Who are they?

Kabayan said there was an “overwhelming call” among the party members and supporters to remove Roque because he has already “lost their trust and confidence” in his ability to “genuinely advance the core advocacies of the party list.”

Kabayan Representative Ron Salo said the resolution is “effective immediately” as far as their party is concerned, but Kabayan has left its implementation to the House leadership. (READ: Rep Harry Roque under investigation by own party

No prior notice

Roque denounced his removal from the party, saying that he was not given any prior notice about the decision. 

“The fact that the notice of removal was sent to the media but not to me or my office just goes to show that the people behind this plot are after media mileage, not the interest of our party,” he said.

Roque filed a petition on Tuesday before the Comelec to order the party to convene its members to settle the issue legally, and to nullify the  resolution.

“I have, on several occasions, requested that a party congress be convened, but Rep Salo would have none of it. Instead, he put up his own Executive Committee, composed of individuals he had hand-picked, in gross violation of the party Constitution and by-laws,” said Roque.

Kabayan said, however, that under the party-list system, nominees and representatives are accountable to the governing board while it is the party list itself that is answerable to the voters.

“If he does not acknowledge the authority of the Board of Kabayan Partylist, which approved his nomination and chose him to be Kabayan Partylist’s representative, to whom is he therefore accountable to?” asked Kabayan.

‘Face’ of Kabayan

Roque stressed that as the “face” of Kabayan – the party list campaigned with him as its first nominee in 2016 – the party list obtained 860,000 votes in the last elections. In the past, he said, Kabayan only got 110,000 votes.

“Bago po ako pumasok sa Kabayan, 110,000 votes lang ang nakuha nila. Noong ako po’y natalagang first nominee, 860,000 po ang nakuhang boto ng Kabayan. So malinaw na wala pong kapangyarihan ang nagpapanggap na board para ako’y sipain,” he said. 

(Before I entered Kabayan, they only get 110,000 votes. When I became their first nominee, they garnered 860,000 votes. So it is clear that the fake board has no jurisdiction to kick me out.)

“Dahil po 860,000 ang bumoto sa Kabayan na ako ang mukha ng party list, ipaglalaban ko po ang mga karapatan ng bumoto sa party list na iyan,” he added.  

(Because Kabayan got 860,000 votes with me as the face of the party list, I will fight for the rights of the people who voted for that party list.) 

‘Inappropriate questions’

At the November 24 congressional inquiry, Roque’s line of questioning was focused on De Lima’s alleged “frailties of a woman” which, like that of several other congressmen at the hearing, were seen as having sexual undertones.

He asked Dayan: “Pinagsamantalahan mo ba itong si Leila de Lima noong nagkaroon kayo ng relasyon? Siya ba ay naging mukhang maselan noong kayo ay nagkaroon ng relasyon? Sa tingin mo ba pinagsamantalahan mo ang kahinaan ni Leila de Lima bilang isang babae noong kayo ay nagkaroon ng relasyon? Noong sinabi mong hindi mo pinagsamantalahan ang kanyang kahinaan bilang babae, ano ang ibig mong sabihin?”

(Did you take advantage of Leila de Lima when you had a relationship? Did she seem tender to you when you started your relationship? Do you think that you took advantage of Leila de Lima’s weakness as a woman when you had a relationship? When you said that you did not take advantage of her weakness as a woman, what did you mean?)

He also told Dayan: “Napakahilig mo naman magsalat (You’re very fond of caressing).” – Rappler.com

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Patty Pasion

Patty leads the Rappler+ membership program. She used to be a Rappler multimedia reporter who covered politics, labor, and development issues of vulnerable sectors.