MANILA, Philippines – Can new Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque bridge the divide between rabid supporters of the President and the media?
It appears Roque wants to do just this by explaining to Presidential Communications Assistant Secretary Mocha Uson and her followers the value of critical journalism.
“I am calling out to the DDS (Diehard Duterte Supporters) and I was hoping Asec Mocha could be here to send the message. In due course, we will explain in a manner that all will understand why rights of the free press are important,” he said in an interview on Monday, November 6, with Malacañang reporters.
Roque said he wanted Uson to have been present at the Monday Palace briefing so he could “directly talk” to her and her followers. However, he said, he “forgot” to invite her.
Asked what he would tell Uson, he said he would point out how exposés by the media of past adminstrations helped get Duterte elected.
“The people would not have supported President Duterte if the media did not publicize the failures of the previous administration,” said Roque.
He cited as an example the investigative stories about the pork barrel scam in which lawmakers were found to be colluding with Janet Lim-Napoles in channeling their Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) into bogus non-governmental organizations.
Such work by journalists unearth corruption and allowed Duterte to highlight how much of an overhaul the government required. Such a narrative helped boost support for him in the 2016 national elections.
Hot bread diplomacy
Asked how confident he was that Uson would listen to him, Roque said he is counting on their mutual respect and like for each other.
“I will forever consider individuals as under my tutelage on important matters so I hope Asec Mocha will accept being a student of the spokesperson,” he said.
Last Friday, Roque asked Duterte supporters not to throw hollow blocks at journalists and to give them pan de sal instead.
Roque, in fact, brought pan de sal to the Monday Palace briefing.
It was the spokesman himself who first threatened to throw adobe hollow blocks at the President’s critics, a threat repeated by rabid Duterte supporters. – Rappler.com