Roque denies using provincial presscons for early campaigning

Pia Ranada
Roque denies using provincial presscons for early campaigning
The presidential spokesman, known to be eyeing a Senate seat in 2019, begins his weekly provincial press conferences in vote-rich Cebu City

MANILA, Philippines – Only 3 days after promising to hold press conferences as Presidential Spokesman in provinces every week, Harry Roque was in Cebu City to try out his “innovation.”

Such press briefings in provinces all over the country are designed to bring Malacañang to areas outside Metro Manila, he claimed.

But given his alleged plans to run for senator in 2019, is Roque using these press conferences for early campaigning?

On Monday, November 6, Roque denied this.

“I don’t think so. There is no election period yet,” he told Malacañang reporters.

He said he would wait for the public’s response to his provincial press conferences first.

“But if the people really don’t want me to go to the provinces, I will heed that,” said Roque.

He downplayed concerns that these weekly press conferences all over the country would be heavy on the government’s wallet. But he admitted not knowing his office’s budget.

I don’t think it will entail too much cost. To begin with, I don’t know what my budget is,” said Roque.

Aside from weekly provincial press conferences, Duterte’s spokesman also plans to hold briefings every Wednesday in Marawi City.

First stop: Cebu

Roque’s first provincial press conference took place on Sunday, November 5 in Cebu City, among the most vote-rich cities in the entire country.

He even invited House Deputy Speaker and Cebu 3rd District Representative Gwendolyn Garcia to join him in the briefing attended by Cebu media.

The two officials constantly referred to each other as “BFFs” (best friends forever) since they were “together through a number of battles” in Congress and “share the same position” on some controversial issues.

Garcia even alluded to a possible government position for Roque in the “near future.”

“I know that young as you are, you will be of great service to our country as presidential spokesperson and perhaps even in the near future in another capacity,” said Garcia.

“In whatever position you may be given, I know that you will always serve our people with honesty, with dedication, with passion and most of all with the inimitable Harry Roque brand,” she added.

Roque returned the compliment by saying one downside of becoming a Malacañang official is he will “miss” being with Garcia at the Batasang Pambansa. 

However, he promised he would see her often in Cebu. He has even instructed RTVM and the Presidential Communications Operations Office to open a satellite office in Cebu.

“This will be a regular occurrence. I will have a very strong presence in Cebu,” said Roque. 

No less than President Rodrigo Duterte said Roque is eyeing a Senate seat.

“He’s my candidate for senator,” said Duterte in a speech on October 22, during the 38th Masskara Festival in Bacolod City.

Roque was present at the event.

Previously asked if he indeed has 2019 ambitions, Roque had only said, “I will go where the Lord leads me.” – Rappler.com

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Pia Ranada

Pia Ranada is a senior reporter for Rappler covering Philippine politics and environmental issues. For tips and story suggestions, email her at pia.ranada@rappler.com.