As Roque joins Malacañang, Kabayan squabbles over his replacement

Bea Cupin
As Roque joins Malacañang, Kabayan squabbles over his replacement
Harry Roque, Palace spokesman, and Ron Salo, Kabayan representative, continue to argue over the fate of the party's representation in the House

MANILA, Philippines – The infighting continues.

Even as Harry Roque is set to officially join the executive department as Presidential Spokesman, arguments within his Kabalikat ng Mamamayan (Kabayan) party-list group continues, with the outgoing legislator throwing a few choice words toward Representative Ron Salo, the party’s second nominee.

“Obviously, Ron Salo is delirious because I don’t know what power and influence he is referring to,” said Roque in a Palace briefing on Monday, November 6, when asked about Salo’s allegations that the newly-appointed spokesman would use his “power and resources” to stop the assumption of the party’s 3rd nominee as representative in the House.

Kabayan’s problems began in 2016, when Salo led party members in calling for the ouster of Roque as its member – and as a member of the House – “for conduct inimical to the image and interests of the party.” They were referring to questions he asked about Senator Leila de Lima’s personal life during a House hearing.

The squabble, primarily between Salo and Roque, involve cases pending before the House ethics committee, the Commission on Elections, and the Supreme Court.

Salo had earlier announced that Ciriaco Calalang, the party’s 3rd nominee, would be replacing Roque as Kabayan representative in the House.

Over the weekend, Salo claimed that Roque “threatened to use his influence, and the power and resources of his office as Presidential Spokesperson.” Salo said Roque’s camp called Victor Caguimbal, former Kabayan secretary general about it.

“Roque said that he wants his chief of staff, Romel Bagares, to be proclaimed as his replacement,” said Salo.

Roque denied this ever happened. “Ron Salo is up to his usual shady tactics. I never called nor did I authorize anyone to call on my behalf Salo’s camp to threaten Calalang,” he said in a November 6 statement.

Salo said that Kabayan, in a regular board meeting, affirmed the proclamation of Calalang as the party’s representative in the House.

Roque, meanwhile, said that, during a party congress, they voted to annul the nomination of its 3rd, 4th, and 5th nominees, including Calalang.

Salo claims this congress was illegal.

“Roque’s obtrusive plan to cling on to his congressional seat through his dummy, Bagares, makes us wonder why he is very much interested in the congressional seat when the podium he holds there at Malacañang is clearly a more powerful position. Why is he so attached to said congressional seat and is hell-bent on having his own nominee occupy the vacant seat?” Salo said in a statement.

Salo insists the “transfer” of the seat to Calalang should be automatic under the the law. (READ: No, Kabayan, you can’t just kick out Harry Roque)

Roque, a lawyer, said that while he deemed automatically resigned from the House when he takes his oath, the take-over by the 3rd nominee is not automatic. “Let the Comelec rule on that…and I would say that the issue of my successor will inevitably be resolved by the Comelec, which will have jurisdiction on who [is] the 3rd, 4th, and 5th,” the Palace spokesman said. –

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Bea Cupin

Bea is a senior multimedia reporter who covers national politics. She's been a journalist since 2011 and has written about Congress, the national police, and the Liberal Party for Rappler.