Harry Roque wants to channel Miriam Santiago at Senate

Pia Ranada
Harry Roque wants to channel Miriam Santiago at Senate
'Mumultuhin na po kayo ni Miriam Defensor Santiago sa pagkatao ni Harry Roque,' says the former mouthpiece of President Rodrigo Duterte

MANILA, Philippines – From defending the controversial statements and stances of President Rodrigo Duterte, Harry Roque now wants to channel the late senator Miriam Defensor Santiago if he wins a Senate seat.

Roque, who filed his certificate of candidacy for senator on Wednesday, October 17, is running under Santiago’s People’s Reform Party (PRP).

Ang aking babala, ‘yung mga corrupt, mga bobo, mga tiwali sa gobyerno, mumultuhin na po kayo ni Miriam Defensor Santiago sa pagkatao ni Harry Roque,” he said in press conference.

(My warning to the corrupt, to the stupid, to the rotten eggs in government, the spirit of Miriam Defensor Santiago will haunt you through the person of Harry Roque.)

Sa lahat ng pang-araw-araw ng panunungkulan, iisipin po natin ‘yung naging serbisyo ni (In all our days of service, we will think of the service of) Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago,” he also said.

Roque mentioned his many similarities with Santiago, including their shared experience as human rights lawyers and lawmakers. He also said that he headed some law groups formerly under the helm of the late senator and presidential candidate.

But his one-year stint as Duterte’s spokesman, during which he defended the administration’s drug war and the President’s sexist remarks, came back to haunt him.

He was asked for his stance on extrajudicial killings, to which he replied by comparing Santiago to Duterte: “Wala pong sumasang-ayon sa extrajudicial killing. Pero gaya po ni Presidente, si Miriam Defensor Santiago ay isang abogado, so patunayan kung mayroong nagkakasala.

(Nobody agrees with extrajudicial killing, but like the President, Miriam Defensor Santiago is a lawyer, so prove first if someone really sinned.)

Asked about his stance on Duterte’s rape jokes and misogynist statements, Roque played safe and gave a general response, “Ang atin po, ang ating paninindigan, mayroon pong karapatan na maging pantay-pantay kahit ano po ang kasarinlan, kait ano po ang kulay, kahit ano po ang pinanggalingan.

(For us, we believe that the rights of all must be equal no matter who you are, what your color is, where you came from.)

Why not PDP-Laban?

Roque also said he had been offered a nomination to run as senator under Duterte’s national political party PDP-Laban.

But he decided to go with PRP instead because he did not want to appear as “trapo” (traditional politician).

Tama naman po na kung ako ay sasabak dito sa larangan ng pulitika, hindi po as trapo at kaya po ang napili kong partido ay People’s Reform party. Ito po ay isang laban ng ordinaryong mamamayan,” he said.

(It’s only right that if I were to enter politics, it will not be as trapo, that’s why I chose the People’s Reform party. This is the fight of an ordinary citizen.)

Roque again mentioned Santiago’s legacy.

Gaya po ni Miriam Defensor Santiago, tayo po ay pinalaki bilang isang ordinaryong mamayan at papakita po natin na sa talino, sa katapangan, at sa integridad, maninilbihan tayo nang tapat sa taumbayan,” he said.

(Like Miriam Defensor Santiago, we were brought up as an ordinary citizen, and we will show that through intelligence, fearlessness, and integrity, we will serve our fellow countrymen.)

Only two days ago, Roque had announced he would run as party-list representative of Luntiang Pilipinas. – 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.