Harry Roque's conflicts with party mates escalate into disbarment case
MANILA, Philippines – A disbarment case was filed before the Supreme Court against Kabayan Representative Atty Harry Roque, the complainant being his party mate, Kabayan Representative Ron Salo.
In a statement issued on Monday, January 16, Salo said he wants his fellow Kabayan lawmaker disbarred for "relentlessly spreading lies and malicious accusations" against him.
Salo said Roque has been going the political rounds to destroy his reputation, telling "several audiences and individuals" that when Salo was President Gloria Arroyo's communications undersecretary, he accepted bribe from former Zamboanga del Norte Representative Romeo Jalosjos to ensure Jalosjos' pardon. Jalosjos was then in prison for raping a 11-year-old girl.
Roque is also allegedly spreading rumors that it was Salo, as chairman of the Bureau of Corrections Love Foundation, who masterminded the entry of illegal drugs and firearms into the New Bilibid Prison, and that Salo also allegedly had something to do with the construction of high-profile inmate Herbert Colangco's recording studio.
"Roque's false accusations, which were obviously made with malice, are in violation of the Code of Professional Responsibility," Salo said.
He added: "The lies that Atty Roque has concoted and has spread are just too many and deplorable that any moment longer of his stay in the bar is not just a disgrace, but an insult, to the men and women who strive to live according to the tenets of their oath as lawyers."
In response to the disbarment case, Roque said Salo "must be truly desperate for attention because he has made public what under the Rules on Disbarment should be confidential in nature. Of course we will answer it in the proper forum."
In December 2016, Kabayan investigated Roque for his alleged "dishonorable behavior" during one of the House hearings into the illegal drug trade inside the New Bilibid Prison (NBP). Kabayan said Roque's "irrelevant" remarks about Senator Leila de Lima's relationship with former security aide-driver Ronnie Dayan "has extremely affected the party list, which prides itself of its record of principled advocacy for equality and respect for the dignity of all peoples and classes."
It was Salo who released a statement on Kabayan's investigation into Roque, to which the human rights lawyer responded with a counter-attack.
"Salo is obviously in panic mode after a complaint was filed against him and other former Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) officials over the P3.8-billion Motor Vehicle License Plate Standardization Program (MVLPSP)," Roque said then.
Last January 10, when Kabayan secretary general Joshua Sebastian issued an apology to the Office of the Special Prosecutor for Roque's remarks that prosecutors have been bribed to ensure the dismissal of high-profile graft cases, it was Salo whom Roque turned against. In a post on Twitter, Roque said: "Salo pandering to Ombudsman because of his license plate graft case. Obvious ba? (Isn't it obvious?)"
Roque added on Twitter: "I have nothing to apologize for and neither is anyone authorized to apologize for me. People allegedly speaking for Kabayan or for me are usurpers. Please be forewarned." – Rappler.com