Harry Roque goes on leave
MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – On the week of candidacy filing for the 2019 elections, Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque has decided to go on leave.
Malacañang communications staff told reporters n Monday, October 8, that Roque will be on leave starting that day.
"Please be advised that Presidential Spokesperson will be on leave starting today, Monday, October 8," said Dennis Ting, a director under the Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO).
Roque told reporters in a message that he has a personal overseas trip this Wednesday and that he will not be holding any press briefings this week. Reporters were told to send their questions to him.
His leave comes 3 days before the start of the period for filing of certificates of candidacy by those wishing to run in 2019. This period begins on October 11, Thursday and ends on October 17.
As of around noon on Monday, President Rodrigo Duterte was not yet informed by Roque of his leave of absence, according to Special Assistant to the President Bong Go. Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea had also told Rappler that he and Go had not yet spoken about his leave.
However, Roque is expected to attend the Cabinet meeting later.
The spokesman was supposed to hold a press briefing on Monday. He was expected to announce his decision on his Senate bid and whether or not he would accept President Rodrigo Duterte's offer for him to become Press Secretary.
Duterte had thumbed down Roque's chances of winning a Senate seat during a speech last October 4 where he said his own spokesman is not well-liked by the military.
Roque described the President's remarks as a form of "cariño brutal."
Instead of running in 2019, Duterte wants Roque to continue speaking for him, but this time with the title of Press Secretary.
The President is considering reviving the Office of the Press Secretary (OPS) after Senate President Vicento Sotto III suggested it to him during a meeting.
Sotto recommended that the PCOO be replaced since it was only created during the Benigno Aquino III administration to "accommodate some political friends."
The Senate President wanted to transfer the PCOO budget to the OPS, thereby reviving it.
If Roque accepts Duterte's offer, he would thus take over PCOO Secretary Martin Andanar's functions.
Andanar, on Monday, said he has no problem with Duterte giving Roque his role.
"I told Bong (presidential aide Bong Go) that I'm willing to take the sacrifice and give him (Roque) the Office of the Press Secretary, my function, so it's worth it for him," he told Karen Davila on ANC's Headstart.
Andanar said the President has offered him another post in his government.
Malacañang is expected to announce a Cabinet revamp this week since 6 to 8 Cabinet members are said to be contemplating joining the 2019 electoral race. – Rappler.com