Roque’s ‘hollow block’ statement directed at Uson’s followers
Christina Mendez (The Philippine Star) - November 2, 2017 - 4:00pm

MANILA, Philippines — Newly appointed presidential spokesman Harry Roque yesterday clarified his statement about throwing hollow blocks at President Duterte’s critics, saying it was addressed to “Mocha Uson’s 5.5 million followers.”

“The message I wanted to send to the DDS was I have the back of the President covered. Now, you can take it literally or figuratively. But what I meant was, since I believe in the free marketplace of ideas, stones hurled are welcomed but expect to have bigger stones thrown back at you. I think that’s the nature of the free marketplace of ideas,” Roque said during his first press briefing with the Malacañang Press Corps yesterday.

Senators Joseph Victor Ejercito and Sonny Angara believed that the incoming mouthpiece is off to a good start and that he is a welcome addition to the presidential team.

“Judging from his first formal press conference – he did very well, spoke clearly, has knowledge on issues raised and showed firmness,” Ejercito said.

Angara thinks Roque will “strengthen the Duterte administration in terms of international law since Cong. Harry is or was a professor of public international law at UP. It gives them a deeper bench in this regard and this is quite important going forward, with domestic policies becoming increasingly intertwined with international affairs.”

Roque arrived at Malacañang yesterday in his BMW sedan, something he said he could give up in exchange for the Toyota Innova that would be assigned to him as service car.

“My beautiful car is five years old... I understand the vehicle to be assigned to a Cabinet secretary is an Innova. So I said, ‘Sure, I will use an Innova’,” said Roque, who is scheduled to take his oath and be introduced to members of the Duterte Cabinet on Monday. 

Asked about his marching orders, the official said he only has two: to tell the truth and to do what is right for the country.

He added that he was also offered an adviser post, but declined to specify until he receives his formal appointment papers.

Incidentally, his wife Mylah, a former TV reporter, was recently appointed as member of the Board of Trustees of the Home Development Mutual Fund. 

If he would have his way, Roque would have a deputy spokesman who should be a younger person and able to link the 72-year-old President to the millennials.

He also plans – as an innovation to how conferences are done – on conducting a weekly press briefing in Marawi and do the other regular press sorties in the provinces. For him, this would provide the public a better picture of what is happening on the ground.

As a secretary, Roque said his office would be separate from the Presidential Communications Operations Office under Secretary Martin Andanar, although he would work closely with it.

He also hopes to influence the Chief Executive on human rights issues, pointing out that “it is a matter of making the President realize that criminal law is a manner of enforcing human rights.”

“When you prosecute the crime of murder, that’s because murder violated the right to live. That is the kind of advice that will be appropriate,” Roque, who is due to resign as representative of Kabayan party-list at the House of Representatives, said.  – With Marvin Sy

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