Nograles out, Roque in as IATF spokesman
Roque confirmed the change in the government’s communications strategy during his virtual presser yesterday.
Presidential Photo/Yancy Lim

Nograles out, Roque in as IATF spokesman

Christina Mendez (The Philippine Star) - April 24, 2020 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles has been eased out as spokesman of the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases after presidential spokesman Harry Roque Jr. and his team moved to centralize in his office all data and information related to the government’s efforts to fight the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).

Roque confirmed the change in the government’s communications strategy during his virtual presser yesterday.  

“There is a directive from the Office of the Executive Secretary that information sharing will now be centralized through the Office of the Presidential Spokesperson,” Roque said when asked if he is taking the lead in the dissemination of information related to the COVID-19 efforts of the government.

Apart from himself, Roque said Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire has been authorized as spokesperson for COVID-19 related issues.

Roque did not say what prompted the sudden change of communication strategy.

“I don’t know the basis of the decision,” he said in Filipino.

Nograles has not conducted virtual briefings since Wednesday and it has not yet been determined if the new movements were the reason for Communications Secretary Martin Andanar’s absence at yesterday’s Laging Handa program at state-owned PTV-4.

The “turf war” reportedly started when Roque felt offended when Nograles discussed in his virtual pressers with the Malacañang Press Corps the details of the government’s Small Business Wage Subsidy program last week.

Roque was reportedly displeased since it was part of his press briefing before the media later that day, sources said. Roque was appointed presidential spokesman anew on April 13, replacing Salvador Panelo who retained his post as chief presidential legal adviser.

Panelo had earlier said that Roque’s return was an offshoot of the need for a new communications strategy for COVID-19 related issues.

Nograles had conducted daily briefings for more than a month, following President Duterte’s declaration of state of public health emergency in March.

Apart from the virtual pressers initiated by the Presidential Communications Operations Office and the Office of the Cabinet Secretary, the PCOO has also launched public service programs on PTV-4 to put forward the government efforts against COVID-19 and to counter anti-Duterte sentiments on social media.

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