Roque says he has felt the resolve to run for senator

Alexis Romero - Philstar.com
Roque says he has felt the resolve to run for senator
Screengrab shows presidential spokesperson Harry Roque in a June 2020 briefing

MANILA, Philippines — Presidential spokesman Harry Roque claimed he has "found the resolve" to run for senator, saying he could not allow allies of "extremist" groups, including those who oppose his nomination to the International Law Commission (ILC), to get elected to the Senate.

"Let’s just say that when I found out what the extremist groups did, I found a resolve to run. Why? Because I don’t want to see their allies elected into office," Roque told ABS-CBN News Thursday.

"I feel enough is enough. I am not going to be bullied by these people and if I have to, I will stand for election to prove that the people support me," he added.

Roque was referring to the attempt of some activists to disrupt a private reception he tendered for representatives of several foreign missions in New York last Friday. During their rally, members of Bayan-USA and activists from New York and New Jersey said Roque does not deserve a seat in the ILC, calling him a "war criminal" and "the spokesperson for Duterte’s fascist regime."

"When I saw the statements distributed, calling me a war criminal, I said, enough is enough. You don't call a person a war criminal, especially since I have devoted 30 years of my life for the protection and promotion of human rights," the Palace spokesman said.

Roque clarified that he has not made a decision on whether to pursue a bid for the Senate.

"Everything is premature. I’ll have to talk to both the President and (Davao City) Mayor Sara (Duterte-Carpio) and I will explain to them my predicament because I thought what happened was unfair and I thought that I cannot sit idly by and let people being supported by these extremist groups be elected into the Senate," Roque said.

Roque was included in the list of possible guest senatorial candidates of the ruling PDP-Laban party but did not file his certificate of candidacy (COC) during the filing period. The Palace spokesman previously said he would only run for senator if Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio guns for the presidency.

Carpio has repeatedly said she is not running for president and has filed her COC for reelection in next year's polls. Carpio's allies, however, are still persuading her to seek a national post next year. The period for the filig of COCs ended last Oct. 8 but the deadline for the substitution of candidates is until Nov. 15.

There are also calls for Carpio to run for vice president under the ticket of former senator Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr., son of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos.

Asked whether he would run under Marcos' ticket given his knowledge of the human rights violation during martial law, Roque replied: "I will cross the bridge when I get there, but I’ll find out how old (former) senator Bongbong Marcos was when all these atrocities happened. But offhand, I’m going to say well, I’ve always stood for democracy in the Philippines, my whole family, including Sen. (Jovito) Salonga, stood against the dictatorship and that would be a consideration."

"But I’m not saying that I’m running under any president as of now. We will consider everything, but the important thing is that these extremist groups — despite the fact that they have succeeded in parliamentary democracy — are still resorting to violence, not only in the hinterlands of the Philippines, but even in places like New York," he added.

Pressed whether he would run for senator or just pursue his bid for the ILC, Roque replied: "Again, people don't know that the ILC is not a full-time job. It is not a job, it is just a group of experts who meet a couple of weeks in a year. It's not even a paid job. It is a prestigious post but it is not a paid post."

Roque: Cocktail not costly

In the same interview, Roque claimed that the protesters who trooped to the Aretsky’s Patroon restaurant had failed to disrupt the reception he tendered for representatives of foreign missions.

“They were not able to enter the venue of the cocktail. They were able to enter the first floor of the restaurant but the venue of the cocktail was (on) the third floor,” Roque said.

“Although, it was the intention of the protesters to disrupt... they failed to do so because the restaurant owners, the waiters, and NYPD (New York City Police Department) who knew I was there, prevented the protesters from actually interrupting the reception,” he added.

Roque also denied that the cocktail party at the restaurant was lavish. The activists who held a rally outside the Aretsky’s Patroon have claimed that an event at the establishment could cost at least P1 million.

"I can assure you, it is nowhere close to the amount that they claim of P1 million. I can assure you that if it were P1 million, I (would) be the one to object to it," Roque said.

"It is not my personal job. It is a post that the Philippines is contesting and it is the practice of all states with nominees to host these cocktail parties," he added.



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