DAVAO CITY – Before leaving on his flight bound for a two-day official visit in Japan, President Rodrigo Duterte on Sunday evening publicly introduced his newly designated Presidential Spokesman, the former partylist representative and staunch human rights advocate Harry Roque.
While Roque was scheduled to take up his post on November 6, he nevertheless facilitated the conduct of the pre-departure press conference, and is likewise part of the official entourage on this presidential trip to Japan.
“Meet the new spokesman of Malacañang. He would carry my words to the public. He’s very competent, able, lahat na (all in). It’s in the messaging. How he conveys the message from me would be the most important,” President Duterte said.
For his part, Roque said he is assiduously studying his new job, adding that the President’s marching orders are, “Two things: Do what is right and do not lie. Just say the truth.”
“I Will stick to those marching orders,” he said.
As for the reason why erstwhile spokesman Ernest Abella was replaced by Roque, Duterte explained: “My reason is my personal decision. I am not about to explain. My decision is mine only. As to what’s next for Abella, I will answer when he’s there.”
President Duterte mentioned in passing that he is concerned about the threat of nuclear conflict in the Korean Peninsula.
“It would be good if America, Japan and Korea to tell North Korea’s Kim Jong Un that nobody’s threatening him. That there will be no war. Just tone down, stand down. Stop threats. Just to assure nobody’s after him.”
He also said he wants to personally express gratitude to Japan for its wide spectrum of assistance to the Philippines.
He is scheduled to have a one-on-one meeting with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to discuss ways of significantly improving the “strong bilateral partnership. Socio economic ties. Peace and progress.”