Hardly had he warmed his post as Presidential Spokesman when Harry Roque, a former partylist representative in Congress, when he was faced by a cackle of supporters of President Rodrigo Duterte in the online community on Tuesday calling for him to step down.
Roque, a prominent rights lawyer and expert in international humanitarian law, formally took his oath just a day before. Within just a few hours of swearing in, some die-hard Duterte supporters (DDS), mainly bloggers, leveled up the noise against his asking Presidential Communication Assistance Secretary Esther Margaux “Mocha” Uson, herself one of the pro-Duterte bloggers, to admonish the DDS community against indiscriminately bashing legitimate practitioners in the mainstream news media.
In his social media posts, blogger RJ “Thinking Pinoy” Nieto called Roque a trapo (word play on the term traditional politician) for allegedly easily buckling before the media because his request to Uson smacks of his inability to prove true to his word that he’d hurl back concrete blocks at journalists who would throw stones at Duterte.
Nieto belittled Roque’s appointment. “Sure, President Duterte sometimes makes mistakes,” Nieto said. “Like appointing Roque. Big mistake.”
Nieto added that Roque is out-of-place in admonishing the DDS because they have their own minds.
For her part, Uson had this to say, after affirming she and Roque remain friends: “Don’t play with fire. Your future plans could get burned. If you want mainstream media to be respected by the DDS community, they should also respect the opinions of netizens.”
Roque’s rejoinder: “The President gave me two marching orders. Do what is right and stay to the truth. I stated what I think is right, and I stated what I think is true. I’ve long been an advocate of freedom of expression. I leave it at that.”