POGING USAPAN? | Roque to make talk with journos more ‘attractive’ by hiring ‘good-looking’ deputy spokesman

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Newly-appointed Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque tells members of the media during a press briefing in Malacañan on November 2, 2017 that he is bound to fulfill President Rodrigo Roa Duterte's order which are to do what is best for the country and to tell the truth. (Photo by Valerie Escalera/Presidential Photo)

MANILA, Philippines — To ensure a more effective and “attractive” communication with journalists covering Malacañang-related issues and events, the acting spokesman of President Rodrigo Duterte on Thursday announced that he would hire a deputy, who isn’t just young and more handsome than him but also a much better talker.

“Well, number one, I want a millennial. Number two, I want someone better looking…than me so that the women will fall in love with him,” acting presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said Thursday during his first briefing with Palace reporters, adding that the young spokesman would be the youth’s “link to the 72-year-old” chief executive.

“And I want someone who speaks better than me. I promise the women, you will like the person I have in mind,” said Roque.

He, however, did not yet name his male deputy and just said that he was a University of the Philippines law graduate and would soon be taking the bar exam.

‘Please be very gentle’

Many observed that Roque’s first official meeting with Malacañang reporters was more amiable than expected, following his brickbats with critics after the President announced last Oct. 28, during Roque’s birthday celebration in Davao City, that he had chosen the party-list lawmaker as his spokesperson.

“I ask all of you, please be very gentle,” Roque on Thursday told reporters, eliciting laughter from the latter.

Earlier, human rights groups and Roque’s colleagues at the House of Representatives expressed their opposition to the lawmaker’s acceptance of the new post, saying it appeared ironic that someone like Roque, a noted human rights lawyer, would speak on behalf of a leader who is being widely criticized for his administration’s allegedly serious rights violations through its war on drugs campaign.

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Following the criticisms, Roque retaliated and said, “mamatay kayo sa inggit [die from envy],” adding that he was ready to “throw hollow blocks” at those unfairly criticizing Duterte.

On Thursday, Roque explained that his “hollow blocks” threat meant that “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,” he added.