Presidential spokesperson and senatorial aspirant Harry Roque called President Rodrigo Duterte’s speech on October 4 at the Philippine Military Academy a “game-changer.”
At the event, Duterte, who has been understood as supportive of Roque’s plans to run in next year’s elections, suddenly advised Roque in public to “stand by.”
Here’s how part of the speech went:
“Tapos sabi ng… ayan sila si Roque, gusto mag-senador. Sabi ko, ‘Tama ka na. T*** i** diyan. Standby ka. Bigyan kita ibang trabaho. Hindi ka manalo diyan.’ ‘Bakit?’ “Ah ‘yung mga sundalo ayaw sa iyo.’ [laughter] Itinuro ko kayo at saka si Calida. ‘Sundalo ayaw sa iyo.”
It was partly an incoherent mix of ideas, but what was clear was the president discouraged Roque from running. He did not think that Roque, who left his post as a party-list representative in the lower house, could win in the 2019 midterm elections.
Roque, who was visibly counting on Duterte’s word, had to reconsider his plans.
“For the past five or six months, he’s been calling me a senator. He’s been, for all intents and purposes endorsing my bid for the senate. So I was taken aback by his statement at the PMA alumni event.”
But what made Duterte say that Roque does not appeal to the military?
Two days before the PMA event, Roque insisted that Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV, who is among Duterte’s top critics, did not file for amnesty a decade ago for charges of rebellion.
His statement opposed that of military Chief of Staff Carlito Galvez Jr. who said that Trillanes did file his application, except that there were lapses in the processing of the amnesty papers.
Makati Regional Trial Court presiding judge Elmo Alameda ordered the arrest of Trillanes in a step on the side of a presidential proclamation which claimed the senator’s failure to file for amnesty.
Roque, a former human rights lawyer, spoke his mind. Reddit user runaway4231 suggested this particular portion of Roque’s statement could be Duterte’s basis.
“I’m talking as a lawyer, best evidence rule. And besides, that’s in the courts and one court has said that the pictures and everything else that Sen. Trillanes adduced are not enough and of course, I concur as a lawyer.”
“Certainly, you don’t expect me to take the side of chief Galvez, who is not a lawyer, over the words of a learned judge.”