Former presidential spokesperson Harry Roque has made a second about-face in less than a week by filing his candidacy for the 2019 Senate race days after announcing that he would run as a party-list representative instead.
Roque on Wednesday filed his candidacy in the coming Senate race, running the People’ Reform Party, the political party once led by the late Miriam Defensor Santiago during her failed presidential bids in 1992, 1998 and 2016.
The late legislator’s legacy was invoked by Roque in explaining his decision to change his mind and run for a seat in the upper house.
“It is only right that I shouldn’t run with trapos (traditional politicians), so I decided to run with the People’s Reform Party,” Roque said in Filipino during interviews while explaining why he turned down offers to run on the administration lineup.
He also invoked Santiago’s name in sending a warning to corrupt and incompetent government officials.
“To the corrupt and the inept, Miriam Santiago will haunt you in the form of Harry Roque,” he said during a speech at the Commission on Elections headquarters.
Harry Roque delivers his opening statement. Roque says he and late senator Miriam Defensor Santiago have some similarities. “Yung mga kurap, mga bobo mumultuhin kayo ni Sen. Miriam Santiago sa katauhan ni Harry Roque.” #Elections2019 | via @ipcigaral pic.twitter.com/JGMEhNhDzs
— Philstar.com (@PhilstarNews) October 17, 2018
He said in earlier interviews that it was more important for him to push for Santiago’s advocacy.
Some are both surprise at Roque’s last-minute change of mind and wary of his use of the departed lawmaker’s name in announcing his candidacy.
Sen. Miriam Defensor Santiago's reaction upon learning Harry Roque will run as senator under her party. pic.twitter.com/i8lUfIsSaG
— Joshua Barrameda (@jkbarrameda) October 17, 2018
— Oh Well, Noel… (@noelvpascual) October 17, 2018
One more time
Roque prior to relinquishing his post as presidential mouthpiece received some criticism from President Rodrigo Duterte, who said that Roque would not win in the Senate race due to the military’s disapproval of him.
Roque downplayed the statement, saying that Duterte was merely ribbing him and had always approved of his possible Senate candidacy, but later filed for an indefinite leave of absence before eventually relinquishing the post.
He admitted in a later interview that he found Duterte’s public kiss with a South Korea-based overseas Filipino worker in June 2018 “inappropriate.”
Roque just a few days before filing his Senate candidacy said that he was running as the first representative of environmental group Luntiang Pilipinas Party-list with actress Ciara Sotto as the second representative.
Roque, a former human rights lawyer, Kabayan Party-list representative and law school professor, explained that a desire to be “his own person again” pushed him to run for the party-list.
He was previously named as part of the ruling PDP-Laban senatorial lineup for the May 2019 elections.