Lagman debunks Roque’s prospective ‘advisory’ role

October 29, 2017 - 6:44 PM
File photos of Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman (left) and presidential spokesman Harry Roque. Both human rights lawyers, they're now on opposite sides of the debate over the relevance of the ICC in the global rights setting. INTERAKSYON FILE

Albay Representative Edcel C. Lagman on Sunday disputed incoming Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque’s pronouncement that he has accepted the appointment to the position, which would also make it possible for him to give advice to the President on human rights issues.

Roque, a lawyer, used to head the Center for International Law, Philippines (CenterLaw). The advocacy group works for the recognition and application of international law norms, specifically those relating to human rights, humanitarian law, freedom of expression, and freedom of the press.

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Rep. Lagman said in a statement: “The presidential spokesman is the President’s alter ego after the fact, not a precursor of the fact.

“However, Rep. Harry Roque is expanding his turf as incoming presidential spokesman even before he officially assumes office.

“According to Roque, he accepted the position of spokesman in order to advise the President on human rights issues, which is the jurisdiction of the Secretary of Justice.

“The presidential spokesman is the President’s mouthpiece, not his volunteer adviser on human rights and other policy concerns.

“The role of a spokesman is to incant, elaborate or moderate the President’s pronouncements, not to mold the Chief Executive’s statements beforehand.

“A spokesman reports the President’s statements but does not advise his principal on what to say.

“One cannot be a spokesman and an adviser at the same time because an advice may not be heeded, and such rejection or contrary opinion of the President must be articulated by the spokesman.

“Nowhere in Executive Order No. 4 dated 10 July 2010 “Reorganizing and Renaming the Office of the Press Secretary” and previous executive issuances relative to the position of presidential spokesman is there any grant of authority to the latter to advise the President on matters other than the “messaging system” and “communication strategy” of the Office of the President.”