Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque filed a leave of absence from his post, days after saying that he would take new steps in his career in the administration.
Malacañang announced that Roque had filed the leave starting on Monday, hours before he was scheduled to appear at a Palace press conference.
Neither Roque himself nor the Malacañang has confirmed the reasons for the move.
Roque in the days prior to filing the leave said that he will be thinking about his career path in the government. This was as he was criticized for giving a contradictory statement on the president’s whereabouts.
Roque’s wrong answers to #NasaanAngPangulo queries
The former human rights lawyer and Kabayan Party-list representative last week dispelled rumors that President Rodrigo Duterte was undergoing medical procedures.
Duterte himself however countered the spokesperson hours later, admitting that he visited Cardinal Santos Memorial Santos the previous day for a one-hour checkup.
Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea later confirmed that Duterte underwent a colonoscopy, a procedure which the president admitted to having previously undergone.
Duterte later discouraged Roque, one of the possible senatorial bets on the PDP-Laban slate for the 2019 elections, from joining the polls.
“I’m inclined to believe that perhaps I am not in a position to continue this current function.”
“Go on standby. I’ll give you another job. You won’t win. Why? Because the soldiers don’t like you, said Duterte about his spokesperson in Filipino.
Roque following Duterte’s announcement admitted that he had been “left in dark” about the checkup.
“I do concede that his appointment in that diagnostic exam was something I did not know, and therefore I’m inclined to believe that perhaps I am not in a position to continue this current function,” Roque said at press conference later.
Roque on leave
With Roque yet to reveal his reasons for filing the leave and finally decide on the candidacy, questions about his next move continue to spread.
Question for the day: What will be Harry Roque’s next job?
— Teddy Casiño (@teddycasino) October 6, 2018
Question now is – will Sec Harry Roque take Press Secretary post or still run for the senate? Will he have President Duterte’s support? Sec Roque on leave starting today.
— Karen Davila (@iamkarendavila) October 8, 2018
Administration critics have also recently assailed Roque, a former human rights advocate and activist, for shifting his stance on extrajudicial killings and joining the Duterte administration, which has been accused of the sponsoring the series of drug-related killings in recent years.
One of the biggest tricks the devil ever pulled was convincing Harry Roque he’d be a senator if he would abandon his principles and serve Rodrigo Duterte.
— The Professional Heckler (@hecklerforever8) October 6, 2018
My friend, law school classmate& Duterte spokesman @attyharryroque this week: “There is actually no crime under both domestic law or international law [called] ‘extrajudicial killing.’ https://t.co/xK4t6Y1HE4
Only 2 years ago: https://t.co/lU3AYEYWMJ
— Ruben Carranza (@RCarranza_) October 7, 2018
Communications Secretary Martin Andanar confirmed that Duterte has asked Roque to lead the Office of the Press Secretary, a defunct agency that the administration plans to revive.
Roque ranked in the 29th to 36th bracket in the most recent Pulse Asia survey on possible senatorial bets for the coming May 2019 elections.
In September 2018, residents of Zambales claimed to have heard a “campaign jingle” for Roque during a Boy Scouts’ event. Some pre-campaign advertisements have also been airing on radio stations.
He however later said that he was still undecided about running in next year’s elections.