PRESIDENTIAL Spokesperson Harry Roque went on leave starting yesterday, a member of his staff said.
The announcement came a few days after President Rodrigo Duterte said that he should quit his Senate ambition because “he would not win.” The President instead offered him a new job in Malacañang.
“Please be advised that Presidential Spokesperson will be on leave starting today, Monday, October 8. All requests for statements kindly post here for his corresponding response. Thank you,” Director Dennis Ting of the Presidential Communication Operations Office told Malacañang reporters in an advisory Monday morning.
Ting, who is assigned to the Office of the Presidential Spokesperson, gave no reason for Roque’s sudden leave.
Duterte however is unaware that Roque has gone on leave, the President’s trusted aide said.
“Not aware,” Special Assistant to the President Christopher “Bong” Go said.
Go said Roque was still to attend the Cabinet meeting yesterday afternoon.
For his part, Communications Secretary Martin Andanar said the revival of the Office of the Press Secretary (OPS) might happen between now and October 17.
“I have already given the draft executive order to Executive Secretary (Salvador) Medialdea. He has the draft already from our office and they’re studying it right now. I believe that’s the best timing between now and October 17,” he said.
“As I said, we prepared the PCOO, the government communications arm, the platform. It’s already there and when Harry (Roque) does accept the job, he has a podium, a very nice soapbox to stand on,” he added.
As early as 2016, Andanar said that he already submitted a draft executive order to Medialdea reviving the OPS.
Andanar said he also told Medialdea and Special Assistant to the President (SAP) Bong Go that Roque should be given the position of Press Secretary.
Roque is vital to the communications arm of the government and offering him the position of Press Secretary will hopefully keep him from running for a Senate seat in 2019, Andanar asserted.
He said the head of the OPS would manage the media outlets of the government and the spokesperson and giving Roque the position would only be “practical.”
“We need Harry as the spokesperson for the President and for the government,” Andanar said. “And in order for us to keep Harry as a spokesperson then we should offer him the Office of the Press Secretary.”
“We are already dissolving the PCOO and reverting to the Office of the Press Secretary, plus the power of the presidential spokesperson. This will be one office and if that happens then it’s just practical that Harry has his entire agency,” Andanar said.
On Friday, Roque said in a press briefing that he would need the weekend to decide whether to run for senator in the 2019 midterm elections or accept President Rodrigo Duterte’s offer of a new job.