Cabinet men gunning for Senate seats

President Rodrigo Duterte said several members of his Cabinet are resigning to run in the 2019 midterm elections, but he is in a bind as to what to do with his spokesman, Harry Roque.

Cabinet men gunning for Senate seats
Harry Roque
“Roque was really [bent on] running. He told me he was resigning,” Duterte said in an interview Tuesday evening.

Duterte said his decision to withhold information on his medical examination at Cardinal Santos last week prompted Roque to announce his plan to resign. Roque drew flak for initially denying the President’s one-hour stay at the hospital.

“I don’t need to tell him everything. There are things that should be limited to immediate family. He felt that he was facing a bad light as if he was blind. Maybe that time I was not in a position to tell him. He said he will resign and I told him I will immediately choose his replacement,” the President said.

Days before he went to Cardinal Santos, Duterte advised Roque against running for senator next year, saying he had no chance of winning because the military does not approve of him.

Duterte said he will reorganize his communication team, and appoint chief presidential legal counsel Salvador Panelo as Press Secretary.

“This is why Roque is in a bind. But it is not my fault. He said he will run, then he will not run, then he will run. So I said I will choose [a replacement] so there is no paralysis in functions,” he said.

“Now that he is no longer running, I don’t know where to place him. It’s his fault because he was [undecided]. Me, I did not wait a minute longer. 

With the reorganization of the Office of the Press Secretary, Duterte said Martin Andanar will no longer serve as head of the Presidential Communications Operations Office, which will be abolished. 

He said he will keep Andanar sa consultant, citing the many things that need to be reconfigured in the state-run television network PTV-4.

Other members of the Cabinet who will seek elective posts next year are Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Cayetano, Agrarian Reform Secretary John Castriciones, and TESDA chief Guiling Mamondiong. 

Duterte said his Special Assistant, Christopher Go, and Presidential Political Adviser Francis Tolentino, are planning run for senator.

Earlier, Roque said he will not settle for anything “half-baked” as he decides whether to accept a new post in the government or run for the Senate.

“I want to do my job the best way I can. And I will not settle for anything half-baked. So, if I’m not able to give correct information as the people need it—that will not be performing my duties,” Roque said in a Palace press briefing Tuesday morning.

“Now, my decision, we’re still talking. I talked to the President yesterday afternoon and talks have not yet been concluded, we will continue our conversation,” he added.

Roque admitted he was “taken aback” by Duterte’s statement before the members of the Philippine Military Academy Alumni Association Inc. where the President said he has no chance of winning.

“So, it was a game changer so to speak. It was a change in tone. But I think there was an agreement on what I would be doing ahead of time,” he said.

READ: ‘Six Cabinet members set  to file CoCs’

Topics: Rodrigo Duterte , Harry Roque , Salvador Panelo , Martin Andanar
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