Duterte spokesman denies using govt funds for early campaigning


PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte’s spokesman denied on Monday that he was using the taxpayers’ money to boost his political ambition in 2019.

Speaking to reporters, Secretary Harry Roque insisted that he’s not using his position for early campaigning by going around the provinces.

“I don’t think so. There is no election period yet. But if the people really don’t want me to go the provinces I will heed that but let us see how the public will first respond to it,” Roque said during a press conference.

“Certainly on the basis of my first trip to Cebu, the local media seemed to be very appreciative of the initiative,” he said.

Roque was in Cebu on Sunday where he held his first press conference outside Malacañang.

After making quick work of the media questions, Roque talked like he was on the campaign trail.

“I’ve considered Cebu as my second home. In fact, I spent many summer vacations here as a child and I got married in Cebu by choice. So I was married here in Civil Rights in City Hall before an MTC because I told my wife, ‘I just love Cebu and I want to get married here’. And we also created our first child in Cebu,” he said of the vote-rich province.

In his first press conference in Malacañang on Thursday, November 2, Roque said he wanted to hold briefings in the provinces every Friday.

He also said he would have press conferences in Marawi regularly, with the first one scheduled on November 8.

Roque, who used to represent Kabayan party-list at the House of Representatives, has been coy about his political plans for 2019 despite rumors he’s eyeing a Senate seat.

Duterte, however, said Roque was his senatorial candidate in a speech on October 22.

“He’s my candidate for senator,” the President said in Bisaya during the 38th Masskara Festival in Bacolod City, with Roque in the audience.

“When I haven’t filed my candidacy, he was already campaigning. I will not forget Harry,” he added.

Roque’s role in Duterte’s presidential campaign in the 2016 election was not immediately known, but he has expressed support for Duterte’s war on drugs.

Roque, the House Deputy Minority Leader, was known as a human rights lawyer who represented victims of the 2009 Maguindanao massacre, the kin of Palawan-based environmental advocate and journalist Gerry Ortega who was gunned down in 2011, and the family of Filipino transgender Jennifer Laude, killed by a US Marine in 2014.


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