Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque on Friday appeared to be out of the loop, out of the running for the Senate, and most likely out of the Palace as well as a result of recent developments.
He said Friday he was “kept in the dark” about President Rodrigo Duterte’s health, and appeared ready to walk out after clarifying matters including Duterte’s health and Duterte’s decision discouraging him from running for the Senate next year.
He also said a “major revamp” was expected in Duterte’s Cabinet as the election season loomed.
“In this capacity as spokesperson, I must know everything about the President,” said Roque who added he needed a weekend to think about his options.
“I do concede that his [Duterte’s] going to that diagnostic exam was something that I did not know, and therefore I’m inclined to believe that perhaps I am not in a position to continue with this current function.
“As you can see, I cannot be effective as a spokesperson unless I know everything about the President. Now, people think I lied. I’m telling the nation I did not, I did not know.”
Roque said only two of Duterte’s Cabinet officials, including him, had access to the President’s daily schedule.
Asked about Duterte’s reason for being absent in an engagement on Wednesday, Roque said Duterte only had a day off due to several tedious activities he had previously attended.
He said Duterte’s sudden visit to the hospital surprised him.
“This came as a complete surprise to me as well because he announced it in the command conference... People will think I lied. But honestly ladies and gentlemen, I did not know, and not knowing is not the same as lying,” Roque said.
In his speech Thursday night before the members of the Philippine Military Academy Alumni Association in Malacañang, Duterte openly disclosed he had undergone a one-hour medical checkup at the Cardinal Santos Medical Center, disputing the earlier statements of his officials amid rumors about his failing health.
“I was about to have a supposed Cabinet meeting yesterday, but the readings... Somebody advised my doctor to repeat and get some samples there both here again. So, I stayed there for one-hour in Cardinal Santos,” Duterte said.
He said the sample-taking was a follow-up to the endoscopy and colonoscopy he underwent three weeks ago.
“So it got worse. I don’t know where I’m now physically, but I have to wait for that... But I would tell you that if it’s cancer, it’s cancer. And if it’s third stage, no more treatment. I will not prolong my agony in this office or anywhere,” Duterte said.
Following Duterte’s advice to Roque not to run in the 2019 midterm polls, Roque said the President offered him a position quite similar to his job as a spokesperson, but the post did not exist yet.
Roque said he would spend a weekend thinking about his options.
“Let’s just say that on Monday, you will find out about my plans finally,” Roque said.