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Roque withdraws Senate bid

Former Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque announced Friday he was withdrawing from the senatorial race for health reasons, calling it “one of the saddest decisions” he has had to make.

Roque withdraws Senate bid
Harry Roque
Roque said he had undergone a “percutaneous coronary intervention,” a non-surgical procedure used to treat narrowing of the coronary arteries of the heart found in coronary artery disease.

“I was forced to withdraw [my candidacy] because I was confined last Monday,” Roque told Palace reporters.

“Even though the doctor informed me that campaigning will not cause my death, the activities are not appropriate for the lifestyle that I need in order to fully recover. It was one of the saddest decisions that I have made,” he said.

“In the days since the procedure, my family and I have been forced to confront the reality of my physical situation and what it ultimately means for my aspirations to public service,” he said in an earlier statement.

Roque expressed gratitude to his supporters and said he still hoped to be a senator someday to serve the country.

“I ran for senator because I wanted to be of service in a way that I know I will be highly effective. Whatever they may think of my politics, those who have seen my work in both the public and private sector can attest to what I would have brought to the Senate. Unfortunately, for the moment, it seems that God has other plans,” he said.

“I continue to support our President and this administration and wish only the best for our country,” he said.

Roque was supposed to complete the 14-candidate slate of Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio’s Hugpong ng Pagbabago party in the May polls.

In October last year, the President urged Roque to reconsider his Senate bid, offering him another position in the government ahead of the filing of certificates of candidacy. Roque, however, turned down the offer.

With Roque’s withdrawal, the official list of senatorial candidates is down to 62, Commission on Elections (Comelec) spokesman James Jimenez said.

Jimenez said that Roque submitted a statement of withdrawal before the Comelec office in Manila where he also filed his certificate of candidacy in October 2018, citing health reasons.

At the same time, Jimenez said a reenacted budget for 2019 would have a serious impact on the May elections.

“If the budget is reenacted, the compensation for election workers such as teachers and barangay officials would be hit,” Jimenez said.

He said that the pay for those who will work on election day, including teachers, is not included in the reenacted budget and it would pose a serious problem.

“If the budget is not passed, it will have a serious impact on the preparation for elections. Having a reenacted budget would actually have a very pronounced impact of the ability of Comelec to conduct the elections,” he said.

The House and Senate are working to reconcile differences in their versions of the 2019 spending plan. If these efforts fail, the government will have to run on a reenacted 2018 budget, which has no allocations for an election.

The Comelec needs P3.2 billion to cover pay for teachers, who are tapped to man polling precincts every election year, and other election workers.

Under the 2018 national expenditure program, the Comelec was only allotted P1.9 billion, which would not be enough to pay election workers.

Poll officials urged Congress to keep the budget of the Comelec “top of mind” given the elections this year.

Topics: Harry Roque , Sara Duterte-Carpio , Rodrigo Duterte , Elections , Senate
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