By Argyll Cyrus Geducos
TOKYO, Japan — Incoming Presidential spokesperson Rep. Harry Roque is seeing a good working relationship between him and members of the media once he formally assumes the position as the President’s mouthpiece.
In an interview with members of the Philippine media in Tokyo, Roque cited his experiences in working with the media in his different capacities as member of the Congress and as a lawyer.
“I have been working with the media for the past 15 years at the very least. I’ve represented media in libel cases, I’ve represented heirs of media victims when they were killed,” Roque said.
“I look forward to this kind of partnership. It’s a fiduciary relationship insofar as I’ve had an attorney-client relationship with the media,” he added.
According to Roque, he is looking forward to working with members of the media covering the President and other Palace events.
“I’ve always believed in the free market place of ideas so let the free market of ideas flourish,” he said.
“That’s one of the reasons why I decided to accept the challenge knowing that I’ve had established a working relationship with the media and I have a clear understanding of the importance of freedom of expression and freedom of the press in a working democracy,” he added.
Meanwhile, Roque said his job would be challenging since he thinks he is more controversial than the President.
He added that President Duterte is fine with him being the presidential spokesman despite the Congressman being different in character from his predecessor, Undersecretary Ernesto Abella.
“I think it’s because I’m even more controversial than him so together we could be explosive. I warned the president about that and he says, ‘fine,’” Roque said.
Roque is in Tokyo to join the two-day official visit of President Duterte but not as presidential spokesperson but still as a Congressman. He is set to formally assume office and take oath on November 6.
Roque said he wants to put Palace statements in the proper legal context since earlier statements were not issued by lawyers.
He also said he would like to bring his six-man staff with him to the Office of the Presidential Spokesperson (OPS) but not until after Christmas.
“I did tell Secretary [Christopher] Go that I would have staff members and consultants who will be jobless because my office is co-terminus with me in Congress, and that I would like to absorb them,” he said.
“But I’d like to assure everyone that because Christmas is just around the corner, there will be no changes [in the OPS] until after Christmas because I can’t be responsible for a miserable Christmas for anyone,” he added, referring to the people under Abella.
“I mean come on, Pasko [it’s Christmas] so let it be. Let them get their 13th month pay and let them get whatever bonuses they can get,” he continued.
He said he will just make arrangements if the House leadership would allow his staff to stay until December.
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