Opposition lawmakers Albay Representative Edcel Lagman and Ifugao Rep. Teddy Baguilat scored the appointment of former Kabayan party-list Rep. Harry Roque as the new spokesperson of President Rodrigo Duterte.
Lagman said Roque's appointment to the Cabinet confirms that the former Kabayan party-list representative defends the President's "wayward policies."
"The projected appointment of Rep. Harry Roque as presidential spokesman with the rank of cabinet secretary confirms his dubious role in defending the President’s wayward policies even as he is nominally a Deputy Minority Leader of the House of Representatives," the Albay representative said in a statement.
Lagman also cited Roque's stance on drug-related killings, extension of martial law, the measly budget for the Commission on Human Rights, and the recommendation for the impeachment of Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales.
"Roque has minimized the grave import of the unabated extra-judicial killings related to the President’s deadly campaign against the drug menace; he voted for the confirmation of the declaration of marital law and its extension; and he did not vote against the reduction of the CHR budget to P1,000 and even called for a zero budget for the CHR," Lagman added.
Likewise, fellow lawmaker Baguilat said Roque's appointment to the Duterte Cabinet releases him from "the challenge of masquerading as a minority leader."
"Congratulations to our colleague Harry Roque. As a self proclaimed Human Rights advocate, I wish him luck in defending the horrendous Human Rights Record of this administration," the Ifugao solon said in a separate statement.
This was mirrored by Lagman, saying, "The charade is now over as Roque is liberated and obligated to be the President’s official apologist."
Duterte announced late Friday Roque's appointment as his new spokesperson.
According to his own website, Roque is a human rights advocate and founder of the Center for International Law Manila.
"Roque failed to criticize Duterte’s predisposition to authoritarian rule and intention to declare a revolutionary government and he advocated for the creation of a panel to investigate the Ombudsman and recommend her impeachment for unwarranted and politically motivated reasons," Lagman said.
"To be the communications czar of Duterte, one has to be an expert mortician undertaking the post-mortem embellishment of the President’s crude and unfounded pronouncements and policies, and must be able to subdue one’s conscience in order to emote platitudes."
But in a statement released this Saturday, Roque said that he targeted the presidential spokesman post for a purpose, as a human rights advocate.
"I considered the position with the specific purpose of getting an audience with the President to address key human rights issues in the Philippines," he said. —LBG, GMA News