Rep Harry Roque under investigation by own party

MANILA, Philippines – The Kabayan party launched an investigation on Harry Roque, one of its two representatives in the House of Representatives, for his alleged "dishonorable behavior" during one of the House hearings into the illegal drug trade inside the New Bilibid Prison (NBP).

On Monday, December 12, Kabayan senior member and spiritual adviser Pastor Cesar Pabuayon said he formed a 3-person panel including himself, lawyer Eduardo Robles, and Pastor Peter Parrocho to investigate Roque "for conduct inimical to the image and interests of the party."

According to Pabuayon, they are "gravely concerned" that Roque pried into the love affair between Senator Leila de Lima and her former driver-bodyguard Ronnie Dayan during the House hearing on November 24. 

Dayan supposedly collected millions of pesos in drug money for De Lima when she was still justice secretary. 

Roque had asked Dayan if he took advantage of De Lima, after she admitted her affair with him was due to her "frailties as a woman." Roque also told Dayan, "Napakahilig mo naman magsalat (You're very fond of caressing)." 

For Pabuayon, such statements were "irrelevant" to the main topic of the hearing. (READ: Questions on De Lima affair to test Dayan's credibility – lawmakers)

"This embarrassing display of indecent behavior has greatly affected the moral sensibilities of the party elders," he said, adding that other Kabayan members were "disgusted and furious" because of Roque's actions. 

Pabuayon said that when Rappler also included Roque in the story, "'Kailan kayo nag-climax?': Nonsense questions at the Bilibid drugs hearing," it showed that the lawmaker acted outside the aim of Kabayan to represent marginalized sectors.

"Roque's indecency has extremely affected the party list, which prides itself of its record of principled advocacy for equality and respect for the dignity of all peoples and classes. Kabayan party list has always been active in representing the marginalized and highly vulnerable sectors in society, and Roque's behavior is clearly a contradiction," said Pabuayon.

Roque vs Salo

Kabayan Representative Ron Salo said Roque's questions "gravely tainted" the party's reputation.

"I have deep respect to my former professor Harry Roque who relentlessly pleaded to me to become Kabayan party-list nominee. Despite his infamy, I acceded because he was my ninong (godfather) in the wedding," said Salo in a statement. 

Roque, however, remains unfazed, saying Salo is "obviously in panic mode" after a complaint was filed against him and other former Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) officials over the P3.8-billion Motor Vehicle License Plate Standardization Program (MVLPSP).

In 2015, the Commission on Audit said the MVLPSP was illegal because the contract awarded to Knieriem BV Goes and Power Plates Development Concepts Incorporated (JKG-PPI) did not follow proper procedures under the procurement law. At the time, Salo was corporate counsel for JKG-PPI. 

"To begin with, I do not recognize the legality of this so-called Board organized by Rep Salo for his own benefit and protection," said Roque, adding that Kabayan should investigate Salo instead over allegations of estafa, graft, and corruption. 

"Rep Salo has earned for himself the ignominy of being a criminal participant in one of the Aquino administration's – and the Liberal Party's – worst legacies… Atty Salo used to be part of the legislative staff of Mr Abaya (former DOTC secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya) when he was still a law student," said Roque. 

He added the MVLPSP deal was a "cozy arrangement" for Salo and Abaya. 

"It's quite a meteoric rise indeed for Rep Salo from being a lowly legislative staff to being part of a criminal enterprise responsible for defrauding government and the Filipino people in a contract worth P3.8 billion," said Roque.

"I challenge his so-called Board to investigate their principal – who fashions himself as a lay preacher of the Christian gospel – for his hand in this immoral and illegal deal," he added. – Rappler.com

Mara Cepeda

Mara Cepeda writes about politics and women’s rights for Rappler. She covers the House of Representatives and the Office of the Vice President. Got tips? Send her an email at mara.cepeda@rappler.com or shoot her a tweet @maracepeda.

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