Duterte offering Harry Roque Palace communications post

NEW ROLE? Kabayan Representative Harry Roque may soon have a new part to play in government. Photo by Mara Cepeda/Rappler

NEW ROLE? Kabayan Representative Harry Roque may soon have a new part to play in government.

Photo by Mara Cepeda/Rappler

President Rodrigo Duterte is considering tapping Kabayan Representative Harry Roque as his spokesman, according to two sources.

Roque was initially hesitant to accept the post, but after a few days during which certain conditions were hashed out, an agreement was made to discuss the offer more fully during a dinner this week.

One source said the post offered was that of Presidential Spokesman Ernesto Abella, making it likely that Roque would be his replacement. The position, said the source, has to do with communications.

A Malacañang source confirmed the offer was made for a communications position but declined to say if this meant Abella would be replaced.

Duterte was supposedly dissatisfied by how Abella answered Malacañang reporters' queries on his threat to cut ties with the European Union after hearing that the regional bloc called for the Philippines' removal from the United Nations.

Abella said the President may have been "fed wrong information" since it was not the EU who made the statement but a Human Rights Watch official.

The spokesman had blamed media for inaccurate reports which the President used as his premise for his erroneous statement.

In the first few months of the Duterte administration, there had been moves to give Abella the title of "secretary" and an office separate from that of Presidential Communications Secretary Martin Andanar.

Months later, however, nothing has come of such efforts.

Roque has confirmed that he and the President will be having dinner by the end of the week. An official announcement on the decision made by the two is expected after.

Roque as Duterte's spokesman would lend a fresh face and voice to Malacañang communications.

The vigorous Roque, who first made his mark as a human rights lawyer, will set a different tone from the more sedate and older Abella, a former pastor.

Roque will have another motivation to do his job well as spokesman, aside from preserving Duterte's trust in him. His planned senatorial bid in 2019 would get a boost from a job well done as the President's voice. – with reports from Bea Cupin, Pia Ranada/Rappler.com