Roque deplores ‘unfair media attention’; cites Robredo’s alleged distancing ‘violations’

Published December 1, 2020, 4:27 PM

by Genalyn Kabiling

Vice President Leni Robredo may have violated the physical distancing rule in her recent community visits and yet some media entities did not report such incident, according to a Palace official.

Vice President Leni Robredo and Presidential spokesman Harry Roque

Presidential spokesman Harry Roque tried to highlight Robredo’s behavior after complaining about the alleged unfair media attention given to his attendance to a controversial large gathering in Cebu last week.

Photos of Robredo shaking hands with people were presented by Roque to stress his argument during a televised press briefing Tuesday.

The President’s spokesman earlier drew flak on social media after photos showed he was addressing the Cebu crowd without supposedly observing safe distancing to avoid the coronavirus infection. He was in Cebu to grace the official opening of the Bantayan Island airport last November 27.

“Ang ikinakasama ko ng loob, bakit ako pinupuruhan palagi ng Inquirer at ng ABS-CBN? Bakit noong nakikita ninyo sa screen si VP Leni nakipag-handshake-handshake pa, o hindi ba violation ito ng restriction on social distancing? Ang tanong ko naman sa mga media na mga kasama natin, patas sana (I take offense at why I am being targeted by the Inquirer and ABS-CBN. When you saw VP Leni on the screen shaking hands with people, isn’t that a violation of the restriction on social distancing? That’s my question to the media. At least be fair),” Roque said during a televised press briefing.

Roque explained that he tried to call the attention of the Cebu crowd about the lack of distancing during his speech. He claimed that he even sought for an early end of the gathering.

“On record ako sinabi ko sa kanila, hindi kayo sumusunod sa pag-iiwas at ang ginawa ko na nga lang, sinabi ko doon sa Mayor, let’s end this program; and true enough, in less than an hour naman natapos iyong program (On record, I told them, ‘You’re not following the distancing rule’ and what I did was I told the mayor, ‘Let’s end this program.’ And true enough, in less than an hour, the program was finished),” he said.

“Pero bakit ako nga purong-puro pero si VP Leni, ayan, bakit ni isang mention in any of the mainstream media wala? Wala ang Inquirer, walang ABS-CBN, hindi ba? So sa akin lang, let’s be fair (But why am I being  am being attacked when VP Leni is there. Why was there no mention in any of the mainstream media? No report in the Inquirer, ABS-CBN. For me, let’s be fair),” he said.

Roque welcomed any investigation into the Cebu gathering, saying it would show he really reminded the crowd about the government’s health protocols to avoid the coronavirus infection. “There’s going to be an investigation – well and good,” he said.

Roque also felt that as the “face of the government,” he was being criticized especially by “yellow” bloggers to discredit the administration.

“Once a week ang Presidente nag-a-address, ako thrice a week so I’m the face of the government as spokesperson,’ he said.

“At siyempre po, iyong mga Pinoy Ako Blog, siyempre hindi nila sisitahin si Leni, si VP Leni dahil ang gusto lang nilang gustong sitahin ay iyong mga taong gobyerno to discredit the government (Of course, Pinoy Ako Blog and others won’t call out VP Leni because they want to criticize government officials to discredit the government),” he said.

To avoid a repeat of the Cebu incident, Roque said he might avoid crowds if possible.

“Siguro po ang hindi ko lang na-realize is I’ve come to a point na talagang ang mga tao lalabas para makita ako. So ngayon siguro po hindi na ako lalabas kapag may mga crowd ano, as much as possible ano (Maybe I did not realize that I’ve come to a point that people will go out to see me. So now, maybe I won’t go out if there is a crowd as much as possible),” he said.