Expressing support for certain candidates in public events 'can't be helped' — Roque

Published October 8, 2021, 1:30 PM

by Argyll Cyrus Geducos

Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque defended himself and his colleagues from the Cabinet from criticisms that they turned a coronavirus (COVID-19) milestone event into a campaign sortie when they heaped praises for a possible vice presidential candidate.

Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque speaks at the inauguration of the mega vaccination hub in Valenzuela City on October 7, 2021. (Screenshot from WES Gatchalian Facebook page)

Roque made the statement after he and other officials drew flak for when the inauguration of a mega vaccination hub in Valenzuela City on October 7 resembled a campaign sortie for the administration’s candidates for the 2022 elections.

Netizens called out Roque and his peers for “campaigning” for President Duterte’s long-time aide Senator Christopher ‘Bong’ Go and former Public Works Secretary Mark Villar who are running for vice president and senator, respectively.

Officials like Testing Czar Vince Dizon and Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) chairman Benhur Abalos openly “campaigned” for Villar while Roque and Health Secretary Francisco Duque III expressed their support for Go.

In an online presser on Friday, October 8, Roque said expressing support for their two former colleagues in the Cabinet could not be avoided.

“Nagkataon po meron po doong senador na kandidato rin sa vice president (It just so happened that a senator who is running for vice president was there),” he said, referring to Go whom he had referred to during the event as his “best friend” in the Senate.

“Eh, siyempre, kahit papano magbibigay ng suporta ang mga nagsalita kasama na ako doon (Of course, the speakers would have to at least express their support for him and I’m one of those people),” he added.

According to Roque, he did not think that what happened can be compared to a campaign rally because Go was supposedly the only proclaimed candidate there, apparently forgetting Villar was also in the event.

He downplayed the criticisms as statements coming from those who did nothing to address the ongoing crisis.

“Ano lang po ‘yan, pula lang ng mga walang ipakitang achievements at acoomplishments sa gitna ng pandemiya at puro lang po puna (Those are just criticisms from those who have not achieved or accomplished anything during the pandemic and did nothing but criticize),” he said.

Despite this, Roque said it is still the people who will decide who their next leaders will be.

“Talagang (It’s true that) you cannot please everyone. Bahala na po ang taong bayan (It’s up to the people),” he said.

“Ang importante po nagkaroon po tayo ng pinakamalaking vaccination center sa Valenzuela, nabigyan natin po ‘yan ng komemorasyon (What’s important is that we have commemorated the biggest vaccination center in Valenzuela),” he added.