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‘Big loss’ if Roque won’t run — Pimentel

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By Xave Gregorio

Senator Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III believes that it would be a “big loss” if Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque heeds President Rodrigo Duterte’s call for him to drop his 2019 senatorial bid.

“Sayang, malaking kawalan kung ‘di tatakbo sa ‘di maging senador, pero personal decision ‘yan,” Pimentel said over radio dwIZ Saturday (October 10).

Pimentel explained that Roque could replace Senator Loren Legarda as chair of the Senate foreign relations committee, being an expert in international law.

Roque, a former human rights lawyer and law professor at the University of the Philippines, has been criticized for making a 180-degree spin when he became Duterte’s mouthpiece, changing his stance on human rights and China’s actions in the West Philippine Sea, among other things.

Duterte earlier said Roque should abort his senatorial ambitions as he would lose because he does not have the support of the military.

“Si (Harry) Roque (Jr.) gusto mag-senador. Sabi ko, ‘Tama ka na. T*** i** diyan. Standby ka’,” Duterte said Thursday (October 4) in a speech before alumni of the Philippine Military Academy.

In response, Roque said he would mull over his next move and would announce his decision on Monday (October 8).

Despite being constantly in the fore and having an endorsement from Duterte’s daughter, Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte, Roque has failed to enter the “Magic 12” in the surveys, getting buried by more seasoned politikos seeking to re-enter the Senate in 2019, like former Senators Jinggoy Estrada and Lito Lapid.

Should Roque push through with his candidacy, be would be deemed automatically resigned once he submits his certificate of candidacy with the Commission on Elections.

Duterte said he has offered Roque an alternative to running for the Senate: A post in the Office of the Press Secretary (OPS), which may replace the controversial Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO).

However, Roque said in a press briefing that he asked Duterte to give him the weekend to think about it, especially since the proposal to revert the PCOO to the OPS is still in the pipeline.