Hot Breaking News for Filipinos

Reli L. German: Harry’s hollow blocks


Cement firms, sand and gravel suppliers and hollow block manufacturers must be feeling ecstatic these days. This, after new presidential spokesman Harry Roque warned critics of the President that if they persist in “throwing stones” at his boss, they can expect a barrage of hollow blocks flying in their direction.

For these companies, Atty. Roque’s statement may sound like a business boom is just around the (hollow) block.

“Binibigyan ko na po ng notice ‘yong mga walang hiya diyan na naninira lamang. Kung dati-rati hindi kayo nababato bagamat kayo’y nambabato, hindi lang po bato ang itatapon ko sa inyo, hollow blocks.” This was the threat that the vociferous attorney hurled last week at President Duterte’s critics.

While his pronouncements may be regarded simply as figurative speech, Roque hinted that he might really and actually launch “concrete missiles” against his targets when he said: “Now you can take it literally or figuratively. But what I meant was, since I believe in the free market of ideas, stones hurled are welcome, but expect to have bigger stones thrown back at you.”

How’s that again? I admit that he got me lost there. He says he believes in the free market of ideas and that “stones hurled are welcome.” But in the same breath he threatens dissenters with a hail of adobes and hollow blocks. I wonder if this was an example of what some people term as “speaking with a forked tongue.” On the other hand, Mano Digong’s new mouthpiece may only be speaking like the loquacious lawyer that he is, no offense meant to the law profession.

Actually, nothing surprising here as the President himself is constantly on an “sulong-urong” mode in his pronouncements. Which is why being his spokesperson is an extremely difficult job. Ask Martin Andanar, Ernie Abella, Vit Aguirre et al.

But back to Roque: his warning was, simply put, an open, undisguised attempt to silence and/or intimidate both the political opposition and the other detractors of the President. Expectedly, it was immediately met with resounding censure.

Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman’s rebuke was particularly stinging. “Roque’s threat is an irresponsible response to well-founded criticisms and a hollow bluff.’’ Lagman deplored what he said was Roque’s ”tragic transformation from a deputy minority leader to an apologist of Duterte and from a human rights advocate to a defender of a gross violator of human rights.”

Senator Antonio Trillanes IV, a Duterte critic, also whaled away at the erstwhile human rights advocate with this laconic putdown: “Nasama lang kay Duterte, bigla na lang parang nasapian ng masamang espiritu,”

Aside from the now disenchanted leftists and their allies, many other groups continue to rail against the administration. These include the families of victims of extra-judicial killings, media people, women’s groups, the Church, and human rights organizations. Prominent political personalities in Europe and the United States have also raised their voices against human rights violations in the war against drugs, one of whom is former US President Barrack Obama, whom Mano Digong cursed with profanity-laden language.

Recently, a lawyers group banded themselves into the Mga Manananggol Laban sa Extra Judicial Killing (Manlaban sa EJK). The group includes former Sen. Rene Saguisag, former Rep. Lorenzo Tañada III, Free Legal Assistance Group (FLAG) Chairman Jose Manuel Diokno, former UP Law Dean Pacifico Agabin, and
National Union of People’s Lawyers (NUPL) President Edre Olalia. Now, I doubt if their panero Roque will lump them as among the “mga walang hiya na naninira lamang.”

With the growing number of Mano Digong’s unbelievers who include many of his fellow lawyers, Roque might have to build an arsenal of hollow blocks in the Palace grounds and do nothing but hurl them full time. .