When Harry met Rody
HARRY Roque’s critics allege he has abandoned his party principles and belief in human rights when he accepted the new job as presidential spokesman.
Party-list congressman Roque is the House deputy minority leader. Other politicians readily defected to President Duterte’s ruling party, he can switch political parties. Not a big thing nowadays, is it?
His advocacy in human rights is something else. Tougher to switch sides here: from defender of victims to defender of alleged victimizers. Still, Roque insists he can speak for President Duterte on controversial methods in combating illegal drugs without dumping his avowed precepts on individual liberties.
Not a frat brod
One can understand how Roque caught the eye of Duterte. The congressman, though with the minority, has been defending the president on a number of controversial issues. Unlike other appointees in the Cabinet, Roque is a Harry-comelately. He’s not one of Duterte’s fraternity brothers or college mates.
And he came as a replacement or substitute, apparently because his predecessor hasn’t satisfied Duterte’s demands. The president said he and Roque are the same as they’re both “playful.” Not specific enough. Did he mean playful-tease or playful-tough? Those hollow blocks
By Roque’s initial salvo even before his official assumption on Nov. 6, in which he threatened critics who throw stones at his boss to get a shower of not just stones but “hollow blocks,” he’s not being playful at all, he’s being tough, period.
It would directly clash with the style of outgoing spokesman Ernesto Abella, a pastor whose “composure” and “moderation” in speaking for Duterte has earned praise even from critics. Roque wouldn’t be explaining or even walking back on the president’s occasional rant. No damage control, just return fire, bullet for bullet, hollow block for stone.
How did Harry and Rody meet? Broadcaster’s case
A Rappler story sometime ago said Roque was the lawyer of Davao City radio commentator Alexander Adonis who was charged with libel by a politician whom tabl oid media in Manila tagged the “Burlesk King.”
The politician, caught in a love tryst with a married woman, was allegedly forced by the husband to run naked across the hotel lobby. Adonis who read the news report in a Davao radio station was convicted in 2007 while his co-accused, the station manager, was acquitted. Adonis lost by default; for lack of money, he skipped the trial and was sentenced to more than four years in jail. He was released on parole after two years in the Davao Penal Colony.
Same cause then
Harry and Rody came to know each other because of the Adonis case: Roque defended the broadcaster and Duterte cast his lot with them, as the politician-complainant was then a political rival.
They shared the same cause then. They may not share the same causes this time: on human rights and issues such as the death penalty and lowering the age of criminal liability, they clash. One’s gotta give and it’s highly unlikely it’s the president who will.
Roque’s the hi red help and Duterte’s the boss. You can see where the wind blows. We may now be seeing some of it in Harry’s threat to throw hollow blocks to answer stones thrown at his chief client.