Panelo, Roque, Mocha

Sun.Star Pampanga - - TOPSTORY! - BONG O. WENCESLAO

WHETHER the pres­i­den­tial spokesper­son is a vet­eran lawyer like Sal­vador Panelo or a young up­start like Harry Roque, the job is the same. Or should I say the task of in­ter­pret­ing Pres­i­dent Duterte’s con­tro­ver­sial state­ments is the same. But it does look like Panelo, with only a few weeks as pres­i­den­tial spokesper­son in his belt, is dif­fer­ent from his pre­de­ces­sor Roque. Or is do­ing the in­ter­pret­ing dif­fer­ently.

For me, the dif­fer­ence is in the age and char­ac­ter of the in­ter­preter— Panelo and Roque, after all, are two dif­fer­ent per­son­al­i­ties. There is al­ways some­thing amus­ing in Panelo’s press con­fer­ences. Bitch­i­ness can de­scribe those of Roque. Panelo is like a grand­fa­ther put­ting old-fash­ioned spins to the Pres­i­dent’s con­tro­ver­sial state­ments; Roque is com­bat­ive or, okay, seem­ingly al­ways bitchy.

When I heard Panelo in­ter­pret the Pres­i­dent’s re­cent con­tro­ver­sial state­ments as mere jokes, I felt more amused than an­gry. Per­haps this is be­cause I re­ally do not dis­like Panelo, un­like Roque. But this could also be be­cause there is non­cha­lance, or should I say, “lawyerly,” in the man­ner he said it. He also rarely dab­bles in the personal, like hit­ting the po­lit­i­cal op­po­si­tion. So un­like Roque.

Which raises the ques­tion of where Roque is now. The man has so re­ceded from the lime­light he is al­ready for­got­ten. We aren’t even hear­ing re­ports on how he is con­duct­ing his party-list cam­paign for the May elec­tions. Or isn’t he a par­tic­i­pant in the party-list elec­tions? I tried googling his name, and I could only come up with sto­ries up to Oc­to­ber last year.

By the way, what has also hap­pened to the other diehard Duterte sup­porter (DDS), for­mer as­sis­tant sec­re­tary Esther Mar­gaux “Mocha” Uson? She seems to have also re­ceded from the lime­light after she left her high-pay­ing govern­ment job. She was sup­posed to run for se­na­tor, but her name has not sur­faced in the ad­min­is­tra­tion’s sen­a­to­rial slate. She is not even in­cluded in the re­cent sen­a­to­rial sur­veys.

I think Roque and Uson made the Duterte ad­min­is­tra­tion col­or­ful in much of the first half of Pres­i­dent Duterte’s term. Now the ad­min­is­tra­tion is mo­not­o­nous and drab, ex­cept for the Pres­i­dent’s usual con­tro­ver­sial state­ments and be­cause of Budget Sec­re­tary Ben­jamin Dio­kno. What is adding color to the ad­min­is­tra­tion cur­rently is the con­flict be­tween Dio­kno and the boys of House Speaker Glo­ria Ma­ca­pa­gal-Ar­royo.

By the way, can we take Uson’s seem­ing si­lence as the wan­ing of the fa­nati­cism of the old DDS? Or are Uson and the oth­ers, like RJ Ni­eto (Think­ing Pi­noy) and Sass Sas­sot, on­line fads that have out­lived their use­ful­ness? They were the stars dur­ing the 2016 pres­i­den­tial cam­paign and in the first half of the Pres­i­dent’s term. Has their lus­ter fully faded?

I ac­tu­ally ex­pected them to resur­face now that the May elec­tions are near to sup­port the ad­min­is­tra­tion sen­a­to­rial bets, es­pe­cially the al­ways pol­i­tick­ing Christo­pher “Bong” Go, and to de­mo­nize the op­po­si­tion can­di­dates. I haven’t seen that yet. Or are they al­ready dis­il­lu­sioned with the ad­min­is­tra­tion they used to be fa­nat­i­cally sup­port­ing? What gives?

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