Roque mulls resigning after remarks about Duterte's health

enablePagination: false
maxItemsPerPage: 10
maxPaginationLinks: 10

This also comes after the President discouraged him from running in the 2019 senatorial polls, saying he would not win. (FILE PHOTO)

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, October 5) — Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque on Friday said he might quit his post as it seemed he has not been up-to-date with some of the President's affairs.

"I am inclined to believe that perhaps I am not in the position to continue with this current function," Roque said during a Malacañang media briefing, where he tried to leave without entertaining reporters' questions.

When he returned to the podium, his surprise statement prompted questions on whether he is stepping down as President Rodrigo Duterte's spokesperson.

"As you can see I cannot be effective as a spokesperson unless I know everything about the President. Now people think I lied. I'm telling the nation I did not. I did not know," Roque said.

During a briefing Thursday afternoon, Roque said he had no personal knowledge that the President was hospitalized on Wednesday, that's why he skipped an event in Malacañang. He said Duterte just took the day off and that the 73-year-old President's health was "fine."

READ: Roque 'tired' of questions on Duterte's health  

But during a speech that night, Duterte himself confirmed he had a one-hour visit to the Cardinal Santos Medical Center last Wednesday. He also said he had undergone colonoscopy, an examination of the colon, and endoscopy, a procedure to check the digestive system.

Duterte even said, "I will tell you if it's cancer, it's cancer. And if it's third stage, no more treatment. I will not prolong my agony in this office or anywhere."

Roque admitted he too was "taken aback" by the President's revelation, again assuring the public he did not lie.

Roque to spend the weekend to think

Roque's possible resignation also comes after Duterte discouraged him from running in the 2019 senatorial elections. "Bigyan kita ibang trabaho. Hindi ka manalo diyan (I'll give you another job. You won't win there)," Duterte said Thursday night, alluding to Roque.

Roque said these words were "typical Duterte" and only means the President prefers that he stay as his spokesperson.

He said the President offered him a position "similar to what he is doing right now" but that the post does not exist yet.

Roque said he will spend the weekend thinking about his options. He said the fact that he "was in the dark" about the President's health was "an objective sign that I am looking for" when it comes to quitting the government.

He said he had no hard feelings against the President.

Duterte's health

If he decides to stay, Roque said he would ask the President to finally clear the air about the state of his health.

"If I'm still here next week then I will tell him perhaps we would need to issue a medical bulletin whether or not it's serious. Perhaps we would need to bring in your physician because it's the only way to stop all talk about your health," he said.

But he added the President's constitutional obligation is to disclose the state of his health only in case of serious illness.

Roque revealed doctors asked Duterte to undergo endoscopy after detecting a "growth," which he did not elaborate. "He had a general exam and after which I suppose they wanted a more specific exam, zeroing in on something," he said.

Critics have being calling for transparency regarding the President's health - possibly through disclosing medical records or a regular medical bulletin - after Duterte himself admitted to having several medical conditions. In his previous speeches he said he suffered migraines, nausea, pain due to a spinal injury, Buerger's disease or a disorder affecting blood vessels, and Barrett's esophagus or a complication which causes heartburn or acid indigestion.

The Constitution states, "In case of serious illness of the President, the public shall be informed of the state of his health."