Panelo is Duterte's spokesman 'temporarily'

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, October 11) — Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo will be President Rodrigo Duterte's new spokesman – but not for long.

Duterte on Friday said Panelo will only be his mouthpiece "temporarily" as he is still looking for a replacement for Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque, who is on leave for a conference in China after earlier saying he was mulling quitting his post to run as senator.

"Temporarily he (Panelo) should fit the job. Because he is the presidential legal adviser, wala pa ko nakita, Panelo yan ang forte nya," the President told the media during his arrival at the Davao International Airport from the ASEAN Leaders' Gathering in Indonesia.

Panelo said he has always considered himself as the President's spokesman.

"Actually wala namang pagbabago kasi Day 1 of the presidential campaign of the president I was already his spokesperson, and Day 1 when he assumed presidency I was also his spokesperson," he said in a video released by Presidential Communications Secretary Martin Andanar.

Panelo was Duterte's lawyer when he was still a presidential candidate. He then served as the President-elect's transitional spokesperson before being designated as presidential legal adviser.

"As Chief Presidential legal Counsel I was really speaking for the President on matters of national sensitive issues that require my articulation of the thoughts and ideas of the President," Panelo said.

He added the only difference is he would be "more visible this time," conducting regular press briefings in Malacañang.

 

Earlier on Thursday, Roque, told reporters in a text message that he has not resigned from the post. When asked about Panelo's announcement, Roque said he would "defer any comment until Monday since I am in China."

Roque earlier said he is considering resigning after he was left "in the dark" about the President's hospital visit last October 3. This also comes after Duterte discouraged him from running for the Senate, saying he would not win, and offered him a position as Press Secretary instead. Roque said he was still talking to the President about his options.

But Duterte on October 9 said, he "immediately" looked for Roque's replacement when the latter said he would resign.