Told to replace Roque 'immediately,' Panelo takes over as Duterte spokesman

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, October 12) — Salvador Panelo assumed the role of President Rodrigo Duterte's spokesman on Friday even as his predecessor, Harry Roque has yet to formally quit the post.

In his first press briefing as Presidential Spokesperson, Panelo read an October 11 memorandum formalizing his appointment.

"In compliance with the instructions of the President and to ensure the continuous and effective delivery of public service, you are hereby designated Presidential Spokesperson effective immediately," Panelo read. The document was signed by Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea, who was designated officer in charge while Duterte was on a visit to Bali, Indonesia for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations leaders' gathering.

Panelo said he has "no personal knowledge" on whether Roque has formally resigned.

"He really wants to be senator, that's what I know," Panelo said, adding that Roque had asked him for a meeting on October 15.

Roque is on leave for a conference in China. He told reporters on Thursday morning that he has not resigned. When news about Panelo's appointment broke out, Roque said he would "defer any comment until Monday," his scheduled return to work.

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 threatened to resign.

Panelo, meanwhile, is heading the Office of the Presidential Spokesperson concurrent to his other job as Chief Presidential Legal Counsel. Duterte said this would be a temporary setup.