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GIS EXCLUSIVE: Atty. Harry Roque eyes reform in PH judicial system if elected

by Marje Pelayo   |   Posted on Wednesday, January 16th, 2019

(L-R) Talk show host, Daniel Razon and former presidential spokesperson, Atty. Harry Roque on the set of Get It Straight with Daniel Razon

QUEZON CITY, Philippines – Former Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque wants reforms in the country’s judicial system.

If given the chance in the Senate in the upcoming May midterm elections, Roque said he will push for the inquisitorial system in court trials.

The inquisitorial system, as opposed to the other method which is the adversarial system, is a legal practice of exposing evidence in court where the judge acts not only as a passive recipient of information but is primary responsible for gathering the pieces of evidence needed in the case while simultaneously representing the interest of the state.

In an interview with Get It Straight with Daniel Razon, Roque explained that under the inquisitorial method, court proceedings will be expedited, unlike the adversarial system currently adopted in the Philippines where the court only acts as a referee between the prosecution and the defense.

Roque was among the legal counsels of the victims in the long-standing Maguindanao Massacre which remain unsolved since it happened in November 2009.

“Bulok ang sistema natin. Hindi gumagana. Hindi katanggap-tanggap. Ang aking solusyon dyan, ibalik natin sa inquisitorial (system) gawin natin na ang huwes na ang kukuha sa ebidensya hindi na magaantay ng pagsusumite ng mga ebidensya sa korte. Kunin na niya at siya na ang magdesisyon sa lalong mabilis na panahon,” Roque explained.

He would also push for amendment in the existing Tax Reform Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) law.

He would propose to lower the oil price ceiling of US$80 to US$60 as basis for suspending the excise tax on oil.

Despite the fact that his views sometimes oppose that of President Rodrigo Duterte, Roque said he still supports the President’s war on drugs and his policies regarding West Philippine Sea.

He believes it is better for the Philippines to be friends with China to be able to negotiate matters lightly and easily.

“Mas importante na makipagkaibigan tayo. Bakit? Kapag kaibigan mo ang isang bansa mas madali kang magkaroon ng areglo. Wala namang pinagkaiba iyan sa kaso sa Pilipinas na kapag mabuti ang relasyon doon sa mga nagdedemandahan mas maaga at mas malakas ang possibility na magkakaroon ng compromise agreement,” the human rights lawyer said.

Roque thanked Kuya Daniel Razon for opening his program to election hopefuls like him so that they are able to introduce their platform of government without spending a centavo.

“Ang mga walang perang gaya ko ang pagasa lamang ang mga programang gaya nito,” he concluded. – Marje Pelayo (with reports from Rey Pelayo)

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No more Harry Roque in 2019 senatorial race

by Marje Pelayo   |   Posted on Friday, February 1st, 2019

FILE PHOTO: Former Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque speaks after filing his certificate of candidacy on October 17, 2018

MANILA, Philippines – Former presidential spokesperson Harry Roque on Friday (February 1) withdrew his bid for the 2019 midterm elections.

In his official statement of withdrawal, Roque cited health reasons specifically “an unstable angina coronary disease” and needed to undergo heart surgery.

“The recovery process needed by my heart and body will not be compatible with the physical rigors of an earnest and sustained election campaign,” he said.

Roque said that while he decided to finally set aside his senatorial plans, he said he still hopes to return to public service and vows to remain in support of President Rodrigo Duterte and his administration even as a private individual.

“Ako po ay umaasa na muling darating pra sa akin ang karangalan na maglingkod sa mamamayang Pilipino bilang isang mambabatas, o sa anumang kapasidad na maari akong makapaglingkod,” Roque said in a message posted on his Twitter account.

The Commission on Elections (Comelec), meanwhile, confirmed receipt of Roque’s withdrawal letter and said that once the formal and procedural requirements are fulfilled, Roque’s name will be removed from the official ballot for the 2019 polls. — Marje Pelayo (with reports from Aiko Miguel)

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Roque pursues Senate dream to revive Miriam Santiago’s legacy

by Marje Pelayo   |   Posted on Wednesday, October 17th, 2018

Former Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque speaks after filing his certificate of candidacy on October 17, 2018

MANILA, Philippines – Former Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque surprised the public as he filed his certificate of candidacy (COC) for senator on Wednesday (October 17), the last day of filing.

His decision came days after he announced that he was considering the advice of President Rodrigo Duterte for him to run for a lower position which he eventually confirmed as a nominee of an environmental party-list group Luntiang Pilinas.

He said his main reason for finally aiming for a seat in  the Senate  is to relive and continue the legacy of one of the most brilliant senators in history, the Iron Lady of Asia, late Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago.

“Ang aking babala ay ‘yung mga korap, mga bobo, mga tiwali sa gobyerno ay mumultuhin na po ni Miriam Defensor-Santiago sa pagkatao ni Harry Roque,” he announced.

Roque said he was grateful that the ruling party Duterte’s Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban) offered him to run under its banner though he preferred to run under People’s Reform Party (PRP), the political party of the late Senator Santiago.

Roque claimed it was Mayor Sarah who arranged with PRP for his certificate of nomination and acceptance (CONA), a group which he implied is not a breeding ground for “traditional politicians.”

“Ang ating puso ay nasa Senado. Ang importante po talaga ay maisulong ang liderato na binigyang buhay ni dating Senador Miriam Defensor Santiago,” he said.

“Kinakailangan na mamili ang mamamayang Pilipino hindi lang basehan ng kasikatan, kinakailangang suriin ang kwalipikasyon ng mga kandidato…lalong lalo na sa senado. Ang Senado ay deliberative body. Kinakailangan po diyan ay may alam sa batas…bagong anyo ng mga maninilbihan sa senado,” he added.

When asked how his relationship with the President is doing, Roque said: “It’s a very good relationship.”

He stressed that he holds no grudges, “none at all,” against the President even with the sudden replacement of him as the Presidential Spokesperson by Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo.

“Let me make it clear. I did not feel offended at any time during my stint as the presidential spokesperson even if there was at least one instance when I thought I could perhaps do my job better,” he noted. — Marje Pelayo



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Former Spox Harry Roque drops Senate dream, eyes party-list election

by Marje Pelayo   |   Posted on Monday, October 15th, 2018

Former Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque

MANILA, Philippines – Former Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque has decided to defer his senatorial plans and run for a congressional seat instead.

Roque had a personal talk with President Rodrigo Duterte on Sunday (October 14) and from there, Roque decided to go with the recommendation of the President realizing his slim chance of winning in the senatorial race.

Instead, he will run as the second nominee of the environmental party-list “Luntian Pilipinas party-list” following Ciara Sotto, the daughter of Senate President Tito Sotto, as the first nominee.

“I am taking the advice of the President while it was always my intention to file a certificate of candidacy, for the position of senator. I will actually file tomorrow a certificate of nomination for partylist,” he said.

If given a seat in the Lower House, Roque vows to push for the closure of all open-pit mining operations in the country as pursued by the Duterte administration.

While he was offered by President Duterte with the position of press secretary, Roque admitted that he is not the best person for the position citing lack of experience and training.

He added that by going back to his private life, he can now freely express his views and opinions.

“It’s time to be my own person again… Yes, nothing has changed. I’m now back to the old person I was. I knew that as a spokesperson, I had no personal views; that period has ended. I’m able now freely to advocate for the many issues that are close to my heart,” he said when asked about his future plans.

Nevertheless, he will remain a supporter of the Duterte administration although he is not discounting the possibilities of him criticizing the government in the future.

“But even as my own person, I think the President has always respected who I am and we respect instances wherein I may have criticisms because he knows I don’t seek to overthrow him,” he said.

In the end, Roque clarified that he holds no grudges against the President and he does not regret serving as the administration’s spokesperson.

He maintained that he remains in good terms with the Chief Executive. — Marje Pelayo (with reports from Rosalie Coz)

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