Roque on calls for him to quit after Pemberton's pardon: I serve at the pleasure of the President
Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said on Thursday that all the Cabinet officials, including him, serve at the pleasure of President Rodrigo Duterte.
He made the statement after calls for him to resign as some of his pronouncements run counter with that of Duterte's, such as in the case of recently pardoned US Marine Lance Corporal Joseph Scott Pemberton and the controversy involving some of the executives of Philippine Health Insurance Corp., like its former president and CEO Ricardo Morales and ex-officio chairman Health Secretary Francisco Duque III.
"I, like the rest of the members of the Cabinet, serve at the pleasure of President Rodrigo Roa Duterte," he said in a statement.
Roque insisted that he and Duterte share the same "deep conviction on major policy issues affecting the country, such as charting an independent foreign policy course and and zero tolerance against corruption."
Roque acted as one of the lawyers of the family of transgender woman Jennifer Laude, who was killed by Pemberton in 2014 in a motel.
The spokesman earlier deplored the order of Olongapo City trial court to release the US serviceman. He has said that Laude's death personifies the death of Philippine sovereignty and the light penalty imposed on Pemberton proves that despite the President's independent foreign policy, that Americans continue to have the status of conquering colonials in the country.
But recently, Duterte even granted Pemberton absolute pardon, noting that the American soldier was treated "unfairly."
"On the Pemberton issue, I respect the wisdom of the President, which is grounded on a broader national interest," he said.
He also said that the termination of the Visiting Forces Agreement with the US remains, although the process is suspended for six months since the Philippines needs cooperation of America and other countries in the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
In the case of Morales, Roque initially said he should resign if he could not address the massive corruption in PhilHealth.
But Morales remained in office and only tendered his resignation after Duterte told him to focus on his treatment for lymphoma.
"On the Morales issue, I laud President Duterte for accepting the resignation of the former PhilHealth President and Chief Executive Office as part of his good governance," Roque said.
"On the case of Secretary Duque, I have consistently underscored that we all serve at the pleasure of our appointing authority, and when there is no indication saying otherwise, the presidential appointee stays," he said.
Roque reiterated that all of them who are members of the President's official family will be guided by his policy pronouncement and "will continuously and faithfully serve the Filipino people in its last two years to bring about the genuine change this nation truly deserves." Celerina Monte/DMS