WHETHER the presidential spokesperson is a veteran lawyer like Salvador Panelo or a young upstart like Harry Roque, the job is the same. Or should I say the task of interpreting President Duterte’s controversial statements is the same. But it does look like Panelo, with only a few weeks as presidential spokesperson in his belt, is different from his predecessor Roque. Or is doing the interpreting differently.
For me, the difference is in the age and character of the interpreter—Panelo and Roque, after all, are two different personalities. There is always something amusing in Panelo’s press conferences. Bitchiness can describe those of Roque. Panelo is like a grandfather putting old-fashioned spins to the President’s controversial statements; Roque is combative or, okay, seemingly always bitchy.
When I heard Panelo interpret the President’s recent controversial statements as mere jokes, I felt more amused than angry. Perhaps this is because I really do not dislike Panelo, unlike Roque. But this could also be because there is nonchalance, or should I say, “lawyerly,” in the manner he said it. He also rarely dabbles in the personal, like hitting the political opposition. So unlike Roque.
Which raises the question of where Roque is now. The man has so receded from the limelight he is already forgotten. We aren’t even hearing reports on how he is conducting his party-list campaign for the May elections. Or isn’t he a participant in the party-list elections? I tried googling his name, and I could only come up with stories up to October last year.
By the way, what has also happened to the other diehard Duterte supporter (DDS), former assistant secretary Esther Margaux “Mocha” Uson? She seems to have also receded from the limelight after she left her high-paying government job. She was supposed to run for senator, but her name has not surfaced in the administration’s senatorial slate. She is not even included in the recent senatorial surveys.
I think Roque and Uson made the Duterte administration colorful in much of the first half of President Duterte’s term. Now the administration is monotonous and drab, except for the President’s usual controversial statements and because of Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno. What is adding color to the administration currently is the conflict between Diokno and the boys of House Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.
By the way, can we take Uson’s seeming silence as the waning of the fanaticism of the old DDS? Or are Uson and the others, like RJ Nieto (Thinking Pinoy) and Sass Sassot, online fads that have outlived their usefulness? They were the stars during the 2016 presidential campaign and in the first half of the President’s term. Has their luster fully faded?
I actually expected them to resurface now that the May elections are near to support the administration senatorial bets, especially the always politicking Christopher “Bong” Go, and to demonize the opposition candidates. I haven’t seen that yet. Or are they already disillusioned with the administration they used to be fanatically supporting? What gives?