Enemies of the state? Filipinos correct Roque as he claims #PaalamDuterte trend is planned by gov’t foes

September 29, 2020 - 5:54 PM
Harry Roque in briefing
Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque in his daily press briefing on this photo uploaded by the Office of the Presidential Spokesperson on Sept. 15, 2020. (Photo from Office of the Presidential Spokesperson via Facebook)

Filipinos corrected presidential spokesperson Harry Roque who claimed that the trending hashtag #PaalamDuterte is planned by those who are against the president.

Roque in his daily press briefing on Tuesday claimed that power-hungry people who cannot wait for the upcoming 2022 elections are those that are supposedly behind the hashtag.

“Alam ko naman po kung sino ang mga ‘yan. Alam ko naman po kung sino ang namumuno sa kanila. Alam naman natin kung sino ang kalaban ng gobyerno, ang gahaman sa kapangyarihan,” Roque said.

‘”Yung mga hindi makaantay sa 2022, mga nawalan ng hanapbuhay dahil ginagawang hanapbuhay ang gobyerno. Hindi po ako nasu-surprise,” he added.

Online users instead corrected Roque and said that the hashtag trended because it was the public’s response to President Rodrigo Duterte‘s remarks that he offered to resign due to rampant corruption in the government.

“Ewan ko kung sabihin ko ito sa inyo. I offered to resign as President. Pinatawag ko ‘yung lahat ng… Sabi ko na I have—kasi nagsasawa na ako. In my years of government, wala ng katapusan itong—sa mayor. But mayor—being a mayor is just a small organization. Talagang wala ng katapusan itong corruption,” Duterte said in his speech aired Monday night.

“Mahirap talaga pigilin. Maski ‘yang mga pastillas, hanggang ngayon. Even with the investigation or the clamor for government to be—I said to shake the tree, wala. Sige hanggang ngayon, it’s being committed everyday,” he added.

“#PaalamDuterte” subsequently gained traction from Monday night to Tuesday on Twitter as some of his critics shared their thoughts and reactions on the supposed resignation offer.

“Duterte said he has offered to resign as President because he is tired of the unrelenting issue of corruption in government. This is why #PaalamDuterte is trending,” a Twitter user said with a laughing-with-tears emoji.

Another online user responded to criticisms that the hashtag was “disrespectful” and pointed out that it was Duterte himself who brought out the topic.

“Hindi disrespectful ang #PaalamDuterte dahil siya na mismo ang nag-offer na mag-resign,” he wrote.

Some Filipino online users also didn’t accept Roque’s claims that the enemies of the states created the hashtag.

“Your boss said it first, in a meeting that you’ve personally attended,” a Twitter user said in response to Roque’s claims.

“So… taong bayan? Lmao,” responded another online user to the spokesperson who claimed to know the supposed people behind the hashtag.

Widespread corruption 

In his speech, Duterte referenced the “pastillas” scheme when he mentioned the rampant corruption in the government that triggered him to “offer resignation.”

Last February, Sen. Risa Hontiveros exposed that officials of the Bureau of Immigration had accepted bribes from Chinese nationals in favor of seamless entry to the country.

The money that was being distributed to the officials was reportedly wrapped in a similar fashion as to how the milk-based Pinoy delicacy, pastillas, was covered, hence the name.

Duterte also shared his intention to abolish the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation following corruption allegations involving its top officers.

The state insurer has been accused of overpayments to hospitals, procurement of overpriced new equipment, overpriced COVID-19 testing kits and the officials’ misuse of funds, among others.

It also earned attention last year following an executive’s questionable travel expenses and the agency’s alleged diversion of funds for the Liberal Party’s 2016 campaign.

No resignation 

Meanwhile, the Palace said that Duterte is unlikely to quit his post despite the latter’s remarks on national television.

“Hindi po natuloy ang resignation ni Presidente. Tingin ko hindi po siya magre-resign ngayon dahil dalawang taon na lamang ang natitira sa kanyang termino. Igugugol niya ang natitirang panahon niya para talagang linisin ang mga iba’t ibang ahensya ng gobyerno,” Roque said in his briefing.

Sen. Ping Lacson urged the chief executive to exercise “strong political will” instead of resigning.

“Instead of resigning, the president only needs to be consistent in applying the anti-graft and corruption laws to both friends and foes,” the senator said in response to Duterte’s speech.

“Strong words and warnings may work, but only when backed by political will and followed by concrete actions. There is no better way,” Lacson added.