Harry Roque’s 2018 quote resurfaces after heated Senate debate

March 4, 2022 - 10:11 AM
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Harry Roque press briefing
Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque at a press briefing in Pamplona, Negros Oriental on Feb. 25, 2021. (Photo from Philippine Information Agency-Negros Oriental via Facebook)

(Updated March 5 at 3:56 p.m.) An old quote card of Harry Roque spread anew on social media following his remarks on Martial Law during a Senate debate last Wednesday, March 2.

The event was organized by the network of church founder Apollo Quiboloy, a wanted person in the United States for sex trafficking.

Roque, a senatorial candidate, figured in an argument with labor lawyer Luke Espiritu who earlier stressed that the human rights violations committed by the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos Sr. should be taught well to children.

“Dapat tinuturo sa school na masama ang extra-judicial killings, masama ang red-tagging, masama si Marcos (Ferdinand Marcos Sr.), marami siyang human rights violations,” said Espiritu, who is running under socialist labor leader Leody de Guzman’s slate.

Roque’s remarks

Gadon and Espiritu were later embroiled in a heated argument where Gadon kept on interrupting his remarks.

Espiritu eventually called him out for it, saying: “It’s my time. Huwag kang bastos.”

READ: Labor lawyer Luke Espiritu stands ground vs Larry Gadon, Harry Roque during SMNI debate 

After this exchange, Roque raised his hand to back up Gadon.

The former presidential spokesperson said that Marcos Jr. for one, whom he chooses to support, has had no record of human rights violations nor of having stolen public funds.

“Kung ano man po ang nangyari sa nakaraan, inisa-isa ko po ang records. Wala pong kaso for human rights violations sa America si Ferdinand Marcos Jr,” Roque said. “Iniisa-isa ko rin po ang mga kaso na decided na po ng ating Philippine Supreme Court. Totoo po na co-administrator si Bongbong Marcos. Pero wala pong kaso na siya mismo ang nagnakaw.”

Espiritu questioned Roque’s current political stance, citing his background as a human rights lawyer and a vocal critic of the Marcos regime.

“With all due respect to Atty. Harry Roque, I know your history. You were anti-Marcos before. You were for human rights before. You spent your life against the Marcoses. You worked for human rights. And now that you were given a Senate spot under the party of Bongbong Marcos, now you cry hallelujah and praise Marcos,” he said.

Roque, however, stood his ground. He said the topic was about Ferdinand Marcos Jr., the presidential aspirant and also the one who’s “alive.”

“There was nothing respectful with what you’ve said against me. Ang katotohanan po, ang pinag-uusapan ay hindi ang patay na Marcos. Ang pinag-uusapan ay buhay na Marcos. Sa akin po panagutin ang nagkasala pero iyong hindi po gumawa ng kahit na anong kasalanan huwag po nating idamay sa sisi. Iyon lang po,” he said.

In a letter of complaint to Interaksyon following the posting of a previous version of this article, former secretary Roque made clear that he “never made any statement denying the atrocities of Martial Law.”

“I cannot rewrite history,” he said in the correspondence.

What he said before

Following this event, several users praised Espiritu for standing up against the two controversial lawyers.

Others, meanwhile, brought up a quote card from ABS-CBN News in 2018 where Roque slammed former senator Juan Ponce Enrile and Marcos Jr. for supposed historical revisionism.

His quote reads: “I don’t think they can twist history when there’s a law and there are court decisions attesting to what happened under martial law.”

Roque stated this during a Palace briefing when asked for the Palace’s reaction to the tête-à-tête video of Enrile and Marcos Jr.

The rest of his statement was:

“As far as the Palace is concerned, there are decisions affirming that there were grave human rights violations committed during the Marcos regime. There’s even a law in Congress which provides compensation for victims of martial law.”

As of writing, ABS-CBN’s post has 23,000 reactions, 7,900 comments and 14,000 shares.

The comments section was filled with new comments from users who reacted to his statements after the debate concluded.

“This did not age well,” one user said.

Roque earlier this year joined suspended lawyer Larry Gadon, a longtime Marcos apologist, as part of the senate slate of Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. and Sara Duterte’s “UniTeam.”

Erratum: This article has been updated and revised to correct faulty paraphrases of quotes attributed to lawyer Harry Roque.