‘Pageant person pala dapat’: Roque’s travel companion in 2023 trip earns buzz

June 17, 2024 - 4:22 PM
Harry Roque_Alberto De La Serna
Harry Roque in this photo posted on his Facebook page on March 29, 2024; Alberto De La Serna in this photo posted on Facebook by Pageants Fanatic on Nov. 21, 2016 (HarryRoque/Facebook; pageantsfanatic/Facebook)

Social media went abuzz after documents retrieved from a raided Philippine Offshore Gaming Operator (POGO) hub in Pampanga found that former presidential spokesperson Harry Roque had funded a travel companion who had also become his executive assistant.

Reports said that papers, bearing Roque’s signature, were found during a raid conducted by the Presidential Anti-Organized Crime Commission (PAOCC) in Porac, Pampanga.

The PAOCC raided the Lucky South 99 compound, a POGO hub where authorities previously discovered illegal drugs and various torture instruments.

Apart from these, the PAOCC found documents with Roque’s signature which the commission said “has no criminal value” to the ongoing investigations against POGOs.

According to Bicol-based site AKB Express News, it obtained a paper appointing Alberto Rodulfo De La Serna as Executive Assistant III with a Salary Grade 20 in the Office of the Presidential Spokesperson “effective January 4, 2021 up to December 31, 2021.” It was retrieved from the compound.

The news site said it also retrieved an “affidavit of support” stating that Roque would provide financial support for De La Serna’s travel to Poland, Ukraine and Italy from Oct. 9, to 18, 2023.

This was after De La Serna’s executive assistant role that supposedly ended in December 2021.

“He will accompany me to these countries as an invited resource person to speak on an event on the Peace Process in Ukraine which will be Kiev, Ukraine to held from 13-16 October, 2023,” Roque was quoted in the document.

“A copy of the official invitation letter is attached hereto as Annex ‘:A;’. I need a travel companion since I am diabetic, with coronary stent and suffering from acute spinal stenosis,” he added.

“I am financially capable and willing to cover all expenses related to De La Serna’s travel including, but not limited to transportation, accommodation, meals, medical expenses, and any other necessary costs,” Roque further said.

The letter also stated that De La Serna “will not become a financial burden on any the resources or social service” of the countries they would visit.

“In case of any unforeseen circumstances or emergencies during this time in Europe, I am committed to providing the necessary financial assistance to ensure his well-being,” Roque said.

The former presidential spokesperson has said that the documents were owned by his former long-time staff who is now studying in Clark, an area close to the POGO hub in Porac.

According to PAOCC spokesperson Winston John Casio, Roque served as a lawyer for Whirlwind Corporation which is the company that leased its property to Lucky South 99.

Casio said that lawyering for a company “does not constitute any suspicious activity.”

He added that the body is not investigating De La Serna.

“Likewise, finding a document of his special assistant in one of the buildings does not also constitute suspicious activity,” Casio said.

Despite this, online discussions lingered on De La Serna and Roque as some Filipinos raised questions about the former’s eligibility to become the latter’s travel companion before.

An online user shared a screengrab featuring De La Serna’s past as a male pageant candidate for Mister Supranational 2016.

“Is the travel companion in the medical field, aside from being a pageant winner???” another Pinoy asked.

“Traveling with a medical condition, ‘di ba dapat your travel companion should be related to [the] medical field, like, a doctor, a nurse, or even a caregiver? Your wife, perhaps,” a different online user said.

“Diabetic din ako accla, pero Nurse lagi ang kasama ko, jehehehe,” another user commented.

“It seems siya din naman ang gumastos, so ok lang. Ang problem is ‘yung alibi na ‘I need a travel companion since I am diabetic with coronary stent…’ Nurse ba itong Alberto na ‘to?” wondered a different Pinoy.

An account posting memes also joked about the news update.

“Pageant person pala dapat, hindi healthcare professional,” it said with a starry-eyed emoji.

Its post was accompanied by a popular picture used in local meme content with the text:

*diagnosed with diabetes*
LF (Looking For): Mr. Supranational

In 2016, a pageant page featured De La Serna as a 22-year-old candidate from Bohol who was a country representative in Mister Supranational 2016 in Poland.

Misterology, a website reporting updates about the male pageant scene, said that De La Serna is a six-footer BSBA graduate at the Holy Name University in Tagbilaran City, Bohol.

In the university’s programs, BSBA translates to Bachelor of Science in Business Administration.

The course focuses on managing businesses and their overall operations.

The Pageant Hub, a pageant-centered blog, said that De La Serna has a “modeling experience.”

A Bohol-based lifestyle blog that reported his victory as Mister Supranational Philippines 2016 also described De La Serna as a “paragon of drive, discipline [and] determination.”