Former presidential spokesperson Harry Roque has officially announced that he is out of the rat race for a seat in the Philippine Senate.
He made the announcement on his Facebook page earlier today, less than two weeks before the campaign period starts. He said that he recently underwent a percutaneous coronary intervention, a non-surgical heart procedure, and found out that he has unstable angina coronary disease.
“It is with a truly heavy heart that I announce the withdrawal of my senatorial bid,” he said in the statement.
“In the days since the procedure, I have been forced to confront the reality of my physical situation and what it ultimately means for my aspirations to public service.”
He also thanked those who supported his candidacy. He said he planned to run for senator because he “wanted to be of service in a way that I know I will be highly effective.”
“Whatever they may think of my politics, those who have seen my work in both the public and private sector can attest to what I would have brought to the Senate. Unfortunately, for the moment, it seems that God has other plans,” he added.
Roque is a controversial figure, having served as President Rodrigo Duterte’s spokesperson from November 2017 until October 2018. He often defended the president’s controversial remarks and was criticized for it.
Roque had flip-flopped on his decision to run in the midterm elections. In October, he said he’d be running for a party-list seat in the lower House of Representatives. Instead, he filed for his certificate of candidacy as a senator, against Duterte’s advice.
“Roque wants to be a senator. I said, ‘F*cking stop it with that. Standby, I’ll give you a different job. You won’t win’,” the president said in Filipino in a speech in October.
Roque hasn’t been doing well in the polls. Based on a December survey by Pulse Asia, he was still not part of the top 12 candidates.