By Deighton Acuin and Archie Villaflores


Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque has embraced his role as the Meme King, saying the memes featuring him are providing the much-needed comedic relief amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Interviewed by veteran journalist Malou Mangahas, Roque made the statement in response to a query if he takes offense on memes of him swimming with the dolphins and a diving trip despite government officials are reminding the public to stay home in a bid to avoid COVID-19 infection.

Roque even said that because of the memes, his Facebook followers grew at least 980,000.

“Hindi po [nakaka-offend] eh. Kasi akala ng aking mga katunggali, nakakasama sa akin iyong memes. By my reckoning, sumikat ako sa mga memes, I became Meme King,” Roque said.

“Sa panahon ng pandemya, hindi naman puwede na purong masamang balita. People appreciate…memes really became the source for entertainment for many. I am happy to be of assistance, kahit ganun,” he added.

“Bago nagkaroon ng memes, 200,000 lang po iyan. Dahil sa memes at hugot lines, almost a million na po ‘yan,” Roque said. “Akala nila nakakapikon, but many of them found them (memes) cute. ’Yung meme ko with dolphins, kala nila negative, pero ang resulta, positibo naman.”

Open to run for public office

In the same interview, the Palace official said he is open to run for public office in the national 2022 elections.

Moreover, Roque said he will decide before the day of filing of certificate of candidacy on October.

“Parang nakukulangan ako sa quality ng legislation na ginagawa ngayon ng Kongreso, so that is also an option,” he said, but quickly added that nothing is cast in stone so far.

“Napakahirap po ilagay ang puso mo sa isang bagay na hindi mo alam kung ibibgay sa iyo ng Panginoon,” he said.

“Right now, I am focused on being the best spokesperson I can be at the time of the pandemic,” Roque added.

Roque has drawn flak for at least two instances amid the COVID-19 pandemic that left at 4.5 million people unemployed so far: for saying that Filipinos cannot be choosy over the COVID-19 vaccine brand that they are going to get and that Filipinos have been in vacation for so long due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

He was elected to the House of Representatives as member of the Kabayan party-list in 2016, but later resigned in late 2017 to become President Rodrigo Duterte’s spokesperson. 

Roque was supposed to run for the Senate in the 2019 polls and even filed his candidacy, but he later withdrew from the race, citing health reasons.

Roque said he had a heart attack, and took time to recover from depression brought about by not being able to pursue his electoral bid.

“Last elections, nagplano po ako tumakbo, and I was very disappointed kasi nagka-heart attack ako and I could not run. It took me a long time to recover from the depression,” he said.

“But that experience strengthened my faith, and I continue to pray to God for guidance,” he added.