Harry Roque Under Fire for Funding Pageant Contestant’s European Trip

Former presidential spokesperson Harry Roque has become a subject of controversy following revelations that he funded the travel of Alberto Rodulfo “AR” De La Serna as his companion for a European trip. Documents retrieved from a raided Philippine Offshore Gaming Operator (POGO) hub in Pampanga indicate that De La Serna was appointed as Executive Assistant III, with a Salary Grade 20, in the Office of the Presidential Spokesperson for almost all of 2021.

Harry AR

One of the recovered documents is an “affidavit of support” wherein Roque committed to financially support De La Serna’s travel to Poland, Ukraine, and Italy last October. The affidavit described De La Serna as an “invited resource person” for a Peace Process event in Ukraine. Roque justified the arrangement by stating that he required a travel companion due to his medical conditions, including diabetes, coronary stent, and acute spinal stenosis. He asserted his financial capability to cover all of De La Serna’s travel expenses, including transportation, accommodation, and meals.

De La Serna, a Business Administration graduate from Holy Name University in Tagbilaran City, Bohol, gained recognition in the 2015 Misters of Filipinas pageant, finishing in the Top 10 and winning the Mister Photogenic and Mister Esplanade awards. He was later elevated to the second runner-up spot following a reshuffling of titles. In 2016, he relinquished this position to compete again and became the first-ever Mister Supranational Philippines. He represented the Philippines in the inaugural Mister Supranational in Poland, where he finished in the Top 20.

Roque defended his association with De La Serna, explaining to News5 that De La Serna hails from a political family, with one grandfather a former Bohol governor and another a former vice-mayor. Roque added that De La Serna and his friends were responsible for managing his social media accounts during his tenure in Malacañang and his unsuccessful election campaign.

Despite the controversy, the Presidential Anti-Organized Crime Commission has cleared Roque of any wrongdoing and is not investigating De La Serna. Roque’s explanation and the commission’s clearance suggest that the arrangement, while unusual, may have been within legal bounds. However, the public scrutiny highlights ongoing concerns about the use of government resources and positions for personal benefit.

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