Thursday, September 23, 2021

UP opposes Roque's bid for seat in UN body; Roque blames politics

THE University of the Philippines (UP) Diliman has opposed the nomination of Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque Jr., an alumnus, to the United Nations International Law Commission (ILC).

"Atty. Roque has a very poor track record of promoting, defending and fulfilling human rights and the rule of law, especially during the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte in which he serves as a cabinet member. Therefore, his inclusion in the commission would not serve its purposes but instead diminish the reputation of the body," the UP Diliman execom said.

The execom is composed of the chancellor as chair, vice chancellors, deans and directors of colleges and schools, university registrat, and three members-at-large elected by the University Council.

In reaction, Roque said it was "very disheartening" that his bid for a seat in the ILC has been politicized.

He said he respected the stand of the execom, but said its “flimsy justification” to oppose his nomination and election to the ILC made it clear that there are groups who will do everything “to besmirch my good name, reputation and integrity simply because I do not subscribe to and share their same political beliefs.”

“I understand that my actions, especially in accepting a cabinet post as Spokesperson to the President will not please everyone,” he said in a statement.

"My curriculum vitae speaks for itself regarding my credentials in the field of public international law," he added.

Roque said the claim of the UP executive committee that he has a “very poor” track record in terms of promoting, defending and fulfilling human rights and the rule of law is not true.

He said that for over 30 years, he was an advocate of human rights.

He said he served as counsel to journalists and the families of the victims of the Ampatuan massacre, fishermen in Panatag Shoal, comfort women of World War 2, and the families of Darius Evangelista and Jennifer Laude. Evangelista was tortured by the police while Laude was killed by a visiting American soldier.

"In all these cases, I battled powerful interests in order to ensure that proper remedies were availed of, the rule of law was upheld and justice was served," Roque said.

"It is very disheartening to have my nomination to the International Law Commission politicized, especially considering that the ILC itself is not a political body," he added.

Aside from the UP executive committee, the Free Legal Assistance Group also objected to Roque’s nomination saying that he defended the extrajudicial killings being committed under the administration’s drug war.

Roque is currently in New York to campaign for a seat in the 34-member ILC. Of the 34, eight will be coming from representatives from the Asia-Pacific nationals.

He said he was nominated by the administration in June due to his expertise in international law. (Third Anne Peralta-Malonzo / SunStar Philippines)


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