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NY Fil-Am activists protest Roque's International Law Commission nomination

Don Tagala | TFC News New York

Posted at Sep 16 2021 06:32 PM

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The 76th session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) has just started this week. But Filipino American activists in New York wasted no time in showing their opposition to Malacañang spokesperson Harry Roque's nomination to the International Law Commission, an advisory body to the U.N.

"We know that Harry Roque and the Duterte regime have no positive contributions to the world stage, so we think that it's mainly about the deodorizing the image of this current regime," Mike Legaspi of Bayan USA noted. "He and the administration that he represents can’t even follow the basic human rights and humanitarian laws in our own country in the Philippines. How can he actually uphold or help determine the law internationally?"

Roque is among 11 candidates from the Asia-Pacific region, who are seeking one of the eight seats allotted to Asia-Pacific nationals. Members of the ILC are elected by the UNGA.

Roque believes his past accomplishments as human rights lawyer earned him a spot at the ILC. He represented the family of slain transgender Filipina Jennifer Laude who was killed by US soldier Joseph Scott Pemberton in 2014. But activists claim Roque has changed his tune under the Duterte administration.

"He was an accomplished human rights attorney and what is insane is Roque sees those days in him today. He completely forgets who he is today, which is a spokesperson for a very murderous president, a very murderous regime. There is a certain dissonance," Alpheus Llantero of Anakbayan pointed out.

Protesters also warn of the potential dangers of electing a Duterte loyalist to the ILC especially with the International Criminal Court commencing its probe into the human rights situation in the Philippines, and Duterte planning to run for vice president in 2022. Yves Nibungco of Malaya Movement USA said "it's not a far-fetched idea. The Duterte administration [is] aware of the proceedings and the movements in the International Criminal Court. That this is a way for him to thwart the efforts of the international community to hold him accountable -- by putting Harry Roque in the ILC. But we believe that the international community knows better."

Legaspi added, "part of why Duterte is planning to run for vice president and setting up his camp for the 2022 elections is to escape that accountability like others have done before. For us, it's important to continuously bring up the facts, the data, and the proof that his administration has killed thousands of lives and has affected impoverished millions of Filipino people."

New ILC members will be announced in November.