Netizens write to UN to oppose Harry Roque's nomination to ILC

Job Manahan and Mike Navallo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Sep 17 2021 10:26 PM

Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque. Yancy Lim, Presidential Photo/file
Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque. Yancy Lim, Presidential Photo/file

MANILA - Several bloggers and social media personalities have written to the United Nations to oppose Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque's nomination to the International Law Commission (ILC), saying he is not qualified for the job. 

In a letter dated Thursday, the personalities who are part of the Concerned Online Citizens Philippines (COCP), said the 65 lawyers killed so far under President Rodrigo Duterte's administration were "arguably more qualified" than Roque. 

"The Philippines has so many lawyers specializing on human rights, public interest law, international humanitarian law, and international law who are more knowledgeable and more qualified than Roque to be a member of ILC," the letter read. 

"Unfortunately, they are all busy defending journalists, activists, widows, orphans, dissenters, peace negotiators, and their own lives from the wrath of [President Duterte and Mr. Roque]"

COCP said Roque has been an "avowed and unapologetic defender" of extrajudicial killings under Duterte, while also speaking against press freedom, due process, and other fundamental human rights. 

They also described the spokesman as a "cheerleader" of Duterte's decision withdrawing from the International Criminal Court (ICC) to supposedly "evade" the administration's accountability from human rights violations. 

"Mr. Roque has transmogrified from a former champion of the ICC into an attack dog against [it]... He gaslights victims and families of extrajudicial killings with regularity and with relish," the letter added.

Among the signatories were blogger and activist Tonyo Cruz, Dr. Gia Sison, Dr. Jai Cabajar, Tiktok personality Sassa Gurl, Mark Geronimo, cartoonist "Tarantadong Kalbo," Macoy Dubs, and Pinoy Ako Blog's Jover Lario. 

Roque is gunning to be among eight Asia-Pacific nationals to be part of the ILC, and serve for 5 years. Eleven individuals, including him, are nominated. The period for nomination closed in June.

The ILC's mandate is to "initiate studies and make recommendations for the purpose... of encouraging the progressive development of international law and its codification."

This week, Roque blasted his critics and said he possesses the qualifications to be considered for a seat in the International Law Commission.

Officials from UP, Roque's alma mater, opposed the official's nomination in the ILC, saying the Cabinet member "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 R. Duterte."

The Free Legal Assistance Group has said Roque's "cavalier disregard of the effects of domestic violations of human rights," among others, make him "ill-suited" for the post.

Roque confirmed Monday he flew to New York for his nomination in the ILC.

Last week, the government official was criticized for blowing his top against a medical group who warned that relaxing lockdowns could lead to a further spike in COVID-19 infections.

Philippine College of Physicians head Dr. Maricar Limpin, who was at the receiving end of Roque's outburst, said he should resign out of delicadeza.

- with reports from Davinci Maru, ABS-CBN News

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