MANILA (2nd UPDATE)— Malacañang spokesperson Harry Roque has failed to secure a seat at the International Law Commission, getting the least number of votes amid opposition against his bid by human rights groups and fellow lawyers.
Of some 190 United Nations member-states, only 87 voted in favor of Roque's nomination to the ILC, a body of experts who help develop and codify international law, on Saturday early morning (Manila time).
The top vote-getters for the Asia-Pacific states were India, Thailand, and Japan that had more than 150 votes each. Vietnam, China, South Korea, Cyprus, and Mongolia also succeeded to secure ILC seats.
Roque had the least number of votes among 11 countries bidding to be part of the commission's 8-seat Asia-Pacific bloc.
Lebanon and Sri Lanka also failed to get into the ILC.
In a statement, Roque said his bid for the ILC "was a challenging campaign throughout."
"Unfortunately, we did not succeed," he said.
Roque thanked President Rodrigo Duterte for nominating him and the Chief Executive's "unwavering support" for his candidature. He also expressed his gratitude towards his staff, his colleagues, family and friends.
"I wish the new members of the ILC success, especially as they tackle challenging issues such as rising sea levels and vaccine equality - issues which I will continue to advocate for as well," he said.
Days ahead of the vote, around 150 Philippine lawyers wrote to UN member-states to oppose the ILC bid of Duterte's spokesman.
They cited his previous defense of the President's statements allegedly enabling killings, attacks on the rule of law, and poor pandemic response, among others.
Roque claimed the group represents only "0.001 percent" of the Philippines' around 78,000 lawyers. He said the group was "noisy" because it included lawyers who lost in the 2019 Senate elections and longtime critics of the Duterte administration.
"Kasama po talaga ito sa ingay sa pulitika at asahan ninyo na lalo pang lalakas ang political noise. Maghahanda na lang po tayo ng bulak para takpan ang ating mga tenga," he said in a press briefing.
(This is part of political noise and expect that this will get louder. We will just prepare cotton to cover our ears.)