Philippine Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque failed to secure a coveted seat at the UN International Law Commission, a body of international law experts who are tasked to develop and codify international law.
Roque had the least number of votes among the 11 countries seeking one of the 8 seats in the ILC's Asia-Pacific region. He admitted it was a challenging campaign.
Meanwhile, outside the UN building in New York City, the rain did not stop a group of protesters from expressing their opposition to Roque's candidacy. For them, Roque's loss is a barometer of the Duterte administration's dwindling international approval.
"It's a big victory for the Filipino people... It is a big embarrassment not only for Roque but for the Duterte regime that has consistently not only abused the Filipino people and and violated our human rights especially of our kababayans back home, but also violated international law multiple times," Mike Legaspi of Bayan USA said.
Protesters also pointed out that even human rights lawyers oppose Roque's ILC candidacy. The Malacañang spokesman himself was a human rights lawyer prior to becoming the Palace mouthpiece.
"Hundreds of lawyers and other legal professionals have spoken out against this nomination and said that Harry Roque, while technically he is a lawyer, he is unfit to be part of the International Law Commission especially with their mandate of developing international law," Legaspi argued.
Protesters also believe their protest action at the Aretsky's Patroon, where Roque allegedly held a lavish cocktail reception to lobby for ILC voters, was the last nail in the coffin of his election bid.
"Malaki yung impact nung protesta sa Aretsky's Patroon. Doon nalantad na dun pa lang si Harry Roque nangangampanya. Nilustay niya yung pera ng taongbayan para ikampanya yung sarili niya para maluklok sa ILC (The protest at Aretsky's Patroon had a huge impact. It revealed that Harry Roque was campaigning and using the people's money to campaign for himself so he could be elected to the ILC)," Yves Nibungco of the Malaya Movement claimed.
The 34 elected members of the ILC will begin their five-year term of office on January 1, 2023.