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Roque hits back at UP for 'belittling' his human rights track record

10:13 am on 15 September 2021, Wednesday

After his own alma mater turned his back on him, Palace Spokesperson Harry Roque hit back at the UP Diliman Executive Committee for "belittling" his track record in defending human rights. 

In a statement Wednesday, Roque said that some sectors "will do everything to besmirch my good name, reputation, and integrity simply because I do not subscribe to and share their same political beliefs."

This came after the UP Diliman Executive Committee issued a statement, opposing his nomination to the International Law Commission, saying the presidential mouthpiece has a "very poor track record of promoting, defending and fulfilling human rights and the rule of law, especially during the administration of President Duterte”

Roque said that the assessment is "untrue."

"For over 30 years, I have been an advocate of human rights, having spent most of my professional life as a member of civil society and as a public interest lawyer representing persons and sectors who have needed to be championed," said Roque. 

"I have represented journalists, most notably the families of 19 victims of the Ampatuan massacre in domestic courts and before international monitoring bodies with the case of Adonis garnering the view that criminal libel is inconsistent with the ICCPR. I was counsel to the Panatag Shoal fishermen, the comfort women of WWII, and the families of Darius Evangelista and Jennifer Laude, among others," he added. 

The former human rights lawyer stressed that in all these cases, he battled "powerful interests" in order to ensure that proper remedies were availed of, the rule of law was upheld and justice was served.   

Roque also cited the laws he co-authored during his short stint as a lawmaker such as the Universal Health Care Law, Free Irrigation Service Act for small-scale farmers, and the HIV Policy Law.

"It is unfortunate that some members of the UP academe would conveniently ignore and erase over thirty years of hard work and concrete accomplishments simply because our politics do not align," he 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. Rather, it is an expert group of people who have the necessary credentials and experience in public international law needed to codify customary international law and develop the same," he added.

Roque was a product of the University of the Philippines System, where he obtained his political science and law degrees.

He also spent years teaching in UP College of Law, until he decided to run for Congress in 2016. He was later on appointed as spokesman of Duterte, whose administration is marred with alleged human rights violations. 

In fact, an investigation looms into the bloody war on drugs by the Duterte administration by the International Criminal Court.

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

"Despite the UP Executive Committee best efforts in belittling my track record in human rights and ignoring altogether my credentials in the field of public international law, which is what is relevant to the mandate of the International Law Commission, I wish to assure my former colleagues in UP that my commitment to human rights and the rule of law has not wavered," he added.

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