Harry Roque appointed presidential adviser on human rights

Pia Ranada
Harry Roque appointed presidential adviser on human rights
Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque says the concurrent position will help ensure that the Philippine government protects human rights, 'especially the right to life'

MANILA, Philippines – Amidst allegations of abuses done in the name of his war on drugs, President Rodrigo Duterte has designated Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque as his adviser on human rights.

Roque himself announced this through a statement sent to reporters on Wednesday, November 22.

He said he was “appointed recently as Presidential Adviser on Human Rights concurrent with my being the Presidential Spokesperson.”

With this new position, Roque said he would help the Duterte administration improve its record in safeguarding human rights.

“I will take steps to ensure that the Philippines discharges its obligations in protecting and promoting human rights, especially the right to life,” said Roque.

Roque had long been hinting at a concurrent position Duterte would assign to him.

Right after Duterte announced he would become his new spokesman, Roque said he wished to advise the President on matters related to human rights.

“I considered the position with the specific purpose of getting an audience with the President to address key human rights issues in the Philippines….By taking this position, I hope to be able to advise the President directly regarding the manner and methods he has used to tackle the problem of drugs,” he said

Before serving in Duterte’s Cabinet, Roque was a human rights lawyer who, through the organization CenterLaw, served as legal counsel for comfort women, journalists, and the family of slain transgender woman Jennifer Laude in their case against US marine Joseph Scott Pemberton. He left CenterLaw and he became a party-list representative. (READ: Things to know about Harry Roque, Duterte’s new spokesman)

Roque had said his training as a lawyer is an advantage for him when facing tough questions from the media about the Duterte administration’s record in protecting human rights. – Rappler.com

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Pia Ranada

Pia Ranada is a senior reporter for Rappler covering Philippine politics and environmental issues. For tips and story suggestions, email her at pia.ranada@rappler.com.