Harry Roque

UPIS opposes alumnus Roque’s International Law Commission bid

Bonz Magsambol
UPIS opposes alumnus Roque’s International Law Commission bid

The logo of the University of the Philippines Integrated School.

University of the Philippines Integrated School

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque graduated from the University of the Philippines Integrated High School in 1982

The University of the Philippines Integrated High School (UPIS) has joined other institutions in objecting to the bid of its alumnus, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque, for a seat in the International Law Commission (ILC).

“The UP Integrated School Executive Commitee concurs with the position of the UP Diliman Executive Committee on the nomination of Atty. Herminio ‘Harry’ L. Roque, Jr. to a Seat in the International Law Commission,” the UPIS Executive Committee said in a statement posted on its Facebook page on Tuesday, September 14.

UPIS also shared the statement of the UP Diliman ExeCom opposing Roque’s ILC bid.

Roque is part of UPIS batch 1982. The UPIS Executive Committee is composed of the principal, assistant principals, department heads, administrative officer, and head librarian.

In opposing Roque’s nomination to the ILC, the UP Diliman Execom cited his “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.”

“Therefore, his inclusion in the Commission would not serve its purposes but instead diminish the reputation of the body,” the UP Diliman ExeCom had said.

The UP Diliman ExeCom is chaired by the chancellor, and has as members the vice chancellors, deans and directors of colleges and schools, the university registrar, and three members-at-large elected by the University Council.

‘Politicized’

In response, Roque said that it was “unfortunate that some members of the UP academe would conveniently ignore and erase over 30 years of hard work and concrete accomplishments simply because our politics do not align.”

“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,” he added.

The presidential spokesperson then challenged UP’s assessment that he has a “poor track record” of promoting, defending, and fulfilling human rights and the rule of law. He cited his involvement in human rights violation cases, including the Ampatuan massacre, the case of the Panatag Shoal, and the murder of trans woman Jennifer Laude.

“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,” he said.

When he joined the Duterte administration, however, Roque changed his position on at least three issues he had championed as a private lawyer – the West Philippine Sea, extrajudicial killings, and press freedom.

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Aside from the UP community, the National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers also opposed Roque’s bid, saying that he was “morally undeserving to be part of this august international legal organ.”

Roque is being floated as one of the senatorial candidates for the 2022 national elections of the ruling PDP-Laban. He was supposed to run for the Senate in the 2019 midterm elections but he dropped out, citing health reasons.

Roque recently made headlines after a leaked video of a pandemic task force meeting showed him raising his voice and repeatedly pointing his finger as he berated a medical experts’ group for opposing the government’s planned shift to granular lockdowns from region-wide quarantine classifications. – Rappler.com

Bonz Magsambol

Bonz Magsambol is a multimedia reporter for Rappler, covering health, education, and social welfare. He first joined Rappler as a social media producer in 2016.