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FACT CHECK: Roque not only Filipino accredited as ICC counsel

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FACT CHECK: Roque not only Filipino accredited as ICC counsel
There are four Filipinos on the list of lawyers admitted to practice as counsel before the International Criminal Court, and one as assistant to counsel

Claim: Former presidential spokesperson Harry Roque is the sole Filipino lawyer qualified to serve as counsel in proceedings of the International Criminal Court (ICC).

Rating: FALSE

Why we fact-checked this: Multiple videos have recently spread on YouTube describing Roque as the only “certified and qualified” Filipino lawyer in the ICC.

A video uploaded by Showbiz Sports Fanatics on December 30 with the thumbnail, “Roque bilang speaker, ito ang matinding utos ng pangulo! (Roque as speaker, this is the President’s ultimate directive!),” has gained 73,423 views, 1,500 likes, and 215 comments as of writing.

On January 6, YouTube channel Banat Kabayan TV uploaded a similar video which gained 16,764 views, 532 likes, and 71 comments. This was the basis for a reaction video on the TUNAY NA KRITIKO channel, which echoed the same claim on January 7. 

The facts: Roque is only one of four lawyers from the Philippines included in the List of Counsel qualified to practice before the ICC as of December 15, 2023.

Aside from Roque, the following Filipino lawyers are part of the list:

  • Gilbert Andres, Executive Director of Center for International Law
  • Joel Butuyan, Chairperson of Center for International Law
  • Charles Janzen Chua, legal scholar

According to the ICC website, lawyers included in the list of counsels may practice before the court as defense counsel, legal representatives for victims, duty counsel, or ad hoc counsel. 

The ICC sets the criteria to qualify as counsel following Rule 22 of the Rules of Procedure and Evidence and Regulation 67 of the Regulations of the Court, which includes “established competence in international or criminal law and procedure” and at least 10 years of relevant experience in criminal proceedings, among other requirements.

Aside from the four lawyers, another Filipino is qualified to practice before the court as Assistant to Counsel: Maria Kristina Conti, secretary-general of the National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers-National Capital Region, which asked the ICC to investigate the Duterte drug war killings. (READ: Lawyers do dirty groundwork to fight Duterte’s drug war)

Repeat claim: A similar fact-check by FactRakers pointed out that Roque made the same claim in a video on November 27 where he said, “Alam ‘nyo po, hindi sa nagbubuhat ng sariling bangko, pero ako lang po ‘yung Pilipino na admitted doon sa tinatawag na list of counsels ng ICC.” (Not to boast, but I’m the only Filipino admitted to the ICC’s list of counsels.)

At the time the FactRakers article was published on December 4, Roque’s statement was false as he and Butuyan were already part of the ICC list. The number of Filipinos admitted to the List of Counsel has since increased to four, according to the ICC’s updated records.

Roque’s supposed standing as the only Filipino lawyer qualified to practice before the ICC has surfaced in recent months, amid calls for the Philippine government to allow ICC investigators to enter the country for the probe into the Duterte-era drug war killings. Roque served as Duterte’s spokesperson and is now his legal counsel. Lance Arevada/Rappler.com

Lance Arevada is an Aries Rufo Journalism Fellow for 2023-2024

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