The Confederation of Asian and Pacific Lawyers (COLAP) has opposed the appointment of President Duterte’s spokesperson/legal adviser, Harry Roque, to the International Law Commission (ILC), an annex of the United Nations whose the function is “to initiate studies and make recommendations for the purpose of … encouraging the progressive development of international law and its clarification. The multinational group of lawyers sees Roque’s candidacy as an unequivocal insult – a “disservice to all victims of human rights abuses… under President Duterte’s regime” (“The Group of Lawyers of Asia-Pacific Opposes Roque Nomination to UN Commission”, Inquirer.net, 10/31/21).
Roque, accompanied by his wife, would be in New York for some time now to increase his chances of being elected to this 34-member commission in November. He dreams of being among the eight lucky lawyers from the Asia-Pacific region to join the ILC for five years in Geneva, Switzerland, and settle among other legal luminaries from around the world in January 2023. This trip would be “official”. business”, and therefore all the expenses relating to this “junket” are courtesy of the Filipino taxpayers.
Why does Roque need to spend precious dollars to “campaign”? Does he think that the election by the UN General Assembly can be taken into account in the pambobola just like in the Philippines? In his own country, the highest office he could hope to be ‘elected’ to was that of representative of a ‘party list’, a merciful mechanism designed to benefit those who are generally considered ‘ineligible’.
In the minds of many Filipinos, Roque has long earned the epithet “Palace Pinocchio” for his uncanny ability to twist the truth of almost anything that goes between his ears. Consider his time monitoring China’s “creeping invasion” of swaths of Western Philippine Sea (WPS) territories over which international law grants exclusive economic rights to the Philippines, leading him to call China a “rogue state”.
But just when everyone thought his patriotism was indisputable, like the quintessential chameleon, he changed colors and is now virtually black as a spokesperson for China, justifying his forays into the WPS as nothing. other than gestures of concern and friendliness. It wouldn’t be surprising if his ILC colleagues (if he were to be elected, God forbid) mocked the Philippines for proposing the one who speaks out of both sides of his mouth as his best candidate.
But more blatantly, while the Rome Statute which created the International Criminal Court explicitly holds responsible a wrongful head of state despite the latter’s “withdrawal” from this pact if the offenses in question occurred before this withdrawal – a view affirmed by the Supreme Court of the Philippines Court itself (GR No. 238875, March 16, 2021) – Roque has gone rogue with his own theatrical “dissent” from this unanimous decision. President Duterte should have already fired him for his incompetence and ignorance of international law, and for the embarrassing advice he always gave his boss.
How Roque got so drunk on his delusions and his ambition to be a member of a very prestigious UN body given his dubious claim to be an “expert in international law” delivering tasteless opinions and the casualness with which he considers fundamental principles of international law when they do not suit his own selfish agenda is beyond us. Kudos to COLAP for having the balls to publicly call Roque out on his lack of personal integrity and brazen hypocrisy.
Stephen L. Monsanto, [email protected]
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