Law commission

UPIS opposes International Law Commission offer of alumnus Roque

Presidential Spokesman 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 opposing the candidacy of its alumnus, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque, for a seat on the International Law Commission (ILC).

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

UPIS also shared UP Diliman ExeCom’s statement opposing Roque’s ILC offer.

Roque is part of the UPIS 1982 batch. The UPIS executive committee is made up of the director, deputy directors, department heads, administrative officer and chief librarian.

In opposing Roque’s appointment to the ILC, the UP Diliman Execom cited his “very poor record in promoting, defending and upholding human rights and the rule of law, especially under the administration of President Rodrigo R. Duterte”.

“Therefore, its inclusion in the Commission would not serve its purposes but rather diminish the reputation of the body,” 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 elected by the University Council.

“politicized”

In response, Roque said he was “unfortunate that some members of the UP academy are conveniently ignoring and erasing over 30 years of hard work and concrete achievement simply because our policies don’t align.”

“It is very disheartening to see my appointment to the International Law Commission politicized, especially since the ILC itself is not a political body,” he added.

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

“For more than 30 years I have been a human rights defender, having spent most of my professional life as a member of civil society and as a public interest lawyer representing people and sectors that needed to be defended,” he said.

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

Besides the UP community, the National Union of Peoples Lawyers also opposed Roque’s candidacy, saying he was “morally unworthy to be part of this august international legal body.”

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

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