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‘Why even bother? UNHRC is a toothless tiger’ – Roque

/ 07:39 PM July 15, 2019

MANILA, Philippines — Former presidential spokesperson Harry Roque on Monday called the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) a “toothless tiger” following the adoption of a resolution that called for an inquiry into the Philippines’ human rights situation.

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At the Pandesal Forum held in Quezon City, Roque dismissed the Iceland resolution and claimed resolutions filed before the UNHRC would be “subject to horse-trading.”

“Balewala ang resolution na ‘yan so why even bother? ‘Wag na po nating palakihin dahil alam naman ng lahat ng tao sa mundo na toothless tiger itong human rights council,” he noted. “Alam ninyo, binuwag na nga ‘yan eh, dati, (‘yang) Commission (na) ‘yan eh binuwag na nila kasi ‘yung mga resolutions dyan subject to horse-trading.”

Roque said his previous stint in government gave him “first-hand knowledge” about alleged lobbying within UNHRC.

The former mouthpiece of President Rodrigo Duterte, however, did not specify which post he was holding and under which presidency he was serving when he learned of the supposed lobbying in the international human rights body.

Roque said: “I have a first-hand knowledge dahil ako po dati nung nasa iba akong posisyon at ibang presidente, eh alam ko ang lobbying na ginagawa d’yan. ‘Yan lang po ang ahensya ng UN (United Nations) na welcome ang NGO (non-government organization) lobbyists. Kaya minsan ang mga resolution na in a-adopt din eh as a result of lobbying din.”

Roque also said voting results on the Iceland resolution manifested that only a “very small minority” are concerned about the human rights situation in the Philippines.

“At saka pangalawa, eh bakit tayo maaabala eh susmaryosep ang voting record 18 (affirmative)-15 (abstain) -14 (negative). Ibig sabihin ‘yung 47 nations comprising the memberships of the UNHRC hindi man lamang nababahala sa nangyayari sa Pilipinas. It’s a very small minority so hindi siya reflective of world opinion on the Philippines so wala po tayo dapat ikahiya,” Roque said.

“Kapag tayo po ay nahihiya, that’s what the opposition wants us to feel,” he added.

Roque, however, does not agree that “we should withdraw completely from UN.” But, he said, the government “could follow the footsteps of the US and withdraw from the UNHRC to send a message.”

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The Iceland resolution, submitted last July 4 to the UNHRC, asked for a “comprehensive written report” on the human rights situation in the Philippines.

Last week, 18 UNHRC members voted to adopt the resolution. /kga

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