Roque decries UP officials’ attempt to ‘ignore, erase’ accomplishments due to politics
MANILA, Philippines — While he respects their opinion, presidential spokesperson Harry Roque on Wednesday decried the University of the Philippines (UP) Diliman Executive Committee’s attempt to “ignore and erase” his accomplishments due to their difference in political beliefs.
“It is unfortunate that some members of the UP academe would conveniently ignore and erase over thirty years of hard work and concrete accomplishments simply because our politics do not align,” Roque said in a statement.
Roque made the remark after the UP Diliman Executive Committee opposed his nomination to the International Law Commission (ILC) due to the Palace official’s “very poor track record of promoting, defending, and fulfilling human rights and the rule of law” during the Duterte administration.
“I respect the right of the Committee and its members to proffer their opinion on my candidacy and I understand that my actions, especially in accepting a cabinet post as spokesperson to the President will not please everyone,” said Roque.
“However, the flimsy justification made to object to my nomination and election to the International Law Commission makes it clear that there are some sectors who will do everything to besmirch my good name, reputation and integrity simply because I do not subscribe to and share their same political beliefs,” he added.
Roque also said the UP DIliman officials’ assessment of his track record is “untrue,” citing how he represented families of the Ampatuan massacre, Panatag Shoal fishermen, comfort women of World War II, the family of slain transgender Jennifer Laude, among others.
“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,” said Roque, who taught at the UP College of Law for 15 years.
“In all these cases, I battled powerful interests in order to ensure that proper remedies were availed of, the rule of law was upheld and justice was served,” he added.
Roque said it was “disheartening” that his nomination to the ILC has become “politicized” when the United Nations body is not a political body, but a group of experts that develop and codify international law.
“Despite the UP Executive Committee best efforts in belittling my track record in human rights and ignoring altogether my credentials in field of public international law, which is what is relevant to the mandate of the International Law Commission, I wish to assure my former colleagues in UP that my commitment to human rights and the rule of law has not wavered,” Roque further said.
Roque has flown to New York City as part of his bid in the ILC. He stands to be among the eight representatives from Asia-Pacific states to sit at the UN body.
If elected, he will have a five-year term in the panel beginning January 1, 2023.
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