Roque : I am not a war criminal
MANILA, Philippines — Saying he is neither a war criminal nor a human rights violator, presidential spokesperson Harry Roque on Sunday defended himself from critics and protesters opposing his candidacy to the International Law Commission (ILC).
Roque, whom the groups criticized for his defense of President Rodrigo Duterte’s policies and war on drugs, complained about the Inquirer report on the protest and said he could not be a war criminal because even the chief executive was not accused of war crimes.
He had issued a statement on Saturday deploring “the effort of militant groups to deliberately cause harm to innocent people in their attempt to disrupt a private reception we were tendering for representatives of several foreign missions in New York.”
The Inquirer and several media outlets had reported on the rally led by Bayan USA against Roque’s nomination, and they quoted a protester who called him a “war criminal.”
Bayan USA had shared a video of the protest on Facebook.
Roque is in New York on an official visit for UN International Law Week.
Roque, in a statement, also protested the publication in the Inquirer of two articles about his candidacy, as well as earlier stories on his nomination, claiming they showed persecution by and malice of the Inquirer.
“I am usually very tolerant when it comes to the mass media but [in] this instance, the lawyer in me knows when the Inquirer accuses me of a war crime, then malice is present. The Philippine Daily Inquirer’s (PDI) malice is very clear in its two recent stories against me regarding my candidature for the ILC. It is effectively a persecution,” Roque said.
With regards to the publication of the two articles, Roque said, “Sullivan is the standard,” referring to the 1964 ruling of the United States Supreme Court in the case of New York Times v. Sullivan on actual malice in libel suits that have been adopted by the Philippine Supreme Court.
Roque deplored that his side was not obtained before the publication of a story regarding the protest during a reception for him in a New York City restaurant over the weekend.
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(Editor’s Note: The Inquirer would like to clarify that it did not accuse Roque of being a war criminal; it was a protester who called him a war criminal. The Inquirer and several media outlets quoted the protester in their reports. The Inquirer published Roque’s statement about the protesters.)
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