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Lagman chastises Roque for ‘180-degree turnaround’ on human rights issues

Albay Representative Edcel Lagman on Sunday rebuked presidential spokesperson Harry Roque anew, saying Roque went on a "180 degrees turnaround" from being critical of the administration's bloody illegal drugs campaign to becoming President Rodrigo Duterte's "leading apologist."

In a statement, Lagman noted how some individuals, in an apparent reference to Roque, could easily forgo their principles for "partisan subservience and convenience" when given an official title.

He noted that before being appointed as presidential spokesman, Roque was critical of the war on drugs, even warning Duterte that the International Criminal Court (ICC) may enforce its jurisdiction over him for supposed crimes against humanity.

"Roque was among those who campaigned for the ratification by the Philippines of the Rome Statute which created the ICC," Lagman said.

Former President Benigno Aquino III signed the Rome Statute on February 28, 2011, while the Senate gave its concurrence on the treaty on August 23, 2011.

Lagman cited the August 11, 2016 privilege speech of Roque as then-Kabataan party-list representative, where he asserted that the civilian population is being "attacked," as news reports showed that "hundreds of Filipinos have been killed either directly by governmental forces or with their support or tolerance.”

"[It] also clear that the President is aware that these acts are ongoing. Even without proof of a directive on his part, he has, in many instances, spoken about the use of violence against drug syndicates," Roque also said then.

The now-presidential spokespersons also said that “[w]hile it would be imprudent for me to say with certainty that President Duterte has already committed a crime against humanity, it would be a disservice to this entire nation if I did not warn him to be careful.”

But Lagman noted that Roque now "sings a completely different refrain, a 180° turn around."

The ICC has recently decided to conduct a preliminary examination into the allegations that Duterte committed a crime against humanity over his controversial war on drugs. — Erwin Colcol/BM, GMA News