Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque on Wednesday maintained that he is qualified to a seat in the International Law Commission, a United Nation body, saying opposition from his former employer and alma mater UP Diliman is only due to his political affiliation to President Rodrigo Duterte.
"The UP Diliman Executive Committee states that their objection is based on my poor track record of promoting, defending and fulfilling human rights and the rule of law, especially during the administration of President Duterte. I wish to challenge this assessment because it is untrue," Roque said in a statement.
"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," he added.
"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."
In opposing Roque's nomination, the UP Diliman Executive Committee said his "poor" track record on human rights would be a liability to the UN body.
Prior to UP Diliman officials, the Free Legal Assistance Group also filed an opposition against Roque's nomination, saying the Palace official has defended extrajudicial killings committed by authorities amid the anti-drug war, as well as belittled the competence of International Criminal Court (ICC) in probing these killings.
Roque said that while he respects the right of the UP committee and its members to proffer their opinion, their opposition on his nomination shows that some sectors "will do everything to besmirch his good name, reputation and integrity simply because ] do not subscribe to and share their same political beliefs."
Roque cited that as a lawyer, he represented journalists, as well as families of 19 victims of the Ampatuan massacre in domestic courts and before international monitoring bodies, including a case of garnering the view that criminal libel is inconsistent with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.
Likewise, Roque said he served as counsel to Panatag Shoal fishermen, the comfort women of World War 2, and the families of Darius Evangelista and Jennifer Laude, who was tortured by the police and killed by an American soldier, respectively.
"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," Roque said.
"It is very disheartening to have my nomination to the International Law Commission politicized, especially considering that the ILC itself is not a political body," he added.
Meanwhile, in a statement, the UP Integrated School Executive Committee also voiced its opposition to Roque's nomination.
"The UP Integrated School Executive Committee concurs with the position of the UP Diliman Executive Committee on the nomination of Atty. Herminio 'Harry' L. Roque, Jr. to a Seat in the International Law Commission," UPIS said in a statement.
Roque is an alumnus of UPIS Batch 1982.
The UPIS Executive Committee is composed of the Principal, Assistant Principals, Department Heads, Administrative Officer, and Head Librarian. —KBK, GMA News