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No such thing as guilt by mere association with Duterte –Roque

Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque on Tuesday snarked at the 152 Filipino lawyers who opposed his bid for a seat in the United Nations' International Law Commission (ILC), saying he was not guilty of a crime merely because of his association with President Rodrigo Duterte.

Roque made the response after the 152 lawyers argued that Roque was unworthy of the post for "enabling extrajudicial killings, attacks on the rule of law and due process and his unacceptable positions on human rights, justice, pandemic responses, and good governance."

The Duterte administration is facing an International Criminal Court (ICC) investigation for alleged crimes against humanity due to the over 7,000 drug war deaths during police operations.

"They are saying guilt by association because I am the spokesperson of the President. There is no such thing," Roque said.

"Wala pa pong napapatunayan laban sa Presidente. At iyong sa ICC, preliminary investigation pa lang sa war on drugs, hindi laban kay President Duterte. Iyan po ay paratang pa lamang, dadaan pa yan sa butas ng karayom," Roque added.

(It has yet to be proven that the President is guilty of any crime. And the ICC matter is just a preliminary investigation on the war on drugs, not on President Duterte. It is an allegation that would still have to go through the eye of a needle).

Roque said that ICC could only take jurisdiction if the prosecutors could prove that local courts in the country were not functioning, and the 152 should respect due process and presumption of innocence.

"Mayroon po tayong tinatawag na due process at presumption of innocence, at nakakaabala naman na mayroon tayong 152 na mga abogado na para bagang binalewala ang right to due process ng Presidente, at ng presumption of innocence," Roque said.

(We have due process and presumption of innocence, and it is alarming that we have 152 lawyers who have ignored these principles.)

"Who is reinventing the basic legal principles here? This is part of political noise. Maghahanda na po ako ng bulak para takpan ang ating mga tenga (I will just prepare the cotton balls that I will stuff in my ears)," Roque added.

Roque then said he was confident that he would be judged fairly in his ILC bid.

"Buo naman po ang aking kumpiyansa sa mga estado na bubusisiin nila ang kuwalipikasyon ng lahat ng mga kandidato. Ang kailangan lang pong kuwalipikasyon para sa International Law Commission ay napatunayang kakayahan bilang eksperto sa larangan ng international law," Roque said.

(I have full trust in the states that they will evaluate the qualifications of each candidate, and that is about proven expertise in international law.)

"Tatanggapin ko po ang husga ng mga iba’t ibang estado ng buong mundo pagdating po ng Biyernes," Roque added.

(I will accept the decision of the voting member states by Friday.)

— DVM, GMA News