Another lawyers’ group opposes Roque’s nomination to UN’s ILC

Published September 14, 2021, 1:55 PM

by Jel Santos


Another group of lawyers has opposed the nomination of Presidential Spokesperson Herminio “Harry” Roque to the United Nations’ International Law Commission (ILC).

In a strongly worded opposition, the National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers (NUPL) said:

“Mr. Roque was a voluble and visible Filipino public interest lawyer who has regrettably transmogrified into a legal chameleon who uses legalspeak to spin reality and reinterprets many established legal notions and principles to suit official political narratives.

“He has disingenuously justified and continues to justify to unbelievable lengths his principal President Duterte’s several questionable and even bizarre policies and pronouncements on the rule of law, due process, justice and international accountability.”

In a statement issued by NUPL’s national council through President Edre U. Olalia, the group noted that Roque “has publicly rationalized extrajudicial killings in the country’s ‘War on Drugs,’ humored his principal’s misogynist remarks, enabled political repression including weaponization of the law, scowled against legitimate criticism and dissent, intimidated members of media, and berated and insulted health professionals critical of failed pandemic measures.”

As such, it said, the Roque “undermined international accountability bodies like the International Criminal Court and the UN Human Rights Council, its mechanisms and treaty bodies, and downplayed or justified many official actions of dubious legal and constitutional validity.”

“Like many decent human beings and honorable members of the legal community, we also humbly submit – and this is evidenced by abundant record – that despite his apparent academic and professional ‘bragging rights,’ he is morally undeserving to be part of this august international legal organ. He is even perceived by not a few as a disgrace to the legal profession and academic community,” it stressed.

NUPL pointed out that while nomination is a matter of right, self-promotion leaves a “bad taste in the mouth.”

“Competence is meaningful only with consistency, integrity and credibility. To elect him to the Commission is to diminish its respectability, mock its objectives and may taint its integrity,” it said.

“With no sense of pleasure, we respectfully dissent as a matter of principle against this hypocritical ambition of a fellow Filipino lawyer to reinvent himself, especially one supported by an administration widely disdained in the international community for its human rights violations and its fluctuating adherence and even regressive positions on vital international law and principles,” it added.

In a letter send to ILC last Sept. 12, the Free Legal Assistance Group (FLAG) opposed Roque’s nomination.

FLAG said: “Mr. Roque does not possess the qualifications for a seat at the Commission. While he has degrees in law and has taught Public International Law, he is a political partisan who has actively demonstrated contempt for the rule of law and, with specific relevance to the Commission, has undermined the supremacy of human rights and international law.”

Last June, Malacanang announced that it nominated Roque for a post at the ILC.

The candidates are nominated by United Nations member states and Roque is among the 11 nominees from Asia Pacific states vying for the eight seats in the region.

There are 34 seats at the UN law body and those elected have a five-year term.

The term of the current members will expire at the end of 2022 with the new members set to start this coming January.