PURSUANT TO its hitherto discreet protests and vigorous reservations on Philippine Presidential Spokesperson’s bid to be elected to the UN International Law Commission, the National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers (NUPL) wishes to publicly confirm its principled opposition to Atty. Herminio “Harry” Roque Jr.’s latest legal caper.
The NUPL is a voluntary and progressive nationwide association of pro bono Philippine human rights and public interest lawyers and law students. It is an active member of the International Association of Democratic Lawyers (IADL), Confederation of Lawyers in Asia and Pacific (COLAP), and has close linkages and collaboration with several international law groups and bar associations like the Union Internationale des Avocats, International Bar Association, International Commission of Jurists and many others.
Mr. Roque was a voluble and visible Filipino public interest lawyer who has regrettably transmogrified into a legal chameleon who uses legal-speak 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.
He has publicly rationalized extrajudicial killings in the so-called War on Drugs, humored his principal’s misogynist remarks, enabled political repression including the weaponization of the law, scowled against legitimate criticism and dissent, intimidated members of media, berated and insulted health professionals critical of failed pandemic measures, 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.
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.
On top of our forthcoming formal submissions to the UN General Assembly, the NUPL – – and hopefully other lawyers and bar associations, together with the UN-accredited IADL, its national associations worldwide, and other allied international lawyers organizations — would continue to campaign and lobby with UN member states and their respective Missions until such elections in November this year.
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.
(NUPL statement on presidential spokesman Harry Roque’s bid to be elected to the UN International Law Commission, 14 Sept. 2021)