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The Free Legal Assistance Group (FLAG) on Monday has aired its objections over Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque’s nomination to join the experts panel of the United Nation’s International Law Commission (ILC) due to his alleged irrelevance.

The oldest association of human rights lawyers spearheaded by Atty. Jose Manuel “Chel” Diokno condemns the spokesman’s opportunity to join the commission through a formal statement submitted to the ILC in New York.

“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,” the FLAG wrote.

The FLAG pointed out the irony should Roque be given a seat in the commission that upholds human rights, stressing that he is a spokesman of President Rodrigo Duterte, the country’s chief executive who has been accused of crimes against humanity.

His public defense of extrajudicial killings, his belittling of the competence and jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court (ICC), and his cavalier disregard of the effects of domestic violations of human rights, among others make him ill-suited for the work of the Commission,” the group said.

“His pronouncements have been made, alternately, with sneering contempt for the plight of victims or a callous attempt to justify the same with misplaced humor. He has used his knowledge of international law to undermine the protections that international law provides under a regime of human rights and the rule of law,” it added.

The FLAG further emphasized that Roque’s interest to be a part of the ILC is “clearly for political gain” as the spokesman has not been discreet on his plans to seek any elective position in the upcoming 2022 elections.

All these demonstrate a patent lack of integrity and character that make him utterly unworthy to even be seriously considered as part of the International Law Commission. He will bring no honor to the post he seeks, instead he will tarnish the same irreparably,” the group stated.

Asked for his response about critics’ opposition to his nomination, the Palace official said that the decision will be made by the members of the commission who are not totally composed of ICC members.

“It will be decided by the UN member-states. If they consider that, I cannot do anything about it. But not all of UN member-states are members of the ICC,” Roque said in defense.

The spokesman, who is currently in New York for the nomination, claimed that he is qualified to join the commission with his 15-year experience of teaching and expertise in International Law.

Moreover, he said that obtaining a seat in the ILC would pave way to raise his advocacy for preservation of sovereignty on islands affected by climate change and COVID-19 vaccine equity.

Roque is, however, recently under fire following a viral video of his outburst as he was seen berating a group of physicians who—amid the COVID-19 surge—are pleading to impose a hard lockdown in Metro Manila during an Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) meeting. 

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