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Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque Jr. VALERIE ESCALERA/PRESIDENTIAL PHOTO

MANILA, Philippines — President Duterte’s spokesperson Harry Roque has failed in his bid to be elected to the International Law Commission after receiving the least number of votes among nominees.

Roque, whose nomination to the body was marred by opposition mounted by human rights groups, was vying for one of the eight seats allotted for the Asia Pacific region, and was listed among the nominees for the 34 members of ILC.

An excerpt of the result of the ILC's voting for Asia Pacific region.

An excerpt of the result of the ILC’s voting for Asia Pacific region.

He received just 87 votes out of 191 members during a voting held on Saturday (Manila time).

Garnering the top votes for the region and thus were elected as representatives were from India, Thailand, Japan, Vietnam, China, South Korea, Cyprus, and Mongolia. They will serve a five-year term on January 1, 2023, and upon the exit of the present 34 members of the ILC at the end of 2022.

The ILC is a body under the auspices of the United Nations which develops and codifies international law.

The Philippine government nominated Roque, who is a lawyer by profession, to become a part of the UN panel.

Vigorous opposition

Roque’s nomination was vigorously opposed by his fellow lawyers and rights groups, including from his alma mater, the University of the Philippines, owing to his supposed role of abetting the Duterte administration’s brutal war on drugs, and other alleged human rights abuses.

His critics claimed his inclusion to the UN body would be an “aberration” to the ILC’s directive, diminish its standing and affect its credibility, especially in encouraging the “progressive” development of international laws.

“Atty. Roque has a very poor track record of promoting, defending, and fulfilling human rights and the rule of law, especially during the administration of President Rodrigo R. Duterte in which he serves as a cabinet member,” the UP Diliman Executive Committee had said in a statement.

Opponents of Roque’s ILC bid likewise said he “unbelievably defended and justified” Duterte’s pronouncements “enabling extrajudicial killings (EJKs)” and “attacks on the rule of law and due process,” as well as belittled the work of the international bodies by defending his principal’s record on human rights.

This, they said, made him unfit to become part of the international law-making body.

‘Challenging campaign’

On Twitter, Roque admitted that his bid for the ILC seat was a “challenging campaign” which, though unsuccessful, he faced head on.

“My candidature at the ILC was a challenging campaign throughout but we met it head on. Unfortunately, we did not succeed. I thank President Rodrigo Roa Duterte, for his nomination and unwavering support of my candidature,” he said.

“I thank the Department of Foreign Affairs, and the officers and staff of the Philippines’ Permanent Mission to the United Nations, for their steadfast professionalism and support,” he added.

Roqu likewise extended his congratulations to the new members of the ILC, saying that he will continue to advocate for vaccine equality and rising sea levels on his own.

“I wish the new members of the ILC success, especially as they tackle challenging issues such as rising sea levels and vaccine equality – issues which I will continue to advocate for as well,” he said.


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