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Roque shrugs off growing opposition vs his ILC bid

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Presidential spokesperson Secretary Harry Roque is unbothered by the growing criticism against his nomination to the International Law Commission (ILC), saying he is expecting it from those who have “crab mentality.”

In a televised briefing, Roque shrugged off the letter of objection submitted by 152 Filipino lawyers to the United Nations General Assembly to register their “vehement objection” to the former’s candidacy to the advisory body.

“Well, I accept that some Filipinos really have a crab mentality. Perhaps we should get rid of it. Nonetheless, I am expecting such,” he told reporters.

The Palace official noted that the number of signatories was just a small portion of all of the 78,000 lawyers in the country.

Roque also claimed that his detractors were known government critics.

“We have 78,000 lawyers in the Philippines. If 152 of them opposed my nomination, they account for 0.001 percent,” he said.

Roque added that his bid solely lies on the UN assembly members, who would cast their votes on Friday, 12 November.

He also pointed out that the panel would merely choose members based on competence in international law.

Lawyers opposing Roque’s bid for seat in the ILC claimed that the Palace spokesperson was unfit to join the body, which has been working on the “promotion of the progressive development of international law and its codification.”

In a letter sent Monday to more than 190 UN member-states, they criticized Roque for defending and justifying President Rodrigo Duterte’s pronouncements that supposedly enabled extrajudicial killings and attacks on the rule of law.

The lawyers also slammed Roque’s stance on human rights, justice, pandemic responses and good governance, which they described as “unacceptable.”

Among the notable signatories of the letter are detained Sen, Leila de Lima, former law deans Pacifico Agabin and JV Bautista, former Solicitor General Joel Cadiz, former Reps. Neri Colmenares (Bayan Muna) and Erin Tañada (Quezon City), and former Integrated Bar of the Philippines president Ade Fajardo.

They add to the growing number of groups and individuals who oppose Roque’s election to the ILC.

Previously, Roque’s nomination was also opposed by officials of the UP Integrated School, where he finished high school, and the University of the Philippines in Diliman, where he obtained his law degree and taught law subjects for 15 years.

Roque was nominated by the Philippine government to the ILC. He recently flew to New York for an official visit during UN international law week.

Gunning to be one of the eight ILC representatives of the Asia-Pacific region, he would serve a five-year term starting January 2023 should he be selected by the UN assembly.

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