Harry Roque’s flagrant non sequitur
His appointment as presidential spokesperson appears to have affected Harry Roque’s ability to reason properly. Knowing him for his well-crafted, logical and tenable public statements, I was aghast that even before he actually took his oath of office for his new job, he already started to sound like a rabid follower of President Duterte who does not hesitate to resort to fallacy when and if he thinks this will protect and promote the administration.
Let’s take his answer to accusations that Mr. Duterte is a human rights violator during an interview with CNN’s Christiane Amanpour: “The President is a lawyer and was a public prosecutor for 10 years. I would say that it was never his intention to conduct a war on drugs that would violate the Constitution and fundamental human rights.”
This is a non sequitur. It is just like saying that a priest could not be guilty of sexual offense because he is a priest and had been in the priesthood for 10 years. Or that since the purpose of the police is “to serve and protect,” it is not possible that a policeman could be involved in any crime especially if he has been a policeman for some time already.
Roque’s logic also wrongly assumes that Mr. Duterte lived by his professional oath and was exemplary in his conduct as a prosecutor. Where was Roque when Mr. Duterte said during a press conference on Aug. 21, 2016, that as a prosecutor, he had planted evidence? And even granting that that was one of the President’s outlandish jokes and that he was, after all, a model prosecutor, Roque’s statement assumed that Mr. Duterte could not have changed since then.
Roque’s proof that his principal is not a human rights violator is also like saying that a brilliant lawyer who graduated from and taught for 15 years in arguably the top law school in the land and is expected, therefore, to be a paragon of sound reasoning could never be guilty of a flagrant non sequitur such as this.
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