Roque’s bid for International Law Commission seat is ‘shameless hypocrisy’ | Inquirer Opinion

Roque’s bid for International Law Commission seat is ‘shameless hypocrisy’

/ 05:01 AM November 04, 2021

The Confederation of Lawyers of Asia and the Pacific (COLAP) has opposed the nomination of President Duterte’s spokesperson/legal adviser Harry Roque to the International Law Commission (ILC), an adjunct to the United Nations whose function is to “initiate studies and make recommendations for the purpose of … encouraging the progressive development of international law and its clarification.” The multinational lawyers’ group considers Roque’s bid an unmitigated insult—a “disservice to all the victims of human rights violations … under the regime of President Duterte” (“Asia-Pacific lawyers’ group opposes nomination of Roque to UN commission,”, 10/31/21).

Roque, with his wife in tow, has been reported to be in New York for some time now to boost his chances for election to that 34-member commission this November. He dreams of being among the eight lucky lawyers from the Asia-Pacific region to join the ILC for five years at Geneva, Switzerland, and ensconced among other legal luminaries from all over the globe in January 2023. That trip is said to be “official business,” and so all expenses appurtenant to that “junket” are courtesy of Filipino taxpayers.


Why does Roque need to spend precious dollars to “campaign”? Does he think the election by the UN General Assembly ay puedeng daanin sa pambobola tulad dito sa Pilipinas? In his own country, the highest office he could ever hope to get “elected” to was as a “party list” representative, a merciful mechanism designed for the benefit of those who are generally deemed “unelectable.”

In the minds of many Filipinos, Roque has long earned the epithet “Palace Pinocchio” for his uncanny ability to twist the truth of almost everything that comes between his ears. Consider the time he was bird-dogging China’s “creeping invasion” of swaths of West Philippine Sea (WPS) territories over which international law grants exclusive economic rights to the Philippines, which led him then to excoriate China as a “rogue state.”


But just when everyone thought his patriotism was beyond question, like the quintessential chameleon, he changed his color and is now virtually moonlighting as China’s mouthpiece, justifying its incursions into the WPS as nothing but gestures of neighborly concern and friendliness. It wouldn’t be a surprise if his colleagues in the ILC (should he get elected, God forbid) are laughing at the Philippines for having offered one who talks out of both sides of his mouth as its best candidate.

But more egregiously, while the Rome Statute that created the International Criminal Court explicitly holds an offending head of state accountable despite the latter’s government’s “withdrawal” from that covenant if the offenses complained of occurred prior to such withdrawal—a view affirmed by the Philippine Supreme Court itself (G.R. No. 238875, March 16, 2021)—Roque went rogue with his own theatrical “dissent” from that unanimous decision. President Duterte should have fired him already for his incompetence and ignorance of international law, and for the embarrassing advice he was giving his boss all along.

How Roque got so drunk with his delusions and ambition for membership in a very prestigious UN body given his dubious claim to being an “international law expert” dishing out wishy-washy opinions, and the flippancy with which he regards the basic tenets of international law when they don’t suit his own selfish agenda, is beyond us. Kudos to the COLAP for having the balls to call Roque out publicly on his lack of personal integrity and shameless hypocrisy.

Stephen L. Monsanto, [email protected]

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TAGS: Harry Roque, Letters to the Editor, Stephen L. Monsanto, UN International Law Commission
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