MANILA – Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque on Tuesday brushed aside the objection of around 152 lawyers to his nomination to the International Law Commission (ILC).
Roque, in an online press briefing, said the number of lawyers opposing his ILC bid merely translates to “0.0001 percent” of the 78,000 lawyers in the country.
“Para po sa kaalaman ng ating mga kababayan, unang-una, mayroon po tayong mahigit na 78,000 na mga abogado sa Pilipinas. Kung 152 po ang kumontra sa aking nominasyon, ito po ay katumbas ng 0.001 percent (For everyone’s information, first and foremost, we have over 78,000 lawyers in the Philippines. If 152 of them are opposing my nomination, they are just equivalent to 0.0001 percent [of the total lawyers in the country]),” he said.
With less than a week before the ILC elections, around 152 lawyers urged members of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) not to vote for Roque.
The lawyers sent a letter to UNGA, asking them to register their “vehement objection” to Roque’s candidacy to the international law panel.
Among the notable signatories of the letter are detained Secretary Leila de Lima, former Reps. Neri Colmenares (Bayan Muna) and Erin Tañada, and incumbent Reps. Edcel Lagman (Albay) and Carlos Zarate (Bayan Muna).
They said they are “scandalized” by Roque’s “spins and reinvention of basic legal principles and concepts in his zealousness to repackage President [Rodrigo] Duterte’s pronouncements of questionable legal and constitutional bases.”
They added that Roque, as a lawyer, “is supposed to be a purveyor of facts and truth and should uphold the administration of justice, a role he has sacrificed in exchange for his blind loyalty to a strongman president.”
Roque merely dismissed their remarks as “part of the political noise.”
“Maingay lang po sila dahil kabilang sa mga pumirma ay mga kilalang personalidad na talunan sa Otso Diretso at grupo ng kaliwa na walang nasabing maganda naman po sa mula’t mula tungkol sa administrasyon ni Presidente Duterte since day one (They are just making noise because signatories include those who belonged to the defeated Otso Diretso and Leftist groups who criticize President Duterte’s administration since day one),” he said.
Roque also expressed confidence that the UNGA would decide based on the candidates’ qualifications.
“Buo naman po ang aking kumpiyansa sa mga estado na bubusisiin nila ang kuwalipikasyon ng lahat ng mga kandidato. Ang kailangan lang pong kuwalipikasyon para sa International Law Commission ay napatunayang kakayahan bilang eksperto sa larangan ng international law (We are confident that the member-states would check the qualifications of all candidates. The only qualification for candidates for the International Law Commission seat is that they should be an expert to international law),” he said.
The ILC election is set for Nov. 12.
The Philippine government has nominated Roque for ILC post.
Roque is among the 11 candidates from the Asia-Pacific region. Only eight seats are allotted for the Asia-Pacific States bracket in the UN body. (PNA)