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Roque downplays new petition against his ILC nomination

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PALACE Spokesman Herminio “Harry” L. Roque, Jr. on Tuesday slammed more than 150 lawyers for adding their voice to calls rejecting his nomination to a United Nations body responsible for codifying international laws.

In a televised news briefing, Mr. Roque downplayed the new petition against his nomination to the International Law Commission (ILC), alleging that the lawyers’ move was motivated by politics.

In their petition, the lawyers told the members of the United Nations that Mr. Roque has defended President Rodrigo R. Duterte’s statements, “enabling extrajudicial killings, attacks on the rule of law and due process and on his unacceptable positions on human rights, justice, pandemic responses and good governance.”

Those claims are part of the International Criminal Court’s investigation of Mr. Duterte’s deadly drug war.

In response, Mr. Roque dismissed them, saying that drug war-related killings should be verified by Philippine courts first before the International Criminal Court can act on the claims.

“They are opposing my nomination because they believe I have guilt by association for being the spokesperson of the President. First of all, there’s no such thing,” he said in Filipino. “They should thoroughly study the concept of due process and presumption of innocence.”

The petition filed by deans, law professors, heads of bar associations, incumbent and former government officials, among other public interest lawyers, said Mr. Roque “has rationalized extrajudicial killings and tolerated the weaponization of the law against activists, dissenters and the opposition.”

“As fellow lawyers, we are scandalized by his spins and reinvention of basic legal principles and concepts in his zealousness to repackage President Duterte’s pronouncements of questionable legal and constitutional bases,” they said. — Kyle Aristophere T. Atienza

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