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UNGA Rejects Harry Roque in International Law Commission: Filipino community, US-based lawyers celebrate a people’s victory

Filipino community organizations and allies across the globe are celebrating the United Nations’ rejection of Harry Roque’s nomination to the International Law Commission today. The UN General Assembly voted on a slate of forty-eight nominees to constitute the 34-member international law body. 

Formerly a human rights lawyer, Roque is Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte’s spokesperson, and has been harshly criticized by lawyers organizations and civil society groups for his role in shamelessly defending the inhumane policies of the brash Philippine president. He gained infamy for labeling innocent drug war victims as “collateral damage” and for berating health workers advocating for improved pandemic response. 

“Roque is an opportunist and a hypocrite,” asserted Nina Macapinlac of BAYAN USA, a national alliance of grassroots Filipino organizations. “We celebrate the UN vote today as a victory of the people’s movement to prevent the fascist Duterte government from expanding its tyrannical influence in the international arena.” Roque garnered the lowest number of votes of the eleven nominees from the Asia Pacific region, 87 out of 190 possible votes.

Simultaneous with the vote count, activists mobilized to the United Nations Headquarters in New York City in wind and rain to punctuate Roque’s rejection by the Filipino people and the human rights community. The calls of protestors in New York were bolstered by over 30,000 letters sent to the 190+ permanent missions to the United Nations by concerned individuals across the globe demanding the UN to reject Roque’s election. The 30,000 letters represent the number of Filipinos killed by Duterte’s drug war. 

“Today’s victory emboldens us to continue opposing Roque’s moves to evade accountability for his role in supporting the fascist Duterte administration. Roque’s rejection by the UN is also a rejection of Rodrigo Duterte by the global community,” Macapinlac said. The Duterte administration is currently under investigation by the International Criminal Court for crimes against humanity. He is responsible for over 30,000 deaths in his “war on drugs”; extrajudicial arrests, detentions, and killings of human rights advocates and journalists; and aerial bombing of civilian communities. 


Contact: Nina Macapinlac & Mike Legaspi, 609-434-2793