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Protests mar Roque’s New York City reception

/ 05:30 AM October 31, 2021
Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque.

Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque. INQUIRER file photo / DEXTER CABALZA

MANILA, Philippines — Several Filipino American protesters flocked to a restaurant in New York City’s East Side on Friday to oppose presidential spokesperson Harry Roque’s nomination to the UN International Law Commission (ILC), a body of experts tasked with developing and codifying international law.

Members of Bayan USA and other groups gathered outside the Aretsky’s Patroon restaurant in Manhattan, where Roque was attending a private reception, and called out Roque for his role in the Duterte administration’s war against drugs, which is now under investigation by the International Criminal Court for crimes against humanity.

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“We’re here because there is a war criminal in this restaurant. We’re here because there is a criminal that is committing crimes against the Filipino people. And we cannot rest until this is addressed,” one of the protesters said.

The protesters said Roque, “right-hand man of Duterte,” has no place joining the ILC.

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“He’s failed to uphold international law. He has justified the killing of Filipino women,” one of the protesters said.

Another protester said Roque’s record in the last five years showed he was a “hypocrite.”

“He is not a human rights lawyer, he is a human rights violator,” the protester said, adding that Roque’s ILC nomination should be revoked.

Roque did not answer the accusations against him and, in a statement, criticized the protesters who, he said, sought “to deliberately cause harm to innocent people in their attempt to disrupt a private reception we were tendering for representatives of several foreign missions in New York.”

Roque said the protesters hurt two elderly waiters and caused damage to property and some protesters supposedly did not pay for food and drinks they ordered from the restaurant.

Roque is on an official, hence taxpayer-funded, visit to New York for UN International Law Week. He did not mention the cost of the reception for “several foreign missions.”

Several groups in the Philippines, including Roque’s alma mater University of the Philippines, have also opposed his bid to join the ILC and called on the United Nations to reject President Duterte’s defender as he was “ill-suited” for the job.

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