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Miscellaneous

Roque continues to champion human rights

UniTeam senatorial candidate Harry Roque has remained a staunch justice and human rights defender despite his critics’ claim that he has become an enabler of rights violations.

The former presidential spokesman slammed his detractors for their narrow-minded and prejudiced thoughts.

He cited his long history of supporting human rights victims in the court of law, academe, or Congress.

“Who are they to judge me? No one has the right to question other people’s dedication to human rights unless they have a proven track record,” he said.

“If these critics have won several argued cases before the Supreme Court or represented a human rights case before the United Nations Human Rights Committee (UNHRC), they can talk to me,” he stressed.

The first Asian and only Filipino litigator to practice before the International Court of Justice (ICC), Roque called to task “lawyer-activists who have never won a single human rights case to stop being judgmental.”

As a lawyer, Roque has sought justice for the oppressed and underprivileged Filipinos in local and international courts.

He secured convictions for the American serviceman killer of transgender Jennifer Laude and the murderers of 19 journalists in the Maguindanao massacre, respectively.

At the ASEAN Inter-Governmental Commission on Human Rights, Roque represented Myrna Reblando et al. vs. Republic of the Philippines, widows of Maguindanao massacre victims. The case was the first-ever communication filed before the ASEAN body.

At UNHRC, Roque was the lead counsel in the Adonis vs. Republic of the Philippines case, which assailed the legality of the country’s libel law.

According to UNHRC, the libel law infringed the freedom of expression provision under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

The former party-list representative in the 17th Congress filed several human rights bills, such as reparations for victims and permanent human rights claims board.

For 15 years, he also taught international humanitarian and human rights law at the University of the Philippines College of Law.

The Center for International Law (Centerlaw), an organization founded by Roque, filed a writ of Amparo before the Supreme Court against ‘Oplan Tokhang’ in 2017. The Centerlaw has filed cases against law enforcers suspected of violating human rights during police operations.

Since 1996, Roque has been active in Onesimo Foundation, a non-profit organization that provides therapeutic rehabilitation to young drug dependents from Metro Manila’s urban poor sector.

If elected to the Senate, Roque would introduce measures on justice system reforms such as the ‘three-day court hearing’ rule and the Victims Compensation Fund that would swiftly indemnify murder victims.

Roque would also sponsor bills on ‘zero hunger’ and the right to potable water for all Filipinos within six years, job creation for pandemic-affected workers, and better implementation of the Universal Health Care law.

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