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Roque to UP critics: Respect freedom of expression

UniTeam senatorial candidate Harry Roque said critics are barking up the wrong tree for attributing the “sins of the father” to presidential candidate Ferdinand ‘Bongbong’ Marcos, Jr., who has been leading in election surveys.

Roque also appealed to the University of the Philippines (UP) academic community to respect all forms of expression, including what it deems as unpopular thought and speech, such as support for Marcos’ candidacy.

Quoting Deuteronomy 24:16, Roque said, “Fathers shall not be put to death for their children, nor shall children be put to death for their fathers; a person shall be put to death for his sin.”

Roque, who comes from a family of Protestant pastors, said it would be unfair to ascribe the criminal cases of the late President Ferdinand Marcos to his son.

He reiterated that the younger Marcos was not convicted of graft and corruption or human rights violations.

“Former Senator Marcos was impleaded as a party to the civil case against the Marcos estate because he is the co-administrator. But the estate, and not Bongbong Marcos, is the one liable for the unpaid estate tax,” Roque said.

The former presidential spokesman clarified that he had no problem with what historians have written about the late president Marcos’ regime.

“As a lawyer, I cannot deny that there are Supreme Court decisions on ill-gotten wealth related to the former president,” he said.

Roque also cited the 1995 decision of the United States District Court of Hawaii on a class action filed against the late Marcos under the Alien Torts Statute (ATS). The ATS allows non-US citizens to file civil lawsuits for torts or rights infringement that violates international law.

The Honolulu court awarded $1.9 billion in exemplary and compensatory damages to victims of human rights violations during Marcos’ term.

“Bongbong Marcos is not his father. While the court cases against the late president are a matter of history and jurisprudence, the candidate running for the presidency now is not guilty of the said offenses,” Roque said.

The former party-list congressman expressed concern about the attitude of some people that label Bongbong Marcos supporters as ‘unthinking’ persons. This, he said, contradicts the essence of UP which encourages free speech and thought.

“I would like to remind our UP colleagues that Filipinos are entitled to their opinions even if they do not agree with the majoritarian view within the university,” Roque said. “No one can claim to have the monopoly of truth.”

Saying that the country needs solutions to many problems, Roque said it was crucial to consider the opinions and recommendations of various groups.

“The essence of UP is to encourage all forms of expression and choice. In the end, the unpopular thought or speech could be right,” Roque said.

For 15 years, Roque was an associate professor at the UP College of Law, where he taught international humanitarian and constitutional law. He was also a law graduate of UP and a high school graduate of the UP Integrated school.


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