Harry Roque

Harry Roque

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Harry Roque, is an international law and human rights lawyer, law professor and politician who most recently served as the spokesman to President Rodrigo Duterte.

As the president’s mouthpiece, he often drew flak on social media for defending the administration’s controversial policy choices and Duterte’s inflammatory statements, often perceived as contradictory to Roque’s track record as a lawyer.

As representative of the Kabayan party-list in the House of Representatives from July 25, 2016, to Oct. 30, 2017, Roque principally authored and sponsored the Universal Health Care Act. After much in-fighting within Kabayan and in various venues about Roque’s status as party representative, Roque accepted an appointment to become the presidential spokesperson in late 2017, effectively resigning from the lower house.

Roque resigned as Palace spokesman to make a bid for the Senate in 2019 but later withdrew for health reasons. He was then re-appointed by Duterte and served from 2020 to 2021.

In late 2021, Roque sought but failed to secure a seat at the United Nations International Law Commission after getting just 87 out of 191 votes, following vocal objections against his nomination from fellow lawyers and various legal groups including the International Association of Democratic Lawyers, the Free Legal Assistance Group and the University of the Philippines Diliman executive committee.

He is running for senator primarily on a platform of strengthening anti-corruption and government accountability mechanisms.

Although Roque previously sought compensation for Martial Law victims as a legislator, he is now running for the Senate under the slate of Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr., son and namesake of the late dictator.

“I think I have a proven track record as a legislator and I think I have 221 more bills which I failed to enact into law which should be enacted into law if I make it to the Senate.”

HERMINIO “HARRY” LOPEZ ROQUE JR.

Full Name: Herminio Lopez Roque Jr.
Nickname: “Harry”
Birthday: October 21, 1966 (Age 55)
Birthplace: Pasay City, Metro Manila
Residence: Quezon City, Metro Manila
Religion: Protestant Christian
Languages Spoken: Filipino, English
Parents:
– Herminio Roque, lay minister
– Adelaida Cruz Lopez-Roque, doctor
Siblings:
Spouse: Mylah Reyes Roque, television reporter (appointed to the Pag-IBIG Board of Trustees on Sept. 19, 2017)
Children:
– Bianca Hanintha Roque
– Harrison Jakob Roque

EDUCATION

  • Master of Laws (LLM), London School of Economics and Political Science, University of London, 1996
  • Juris Doctor, College of Law, University of the Philippines-Diliman, 1990
  • Bachelor of Arts, Economics and Political Science, University of Michigan at Ann Arbor, 1986

WORK EXPERIENCE

  • Head, Strategic Communications Task Group of the Inter-Agency Task Force for Emerging Infectious Diseases
  • Spokesperson, IATF-EID, Apr. 13, 2020-Nov. 15, 2021
  • Presidential Spokesperson, Republic of the Philippines, 2017-2018; Apr. 2020-Nov. 15, 2021
  • Concurrent Presidential Adviser on Human Rights, 2017-2018
  • Kabayan Party-List Representative, House of Representatives, July 25, 2016-Oct. 30, 2017
  • Chairperson and co-founder, Center for International Law, 2005-2015
  • President, Asian Society of International Law, 2017-2019
  • Professor, Department of International and Human Rights Law, Philippine Judicial Academy, Supreme Court, 2006-2016
  • Adjunct Professor, Academy of Human Rights and Humanitarian Law, Washington College of Law of American University, 2011-present
  • Director, Institute of International Legal Studies, University of the Philippines-Diliman Law Center, 2005-2008 and 2011-2015
  • Associate Professor, UP-Diliman, 2007-2015
  • Lecturer, Institute of Judicial Administration, UP Law Center, July 2002 – present
  • Partner, Roque & Butuyan Law Offices, 1991 – 2017

MAJOR ACCOMPLISHMENTS

Public Office

Roque was elected as Kabayan’s party-list representative in 2016 and authored 234 bills, 35 of which were passed into law, including the Universal Health Care Act.

Among his proposals as a legislator in 2016 was to boost compensation for Martial Law victims through a bill that sought to make the Human Rights Victims Claims Board a permanent institution. Later that year, he gave a talk at the University of the Philippines entitled, “Never Again, Never Forget: Martial Law, the Academe and the Public.”

In January 2017, Kabayan’s board of trustees voted to remove Roque as a member and as its representative, citing the party’s loss of trust and confidence following Roque’s “inappropriate questions” to Ronnie Daya, Sen. Leila de Lima’s former lover and alleged bagman during a November 2016 congressional hearing. Roque opposed Kabayan’s resolution before the Comelec, leading to a standoff, fiery speeches and an exchange of disbarment complaints (among other charges) filed by Kabayan’s other representatives, Ron Salo and Roque. They also lodged ethics complaints against each other before the House ethics and privileges committee. In formal moves to oust Roque, Kabayan petitioned the Comelec and the House Electoral Tribunal to proclaim Ciriaco Calalang as Roque’s replacement.

Roque accepted the appointment to become the presidential spokesperson and concurrent adviser on human rights in late 2017, effectively resigning from the lower house. He would resign from those posts in 2018, reportedly after Duterte downplayed Roque’s chances of winning when Roque first ran for Senate in 2019. Roque was re-appointed as spokesman in 2020, also acting as spokesperson for the pandemic task force.

During his tenure in the Cabinet, Roque was criticized for defending Duterte even amid the latter’s attacks against journalists and activists. His appointment as human rights adviser was deemed a big disappointment to the human rights community, according to Human Rights Commissioner Rodolfo Cadiz.

In 2021, members of the legal community, including his former colleagues in the University of the Philippines, vehemently opposed his nomination to the ILC through letters (by a group of at least 176 lawyers, the International Association of Democratic Lawyers, the Free Legal Assistance Group, the UP Diliman executive committee) and a protest at a New York City restaurant where Roque was dining. Roque went on to receive the least number of votes among the 11 candidates from Asia-Pacific states for the eight panel seats open for regional representatives.

Private Sector

Roque began his legal career in the early 1990s, handling high-profile human rights cases and constitutional challenges of executive orders and laws limiting free speech, free press and public assembly.

He co-founded his law firm, Roque and Butuyan, and the advocacy organization, Center for International Law or Centerlaw. Roque was part of the Centerlaw prosecution teams in the Ampatuan massacre case, involving 198 suspects including former Datu Unsay, Maguindanao Mayor Andal Ampatuan Jr., and the Malaya Lolas case, representing a group of Filipinas forced into sexual slavery by Japanese soldiers during World War II. He was counsel to Nilo Baculo of Oriental Mindoro, who was granted by the SC the first writ of amparo to a journalist in March 2018; the Court of Appeals denied the issuance of the protection order, which Roque later claimed may have contributed to the shooting death of Baculo in June 2014.

He also represented the family of Jennifer Laude in the murder case against US Marine Joseph Scott Pemberton in 2014. He was also among the lawyers who questioned Presidential Proclamation 1017 and General Order 5 issued by President Arroyo

Roque was the first Asian to be admitted to practice before the ICC in 2005; he was also admitted to practice before the War Crimes Tribunal for Rwanda in 2004. While Roque would tout those credentials when defending his human rights advocacy, his critics argue that he diminished his legal reputation when he continuously supported Duterte’s refusal to recognize the ICC’s jurisdiction, among many other inconsistencies that Roque has had to either downplay or justify.

During this period, Roque was also a law professor at UP-Diliman College of Law, teaching public international law and constitutional law, among other classes.

BILLS AND RESOLUTIONS

Author

  • RA 10931: Free Education Law
  • RA 10969: Free Irrigation Service Act
  • RA 11035: Balik Scientist Act
  • RA 11036: Mental Health Act
  • RA 11037: Masustansyang Pagkain para sa Batang Pilipino Act
  • RA 11166: Philippine HIV and AIDS Policy Act
  • RA 11194: Gabaldon School Buildings Conservation Act
  • RA 11215: National Integrated Cancer Control Act
  • RA 11222: Stimulated Birth Rectification Act
  • RA 11223: Universal Healthcare Act
  • RA 11285: Energy Efficiency and Conservation Act
  • RA 11310: Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program Act

Co-author

  • RA 11055: Philippine Identification System Act
  • RA 10963: Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion Act
  • RA 10929: Free Internet Access in Public Places Act

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