Harry Roque

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Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque, in a press conference in 2017

Herminio “Harry” Lopez Roque Jr. (born 21 October 1966) is a Filipino lawyer, politician, and former law professor. He is the current presidential spokesperson of President Rodrigo Duterte. He was Duterte’s presidential spokesperson from 2017 to 2018 and was reappointed in April 2020.

Among Roque’s professional and academic interests are criminal law, constitutional law, international law, international human rights law and international humanitarian law. He is admitted to practice before the International Criminal Court (ICC), the first Asian to do so, and the UN War Crimes Tribunal for Rwanda. He is also elected to the Governing Council of the Asian Society of International Law and the International Criminal Bar.

Roque taught constitutional law and public international law at the University of the Philippines College of Law for 15 years. Among the notable cases he handled were the Maguindanao Massacre and the Jennifer Laude cases. In 2017, he was designated as presidential adviser for human rights concurrent with being the presidential spokesperson. He also served as the Party-list Representative of KABAYAN–Kabalikat ng Mamamayan, that represents marginalized sectors of the Filipino community, including the disabled, senior citizens, overseas Filipino workers (OFWs), fishermen, farmers, and the poor–from 2016 to 2017.

Roque, a member of the Advisory Council of the Asian Society of International Law (AsianSIL), served as its president from 2018 to 2019.


Education

Roque earned a Bachelor of Arts in Economics and Political Science from the University of Michigan (1986); Bachelor of Law from College of Law, University of the Philippines (1990); and Master of Law with merits from London School of Economics (1996).


Career

As Lawyer

Roque was one of the founders of Center for Internationl Law (Centerlaw). Through the group’s advocacy, he and his team represented the victims of the Maguindanao Massacre; the Malaya Lolas, victims of rape and abuse by the Japanese Imperial Army; the family of the killed transgender Jennifer Laude; and the family of the killed environmental advocate and member of the media Gerry Ortega from Palawan.

He has argued before the Supreme Court on several occasions. Among the cases he argued before the high court were assailing Presidential Proclamation 1017 and General Order No. 5, the Adonis case before the UNHRC questioning the Philippines’ criminal libel law, Ninez Cacho- Olivarez, et al v. Juan Miguel Arroyo, and specific issues raised against the Cybercrime Law. He also represented the Integrated Bar of the Philippines in arguing that local government officials cannot deny applications for rally permits except if these will result in a clear and present danger to the state. He also helped secure Boracay Foundation a Temporary Environmental Protection Order (TEPO) to stop the reclamation of land in Caticlan due to absence of studies which can guarantee that it would not damage Boracay Island.

Roque won the first ever granted petition for the writ of Amparo in favor of a journalist, as well as the second application for writ of Amparo where the Court of Appeals issued protective orders.

Roque also mentored and coached some of the UP College of Law moot teams that won in various competitions, including the 2015 Oxford Price Moot Court Competition, 2015 Red Cross International Humanitarian Law Moot Competition, and the 2012 Jessup International Law Moot Court competition.


As a Congressman

Roque resigned as a member of the Center for International Law (Centerlaw) after being elected as a congressman. He was the principal author of the Universal Health Coverage Bill. He was also one of the three representatives who endorsed the impeachment case against former Commissions on Elections (COMELEC) chairman Andres Bautista.


Presidential spokesperson

Roque was appointed the presidential spokesperson of Rodrigo Duterte on 6 November 2017 and replaced Ernesto Abella.

In October 2018, he expressed his intention to run for a seat in the Senate in the 2019 Elections. Duterte, however, said that he has no chance to win. Roque have threatened to resign from his post after he was kept in the dark about Duterte’s visit to the Cardinal Santos Medical Center on 3 October 2018. He eventually resigned on 15 October and expressed his plans to run for a seat at the House of Representatives under the Luntiang Pilipinas Party. He filed his Certificate of Candidacy on October 17. On 1 February 2019, he dropped out of the 2019 Senatorial race, citing a medical condition.

In April 2020, Roque returned to his role as Duterte’s presidential spokesperson, replacing Salvador Panelo. He also served as the spokesperson for the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases amid the COVID-19 pandemic, replacing Karlo Nograles.

In July 2020, Roque was criticized for violating pandemic-related quarantine rules and health protocols by visiting Ocean Adventure in Subic Bay Freeport Zone and for not wearing a face mask. He announced in March 2021 that he had tested positive for COVID-19.


Family

Roque is a Protestant. He is married to Mylah Reyes and they have two children.



References



Citation

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