SENATORIAL CANDIDATE
54. ROQUE, HARRY SPOX
PEOPLE'S REFORM PARTY

Harry Roque, 55, 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.

Platform and Policy
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The candidate's top priorities if elected to office, tracked against previous promises and accomplishments, if any

Select a policy profile below to view more details
 
Corruption in government and accountability of public funds
 
Human rights
 
Vaccine equality
 
Press freedom and cybercrime law
Related Policy Proposal:

File bills pushing for stricter and proper implementation of Philippine Health Insurance Corp. processes, ensure better oversight over Philhealth, and if corruption is not abated, replace PhilHealth with the National Health Services agency
Previous Platform:
Track Record / Accomplishment; Date:

As presidential spokesperson, defended and downplayed senators’ inquiries over supposed anomalies in the national government’s pandemic spending amid Senate probe on government’s pandemic deals
Deviation from Previous Platform:
Related Policy Proposal:

Vowed not to cooperate with the International Criminal Court’s investigation on supposed crimes against humanity over the course of the administration’s war on drugs
Previous Platform:

Claims he “devoted his life to protecting and promoting human rights” as a former human rights lawyer
Track Record / Accomplishment; Date:
Deviation from Previous Platform:

As presidential spokesperson, defended the Duterte administration’s war on drugs and anti-insurgency campaign
Related Policy Proposal:
Previous Platform:
Track Record / Accomplishment; Date:

Defended the “no-vax, no-ride” policy under Duterte, as part of the president’s broad police power for promotion of public health
Deviation from Previous Platform:
Related Policy Proposal:

Previous Platform:

As Palace spokesperson, defended the cyber libel conviction of Rappler chief executive officer Maria Ressa, saying it had nothing to do with freedom of the press
Track Record / Accomplishment; Date:

He previously challenged the constitutionality of the:
  1. Arroyo EO
  2. Cybercrime Prevention Act under the Aquino administration (claimed that cyberlibel restrictions approved by former President Benigno Aquino “infringe on freedom of expression”)

As co-founder of Center for International Law, represented victims of the 2009 Ampatuan massacre
Filed House Bill No. 00112, entitled the People’s Freedom of Information Act, on June 30, 2016 (pending with the House committee on public information)
Deviation from Previous Platform:

Has argued that press freedom is alive and well in the Philippines because has not filed a single case of libel against a journalist while no media worker has been jailed for doing their duties
Major Accomplishments
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The candidate's top five accomplishments and contributions for the last 15 years or so


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.

RA No. 11223, or the Universal Health Care Act
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Position/Date
Among the principal authors, 2017
Status
Approved by the president on Feb. 2, 2019
R.A. No. 11166, or the Philippine HIV and AIDS Policy Act
Read More
Position/Date
Among the principal authors, 2017
Status
Approved by the president on Dec. 20, 2018
R.A. No. 11053, or the Anti-Hazing Law
Read More
Position/Date
Among the principal authors, 2017
Status
Approved by the president on June 29, 2018
R.A. No. 11037, or the Masustansyang Pagkain para sa Batang Pilipino Act
Read More
Position/Date
Among the principal authors, 2017
Status
Approved by the president on June 20, 2018
R.A. No. 10969, or the Free Irrigation Service Act
Read More
Position/Date
Among the principal authors, 2017
Status
Approved by the president on Feb. 2, 2018

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.
Asian Society of International Law
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Position/Date
President, 2017-2019
Institute of International Legal Studies, UP Law Center
Read More
Position/Date
Director, 2005-2008 and 2011-2015
Law professor at the UP-Diliman College of Law
Read More
Teaches public international law and constitutional law
Position/Date
Lecturer and associate professor, 2002-present
Actions and/or Proceedings
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Actions and/or proceedings pending against or resolved in courts or tribunals involving the candidate, based on publicly available information


Roque received wide-spread criticism over supposed quarantine violations during the early part of the COVID-19 quarantine when he visited Ocean Adventure in July 2020 and for berating a doctor during a virtual meeting in September 2021 with the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases about the plan to relax quarantine conditions in Metro Manila amid a spike in COVID-19 cases due to the spread of the Delta variant.

A disbarment case filed by fellow Kabayan party-mate and representative Ron Salo at the time was dismissed by the Supreme Court for lack of merit as it failed to establish substantial evidence to penalize Roque. Another disbarment case filed by the Armed Forces of the Philippines has yet to be resolved.


Pending Actions and/or Proceedings

Subject Matter Relevant Dates Potential Liability Status
Disbarment case filed by Armed Forces of the Philippines over his behavior during the Jennifer Laude case, or leading a march to the gate of the Mutual Defense Board-Security Engagement Board inside Camp Aguinaldo where the accused Pemberton was detained on Oct. 22, 2014 Suspension from practice of law, or reprimand The Supreme Court in 2017 denied Roque’s petition to cite for indirect contempt the AFP personnel who filed the case against him




Resolved Actions and/or Proceedings

Subject Matter Relevant Dates Accrued Liability Status
Disbarment case filed by Makabayan Representative Ron Salo against Roque and Roque’s law partner Joel Butuyan and chief of staff, Rommel Bagares, relating to “malicious” rumors spread by them about Salo

Roque would also file a disbarment complaint over Salo’s inappropriate disclosure of his disbarment complaint against Roque in a press release, undermining the SC’s disciplinary power and in violation of confidentiality rules on disbarment cases
Filed in Jan. 2017 Suspension from practice of law, or reprimand Case has since been dismissed by the SC for lack of merit
Disbarment case filed by Michael James Blendell against Roque and his law firm, in connection with the failure by the firm’s lawyer to promptly transfer the shares of a condo unit and parking space at a Parañaque property to the buyer of the properties Sale occurred in 2002

Complaint filed on May 29, 2017
On Dec. 6, 2021, the SC dismissed the case for lack of merit; the complaint failed to identify the specific provisions of the Rules of Court, Lawyer’s Oath or the Code of Professional Responsibility the law firm allegedly violated
Statement of Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth
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Also known as SALN, this document is a declaration of one's personal finances. Philippine Law requires the SALN to be submitted by all public officials and employees to the Ombudsman. Public officials and employees may opt to voluntarily disclose their SALN to the public.

Assets
P150.0 million
Liabilities
P30.0 million
Net Worth
P120.0 million

* As of December 31, 2020

Information based on a July 2021 news report summarizing the declared net worths of 32 Cabinet and Cabinet-level officials stated on copies of SALNs available from the Malacañang Records Office and released to [Rappler]

Campaign Details
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Key details about the candidate's campaign


Roque is running under the senatorial line-up of Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. and Sara Duterte. Davao-based Pastor Apollo Quiboloy, a fugitive and so-called spiritual adviser to President Duterte, has endorsed the tandem of Marcos and the president's daughter. Quiboloy was added to the United States Federal Bureau of Investigation's wanted list in February 2022, after he was indicted by American federal prosecutors for a series of alleged criminal acts, including orchestrating a sex trafficking operation within his church.

An investigative report published by Rappler also found that Quiboloy's Sonshine Media Network International, a recipient of one of the networks seized from ABS-CBN Corp., fuels online disinformation and attacks against journalists and activists.


Alliances and Endorsements:
Included in the senatorial slate of the UniTeam tandem of former senator Ferdinand Marcos Jr. and Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte


Party History:
KABAYAN Party-List
2015–2017
People's Reform Party
2018–present
Major Donors
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Candidate's major donors and campaign funding sources

There is no publicly available information on this matter at this time. Requested information from the candidate was not provided.
Major Advocacies
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The candidate's top advocacies in the last 15 years or so

During Roque’s first stint as Palace press secretary from 2017 to 2018, he was also concurrently Duterte’s adviser on human rights, pledging to “ensure that the Philippines discharges its obligations in protecting and promoting human rights, especially the right to life”, while also claiming that his acceptance of the position did not mean “condoning the violence surrounding the government’s anti-drug campaign.”

Roque often cites the presumption of regularity in the course of apprehending criminals who use drugs, but clarifies that the president will not tolerate illegitimate killings. He also continues to claim that President Duterte’s involvement in the Davao Death Squad killings has not been proven. Roque himself is opposed to an independent investigation by an international panel. As early as 2017, Roque described UN Rapporteur Agnes Callamard as not a competent and impartial rapporteur on Duterte’s anti-drug campaign; as recently as September 2021, he insisted that the ICC had no jurisdiction over the drug war investigation and that the government will not allow any ICC investigators in the Philippines. Roque has gone as far as asserting that there is “actually no crime under both domestic or international law as ‘EJK’”, calling it a misnomer.

Roque has also favored a conciliatory approach to China, believing it is “better to develop a friendship with the Chinese instead of being drawn into war, which is really a dispute between the USA and China…” and opposing the recent proposal to prohibit state-owned Chinese companies from owning public utilities in the Philippines since doing so would be “discriminatory” to China and ultimately inimical to Philippine interests.

 
Human rights
 
Freedom of speech, press and public assembly
 
International law
 
Onesimo Foundation Inc.
 
Climate change and rising sea levels
Human rights
Centerlaw, a legal advocacy group that seeks to promote the binding nature of international law in the Philippines and avail of international remedies to enforce and implement human rights and humanitarian law
Position/Date
Founder and chairperson, 2005-2015

Part of prosecution teams of Centerlaw in several cases on behalf of activists, journalists and citizens victimized by violence perpetuated by private entities as well as the state

Status
Roque claims that he ceased to have personal opinions when he became spokesperson, but stands by all his previous stances on legal and human rights issues
Freedom of speech, press and public assembly

Filed several petitions before the SC contesting the constitutionality of:
  1. General Order 5
  2. Presidential Proclamation 1017
  3. Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012
Position/Date
Counsel and prosecuting team member

Status
As Palace spokesperson, he has defended the cyber libel conviction of Rappler chief executive officer Maria Ressa, saying it had nothing to do with freedom of the press. He has argued that press freedom is alive and well in the Philippines because has not filed a single case of libel against a journalist while no media worker has been jailed for doing their duties
International law
Asian Society of International Law in National University of Singapore
Position/Date
Member of the Executive Council, 2004-2012 and 2015-2017


International Criminal Bar, The Hague
Position/Date
Member of the Executive Council, 2005-2015


South East Asia Media Legal Defence, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Position/Date
President, 2011-2015

Status
In late 2021, Roque sought but failed to secure a seat at the UN International Law Commission after getting just 87 out of 191 votes, following vocal objections against his nomination from lawyers and activists based on Roque’s unsuitability as part of the stalwart defense of President Duterte’s anti-drug campaign and Roque’s open denigration of several international means for accountability, including the UN and ICC
Onesimo Foundation Inc.
NGO aimed at reaching, rehabilitating and mobilizing urban poor youth for family and community transformation that advances the values of the Kingdom of God
Position/Date
Founder, 1996
Climate change and rising sea levels
Position/Date
Ran for a seat at the International Law Commission in 2021

Status
As senatorial candidate, promised to file a civil case for damages against developed countries for accelerating climate change

ILC application included a proposed treaty on climate change responsibility
Personal Details
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Basic information on the candidate's family, background and work experience

Name to appear on the ballot: ROQUE, HARRY SPOX
Full Name: Herminio "Harry" Lopez Roque Jr.
Birthdate: Oct. 21, 1966 (55 years old as of election day)
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:
Marital Status: 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