Manhattan dinner for Harry Roque marred by protest, ‘aggressive security’

Activists stage protest outside a midtown Manhattan restaurant, carrying placards and chanting ‘Junk Roque.’ Bayan USA photos

Activists disrupted a cocktail reception for Philippine presidential spokesperson Harry Roque on October 29 at the upscale Aretsky’s Patroon eatery in Midtown to voice their objection to his nomination for a position in the UN International Law Commission (ILC).   

Roque was in town to participate in the UN International Law Week from October 28 to 30. The reception at Patroon was attended by representatives of foreign missions in New York, according to state media PNA. Activists claimed the “exorbitant dinner” was hosted by the Philippine government to lobby for Roque’s nomination.

Mike Legaspi of BAYAN USA – Northeast said Roque, a spokesperson for President Rodrigo Duterte, is a “human rights lawyer turned human rights violator.”

He said in a statement, “He is complicit in the grave human rights violations of the Duterte regime: from the extrajudicial killings of women, urban poor, trade unionists, church workers, indigenous leaders, environmentalists, and human rights defenders by Philippine state forces.”

Roque: Nomination is being ‘politicized.’ PNA photo

BAYAN USA – Northeast is alleging that Roque is vying for a post in the ILC despite his public defense of the “human rights violations and atrocities wrought by the Duterte administration. As the mouthpiece of Duterte, Roque propagates misinformation about the true situation of the Filipino people.”

Before he left Manila, Roque issued a statement saying he is “disheartened” that his nomination to the ILC is being “politicized.”

He told reporters in Manila, “The ILC itself is not a political body. Rather, it is an expert group of people who have the necessary credentials and experience in public international law needed to codify customary international law and develop the same.”

The protesters said they were walking to the reception area when Roque’s security “became aggressive, and accosted the protesters. “There was no ‘storming’ into the restaurant and no damage to property. The staff were also treated respectfully,” they said in a statement.

Three protesters were reportedly injured when, they claim, Roque security ‘became aggressive’

“His security staff shoved and pushed protesters violently in the narrow passageway.”

They added, “At least three protesters were injured by Roque’s security staff as they were violently pushed down the stairs away from Roque’s reception. One testified that fingernails were dug into her neck and a second restaurant patron said his shoulder popped and is now taking pain medication.”

PNA said Roque was nominated for the post at the ILC whose members are elected by the United Nations General Assembly. He is among the 11 candidates from the Asia-Pacific region. Only eight seats are allotted for the Asia-Pacific states. The results on who will be the new ILC members will be announced during the 76th session of the UN General Assembly in November. – Cristina DC Pastor

© The FilAm 2021

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