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Harry Roque Will Handle Cases of Abuse in Ukraine After Senate Snub

This is what's next for the controversial former spokesperson.
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As the war in Ukraine rages on, the Ukrainian government is currently forming a legal team that will prosecute cases for the state at the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague. And it looks to add legal luminaries from around the world.

Last week, Ukrainian Ambassador to the Philippines Olexander Nechytaylo reportedly met with a Filipino human rights lawyer who has an "outstanding professional record, deep knowledge of the international criminal law, and vast experience collaborating with various judicial institutions."

And that lawyer is none other than former Presidential Spokesperson Atty. Harry Roque, who lost out on a seat in the Senate this May. Roque looks to go back to his roots as a human rights and international law practitioner.

The former spokesman of President Rodrigo Duterte was a respected human rights advocate before joining the Duterte administration. He was a founder of the advocacy group Center for International Law (Centerlaw) and a former law professor at the University of the Philippines (UP). He has handled several high-profile cases, too, including the Jennifer Laude murder, the Maguindanao Massacre, and "Malaya Lolas," who were victims of the Japanese Imperial Army during World War II.

“I was very happy when he responded positively and expressed his readiness to share his expertise and to represent some of the gender-based violence. I hope he will join the international team of lawyers working with Ukraine’s legal team,” Roque claimed.

In his conversation with the ambassador, cases like the rape of a two-year-old and a 72-year-old Ukrainian women were brought up and Roque, upon hearing these stories, readily accepted the offer. He had also brought up his experience in fighting international humanitarian law violations.

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“My heart bleeds for the Ukrainian people, especially women and innocent children who are always war casualties,” Roque said. “This bloodbath must stop now because it has horrified the global community and seriously affected both rich and fledgling economies.”

Roque has also expressed that he needs a "divorce" from the Philippines at the moment.

"Mas mabuting naka-base na rin ako sa Europe if I'm going to be involved in the prosecution of war crimes in Ukraine... the fellowship can last anytime from six [months] to one year and I'm looking forward to it," he said during One PH's Sa Totoo Lang program. "Kasi 'yung mga libro ko na nakabinbin na hindi matapos-tapos ay matatapos ko rin. But I really need, I think, to be divorced from the Philippines for a while."

As of May 13, Roque has only garnered 11,045,762 votes, putting him at five spots out of the Magic 12.

Nechytaylo added: “Given the scale of the atrocities, we may consider initiating the establishment of a special court – the International Criminal Tribunal for Ukraine akin to the similar courts for Rwanda and Yugoslavia.”

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Bryle B. Suralta
Assistant Section Editor
Bryle B. Suralta is the Assistant Section Editor of Esquire Philippines.
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