Harry Roque, Presidential spokesperson on Wednesday, just announced a concurrent position he will be filling – Presidential Adviser on Human Rights.
“Further, being appointed recently as Presidential Adviser on Human Rights concurrent with my being the Presidential Spokesperson, I will take steps to ensure that the Philippines discharges its obligations in protecting and promoting human rights, especially the right to life,” Roque, who was a human rights lawyer said.
Though not the main topic, the Spokesman revealed it in the sidelines of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights’ reaction to President Rodrigo Duterte threatening to slap Agnes Callamard if she continues investigating the human rights situation of the country.
When Roque was newly appointed as a spokesperson in late October, he mentioned that he has no plans of changing his advocacy upon accepting the position.
Instead, he was open to advising Duterte regarding human rights as he is an advocate. “I considered the position with the specific purpose of getting an audience with the President to address key human rights issues in the Philippines,” he said during his first press conference as a spokesman.
He added that “By taking this position, I hope to be able to advise the President directly regarding the manner and methods he has used to tackle the problem of drugs.”
At the same time, he said that by accepting the position, he is determined to “reduce, if not totally eradicate the impact of statements which appear to support genocide or violations of fundamental human rights.”
The Duterte administration has long been criticized by local and foreign human rights advocates because of his campaign to eradicate illegal drugs and his various statements on the subject.
Duterte in his almost 16 months of Presidency has always been firm with his stance on human rights and illegal drugs, even in his election campaign days.