Roque is concurrent Presidential Adviser on Human Rights

MANILA — Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque has been appointed by President Rodrigo Duterte as concurrent Presidential Adviser on Human Rights.

This was disclosed by Roque himself on Wednesday, although Malacañang has yet to release his appointment papers.

“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,” he said in a statement.

Roque’s disclosure came at the end of a statement he issued in response to the remarks made by United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights spokesperson Rupert Colville deploring President Duterte’s repeated insults and threats of physical violence against UN Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions Agnes Callamard.

Colville cited Duterte’s threats to slap Callamard should she investigate him for alleged extrajudicial killings in the government’s war on drugs.

In his statement, Roque said the UN official should “do well not to judge the colorful language the President is known for, but by what he stands for and the values he holds dear.”

“We need to point that the President’s remarks on Callamard were addressed to a Filipino audience who are used to the Chief Executive’s unorthodox rhetoric,” he said.

The Palace official likewise maintained that Callamard is not a competent and impartial rapporteur on the Philippine government’s anti-drug campaign, citing her unannounced arrival in the country to attend an event organized by critics of the administration.

“The way she conducted herself does not befit her office. Lest we forget, she came unannounced to the country in May this year even while the terms of her official visit were still being finalized. And she did so using an event organized by a group that was extremely critical of the administration and presenting herself as a resource person for that event,” he said.

“Her arrogance in going through the back-door not only went against protocol, but is deeply insulting,” he added.

Callamard has declined an official invitation to visit the Philippines last year due to the conditions set by the government which, she said, would break UN protocol.

But last May, she visited Manila in an “unofficial capacity” to attend an academic conference on drug-related issues and grace the Commission on Human Rights’ 30th-anniversary celebration.

Meanwhile, Roque asserted that Duterte’s standing offer to host a Global Human Rights Summit goes to show that “this administration welcomes disinterested and apolitical human rights experts in the country.”

“We believe there must be a venue for dialogue where human rights, given the wide array of rights it covers, can be discussed from a global perspective and not from the view of politicized individuals,” Roque said.