Roque: Duterte is not a human rights violator

President Duterte poses with Kabayan Rep. Harry Roque in this photo taken in China inOctober last year. Roque is the new presidential spokesperson.

MANILA — President Rodrigo Duterte is not a human rights violator.

This was Kabayan Party-list Rep and incoming Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said of Duterte on Sunday.

In an interview over radio station DWIZ, Roque was asked about how he would reconcile being a human rights lawyer and advocate, and being a spokesperson of a President who is a “perceived human rights violator.”

“Well kasi po hindi ako naniniwala na human rights violator siya,” Roque answered.

(Well, I don’t believe that he’s a human rights violator.)
“Dahil ang kaniyang polisiya naman ay malinaw noong pinatay si Kian (Delos Santos) ano. Ang sabi niya, ‘Ang mga pulis kapag legal ang kanilang engagement sagot ko sila, pero kapag illegal ang engagement nila at walang… nanlaban and yet pumatay sila, and that is murder ‘no,” he added.

(His policy was clear when Kian was killed. He said, “When the police’s engagement is legal, I’ll answer for them, but when it’s illegal and the suspect doesn’t fight back and yet they get killed, then it’s murder.”)

The party-list representative was referring to the 17-year-old Delos Santos, who was killed in an alleged shootout with Caloocan City cops during a drug operation.

Roque said his colleagues in the human rights movement actually urged him not to accept the position.

“Eh bakit hindi ko tatanggapin eh ito na nga iyong pagkakataon na mai-sigurado na iyong obligasyon ng estado kapag ito ay hindi naitaguyod ang karapatang mabuhay ay dapat talagang magampanan ‘no, unang-una,” he said.

(Why wouldn’t I accept it when this is the opportunity to make sure that when obligation of the state in human rights isn’t being supported then it must be accomplished.)

“Pangalawa… Malinaw na malinaw po sa akin na ang patayan bagama’t ito ay nangyayari. Hindi po ito dahil sa pagkakautos ng Presidente at kinakailangan lamang ni Presidente ng tulong ‘no para itaguyod iyong ating obligasyon na imbestigahan, litisin, parusahan ang mga pumapatay sa lipunan,” he added.

(Secondly, it’s very clear to me that though these killings are happening, these are not the command of the President, and he just needs help in supporting our obligation in investigating, trying in court, and punishing murderers.)
“At ito naman ay napakatagal ko ng ginagawa ‘no lalong lalo na doon sa mga pumapatay ng ating mga mamamahayag,” Roque said.

(And this is what I’ve been doing for the longest time, especially to those who kill journalists.)

Duterte announced Roque’s appointment during Roque’s birthday dinner in Davao City late Friday night. He would be replacing Undersecretary Ernesto Abella effective November 6.

“To get the message clear, sabi ko (I said), Harry will fit the…kasi medyo malikot ang bunganga namin (because we are both talkative),” Duterte said.