Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano, incoming Foreign Affairs secretary, has urged the United Nations Human Rights Council to send an independent investigator to Manila as its Special Rapporteur, Agnes Callamard, is not the right person to probe alleged extrajudicial and drug-related killings in the country.
In a news conference in Cambodia on Wednesday night, Cayetano said Callamard had already judged the drug war of the Philippine government even before she arrived in the Philippines.
“I’m not saying that we convince them [UN] that it’s not so,” he told reporters, referring to claims of extrajudicial killings related to the Duterte administration’s war on drugs. “But we open their eyes and mind and heart that there’s two sides to the story.”
Cayetano said while the UN usually order s independent investigations, the special rapporteur is “not a prosecutor who will come and judge” a government.
“They will go and work with the government to find the problem and recommend,” the senator added.
Cayetano’s statement came after he led a delegation that defended the country’s drug war before the UN Human Rights Council, which conducted a review of the human rights situation in the Philippines on May 8.
The senator said they told the UN that they will welcome a probe “as long as [the investigator]is independent and fair.”
“Kasi ang problema kay Dr. Callamard ay meron silang ideology sa human rights eh. ‘Yung ideology nila ay based doon sa paniniwala na ang drugs kailangang i-decriminalize, lalo ‘yung possession for personal use [The problem with Dr. Callamard is that she has an ideology on human rights. That ideology is based on the belief that dealing with drugs should be decriminalized, especially possession of drugs for personal use],” he added.
Cayetano said Callamard, who also teaches at Columbia University, was not even an expert on extrajudicial killings and forced disappearances despite being the UN Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions.
“Nagulat ako nung sinabi nung mission natin ‘yun sa ano ‘no, [I was surprised when our mission said] that’s not what she was teaching in Columbia and that’s not what her focus was on. It was on government accountability, communications, et cetera,” according to him.
Cayetano, however, said he is willing to resign if it is proven that his report intentionally misled.
He maintained that his report was only based on facts and actual numbers.
“To clarify, it is our job to give an accurate report that’s why we gave it, will they believe it? It’s up to them. Will they not believe it? But we gave our side and then we opened it up to investigation so it’s on official record,” the senator said.
Callamard has repeatedly condemned the Duterte administration’s drug war, saying the deaths in the campaign could be extrajudicial killings.
According to statistics from the Philippine National Police (PNP), about 2,500 drug suspects were killed, over 53,000 arrested and nearly 1.2 million surrendered in the first six months of the government’s anti-drug campaign.
Human rights organizations, however, have reported over 9,000 deaths since the drug war was launched in July 2016.
The Duterte administration has repeatedly denied the allegations, saying policemen killed the suspects in self-defense or vigilantes were behind the killings..
The campaign was suspended in January 2017 in light of the kidnap and murder of Korean businessman Jee Ick-joo in an anti-drug operation.
It was relaunched in March 2017, with police chief Ronald de la Rosa saying the campaign would be less bloody and would include rehabilitation programs for those who surrender.
As of May 2017, the Philippine National Police noted 183 deaths in police operations, as well as 12,766 arrested and 15,772 who surrendered in the relaunched anti-drug campaign. CATHERINE S. VALENTE