BETWEEN the Philippine government and United Nations special rapporteur Agnes Callamard, Sen. Panfilo Lacson over the weekend said he would choose to believe the government’s statement that the rapporteur skipped protocol during her visit to the country last week.
According to Lacson, Callamard should have gone through proper channels in connection with the visit.
Callamard, the UN special rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, was invited to attend a two-day drug policy forum sponsored by the Commission on Human Rights and human rights group Free Legal Assistance Group at the University of the Philippines in Quezon City.
Malacañang said the Philippine government was not informed about the visit but the UN rapporteur denied it, saying she had sent word about her participation in the forum.
“I would choose to believe the Philippine government instead of a person who just [drops by]the country to talk and come up with a conclusion [about alleged extrajudicial killings in the country]even in the absence of a formal investigation” Lacson said, referring to Callamard.
Callamard in her speech during the forum said the “war on drugs does not work” and could even create more problems like vigilante killings and others, but she did not directly refer to the Philippines’ anti-drug campaign.
Malacañang had sent an invitation to Callamard to investigate drug-related killings in the country,
But she refused the invitation, citing conditions set by the Philippine government before allowing the probe.
Callamard, based on the conditions set by Malacañang, must agree to facing President Rodrigo Duterte in a public debate before the media, allowing the President to ask her questions and taking an oath.
The UN official said then that she remained hopeful that the Philippine government would lift the conditions, which, according to her, are against the code of conduct adopted by member states of the UN.
But even before she could look into alleged human rights violations in the Duterte administration’s war on drugs, she told Bloomberg TV Philippines last March, “As far as my mandate is concerned, my work on killings is concerned, the Philippines is standing out as one of the worst places outside an armed conflict situation because of the scale of the killings, but also because the human rights crisis is multifold.”