• Palace open to int’l probe into drug war


    MALACAÑANG on Tuesday said the Philippines was open to an investigation by the United Nations (UN) into the alleged drug-related killings in the country, but said special rapporteur Agnes Callamard should not lead the inquiry because of her supposed bias against the Duterte government.

    In a news briefing, Palace spokesman Harry Roque Jr. said that the government wanted someone “credible” and “objective” to lead the probe.

    “Again, if they’re going to send a special rapporteur to the Philippines, it must be someone credible, someone who is an authority in the field that they seek to investigate in, and must be objective and unbiased,” he told reporters.

    Roque, who also serves as presidential adviser on human rights, said he would recommend a UN special rapporteur to investigate Duterte’s drug war.

    He, however, said he could not divulge the identity “for now.”

    “(It’s) definitely not Agnes (Callamard). As I have said before, it’s her fault that the home state does not want her in,” Roque said.

    “Part of a qualification of a special rapporteur is to be trustworthy enough so that the member-nation of the UN will allow a special rapporteur to investigate,” he added.

    Roque’s statement came a day after Callamard, in a Twitter post, said Iceland urged the Philippines to approve her investigation into President Rodrigo Duterte’s war against illegal drugs.

    In the opening ceremonies of the UN Human Rights Council’s 37th Session in Geneva, Switzerland, Iceland Minister of Foreign Affairs Gudlaugur Thor Thordarson reiterated his country’s “concern over measures used in the Philippines to combat illicit drugs and called on that State to uphold the rule of law.”

    He also urged the Philippines to allow independent experts to assess the situation without delay.
    Roque, however, said the Philippines won’t heed Ireland’s call.

    Cayetano defends drug war

    At the meeting of the United Nations Human Rights Council, Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano, said Manila was open to any investigation, but said the UN should listen to the side of the Philippines.

    He argued that the drug war was launched to stop the country from becoming a narco-state.

    He insisted that all UN special rapporteurs strictly observe their code of conduct and methods of work and avoid politicizing the issue.

    “When a UN special rapporteur cries out, like the queen in ‘Alice in Wonderland,’ ‘First the judgment, then the trial,’ when she culls evidence only for what might support her prejudgment, he or she loses the moral high ground and is stripped of any credibility,” he said.



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