THE Philippines is in danger of losing assistance from foreign countries and even a downgraded credit rating if President Rodrigo Duterte insists on imposing conditions on a United Nations special rapporteur seeking a probe on extrajudicial killings linked to the drug war, an analyst warned on Sunday.
Ramon Casiple of the Institute for Political and Electoral Reform said the refusal of the President to reconsider his decision to impose conditions on UN Special Rapporteur Agnes Callamard was not helping the administration project a good image.
Duterte wants to challenge Callamard in a public debate on whatever her findings would be, while Callamard wants a private debriefing if she is allowed to visit the country in early 2017.
Casiple said the Philippines was not in a position to set conditions because the office of the UN rapporteur is based on a UN treaty.
“If the administration thinks that the UN will back out because of the conditions, they are mistaken because the rapporteur can still come up with a report even without coming here,” Casiple said in an interview.
The Philippines will be at a disadvantageous position as the government will not be able to air its side, he said.
The Philippine government has set three conditions before allowing Callamard to investigate: a public presentation in the Philippines of the findings of the special rapporteur, an opportunity for the President to publicly ask questions and present additional information or clarifications in the presence of the special rapporteur and the media, and that Callamard take an oath.
Callamard has rejected the conditions, noting that these were against the code of conduct and terms of reference for country visits.
“It would appear that the Philippines is not open to talk about the issue on the alleged extrajudicial killings and it will not look good for the country,” Casiple said.
How Marcos, Arroyo treated UN probes
Casiple recalled that former president Ferdinand Marcos blocked a UN fact-finding investigation in the Philippines after the assassination of former senator Benigno Aquino Jr. in 1983.
As a result, some foreign aid was cut and the credit rating of the Philippines was downgraded, he said. These can happen again if Duterte insists on his conditions, Casiple said.
The deferment by the Millennium Challenge Corp. (MCC) of a new multi-year development aid package for the Philippines, Casiple said, could be followed by other countries.
Casiple also noted that former president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo allowed a UN special rapporteur to conduct an investigation on summary killings in the country and while the report was negative, the Philippines was given a chance to answer and clarify some matters. No sanctions were given.
“The danger here is that if other nations with strong positions on human rights would see the behavior of the Philippine government toward the UN special rapporteur, it would be a serious problem for the country,” Casiple said.
Senate Majority Leader Vicente Sotto 3rd belittled the MCC aid as he questioned the motive behind the deferment of the assistance.
In a separate interview, Sotto said the amount given by the MCC to the country in previous years seemed to not have made a dent on poverty.
The country received a total of $434 million in MCC funding from 2010 to 2016.
“How much did they give us last year? Did it help the country get rich? Did it help feed our poor countrymen? Where did the aid go?” Sotto asked.