A UNITED Nations (UN) rights rapporteur must first agree to the Philippine government’s precondition before coming to the country to probe the spate of alleged human rights abuses, Foreign Affairs Secretary Perfecto Yasay Jr. insisted on Saturday.
Agnes Callamard, UN special rapporteur on extrajudicial, arbitrary and summary executions, has received the official invitation from the government for her to look into the spate of alleged extrajudicial killings allegedly linked to the administration’s anti-illegal drug campaign.
The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) Public Diplomacy Office confirmed that the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights has been coordinating with Ambassador Cecilia Rebong, permanent representative of the Philippines to the UN, to thresh out the details of Callamard’s visit to Manila.
Yasay said the rapporteur must allow the government to question and dissect her findings in public.
“She must subject herself also to scrutiny and give the opportunity to our President to rebut her allegations and findings in public and before media and the Filipino public,” Yasay said in an interview.
If Callamard will not accept this precondition, Yasay said, she should not come at all “because she cannot harbor the impression that the invitation was made on the basis of the protocols that the UN Commission on Human Rights have established for this purpose.”
In a speech in September, President Rodrigo Duterte gave the green light to the UN and the European Union (EU) to investigate the killings but said that they must also answer questions from him.
Callamard later welcomed the invitation but said that it should come with “essential” security guarantees to ensure that the people she planned to interview would not be punished by the government.
Yasay noted that the President invited the UN and the EU “not on the basis of protocol, but invited them precisely to dramatize to the world that what they are doing is wrong.”
He resented that Callamard made a “highly irresponsible” comment in August when she called on the Philippine government to stop the spate of killings of people linked to the illegal drugs trade.
The DFA chief said that her statement was out of line as its issuance did not follow proper procedures.
Yasay explained the rapporteur made an arbitrary conclusion that the President was responsible for the series of summary executions.
“If she feels that there are basis to be concerned about the human rights violations in the country, she must make a request for that to visit the country in accordance with the protocols and not to jump into conclusion of arbitrary findings that there are violations and even to suggest very strongly, if not accuse, that the President is responsible for all of this,” Yasay said.
The Manila Times last week sent an email to Callamard’s office to ask for comments but remains unanswered.