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Special UN execs should learn PH culture–DFA

United Nations special rapporteurs visiting the Philippines should learn from its local offices about the country’s culture and protocols when it comes to foreign delegations.

Foreign Assistant Secretary Jesus Domingo made the statement on Monday in the wake of the military’s apology to recent visitor Chaloka Beyani, UN Special Rapporteur on the human rights of internally displaced persons, who had accused the Philippine military of distorting his views on the condition of hundreds of lumad seeking shelter at the United Church of Christ in the Philippines in Davao City.

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Beyani had objected to the statement of the Eastern Mindanao Command (Eastmincom) which attributed to him the statement that the lumad inside the church in Haran, Davao City, were “manipulated, not evacuees, but victims of trafficking.”

Eastmincom spokesman Col. Eduardo Gubat apologized to Beyani and eventually resigned from his post. He said the statement was actually the Eastmincom’s assessment of the lumad, and not Beyani’s.

But Gubat quoted Beyani in his exit briefing as saying that the indigenous people in Haran were “manipulated.”

Speaking to reporters at the Department of Foreign Affairs on the occasion of the commemoration of International Humanitarian Law Day, Domingo acknowledged there were occasions when the government and visiting UN special rapporteurs had “some misunderstanding.”

That was why, Domingo said, the DFA had asked the Philippine mission in Geneva to confer with the Human Rights Council and the human rights mechanism to “obtain a better understanding of our official protocols and also of Philippine culture and how we deal with visiting delegations.”

“We also feel that there could be from their side, from the special rapporteur side, a more thorough job of really assessing conditions in the Philippines and not simply relying on what they find in social media or statements from certain civil society organizations or individuals.

“Most certainly we welcome them to look at these things but the whole point of them coming here is to get precisely a

first-hand view of conditions and we’ve seen there are some occasions where they were taking things at face value, of critiques given by critics of the government,” Domingo told reporters.

He said there were times special rapporteurs would come to the country without coordinating with the government or their UN country offices and expect the people to be ready for their visit.

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“Their visits should be [coordinated]. And also there are security concerns,” Domingo said.

“They should have a thorough understanding of what’s going on in the country, particularly in areas which experienced conflict and law-enforcement challenges,” he said.

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TAGS: Culture, Diplomacy, Jesus Domingo, Philippines, protocols, UN, UN rapporteurs
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