Cayetano to UN: Rapporteur is biased; send someone else
The “only reason” the Philippines refuses to invite UN Special Rapporteur Agnes Callamard is because she has already prejudged the country’s human rights situation.
The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said this was one of the things Foreign Secretary Alan Cayetano told UN Secretary General Antonio Gutteres during their first meeting in New York on Friday.
The DFA said Cayetano asked Gutteres to send an unbiased representative who would look into the country’s human rights situation because Callamard was in league with the opposition.
In league with opposition
“How can someone who is in league with our political opposition conduct a fair and objective assessment of our human rights situation?” Cayetano was quoted as saying by the DFA.
Cayetano complained that Callamard appeared to be inordinately critical of President Rodrigo Duterte whom she even referred to as a murderer.
But detained Sen. Leila de Lima slammed the insincerity of the Duterte administration and insisted that Callamard be allowed to set up an independent commission to look into killings arising from the government’s antidrugs war.
“It’s clear that this [was] just publicity stunt ahead of the UN General Assembly [on Sept. 22] to avert criticism [of] Mr. Duterte’s continued war on drugs,” De Lima said in a statement from her detention quarters in Camp Crame.
De Lima also scored President Duterte’s suggestion that the UN set up a satellite office in the country to monitor summary executions, saying it has been a week since Mr. Duterte made the suggestion but no concrete action had since been taken.
If Mr. Duterte and Cayetano are indeed serious, they should stop wasting time and allow Callamard to investigate, De Lima said.
Western media to blame
“This what you must do: Stop the killings, allow a genuine investigation on these cases and resign,” said De Lima said.
But Cayetano maintained the Duterte administration was not ignoring human rights and exaggerated reports by Western media were stoking misperceptions.
“We’re not turning our back on human rights. Our campaign against crime and illegal drugs is not intended to violate human rights, it is intended protect the human rights of our people,” he said.
Still open to probe
“There are real problems but perceptions have overtaken us in Western media that make it appear the situation is worse than it actually is,” he added.
Cayetano said the Philippines remained open to UN mandate-holders to investigate the situation in the Philippines.
“All we want is an impartial assessment and not outright condemnation to help [the world] understand the extent of the problems that we are confronted with,” Cayetano added.
Malacañang had already invited Callamard to come to the country in September last year, but Malacañang imposed the condition of a public debate with President Duterte.
Callamard said the conditions violate the protocol laid down by the UN Human Rights Council, of which the Philippines was a member, and explained that she could not publicly debate on matters told in confidentiality during an investigation.
Cayetano, who has been in the United States for almost two weeks, was already in Washington this week for official talks with US State Secretary Rex Tillerson.
Subscribe to our global nation newsletter
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.