Wednesday , June 20, 2018

Philippines, UN in talks for designation of another expert to probe drug war

THE Philippines and the United Nations (UN) have initiated discussions on the possible designation of another rapporteur who will be allowed to investigate President Rodrigo Duterte's war on illegal drugs, Malacañang said on Thursday, March 8.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque Jr. said Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano is in touch with UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres.

This developed after Malacañang maintained that UN Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial executions Agnes Callamard is "not welcome" in the Philippines.

"The last word that I have with (Cayetano) in this regard is apparently, the UN secretary general said that they will be proposing names. We are awaiting the names, possible rapporteurs. So that's where we are," Roque said in a press briefing with Palace reporters.

"There was already a communication between the UN secretary general himself and our secretary of Foreign Affairs. Let's await the list of possible names to be given by the UN secretary general," he added.

Roque insisted that Callamard, who earlier requested the Philippine government to allow her official visit to look into the reported deaths associated with the drug war, will never be given the chance to conduct an inquiry.

He reiterated that the Duterte administration could not forgive Callamard when she visited the Philippines in May 2017, even though she was "uninvited."

"We cannot forgive Callamard when she went to the Philippines, uninvited and made her conclusions as if she already investigated. Perhaps, it will take some time to heal the wounds which resulted from Callamard's actions," Roque said.

Iceland Foreign Minsiter Gudlaugur Thor Thordarson earlier called on the Philippines to approve Callamard's inquiry into Duterte's controversial war on drugs.

In response, Duterte instructed the Philippine National Police on March 1 not to cooperate.

On Wednesday, March 7, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein slammed Duterte for giving such an order to the police.

"I deplore President Duterte’s statement last week to élite police units that they should not cooperate 'when it comes to human rights, or whoever rapporteur it is' and the continued vilification of this Council’s Special Rapporteur on extra-judicial killings by the authorities," Zeid said.

"The government has a duty to uphold human rights and to engage with persons appointed by this council," he added. (SunStar Philippines)