Sotto, Lacson oppose De Lima's move to invite UN Rapporteur

SENATOR Leila de Lima's suggestion to the Duterte administration to send a formal invitation to United Nations (UN) Special Rapporteur on summary executions Agnes Callamard was met with opposition by two colleagues.

De Lima wants Callamard to look into the phenomenon of extrajudicial killings in the country.

Senate Majority Leader Vicente Sotto III and Senator Panfilo Lacson said there is no need for the UN to come to the Philippines and meddle in the current campaign of the Duterte administration against illegal drugs.

Sotto said it was about time that the UN realized their boundaries and respect the mandate of the people while Lacson said de Lima should stop projecting that she is the only one fighting for the right of the people.

On Wednesday, de Lima filed Senate Resolution 153 urging the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) to invite Callamard to look into the spate of extrajudicial killings and summary executions amid the campaign against illegal drugs.

"Unless a third-party investigator comes in, there is reason to believe that we may not be able to ferret out the whole truth behind the killings, and to serve complete justice to the victims and the Filipino people,” she said.

Based on official figures, as of last September 14, there are 3,173 total number of persons killed since the all-out war on illegal drugs has started last July 1, of whom 1,138 were killed in police operations while 2,035 were victims of extrajudicial or vigilante killings.

“The average number of persons killed daily for the past two and a half months is 42.3. By any standard, the statistics are alarming and staggering. And judging from both official and media sources, there is no showing that we will soon experience a downtrend in the figures,” she said.

The former justice secretary also noted that multilateral organizations, such as the United Nations and the European Union, have expressed grave concerns over the drug-related killings in the country, urging the government to put a stop to these killings.

Even local as well as international media, she continued, have taken special interests in reporting the administration-sponsored “war on drugs” which many believed disregards due process of the law and disregards basic human rights and sanctity of life.

De Lima, former chairperson of the Senate justice committee, also pointed out how Senate witness Edgar Matobato, a former member of the notorious Davao Death Squad, has implicated a highest public official in the death of about 1,000 persons in Davao City.

“This call for a speedy and impartial investigation is justified by the perception that our local institutions of law enforcement and justice, including domestic mechanisms of accountability of public officials, appear to be either inadequate, compromised or weak,” the senator said.

Being a signatory to various UN Conventions, De Lima said the Philippine government may pursue an impartial investigation through an independent commission of inquiry to be conducted by the UN Special Rapporteur.

Under the UN Human Rights Council’s Resolution 26/12, the Special Rapporteur “undertakes visits to examine the situation of extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary execution in the respective country, and to formulate recommendations to the government and other actors on upholding the right to life.

“Such on-site visits by the Special Rapporteur can be initiated by an official invitation from a concerned government, such as the Philippines,” de Lima added. (Sunnex)

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