Yasay demands apology from Callamard for damaging RP’s reput
By Ted Tuvera, Joyce Rocamora
and Angie M. Rosales
SINGAPORE — Foreign Affairs Secretary Perfecto Yasay yesterday demanded that United Nations (UN) special rapporteur Agnes Callamard publicly apologize to the Philippine government for damaging the country’s reputation before the international community.
At a press conference with Filipino reporters here, Yasay accused the special rapporteur on extra judicial killings of “jumping into conclusions” that President Duterte is encouraging vigilante-styled killings as a matter of state policy in fighting drug traffickers and criminals.
“She must apologize for the findings she has made. She must withdraw the findings immediately and admit in public, to the international community because her remarks have unfairly damaged the country,” Yasay said, noting that Callamard has been allegedly spreading “wrong information” about the series of extrajudicial killings (EJK) under the six-month old Duterte administration which “is not yet verified.”
“She has damaged the country tremendously by her statement. People have jumped to conclusions that extrajudicial killings have been perpetrated in the Philippines; that there is rampant violation and state-sponsored violation of human rights,” he stressed.
Apparently, Callamard’s “sorry” is the Philippine government’s latest condition for her to pursue her fact-finding mission in the country. She will not be welcomed, Yasay noted, if she rejects Mr. Duterte’s conditions stipulated in the invitation for her to probe the killings attributed to the administration’s war on drugs.The foreign affairs minister said that the President’s terms will not affect the UN commission’s independence in their probe, adding that such prerequisites are made to secure the veracity of whatever findings they will come up with.
Mr. Duterte demands are: a public debate between him and the rapporteur, an opportunity to propound his own questions to whoever he deems appropriate, and Callamard and her team first takes an oath.
“It is up to her to accept the conditions. If she cannot comply, then it’s sorry for her,” Yasay said.
Callamard won’t abide
by Rody’s conditions
Citing inconsistencies with the UN code of conduct and Terms of Reference, UN Special Rapporteur Callamard yesterday said she cannot abide by the government’s pre-conditions in the probe on the alleged spate of EKJ in the country.
In a television interview, Callamard said these conditions (imposed by government) are against the UN code of conduct and Terms of Refence when visiting a country.
Accepting the public debate would contradict the provision of securing the confidentiality of the investigation’s results, said the UN expert.
“I cannot build trust, including with the police or with the government, if there is a threat of public debate at the end of the mission,” she said in the interview with CNN Philippines.
Since the issue involves deaths of alleged victims and perpetrators, Callamard added that there is the necessity of respect, “respect for the life, respect for the loss of life, respect for the victims, respect for the police, respect for the family.”
Although having apprehensions on the idea of a public debate, Callamard said she would consider having a press conference and even a private debriefing with President Duterte.
She explained that she is mandated to follow the international body’s standardized assessment, not to engange in a “politicized debate.”
Callamard insisted that the Philippine government must reconsider the Chief Executive’s house rules.
In an email to a few reporters, including the Daily Tribune, the special rapporteur said that all of Mr. Duterte’s conditions are in conflict with UN protocols for such missions.
“(President Duterte’s) conditions are inconsistent with the Special Rapporteur Code of Conduct and Terms of Reference for country visits,” she said, noting that she already sent a letter of explanation to Manila on Thursday.
“I have highlighted in particular the principles of independence and confidentiality, which should guide my mission, and the necessity of building and maintaining trust with all stakeholders, precluding any public debates,” Callamard added.
According to the rapporteur’s code of conduct article 3.F, they are “not (allowed) to seek or accept any instructions from any Government or other actor.”
Callamard also wants to avoid a public debate between her and Mr. Duterte, suggesting that she would rather have “standard private debriefing with the Government, at the end of the mission, could be followed by a joint press conference with President Duterte.”
“If this suggestion is accepted, it would be an opportunity for me to introduce briefly my preliminary findings and for the President to offer his own analysis, reply or rebuttal,” the rapporteur said.
“Such a format would exclude debate between us, but allow the President to make immediately public his initial reactions to my preliminary findings should he so choose.
“I remain deeply committed to undertake a visit to the Philippines to investigate the alleged extrajudicial executions in the context of the war on drugs,” Callamard also said.
Singaporean leaders appreciate Rody’sdrug crackdown
But Singaporean leaders appreciated Mr. Duterte’s methods on his crackdown of the narcotics industry.
Secretary Yasay said that, in affirming the Duterte government’s war on drugs, Singaporeans pointed out that “ruthlessness” is an effective solution in fighting transnational syndicates.
The city-state is known for its strict implementation of laws, wherein drug trafficking is punishable by death.
“There was a consensus that this is the kind of method that you should adopt. There can be no compromise on this, that toughness must be there and in fact, it was emphasized by our President, that it is because of this toughness that we have shown and this also had somehow immediately resulted in a positive impact,” Yasay said.
“Singaporean leaders mentioned to us that they will continue to be tough and that this is the reason they also have continued to make sure that anyone caught in the illicit drug trade with a minimum of certain of drugs will be subject to the death penalty,’ he added.
Filipinos in Singapore cheered President Duterte and his war on drugs, saying he is doing the right thing to keep Filipinos safe, saying they love Duterte. Thousands of Filipinos greeted him and cheered him lustily.
Leila gets into picture again
Sen. Leila de Lima yesterday rebuked Malacañang’s firm stance on the conditions set for Callamard despite calls made that such impositions the UN-sanctioned Terms of Reference and Code of Conduct contradicts Mr. Duterte’s conditions.
In chiding the administration, de Lima said the visit to the country to look into the spate of killings of suspected drug offenders are not in any way, criminal, judicial or quasi-judicial in nature.
The fact-finding mission team’s visit to the country, to be led by Callamard, is under UN-sanctioned terms of reference and special procedures and inquiries to be made are for purposes of monitoring and reporting only, she stressed.
“It is imperative that Callamard and her delegation be allowed to discharge their duties effectively and unhampered to show to the world that we are still a nation that observes the rule of law, honors the dignity of life, respects the basic human rights and remains committed to the democratic values of transparency and accountability,” de Lima said.
She called on Malacañang to reconsider its stiff conditions imposed on Callamard.
In the government’s invitation to Callamard, she was told in a letter by Foreign Affairs Secretary Yasay that she cannot come to the country if she will not comply with the President’s terms.
The UN special rapporteur’s visit to the country has become urgent at this time when such government campaign is now in question and there are doubts whether its conduct is in keeping with internationally-accepted standards, the senator pointed out.
“If the administration’s campaign on drugs is indeed in accordance with our Constitution, laws and international conventions, then there is no need to burden the UN-sanctioned fact-finding mission with unreasonably onerous conditions,” de Lima said.
“The President would often repeat that we should have no fear if we do nothing wrong. The same can be said to him. If indeed his so-called ‘war on drugs’ is pursued within the bounds of the law and international standards, then his administration should have nothing to be afraid of,” she said.
“As they often say, an innocent man has nothing to hide,” de Lima stressed.