The proposed United Nations inquiry on possible human rights violations in the Philippines has suffered a setback after UN Repporteur on Extrajudicial, Summary, and Arbitrary Executions Agnes Callamard rejected some conditions reportedly being set by the Philippine government.
She had been invited last September by Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea to visit the Philippines and “see for yourself” whether worldwide criticism of President Duterte’s anti-drugs campaign has any basis.
Last Friday, in a television interview, Callamard said she could not accept certain conditions that were inconsistent with the established code for UN special rapporteurs. One of the conditions, she said, was that she should take part in a public debate with President Duterte. She suggested that a private debriefing with the President be held instead, after which they would hold a press joint conference to allow the President to rebut any negative findings in the UN inquiry.
President Duterte has disowned extra-judicial killings in the country. In a speech at the Belenismo Festival award rites in Tarlac last week, he said his order to the police is to hunt down drug pushers and arrest them. If they are armed and they put up a fight, he said, the lives of the lawmen should not be at risk. “Unahan na ninyo. That’s my order,” he said.
The next day, at the award rites in Malacanang for the Ten Outstanding Young Men and Women, he denied claims he was endorsing summary executions. He said he would shoot any policeman or soldier who would kill or torture innocent civilians.
Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales has said the President’s threats to kill drug users and dealers are not illegal unless he makes it happen. The foul language he may have used in answering critics like United States President Barack Obama and United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon may not be “presidential,” she said, but they are “not illegal.”
Since the start of the anti-drugs campaign of the government, nearly 6,000 people have lost their lives, of which about 2,000 were killed in legitimate police operations. That means about 4,000 allegedly killed by vigilantes, Sen. Panfilo Lacson, chairman of the Senate Committee on Public Order and Dangerous Drugs, said. He called on the National Bureau of Investigation to look into the killings.
We hope agreement is reached so that the UN inquiry can be held as planned and scheduled. It will help clear up the situation and answer questions about the anti-drugs campaign of the new administration as it moves on to the next phase of President Duterte’s program of change, a drive against corruption in government.