De Lima: If Duterte's innocent, why set conditions on UN probe?
MANILA, Philippines – Senator Leila de Lima has dared President Rodrigo Duterte to lift the conditions he has set on the United Nations team investigating extrajudicial killings in his war on drugs.
De Lima said in a statement on Friday, December 16, that the President, after all, has nothing to hide if he is indeed innocent.
Duterte's most vocal critic threw the challenge after the President practically shut the door to a UN probe into the killings by setting conditions that ran against the standard terms of reference of UN fact-finding missions.
“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,” De Lima said.
“As they often say, an innocent man has nothing to hide,” she added.
The Duterte administration has imposed conditions on the UN probe into the spate of extrajudicial killings in the country to be led by UN Special Rapporteur Agnes Callamard. One condition is that she answers Duterte’s questions about her investigations in public and under oath. (READ: Duterte requires 'public debate' with UN expert before probe – DFA)
In an email response to reporters, Callamard had said she rejects Duterte's conditions as it would compromise the confidentiality of her investigation and because they go against UN protocol. (READ: LOOK: Duterte admin's formal invitation to UN rapporteur)
Crucial for PH reputation
De Lima said if the administration is confident that it has done nothing wrong, there is no need to impose "inflexible" and "unreasonable" rules.
“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,” said De Lima, who was the first to launch a Senate probe into the summary executions.
The UN-led probe is crucial now, the senator said, as the government’s war on drugs has gained international attention and criticism.
De Lima, former chairperson of the Commission on Human Rights and justice secretary, said it is important for Callamard and her team be allowed to do their jobs without encountering any govenment obstacles to prove to the world that the Philippines still respects the rule of law.
“It is imperative that Dr 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,” she said.
Foreign Secretary Perfecto Yasay Jr said Callamard must apologize for her "arbitrary" conclusions on alleged human rights violations in the Duterte administration. He blamed her for the Millenium Challenge Corporations’ decision not to renew its multimillion-dollar grant to the Philippines. (READ: U.S. stops aid package to PH over rights concerns) – Rappler.com