MANILA, Philippines – In response to the United Nations human rights chief’s condemnation of President Rodrigo Duterte’s threat to slap UN rapporteur Agnes Callamard, Malacañang called Callamard incompetent and biased.
“Ms Callamard, we reiterate, is not a competent and impartial rapporteur on our anti-drug campaign. The way she conducted herself does not befit her office,” said Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque on Wednesday, November 22.
Rupert Colville, spokesman of UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, had said Callamard has “clearly been acting fully in line with her mandate when commenting on the situation in the Philippines.”
He said the UN High Commissioner “deplores the repeated insults and threats of physical violence” made by Duterte and his supporters against Callamard.
But Malacañang said Callamard’s remarks calling for an investigation into Duterte’s drug war and attendance to a forum on illegal drugs last May proved she is biased.
Malacañang found her “unnannounced” May visit “insulting” since the terms of her official visit “were still being finalized” then.
“Her arrogance in going through the back-door not only went against protocol, but is deeply insulting,” said Roque.
Duterte’s spokesman said Callamard should not have attended the May forum since it was organized by a group that was “extremely critical of the administration.”
Roque may have been referring to the forum, “Drug Issues, Different Perspectives,” held from May 5 to 6 in Quezon City, where Callamard delivered a speech.
It was organized by FLAG Anti Death Penalty Task Force, in collaboration with the University of the Philippines-Diliman Office of the Chancellor and the College of Law’s Institute of Human Rights.
The UN official had also attended the anniversary of the Commission on Human Rights, though she did not speak there. The CHR has been critical of Duterte’s drug war.
Callamard had previously stressed her May visit was academic in nature and did not involve any probe on government’s anti-drugs campaign.
As to Duterte’s threat to slap Callamard, Malacañang advised Colville not to judge the President by his “colorful language.”
“We note the concerns of Spokesperson Rupert Colville of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, however, he should do well not to judge the colorful language the President is known for, but by what he stands for and the values he holds dear,” said Roque.
He said the UN High Commissioner should understand that Duterte’s remarks about Callamard “were addressed to a Filipino audience who are used to the Chief Executive’s unorthodox rhetoric.”
Duterte’s offer to host a “global summit on human rights,” said Roque, is proof he is willing to have a dialogue about human rights, as long as it involves “disinterested and apolitical human rights experts.”
He called on Colville to study how UN human rights experts can deal with governments accused of human rights violations “in an unbiased and transparent manner, free of all political machinations, in accordance with their code of conduct and ethics.”
Duterte has been accused of tolerating, or at worst, encouraging, the killings of drug suspects in line with his government’s campaign against narcotics.
Over 2,500 persons have died in anti-drugs police operations while over 3,600 are victims in cases of “deaths under investigation.” These cases include supposed extrajudicial killings. – Rappler.com
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