MANILA, Philippines – “We will not be silenced by lies nor intimidated by anyone’s bully pulpit."
United Nations (UN) special rapporteur on extrajudicial killings Agnes Callamard released this statement following Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque’s remarks against her two fellow UN experts who are Filipinos.
Roque earlier warned UN special rapporteurs Victoria Tauli-Corpuz and Cecilia Jimenez-Damary not to “use their positions to embarrass the Philippine government.”
He was reacting to the women's joint statement urging the government to observe international obligations and protect the rights of indigenous people amid the extension of martial law in Mindanao.
“Thousands of Lumads have already been forcibly displaced by the conflict and have seen their houses and livelihoods destroyed. We fear the situation could deteriorate further if the extension of martial law until the end of 2018 results in even greater militarization,” said a portion of their statement dated December 27.
Roque said that Tauli-Corpuz and Jimenez-Damary should be more careful of their statements because they are “elected to the post upon the behest the former administration” that their opinions will be viewed as tainted.
Callamard corrected Roque, however, explaining that UN special rapporteurs are not elected but rather appointed.
“We are appointed by the UN Human Rights Council as independent experts on the basis of our proven expertise and experience. We are NOT United Nations staff. We are volunteers who serve in our personal capacity and receive no remuneration. We do NOT take on our roles at the ‘behest’ of any government,” she said.
Callamard continued, “When public officials choose fiction over fact, you can be sure they have much to hide. I commend my fellow Special Rapporteurs, Victoria Tauli-Corpuz and Cecilia Jimenez-Damary, for implementing their mandates independently, impartially, accurately, and courageously.”
Callamard’s recent statement is just the latest in her tirade with the Duterte administration.