UN rapporteur must apologize for 'tremendous' harm to PH – Yasay

SINGAPORE – United Nations Special Rapporteur on summary killings Agnes Callamard must apologize for her "arbitrary" conclusions on alleged human rights violations in the Duterte administration's campaign against illegal drugs, Foreign Secretary Perfecto Yasay Jr said on Friday, December 16.

"First, she must apologize for the arbitrary findings that she has made. She must withdraw the findings immediately and admit before the international community because it has unfairly damaged the country," Yasay said in a news briefing with other Cabinet officials in Singapore, where President Rodrigo Duterte had a state visit.

Callamard is the UN official Duterte invited to the Philippines to investigate extrajudicial killings, provided she answer his questions about her investigations in public and under oath.

In an email response to some 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.

An apology from Callamard was not among Duterte's conditions for her visit.

Yasay said the ball is now in Callamard's court and that the Philippines has not withdrawn its invitation to her.

"If she cannot comply with it then that's the end of it but let it not be said the Philippines has withdrawn the inviation for her. The inviation still stands," he said.

'Tremendous' harm

Callamard's public statements calling on the Duterte government to "protect all persons from targeted killings and extrajudicial executions" have been "very hurting" to the image of the Philippines, said Yasay.

"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 said.

Yasay suggested that Callamard's statements may even be the reason why US aid-giving bodies have decided against giving much-needed assistance to the Philippines.

"In fact, this is one of the basis of which the US had also made its decisions in so far as certain assistance given to the Philippines is concerned," said Yasay.

On Thursday, December 15, the US Embassy announced that one of its aid-giving bodies, the Millennium Challenge Corporation, will not renew a grant for the Philippines due to "significant concerns around rule of law and civil liberties."

If Callamard is determined to push through with her investigation, another option is open to her, said Yasay.

If she does not accept Duterte's invitation because of his conditions, she can request for a visit through the usual UN protocol. Under this process, the host country will still have the discretion on whether or not to allow the visit. – Rappler.com

Pia Ranada

Pia Ranada covers the Office of the President and Bangsamoro regional issues for Rappler. While helping out with desk duties, she also watches the environment sector and the local government of Quezon City. For tips or story suggestions, you can reach her at pia.ranada@rappler.com.