MANILA, Philippines — Do not come uninvited.
This was Malacañang’s message to United Nations special rapporteur Agnes Callamard, whom President Duterte has threatened to slap if she continues to hit his brutal war on illegal drugs.
Presidential spokesman Harry Roque said Callamard came to the Philippines last May uninvited while the Philippine government was negotiating the invitation required for special rapporteurs to be able to investigate UN member-nations.
“So what she did to come here, despite the fact that negotiation was still pending, was an act of bad faith. And of course, what angered the President in particular is, on her visit here, she brought a resource person who the President believes stated that prohibited drugs are not harmful to human health,” Roque said.
The President was referring to Carl Hart, chairman of the Columbia University psychology department, who said there is no evidence that the use of shabu leads to violent activities or damages the brain.
“Now, my advice, don’t come to the Philippines uninvited,” Roque said.
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Callamard attended a two-day forum on drug policies at the University of the Philippines in Diliman, Quezon City last May. She delivered a keynote speech during the event, which was organized by the Free Legal Assistance Group.
When reminded that Callamard was in the country to attend a conference upon the invitation of the lawyer’s group, Roque said: “Considering there were negotiations ongoing about an official visit to the country, she should have resisted.”
“She still made her comments on a matter that should be investigated first. So the position of the Palace is, how could she have come up with conclusions when she had not yet conducted an investigation?” Roque pointed out.
He claimed that Callamard had preconceived conclusions about the alleged killings in the drug war.
The UN Human Rights Council, through its spokesman Rupert Colville, has condemned Duterte’s treatment of Callamard and has deplored what it described as the “repeated insults and threats of physical violence” against her.
But Duterte was unfazed by the criticism, saying Callamard has disrespected the Philippines with her criticisms against his anti-drug campaign.
“Sabihin mo sa kanya, harapin niya ako dito, p***** i** talaga hihiritan… Binabastos niya tayo (Tell her to face me here, son of a b****. She is disrespecting us),” the President said in a press conference last Tuesday in Taguig.
For Roque, Colville should not judge Duterte for his “colorful language,” adding that the President’s statements should be taken seriously but not literally.
“We need to point out that the President’s remarks on Callamard were addressed to a Filipino audience who are used to the Chief Executive’s unorthodox rhetoric… 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,” Roque said in a statement Wednesday.
He added that Duterte’s standing offer to host a global human rights summit shows that he welcomes disinterested and apolitical human rights experts in the country.
“We believe there must be a venue for dialogue where human rights, given the wide array of rights it covers, can be discussed from a global perspective and not from the view of politicized individuals,” Roque stressed.
Courtesy: (The Philippine Star) | Updated November 24, 2017 – 12:00am
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