MANILA, Philippines – Malacañang has officially invited a United Nations special rapporteur to come to the Philippines to investigate rising cases of extrajudicial killings allegedly unleashed by President Duterte’s intensified campaign against illegal drugs and criminality.
Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea said the Palace has sent the invitation to UN special rapporteur Agnes Callamard and is awaiting her response.
In its invitation, the Palace also urged the UN rapporteur to include in her investigation the killings of law enforcers by drug suspects so she could obtain “an accurate perspective” of the drug problem in the country.
“We have sent the letter. It’s up to them how they will respond,” Medialdea said in an interview.
He stressed the invitation was only for the UN rapporteur.
Duterte earlier dared US President Barack Obama as well as representatives from the European Union (EU) to visit the country and do their own investigation, instead of publicly criticizing the conduct of his vicious war on drugs.
Medialdea said the Duterte administration was wrongly pictured as being responsible for the spate of what were widely believed to be drug-related killings. Over 3,000 suspected drug offenders have been killed or have turned up dead since Duterte announced during the campaign his intention to kill drug lords and pushers if he got elected.
The Palace, in its invitation, called on Callamard to “take a fresh look at the Philippine situation in the light of the drug problem that bedevils our country and has been proven to be more widespread than initially thought.”
“We are confident that whatever reports, papers or data you may have been furnished with for your perusal and consideration by your immediate predecessor have not swayed you into prejudging the situation in the Philippines,” Medialdea said.
Callamard was one of the two UN rapporteurs who urged the Duterte administration to end the wave of extrajudicial executions and killings, stressing suspected drug offenders should be “judged in a court of law, not by gunmen on the streets.”
“Claims to fight illicit drug trade do not absolve the government from its international legal obligations and do not shield state actors or others from responsibility for illegal killings,” Callamard stressed in a statement last August released by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.
Probe cop deaths, too
The Palace also called on the UN to look into the killings of policemen during anti-drug operations or by drug syndicates and other criminal gangs.
“We, likewise, expect you to look into the circumstances surrounding the killing of our policemen during legitimate operations. That way, your picture of the enormity and gravity of our problem, and the audacity of drug personalities, can be placed in an accurate perspective,” Medialdea pointed out.
In his speeches, President Duterte has been complaining that two policemen are killed everyday in anti-drug operations as drug suspects have become bolder in fighting lawmakers sent out to arrest them.
The Palace also noted that the Philippines has been in the international limelight since the assumption of President Duterte last July 1 “due to the number of drug-related killings, which his critics and detractors term as ‘extrajudicial’.“
“Maybe, it’s appropriate for us to recall the President’s pronouncement in his inaugural speech that the sale, use and proliferation of illegal rugs shall be stopped by ‘all means that the law allows’,” he added.
“It is in this context that we invite you to visit our country and see for yourself whether or not the criticisms are legally and factually sound,” Medialdea said.
In the spirit of due process, Medialdea echoed the President’s call that he be given the chance to toss questions to the UN representative.
“Since it is this administration that is maligned as being behind these extrajudicial killings, due process requires that the President of the Philippine Republic be given the opportunity to propound his own questions which have been nagging him for some time. The right to be heard is a great principle which every nation recognizes,” the Palace letter read.
“I suppose that that would further fortify his right to due process which requires that the party against whom a charge is leveled is accorded the opportunity to propound his own questions to whomever he deems appropriate, including your good self,” Medialdea added.
“After all, the party charged is entitled to know the motive for the investigation, and why the focus is on the Philippines when there are other nations responsible for the death of innocent and defenseless individuals elsewhere in the world. Those are extrajudicial killings too, are they not?” Medialdea said.
The President has thrown expletives at critics of his anti-drug war, including the UN. Duterte said the US and European countries were in no position to speak against his brutal way of dealing with the drug problem as they had been more ruthless at some point in dealing with their own people or with their colonial subjects.
The executive secretary also reiterated Duterte’s earlier assurance that whatever information they would share with investigators would be the truth and nothing but the truth.
At the start of the letter, the Palace congratulated Callamard for her recent appointment as UN Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial killings.
“We understand that you are mandated, among others, to examine the circumstances surrounding the extrajudicial killings/arbitrary executions and thereafter, to submit your findings, conclusions and recommendations to the UN Human Rights Council, and the General Assembly,” the letter read. “We hope to see you soon.”
Philippine President Duterte called ‘serial killer president’ by European newspaper — Philippine Catholic Church leaders weigh in — China will welcome Duterte (“They Like His Style” — “He’s not afraid to kill his own people”)
Philippine President Duterte to ask China for Scarborough fishing access (Even though China has no legal right to be there…)
Tags: circumstances surrounding the killing of our policemen, drug problem in the Philippines, drug related killings, drug war, Duterte, European Union, Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea, extrajudicial killings, human rights, Philippine government, UN Human Rights Council, UN special rapporteur Agnes Callamard, war on drugs