Agnes Callamard welcome as ‘tourist,’ not UN investigator: Roque


Posted at Mar 03 2018 06:59 PM

Newly-appointed Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque holds his first press briefing in Malacañang on Nov. 2, 2017. Valerie Escalera, Malacañang Photo

Roque says Callamard will be invited to swim in the Pasig River

MANILA—Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque on Saturday said United Nations special rapporteur Agnes Callamard may only visit the country as a "tourist" and that he would invite her to swim in the Pasig River if she comes here.

"Nakapasok na nga ng Pilipinas nang hindi ini-invite pero welcome po siya, dahil after all we welcome all tourists. Kaya lang ang masama doon, huwag niyang palalabasin na nag-iimbestiga siya kasi ang pagpasok sa Pilipinas hindi naman po 'yan katumbas ng pag-iimbestiga," Roque told reporters in Zamboanga del Norte.

(She has already visited the Philippines without being invited, but she's welcome. After all, we welcome all tourists. When she visits, she should not say she's investigating because her visit here does not mean she can conduct an investigation.)

"So kung siya po ay papasok, sabihin niya nagkaroon siya ng obserbasyon bilang isang turista. 'Pag pumasok po siya, aanyayahin po namin siyang lumangoy sa malamig na tubig ng Pasig River."

(The only observations she's allowed to make are of a tourist. If she comes in, we'll invite her to swim in Pasig River's cold waters.)

Roque earlier said he would recommend to President Rodrigo Duterte a different UN special rapporteur to conduct an investigation into the government’s war on drugs. 

He asserted that Callamard, the UN’s special rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, was unfit to conduct an "objective and unbiased" inquiry given her earlier statements against the government's anti-drug campaign. 

“As I have said before, it’s her fault the home state does not want her in. Part of the qualification of a special rapporteur is to be trustworthy enough so the member-nation of the United Nations will allow a special rapporteur to investigate,” Roque said in a news conference in Malacañang Tuesday.

Callamard visited Manila in May 2017 to attend a drug policy forum co-sponsored by the Commission on Human Rights and the Free Legal Assistance Group. 

At the time, Callamard was criticized for paying a visit to the Philippines, but she noted that did not come to assess the country's human rights situation and that she told the government about her arrival. 

The Duterte administration has denied involvement in summary killings and maintained that drug suspects slain in anti-narcotics operations had put up violent resistance. 

In late January, the Philippine National Police said nearly 4,000 drug suspects were killed in anti-drug operations between July 1, 2016, the start of the Duterte administration, and January 17, 2018.

--With a report from Dynah Diestro, ABS-CBN News