Cayetano wants U.N. rights council to send independent investigator

Christian Esguerra, ABS-CBN News

Posted at May 11 2017 02:05 AM

PHNOM PENH--The Philippines' new top diplomat on Wednesday urged the U.N. Human Rights Council to send an independent investigator to Manila, insisting he did not mislead the body on the number of drug-related killings under President Rodrigo Duterte.

Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano rejected a possible inquiry by U.N. special rapporteur Agnes Callamard, saying she had already made her "conclusions."

Cayetano earlier this week led the Philippine delegation to Geneva that defended the country's human rights record during the council's periodic review.

He claimed there was "no new wave of killings" under Duterte, contrary to media reports estimating that more than 9,000 people had been killed amid the war on drugs.

"I'm willing to resign, to be jailed, to be exiled if what I presented was wrong or at the very least, if I intentionally misled anyone," Cayetano told reporters.

"Everything I presented was based on fact, based on actual numbers."

Under the Duterte administration, he said there were 9,432 homicide cases from July 1 2016 to March 31, 2017, and 2,692 deaths resulting from presumed legitimate police operations in the drug war. 

In his opening statement, Cayetano hit back at critics of Duterte, including the Commission on Human Rights (CHR), for allegedly spreading “alternative facts.”

"Killings in the Philippines in the previous administrations varied from a low of 11,000 to a high of 16,000 per year. Why wasn't this reported? Why is there no apples to apples comparison between the figures of past and present administrations?" he said.

Last year, the Philippine government invited Callamard to look into the human rights situation in the country, but with certain conditions. 

Callamard rejected the conditions, and came to Manila last week to attend a two-day academic conference on drug-related issues and was not assessing the situation in the country. 

Cayetano claimed that Callamard is no expert on extra-judicial killings and enforced disappearances.

"Lalong 'di siya expert sa droga, so how can you have someone come here na meron na siyang conclusion, finding na droga 'di nakakasama?" he said.

The office of the U.N. high commissioner on human rights cites Callamard's "distinguished career in human rights and humanitarian work."

"She has led human rights investigations in more than 30 countries and published extensively, in both English and French, on human rights, women’s rights, freedom of expression, refugee movements and the methodology of human rights investigation," it said on its website.