Conditions hinder UN fact-finding probe--lawmaker

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Dec 15 2016 04:13 PM

There should be no conditions set in human rights investigations to ensure nothing would impede the quest for the truth, an opposition lawmaker said on Thursday.

"There should never be conditions. There should never be obstacles to an honest to goodness fact-finding investigation," said Albay Representative Edcel Lagman, a member of House minority group "Magnificent 7", on a possible visit by United Nations (UN) Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions Agnes Callamard to the country.

Caloocan City Representative Edgar Erice also said that there should be nothing to hinder Callamard's visit, as she will not be coming to the country "to debate, but to gather evidence" on supposed extrajudicial killings.

Earlier, foreign affairs spokesperson Charles Jose said Callamard may still probe supposed drug-related killings in the country, as long as she complies with guidelines set by the government.

"The invitation still stands. SFA (Foreign Affairs Secretary Perfecto Yasay) clarified that we have not cancelled the visit. It is up to Callamard to agree and comply with the conditions imposed by President Duterte in inviting her to visit the Philippines," Jose said in a text message to ABS-CBN News.

Jose's statement dispelled earlier reports which quoted Yasay saying Callamard had declined to accept Duterte’s visit guidelines.

Callamard in November committed to visit the Philippines in 2017. In a briefing note, she said they sent a reply to the Philippine government on November 11, expressing their commitment to conduct a one- or two-week visit to the country next year.

Meanwhile, Lagman also said that President Rodrigo Duterte's claims that he "personally" killed criminals while he was mayor of Davao City should be investigated by human rights groups.

In a speech on Wednesday, Duterte said he did it to show the police that if he could do it, they could, too.

"In Davao I used to do it personally. Just to show to the guys (police) that if I can do it why can't you...

"And I'd go around in Davao with a motorcycle, with a big bike around, and I would just patrol the streets, looking for trouble also. I was really looking for a confrontation so I could kill," he said. –with reports from Sherrie Ann Torres, ABS-CBN News