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Palace maintains: Callamard ‘not competent’ to probe Duterte’s drug war

United Nations Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions Agnes Callamard is unfit to investigate President Rodrigo Duterte's war on drugs, Malacañang said on Wednesday.

“Ms. Callamard, we reiterate, is not a competent and impartial rapporteur on our anti-drug campaign,” presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said in a statement in response to the UN's condemnation of Duterte's threat to slap Callamard if she investigated the drug war.

According to the UN's Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, Callamard holds a doctorate in political science and is the executive director of international human rights organization Article 19. She also founded and led the Humanitarian Accountability Partnership, which was "the first international self-regulatory body for humanitarian agencies committed to strengthening accountability to disaster-affected populations."

Callamard, according to the UN body, has extensive experience conducting human rights investigations in Africa, Asia and the Middle East.

In his statement, Roque also said that Callamard's conduct "does not befit her office."

“Lest we forget, she came unannounced to the country in May this year even while the terms of her official visit were still being finalized.  And she did so using an event organized by a group that was extremely critical of the administration and presenting herself as a resource person for that event,” he said.

“Her arrogance in going through the back-door not only went against protocol, but is deeply insulting,” he added.

Callamard made an unofficial visit to the Philippines in May upon the invistation of the Free Legal Assistance Group (FLAG) and spoke at a forum at the UNiversity of the Philippines.

Roque added that UN human rights spokesperson Rupert Colville, who made the statement condemning Duterte's threat, should not judge the President’s signature colorful language. Instead, he said, Colville should look into what Duterte stands for.

“We need to point that the President’s remarks on Callamard were addressed to a Filipino audience who are used to the Chief Executive’s unorthodox rhetoric,” he said.

“We therefore hope that Spokesperson Colville would also take time to look into the manner on how human rights experts ought to conduct their business with and in States concerned, i.e., in an unbiased and transparent manner free of all political machinations in accordance with their code of conduct and ethics,” he added.

In response to Colville's statement, Duterte said Tuesday: "Sabihin mo sa kanya, harapin niya ako dito, p— ina talaga hiritan. Binabastos niya tayo."

Roque said that Duterte’s offer to host a global summit on human rights shows that his administration 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,” he said.

Roque also pointed out that his concurrent position as the presidential adviser on human rights would allow him to ensure that the Philippine government would.  protect and promote human rights, especially the right to life. — BM, GMA News