Cayetano: UN rapporteur not fit to probe drug war

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, May 11) — Incoming Foreign Affairs Secretary Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano said United Nations (UN) Special Rapporteur Agnes Callamard is not the right person to investigate the war on drugs.

Speaking at a May 10 media briefing in Cambodia, where President Rodrigo Duterte is attending the World Economic Forum, Cayetano said Callamard already has her own judgment about the drug war.

Read: Duterte to visit Cambodia, Hong Kong, China

"Si Dr. Callamard, meron na siyang nasa utak niya kung anong nangyayari dito, against na siya eh," he said. "Kasi ang problema kay Dr. Callamard ay meron silang ideology sa human rights eh. Yung ideology nila ay based doon sa paniniwala na ang drugs kailangang i-decriminalize, lalo yung possession for personal use."

[Translation: Dr. Callamard is against it. The problem with Dr. Callamard is she has her own human rights ideology, in which possession and use of drugs should be decriminalized.]

Cayetano's statement comes after he led a delegation that defended the country's drug war before the UN Human Rights Council, which conducted a review of the human rights situation in the Philippines on May 8.

Read: PH delegation defends drug war at UN in Geneva

The senator, who ran and lost the 2016 national elections as Duterte's vice presidential running mate, told the UN It should send someone who is independent and fair.

"We told the UN, 'Don't take our word for it, but huwag niyo naman rin i-take yung word nung kritiko na as if iyon na yung numero. Padala kayo ng independent team,'" he said.

[Translation: We told the UN, "Don't take our word for it, but don't take the word of critics as if their numbers were true. Send an independent team.]

Cayetano added that Callamard, who also teaches at Columbia University, does not specialize in extrajudicial killings despite being the U.N. Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions.

"Nagulat ako nung sinabi nung mission natin, that's not what she was teaching in Columbia and that's not what her focus was on," he said. "It was on government accountability, communications, etc."

[Translation: I was surprised when our mission said that's not what she was teaching at Columbia... it was on government accountability, communications, etc.]

'Bloody' war on drugs

Callamard has repeatedly condemned the Duterte administration's drug war, saying the deaths in the campaign could be extrajudicial killings.

According to statistics from the Philippine National Police (PNP), around 2,500 drug suspects were killed, over 53,000 arrested, and nearly 1.2 million surrendered in the first six months of the government's anti-drug campaign.

However, human rights organizations have reported over 9,000 deaths since the drug war was launched in July 2016.

The Duterte administration has repeatedly denied the allegations, saying policemen killed the suspects in self-defense or were committed by vigilantes.

The campaign was suspended in January 2017 following the kidnap and murder of Korean businessman Jee Ick-joo in an anti-drug operation.

Read: War on drugs suspended, takes back seat in war against rogue cops

It was relaunched in March 2017, with police chief Ronald Dela Rosa saying that the campaign would be less bloody and would include rehabilitation programs for those who surrender.

Read: PNP relaunches 'less bloody' Oplan Tokhang

As of May 2017, the PNP noted 183 deaths in police operations, as well as 12,766 arrested, and 15,772 who surrendered in the relaunched anti-drug campaign.

Callamard vs. Duterte

In a drug-policy forum at the University of the Philippines (U.P.) on May 5, Callamard said the Philippines committed in an April 2016 U.N. session to using non-violent methods to dealing with the drug problem.

Read: Malacañang slams visit of UN rapporteur to PH

"The General Assembly of the World's Governments recognized exclusively that the war on drugs — be it community-based, national or global — does not work," she said in a speech.

She added that the session called for a "multi-faceted, multi-disciplinary approach," putting emphasis on health, rights and justice.

In December 2016, Duterte imposed conditions for her to conduct her probe.

Read: DFA: UN special rapporteur still welcome to PH — if Duterte's conditions are met

One, Callamard must have a public debate with him. Two, he is allowed to ask her questions. And three, she has to take an oath before answering questions on the issue posed to her by officials.

In response, Callamard said she is still willing to conduct her investigation, but only if the conditions are lifted.

Read: U.N. special rapporteur rejects government conditions

She reiterated this during her May 2017 visit.

Read: UN rep on extrajudicial killings: I will return for official visit on PH drug war if conditions are lifted

Duterte on May 10 criticized Callamard for quoting Columbia University psychology department chair Carl Hart — who also attended the U.P. forum — who said there is no evidence that shabu leads to violence or causes brain damage.