Roque: We'll invite Callamard to swim in Pasig river if she visits PH

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, March 3) — Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque said Saturday the government would invite United Nations Special Rapporteur Agnes Callamard to swim in the Pasig River if she comes to the Philippines.

"Kung siya po ay papasok sabihin niya, nagkaroon siya ng obserbasyon bilang turista. So kapag pumasok po siya ay aanyayahan po namin siyang lumangoy sa malamig na tubig ng Pasig River," he said.

[Translation: If she enters the country, she should say her observations as a tourist. So if she enters here, we'll invite her to swim in the Pasig River's cold water.]

Roque said this after being asked what the government would do if the rapporteur decides to enter the Philippines as a tourist, but investigates during her stay in the country.

Callamard has been at odds with President Rodrigo Duterte over the deaths allegedly taking place under the administration's war on drugs. She has been seeking a probe on the alleged killings.

READ: Callamard calls for probe on all 'unlawful' deaths following Kian slay

Just last Tuesday Roque expressed openness to having a UN expert investigate the country's drug war as long as Callamard was out of the picture.

He said she had failed to pass the government's standards in terms of "character, credibility, and trustworthiness."

READ: Roque to recommend UN expert to probe drug war: 'Definitely not Callamard'

Roque, however, said Saturday Callamard is "welcome" as a tourist and has entered the Philippines without an invitation before.

He added if Callamard enters, she should make it clear her observations were made as a visitor and not part of her work as a rapporteur.

"Kaya lang ang masama doon huwag niyang palalabasin na nag-imbestiga siya kasi ang pagpasok sa Pilipinas, hindi naman po iyan katumbas ng pag-iimbestiga," said Roque.

[Translation: She should make sure that sure that she doesn't make it look like she's investigating once she enters the Philippines, because that's not the same thing.]

Roque also clarified Duterte's recent statement telling police officers not to answer or "bother" if international human rights investigators talk to them about the war on drugs.

READ: Duterte tells police to ignore UN human rights probers of drug war

He said this was because the President believes rapporteurs looking to investigate the country already have existing biases.

"Well iyong mandato po ni Presidente, dahil sa tingin niya na iyong gustong pumasok na mga UN Rapporteur ay iyong mga bias at mayroon nang konklusyon bago pa magkaroon ng imbestigasyon," he said.

"Makikipagtulungan lang po tayo doon sa mga tao na wala pang konklusyon at mayroon pong katapatan na talagang mag-iimbestiga bago magkaroon ng konklusyon."

[The President mandate comes because he believes the UN Rapporteurs looking to enter are already biased and have formed conclusions before their investigations… We'll only cooperate with people who have not yet formed their conclusions and are truthful enough to investigate before forming conclusions.]

Callamard had already visited the Philippines in May last year as a guest speaker for a two-day drug policy forum.

Malacañang claimed she had not informed them of her visit, but she refuted this, saying the Philippine government acknowledged receipt of her letter and reacted to the information with letters on April 29 and May 1.

READ: U.N. Special Rapporteur: I informed PH of my visit

Just this week, the Philippine government called on the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) not to "politicize or weaponize" human rights.

READ: PH to UN council: Do not politicize, weaponize human rights

The drug war has been criticized by local and international human rights groups since it began in 2016, when Duterte took office.

While government data show around 4,000 drug suspects were killed in operations, the groups believe the number to be as high as 13,000 - including those killed in vigilante-style executions.

CNN Philippines' VJ Bacungan and Chad De Guzman contributed to this story.