Panelo: UN investigators to be refused entry, denied visas

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Presidential Spokesperson Sal Panelo (FILE PHOTO)

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, July 16) — The president's spokesperson, quoting the country's top diplomat, said investigators from the United Nations will not be allowed entry into the Philippines.

The move comes on the heels of the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) adoption last week of a resolution sponsored by Iceland, which called for a probe into the human rights situation in the country.

"Di ba sinabi ni Sec. Teddy Boy Locsin hindi sila papapasukin?" Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said in interview on CNN Philippines' Politics As Usual. It was not clear if President Rodrigo Duterte has come to the same decision. Duterte earlier said he may consider allowing the investigators into the country.

“Let them state their purpose and I will review. Kung dagdag lang sila sa intriga [If they'll just add to the intrigue], they better go to the media. And the media will tell them the truth," Duterte told reporters Thursday in Malacanang

Asked how they will be barred entry, Panelo said they will be stopped by immigration and they will be denied visas.

"Unang-una pag-immigration pa lang di na sila makapasok," he said.

[Translation: First of all, they won't be allowed entry by the Bureau of Immigrations.]

He added that those with the intention to investigate the drug war will have their visas denied.

"When you apply for a visa you state your purpose for your visit. Denied kaagad 'yun [It will be denied immediately]," Panelo said.

However, the UNHRC might still be able to conduct its investigation even if it is barred entry to the country.

National Union of Peoples' Lawyers (NUPL) President Edre Olalia said that the UNHRC has a regional office in Bangkok, Thailand.

"In case they are not allowed to enter our country, there are ways for which information from all sides are taken," Olalia said on Politics as Usual.

Going to Thailand to participate in the investigation is voluntary, but Olalia said that it's on the government if they don't want to give their side.

"That's the call of the government, but they can not fault these people if they have only in their possession information from non-government sources," he said.

President Rodrigo Duterte has yet to announce his decision as to whether or not the Philippines will cut diplomatic ties with Iceland due to the UNHRC probe.

According to Panelo, the president is "seriously considering" it.