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Sotto slams Callamard, calls UN rights execs ‘helicopter experts’

/ 05:19 PM August 14, 2017
agnes callamard

Dr Agnes Callamard, executive director of international human rights group ‘Article 19’, addresses a press conference at the launch of the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office’s (FCO) report on Human Rights and Democracy in central London, on March 31, 2011. AFP PHOTO/GEOFF CADDICK / AFP PHOTO / GEOFF CADDICK

Senate Majority Leader Vicente Sotto III on Monday lashed out at a group of United Nations (UN) experts over their criticisms of the human rights situation in the Philippines.

In a privilege speech, Sotto called UN special rapporteurs Agnes Callamard, Michel Forst, Maud de Boer-Buquicchio “helicopter experts” for offering solution to the problems of the country that “they are not even familiar with.”

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Callamard is the UN’s special rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, while Michel Forst on the situation of human rights defenders and Maud de Boer-Buquicchio on the sale and sexual exploitation of children.

“Is it possible to arrive in a country you are not familiar with, and in a couple of days, speak about the decades-old problems of that country like you had all the wisdom in the world? And even expect to be welcomed hospitably by your hosts?” Sotto asked.

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“Nakakahiya di po ba, na magdunung-dunungan sa mga bagay na di mo talaga alam, at mas alam ng mga taong iyong binibisita?” Sotto said.

Callamard previously had a verbal tussle with President Duterte over the government’s drug war.

Sotto said he initially wanted to speak out on the issue since Callamard flew to Manila to attend a drug policy forum in May but he said, “time and circumstances conspired to dampen (his) interest to speak.”

“I thought the passage of two and a half months would make my interest fade away and die, but I was mistaken. Just last August 2, another provocation emanated from the same source, and if I continue to be silent, I may be remiss in my duties,” he said.

Sotto also attempted to debunk the claims of Callamard that there is no evidence that shabu or crystal meth leads to violence or causes brain damage.

He then mentioned the killings committed by drug abusers.

“Do we still need more proofs how worst shabu can do to a man’s mental faculties? I’ll give you more. Just six months ago, particularly in February of this year, a 4-month-old baby was raped by a known junkie in their neighborhood in Carcar City, Cebu. The baby was found bloodied and naked 30 meters from her home. There were lacerations, blood and grass particles found in the private area of the victim. Who, in his normal state of mind, can do such a thing to a baby who is defenseless, weak and fragile? More recently, specifically last May 2017, a policeman, who was charged with two counts of parricide by shooting his wife and son 38 times and even stabbed his son in the heart “because he wouldn’t die”, tested positive for drugs and admitted that he had sniffed “shabu” days before the brutal killings,” Sotto said.

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“Thus, based on the foregoing, undeniably, shabu can lead to violence. Shabu can cause brain damage. And shabu can kill! To believe otherwise is courting disaster,” he said.

Sotto added: “Alam natin na shabu ay nakakasira ng ulo. Do we listen to our own mind and experience, or believe what a foreigner who does not know us tell us what is wrong with us?”

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TAGS: Agnes Callamard, Senate Majority Leader Vicente Sotto III, United Nations
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