OPINION: Group slams Roque for belittling Callamard’s credentials

Ellen Tordesillas

Posted at Jun 06 2020 03:52 AM

Agnes Callamard, United Nations special rapporteur on Extrajudicial Summary or Arbitrary Execution, had strong words on the situation in the Philippines during an online forum “No lockdown on Rights” last May 29.

She said “the vulnerability of the people of the poorest individuals in our society, the homeless, those who live in a hand-to-mouth existence were not considered “in the implementation of measures to stop Covid-19 resulting in increased systemic violence.” 

In a statement posted by a certain Roger Dala on VERA Files’ Facebook page, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said: “Now, I’d like to say re-state the rule in international law: The use of force is not prohibited by the State provided it is necessary and it is proportional. And I think the kind of responses, the use of force that we have seen satisfied these criteria, if not, then appropriate cases are filed whether be it criminal or administrative which is the duty of the state in case of an alleged violation of the right to life."

Roque also said he personally knows Callamard: "I know Professor Agnes, she’s not a specialist on extra-legal killings. She is a specialist on freedom of expression. It would have been better if the UN appointed an actual expert on extra-legal killings of the same caliber as Philip Alston.”

EcuVoice Philippines, which organized the May 29 webinar, reacted to Roque’s comment saying, “We at EcuVoice see nothing proportionate nor necessary in the use of force by state agents in the implementation of COVID-19 measures in the past three months. The observations raised by Callamard are all warranted and reasonable, based on the numerous cases reported before the public.”

EcuVoice also said they “condemn the disrespect shown by the presidential spokesperson to the UN Special Rapporteur in his attempt to rebuff her observations.”

“His inappropriate debasement of Callamard’s credentials is consistent with how the President has shunned and rejected international human rights protection mechanisms by resorting to ad hominem attacks. Such action has underscored the current administration’s utter and obvious disregard of well-established human rights mechanisms and standards,” they added. 

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Writer Pablo Tariman is very angry. After the House of Representatives railroaded the anti-terror bill, he wrote a poem, The Heart of Terror:

Terror is when
Basic decency leaves
The house of the people
Turned house of sycophants.

Terror is when you see poor elderlies
Turned away from train stations
After walking for hours.

Terror is when you see bureaucrats
Shamelessly pat themselves on TV
Only to see thousands
Stranded on the streets
Looking for rides
On their way to work.

Terror is when so called erudite
Men and women
Elbow each other
For a grand show
In the house of the people
While countless families beg for food
And beg for basic transport
For the day’s work.

Terror is when devout fathers
Get murdered on breakfast time
After days of death threats
While progressives are left for dead
In the highways of Ormoc.

You see the heart of terror
in insecure leaders
rendered coward and incompetent
by women who speak their minds.

One has long endured
The heart of terror
As we contemplate
Countrymen who lost jobs
And business establishments
Closing shop after the virus
Ended their sources of livelihood.

Terror is when you contemplate
14 days in jail without charges filed
And some council members
Resorting to red-tagging
When progressives expose
Their small minds.

We are living
In endless cycle of terror
Not just from the virus
But from the very men
Who are supposed to
Keep us all safe.

In this time of the pandemic
We continue to live
In endless cycle of terror
From within and from without.

It is ironic
The house of the people
Has turned into a house of fools
As millions go hungry
And hundreds get cremated
On their last hours
On earth.

The virus has metamorphosed
Into a vicious face of terror
In the house of the people.
 
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Disclaimer: The views in this blog are those of the blogger and do not necessarily reflect the views of ABS-CBN Corp.