COMMUNICATION Secretary Martin Andanar again found himself in another miscommunication controversy on Saturday after he confirmed wrong information that an 18-man United Nations team would be visiting the country from Sept. 28 to 29.
Andanar confirmed in a radio interview that the UN team would arrive next week to look into accusations of extrajudicial killings in the country’s war against drugs and upon the invitation of President Rodrigo Duterte who said he will invite the UN to investigate the claims.
But Department of Foreign Affairs spokesman Charles Jose clarified that no UN delegation is expected to arrive in the country next week because the foreign office has not even drafted an invitation to the world body much less a discussion on the visit’s terms of reference.
“[There is] no invitation yet. We will send the letter as soon as we get it from the Palace,” Jose explained, adding that the DFA was expecting the formal letter of invitation from Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea.
Even before the letter is sent, Jose said the usual diplomatic practice is for the Philippines and the United Nations to agree on the dates of the visit, places that will be visited, people involved and similar details.
“The government also needs to approve those victims or the victims’ families before they can interview them. They need to ask permission from the government first,” Jose said.
The DFA spokesman said the visit is different from the annual human rights review next week that is part of the country’s commitment under the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.
The ICESCR is a multilateral treaty adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on Dec. 16, 1966 which the Philippines signed on Dec. 19, 1966 and ratified on June 4, 1974.
“It is a regular thing,” Jose said of the annual review which will be conducted this year by 18 experts from the UN economics, social, and cultural rights committee at the Palais des Nations in Geneva, Switzerland from Sept. 28 to 29.
But the Geneva review, which will mark the 50th anniversary of the ICESCR and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, will not cover the issue of extrajudicial killings as claimed by the critics of the Duterte administration.
Aside from the Philippines, other states to be reviewed by the UN are Costa Rica, Cyprus, Poland, Tunisia, Lebanon and the Dominican Republic. The findings are expected to be published on Oct. 11.
It was not the first time Andanar was questioned for disseminating wrong information after he claimed at the leaders’ summit of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations that Duterte would be seated between US President Barack Obama and UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.
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