Letters to the Editor

Visit of UN Special Rapporteur

The Philippine Star

This is in relation to the visit of United Nations Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression and Opinion, Irene Khan, in Baguio City last Jan. 26. It is in our character, we Filipinos, that we welcome international scrutiny and discussions, but we should take note that it is also essential that when a foreign visiting dignitary, such as one in the position of a UN Rapporteur, should also be prudent and tactful with their statements and comments.

If you have read some articles regarding her visit in Baguio City, it was observed that only selected individuals or organizations were invited to participate in the said dialogue and discussion pertaining to freedom of expression and opinions, where the endless issue of red-tagging associated with human rights violations was tackled again.

But one raised observation is, why is it always the same people or organizations that attend such discussions? Are they the only organizations here in the region that complain on such issues? And with the same organizations complaining, I hope that Ms. Khan will carefully weigh the information they say to her and really have a thorough investigation into the allegations they are throwing, especially at the government.

Although we are already aware of the importance of constructive criticism and suggestions, it’s essential that Ms. Khan recognizes the complexities of our unique circumstances because we all know that our country is a diverse society rich in culture, tradition and history. And we all hope that these factors will not be manipulated in justifying their odd means. Now that she already heard the organization’s side, she should also take into consideration the explanation of the government. This may include recognizing the efforts made by the current administration in preserving the rights and security of the Filipinos while upholding balance in having an effective and efficient government.

The United Nations is well-known for its crucial role in fostering international collaboration and dialogue in addressing global challenges; however, this time, for this partnership to be fruitful, it is vital that the representatives from international organizations will exercise prudence and tact when commenting on the internal affairs of the country. Ms. Khan should consider both perspectives to form a balanced and informed opinion on the matter.

We hope that Ms. Khan’s visit will contribute positively to the ongoing dialogue between our country and the international community. By choosing her words with care, she can ensure that her observations are constructive and respectful of our nation’s sovereignty. It’s important to note that Ms. Khan’s consultation with these civil society organizations highlights her commitment to understanding and addressing issues related to freedom of expression and opinion, particularly in the context of indigenous communities, and will not be tainted by those with evil plans to overthrow the government.  –  Sheila Mae Viernes, Cauayan City, Isabela, [email protected]

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