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Welcome not

By Jullie Y. Daza

BEFORE he became top honcho of the United Nations, the UN was Kofi Annan’s butt of jokes. Asked how many people worked in the UN, his standard reply would be, “Fifty percent.” And what kind of work did they do? He would say, “On any given day, there are five to six or more cocktail parties going on.”

For Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, the greatest indictment against the UN is that since its birth in the post-war era, as the creation of a group of states meant to promote world peace, mankind has experienced more wars and seen the invention of more deadly weapons, including those designed to wipe out mankind. Wars of liberation, of nationalism, civil wars, wars due to religious intolerance and for “ethnic cleansing,” terrorism, clashing ideologies, etc. cause untold suffering, massive migrations, countless deaths, and unimaginable destruction.

Against such a big picture, the current word war between the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and the government of Rodrigo R. Duterte seems nothing more than a wrinkle in time, or simply a tempest in a demitasse. It all boils down to this: Our President does not want the UN’s special rapporteur on human rights to come and investigate the war on drugs because she has already prejudged the issue with her opinion that the thousands killed were victims of extrajudicial executions. In his undiplomatic style of strong language and phrasing with ellipses, DU30 has “slammed” Agnes Callamard for coming in uninvited last May and for insisting on conducting her investigation in the name of the UN. Adding fuel to the fire was the Commander in Chief’s order to policemen and soldiers, “Do not say anything” (by which he meant that their answers could incriminate them).

Now there’s talk of a compromise. Malacañang will welcome Ms. Callamard as a tourist but not investigator, so the deal is to bring in another inquisitor. For ordinary people like you and me, what’s the big to-do? No country in the world can be forced to accept a foreigner, which is why they issue visas. But even with a visa stamped on the foreigner’s passport, he can still be barred by immigration agents from entering their country. The embassy has the power to NOT issue a visa, just as the immigration agent at the port of entry may place the arriving passenger on the first plane out. Consular officials at the embassy and immigration staff at the airport are under no obligation to explain their reasons.