February 26, 2024

This is in relation to the recent visit of United Nations Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression and Opinion, Irene Khan, in Baguio City on Jan. 26.
While we welcome international scrutiny and discussions, we should also take note that it is also essential that when a foreign visiting dignitary such as one in the position of a UN Rapporteur, we must also be prudent and tactful with their statements and comments.
Based on 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 it’s 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 shared to her and have a thorough investigation into the allegations they have thrown, especially to the government.
Although we are already aware of the importance of constructive criticisms 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.
We hope 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 UN 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. She should consider both perspectives to form a balanced and informed opinion on the matter.
We hope that Ms. Khan’s visit will contri-bute 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