The United Nations commissioner for human rights has said that President Duterte needs a “psychiatric evaluation”.
Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein hit out at the president after a UN human rights investigator was included on a list of more than 600 people declared to be communist terrorists.
Last month, the department of justice listed hundreds of people it wanted to be categorised as rebels for “using acts of terror” to undermine the government. Among them was the UN special rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples, Victoria Tauli-Corpuz.
The list, which was made public today (Friday, March 9), would give the government power to monitor the movements and limit the resources of those named.
Tauli-Corpuz denounced the government for labelling her as a terrorist and putting her life at risk, calling the allegations “baseless, malicious and irresponsible”.
Al Hussein also hit out at President Duterte, saying: “He needs to submit himself to some sort of psychiatric examination. This kind of comment is unacceptable. These attacks cannot go unanswered, the UN human rights council must take a position.”
His concerns were echoed by Michel Forst, the UN’s special rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders. “The attack against the special rapporteur is taking place in the context of widespread extrajudicial executions and ongoing attacks against voices who are critical of the current government, including human rights defenders.
“The president has himself publicly intimidated special rapporteurs,” he said, calling on the government to drop the “unfounded accusations”.
There has long been bad blood between the president and the UN. Last year, he called the organisation “stupid” and “shit” and threatened to walk out over condemnation of his drug war.
The list of alleged terrorists comes after the president signed a proclamation that the Communist party of the Philippines (CPP), and its armed wing, the New People’s Army, should be classed as terrorist groups.
Also on the list are four former priests, the environmental campaigner Sherwin de Vera, the CPP’s founder, José Maria Sison and 18 other leaders of the party.
In response to Al-Hussein’s remarks, Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano said he had “cast untoward aspersions regarding the President of the Republic of the Philippines.”
“This action of High Commissioner Zeid Ra’ad Al-Hussein is completely uncalled for and demeans not only the Head of State of a Member-State, but tarnishes the reputation of the Office of the High Commissioner.
“The comments of the High Commissioner bring great dishonour to the Human Rights Council and its noble endeavours. There is no reason whatsoever for such an unmeasured outburst directed against President Rodrigo Roa Duterte and it should not be repeated.”
Cayetano said Zeid’s remarks “could set a dangerous precedent that the Council would have to immediately address as otherwise member-states could also fall victim to those who seek to politicise and weaponise human rights to undermine legitimate governments.”
“The Philippines is perturbed over the manner in which a ranking UN human rights official can overstep his mandate and insult leaders of member-states without first giving them due process,” Cayetano said.