Philippines slams UN rights chief for saying Duterte needs "psychiatric evaluation"
The Philippine government condemned the United Nations Human Rights chief for his "disrespectful" comment against President Rodrigo Duterte.
“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," Department of Foreign Affairs Secretary Allan Peter Cayetano said in a statement released on Friday night.
Cayetano issued the statement after Al-Hussein said Duterte needs "psychiatric evaluation" following his expletives against the critics of his drug war.
The UN official specifically cited the Philippine leader's threat in November to slap UN special rapporteur on extrajudicial killings Agnes Callamard and the pending case against UN special rapporteur on the rights of indigenous people, Victoria Tauli-Corpuz.
Tauli-Corpuz has been included in the list of some 600 communist New People's Army that the Department of Justice wants to be declared as terrorists.
“This 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 politicize and weaponize human rights to undermine legitimate governments,” Cayetano said.
He said the comments of the High Commissioner bring "great dishonor" to the Human Rights Council and its noble endeavors.
“There is no reason whatsoever for such an unmeasured outburst directed against President Rodrigo Roa Duterte and it should not be repeated,” Cayetano said.
“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,” he added.
On Al-Hussein's reference on the petition by the Duterte government to include Tauli-Corpuz in the terrorist list, Cayetano said it was unfortunate that the High Commissioner made such a statement without first ascertaining the facts surrounding the matter.
He explained that the petition was filed against Tauli-Corpuz because of her alleged link with the rebel group.
“Contrary to the impression of the High Commissioner, Ms. Victoria Tauli-Corpuz was included in the list not because of her position as Special Rapporteur but because of her alleged links with the Ilocos-Cordillera Regional Committee (ICRC) of the CPP (Communist Party of the Philippines)-NPA, which, if the High Commissioner is not aware of, is in the list of foreign terrorist organizations of both the United States and the European Union,” he said.
“The High Commissioner may wish to know that the petition for proscription filed by the Department of Justice is a civil case that seeks to declare the CPP-NPA as a terrorist organization for its continuing terrorist activities in the Philippines. This action is in accordance with Republic Act 9372 or the Human Security Act of 2007 of the Philippines and is intended to protect the Filipino people,” he added.
In a press briefing in Iloilo, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said there was no witch-hunting in the inclusion of a UN rapporteur in the list of individuals that the DOJ wants to be declared as terrorists.
“I assure everyone including the international community, that this is not a witch-hunt on UN Special Rapporteurs; instead perhaps the UN Rapporteur system should fine-tune its selection process to ensure that individuals identified with terrorist groups are not given any mandate by the UN Human Rights Council,” he said.
However, Roque noted that petition filed by the DOJ will also give Tauli-Corpuz an opportunity to clear her name.
“In any case, we are a civilized country in the Philippines. We will accord Ms. Victoria Tauli-Corpuz the right to be heard, inherent due process rights… she can dispute the classification in the regional trial court where the petition to declare the CPP-NPA as a terrorist group is currently pending,” he said.
“In our legal system, we adhere to the rule of law and hence, Ms. Victoria Tauli-Corpuz can submit controverting evidence to what I am sure the DOJ already has linking her with the terrorist group ? the CPP-NPA,” he added.
Following the petition filed by the DOJ, CPP founder Jose Maria Sison called Duterte as the number one terrorist.
But Roque challenged Sison to file his own petition before the court declaring the president as a terrorist.
“Why don’t he file a petition at the regional trial court and have the president declared as terrorist if he wants, but he has to answer the petition that was filed by the government that he and his group, CPP-NPA, are terrorists,” he said. Robina Asido/DMS