March 18, 2018

Manila slams United Nations rights chief

14 March 2018, 11:15 | Opal Carroll

Romeo Ranoco Reuters

Psychiatric test? World needs more Dutertes!’ Manila hits back at UN rights chief

An ugly war has broken out between the Philippines government and the United Nations, with a senior UN official declaring that President Rodrigo Duterte needs to see a psychiatrist.

"The High Commissioner may not be aware of it but he is being used in a well-orchestrated effort to destabilize a legitimate government that is being undertaken by parties with self-serving agendas and who stand to benefit the most by unseating President Duterte", Foreign Affairs Secretary, Alan Peter S. Cayetano said in a statement.

Police say they have killed almost 4,000 drug suspects as part of the campaign, while rights groups claim the toll is around three times the numbers given by authorities.

Following the inclusion of a UN special rapporteur on a terrorist watchlist released by the Philippine Supreme Court, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein called Duterte's behaviour "absolutely disgraceful" and said he needed to submit himself for "psychiatric evaluation".

In a statement distributed to members of media, Duterte cited the "baseless, unprecedented and outrageous attacks" against him and the alleged attempt by the ICC special prosecutor to place him under ICC jurisdiction.

Duterte has also repeatedly insulted the current United Nations special rapporteur on extrajudicial killings, Agnes Callamard, because of her criticism of his bloody anti-narcotics campaign.

Last week, he said the ICC would "not in a million years" have jurisdiction to indict him.

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The angry comments came after the Duterte government included the name of a United Nations indigenous rights rapporteur on a list of Communist guerrillas that it wants to formally declare as terrorists.

"Duterte is engaged in a wild anti-communist witch hunt under the guise of anti-terrorism", he said.

Corpuz was appointed as a UN expert in 2014 and served as former chair of the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues. He stopped doing this just a few months later after he said he was being repeatedly attacked by the New People's Army, claiming in its petition to the court that they are "using acts of terror to sow fear and panic to overthrow the government".

"Rather than attacking human rights bodies and human rights defenders, we urge the government to display honest commitment to transparency and the rule of law by allowing unhampered investigations to take place", the commission said. Carlos Conde, a researcher with the group Human Right Watch said that the petition to the court was basically a hit list.

Manila hit back at Zeid's comments on Saturday, noting that Tauli-Corpuz was included on 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-NPA.

Also on the list were four former Catholic priests and former congressman Satur Ocampo, who said he would challenge any "terrorist" label.

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