The United Nations has rebuked the Philippine government for attacking one of the organisation’s rights experts, with the UN rights chief saying President Rodrigo Duterte was in need of a psychiatric evaluation.
UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein made the comments after the Duterte administration released a terrorist watchlist, dubbed the “government hit list” by Human Rights Watch.
On the petition submitted to the Supreme Court last month were over 600 people with alleged links to the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP). Among them was UN special rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples, Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, who was accused of being a senior member of the Maoist rebel group.
The department of justice has accused those on the list of “using acts of terror” to sow fear and panic to overthrow the government.
“These attacks cannot go unanswered. The human rights council must take a strong position,” Al Hussein told reporters at a press conference on Friday.
“This is absolutely disgraceful that a president of a country can speak in this way, using the foulest of language against a rapporteur that’s highly respected. It makes one believe that the president of the Philippines needs to submit himself to some sort of psychiatric evaluation.”
The petition will allow government to monitor listed “terrorists” more closely, track finances and curb access to resources, among other measures.
According to The Guardian, the UN believes the accusations are an act of retaliation for Tauli-Corpuz’s recent criticism of the attacks on and killings of indigenous Lumad people in the Philippines. It said the claims violated the UN convention on human rights.
Tauli-Corpuz called her appearance on the list, “baseless, malicious and irresponsible.”
— UNSR_VickyTauli (@UNSR_VickyTauli) March 9, 2018
Despite starting his presidency with efforts to reach out to the communist movement, peace talks broke down in December after alleged repeated attacks on security forces by the rebel group. Since then, Duterte has openly vented his fury at the group, saying he considers them a risk to national security on the same level as pro-Islamic State militants and telling the military to “shoot women (rebels) in the vagina.”
In response to the petition, CPP leader Jose Maria Sison old ABS CBN Monday that the communist rebels will fight President Rodrigo Duterte “single-mindedly and without hesitation” if the government brands them as terrorists.
Sison also said the rebels would be ready to return to negotiations to end Asia’s longest-running urgency if Duterte withdraws his threats.