The Philippines government included one of the United Nations’ human rights investigators on a list of 600 people it describes as terrorists, leading the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein to say that the country’s president Rodrigo Duterte needed a psychiatric evaluation, The Guardian reported on Friday.
In a petition filed in a court in Manila in February, the Philippines Department of Justice listed 600 “communists” it wanted categorised as rebels for “using acts of terror” to undermine the government. The list included the UN Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, for allegedly being a member of a Maoist rebel group.
The petition was released to the public on Friday. The list gives the Duterte government power to closely monitor the movements of and restrict the resources available to any person on it.
Tauli-Corpuz denounced the government for putting her life at risk, calling the allegations against her “baseless, malicious and irresponsible”. The UN said the allegations were retaliation for Tauli-Corpuz’s criticism of the attacks on and killings of indigenous Lumad people in the Philippines.
“He needs to submit himself to some sort of psychiatric examination,” Hussein said of Duterte on Friday. “These attacks [on UN personnel] cannot go unanswered. The UN human rights council must take a position.”
Michel Forst, the UN’s Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights Defenders, said the government’s action against Tauli-Corpuz has taken place in the background of widespread extrajudicial executions and attacks on those who criticise the Philippines dispensation. He claimed that even Duterte himself had publicly intimidated UN special rapporteurs.
The Philippines president had earlier signed a proclamation that the Communist party of the Philippines, and its armed wing the New People’s Army, were terrorist groups.
Duterte’s acrimonious history with the UN
Duterte had in 2017 called the UN human rights chief an “idiot” and a “joker”, and also threatened to set fire to the organisation’s headquarters in New York, after Hussein called for an investigation into the president’s claims that he had personally killed people when he was the mayor of Davao city.
In February, human rights groups also criticised Duterte for reportedly ordering his troops to shoot female rebels in the genitals to leave them “useless”.