Philippines slams UN rights chief for Duterte remarks

Reuters, MANILA

Sun, Mar 11, 2018 - Page 1

The Philippine Secretary of Foreign Affairs hit back yesterday at the UN’s human rights chief for issuing “irresponsible and disrespectful” comments about Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, warning that such remarks could set a dangerous precedent.

Duterte’s attacks against UN human rights activists suggest he needs to see a psychiatrist, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein told a news conference on Friday after the Philippine leader criticized UN special rapporteurs.

Zeid’s comments came after the Philippine Department of Justice filed a petition in a Manila court seeking the declaration of more than 600 alleged communist guerrillas, including a UN special rapporteur, as “terrorists.”

The petition included Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, appointed in 2014 as UN special rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples, who was listed as a senior member of a Maoist rebel group.

Tauli-Corpuz has denounced the government, calling the complaint “baseless, malicious and irresponsible.”

Duterte’s attacks against UN special rapporteurs cannot go unanswered and the UN Human Rights Council must take a position, Zeid said.

Duterte “needs to submit himself to some sort of psychiatric examination,” he said.

“The Philippines takes grave exception to the irresponsible and disrespectful comments of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights that cast untoward aspersions regarding the President of the Republic of the Philippines,” Philippine Secretary of Foreign Affairs Alan Peter Cayetano said.

Duterte has also repeatedly insulted UN Special Rapporteur on summary executions Agnes Callamard, who Manila has accused of bias and of not being qualified because of her criticism of Duterte’s bloody campaign against narcotics.

The Philippines welcomed a UN investigation into Duterte’s signature war on drugs, but objected to Callamard leading it.

Cayetano said in a strongly worded statement that the Philippines was bothered by “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.”