Roque taunts United Nations rights chief: Your country has no democracy

Casey Dawson
March 11, 2018

The Philippine foreign minister hit back on Saturday at the United Nations' human rights chief for issuing "irresponsible and disrespectful" comments about President Rodrigo Duterte, warning such remarks could set a unsafe precedent.

Zeid recommended that Duterte undergo a psychiatric check following the President's tirades against UN Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial Killings Agnes Callamard and the recent petition to tag UN Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Victoria Tauli-Corpuz as a "terrorist".

Zeid said it was disgraceful that a president could use foul language against a rapporteur who is highly respected.

Local and global human rights groups condemned the petition filed by the Department of Justice that seeks to brand 600 people as terrorists, including UN Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Victoria Tauli-Corpuz.

The Duterte administration is seeking to have the Communist Party of the Philippines and its armed wing, the NPA, formally declared terrorist organizations that are seeking to overthrow the government.

The petition, a copy of which was seen by Reuters, suggested Mr Duterte was following through on his threats to destroy a movement he now regards as duplicitous.

Worldwide rights groups and local critics have accused Duterte of drifting toward authoritarianism after declaring martial law in the south during a major attack by pro-ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and Syria) group militants past year.

By declaring the groups and individuals terrorists, the government would be able to monitor them more closely, track finances and curb access to resources, among other measures.

In a speech to Philippine officials on Wednesday, Duterte lashed out at global human rights agencies for criticizing him.

In a speech to Philippine government officials on Wednesday, Duterte said that global human rights agencies have no jurisdiction over him, before uttering the sexist and racist invectives.

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

Tauli-Corpuz denounced the government for labelling her as a terrorist and putting her life at risk, calling the allegations "baseless, malicious and irresponsible".

The UN Human Rights Office has been following Rodrigo Duterte's controversial war on drugs, which they believe has led to the death of thousands of people suspected of having ties to drug cartels.

Local and worldwide organizations have slammed the Philippine government's action, with New York-based Human Rights Watch calling the petition "a virtual government hit list".

The entire human rights mechanism of the United Nations is built around sovereignty and it will not work if rapporteurs become untrustworthy as far as sovereign states are concerned,"Roque said".

Conde said HRW saw the 55-page petition the government filed in a Manila court in February.

Mr Duterte has reportedly filed terrorism charges against one United Nations envoy, and threatened to slap another who had criticised his campaign against illegal drugs.

Malacañang on Saturday said the inclusion of Tauli-Corpuz in the government's "terrorist" list is based on intelligence information and not part of a "witch hunt".

According to Zeid, the Philippine justice ministry charged Carpuz in a regional court last month with terrorism.

Mr Duterte's spokesman did not respond to requests for comment.

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