Cayetano: The world needs more Dutertes
GENEVA- The United Nations human rights chief said Friday that Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte needs "psychiatric evaluation."
Listing some of Manila's actions against U.N. envoys, including reportedly filing terrorism charges against one, rights chief Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein said "it makes one believe that the president of the Philippines needs to submit himself to some sort of psychiatric evaluation."
Zeid and other U.N. rights officials have focused significant attention on Duterte's controversial drug war.
Police have killed more than 4,100 drug suspects, but rights groups allege more than 8,000 others have been murdered in what they describe as crimes against humanity.
The U.N. special rapporteur on extra-judicial killings, Agnes Callamard, has become a particular Duterte target over her criticism of his campaign to stamp out illegal drugs.
In an exchange with Manila's envoys in the U.N. Human Rights Council on Thursday, Zeid referred to November media reports from the Philippines that quoted Duterte threatening to slap Callamard, while using profanity.
"This is absolutely disgraceful that the president of a country could speak in this way, using the foulest of language against a rapporteur that is highly respected," Zeid told reporters on Friday.
Zeid also referred to a pending case against the U.N.'s special rapporteur on the rights of indigenous people, Victoria Tauli-Corpuz.
According to Zeid, the Philippine justice department charged Corpuz in a regional court last month with terrorism.
Manila has accused Corpuz of "alleged membership of the Communist Party of the Philippines and (the) New People's Army," Zeid said.
The New People's Army, which is waging a decades-old Maoist armed rebellion, has been designated a "terrorist organization" by the U.S. State Department.
Zeid said that Carpuz believes she has been targeted because of comments she made regarding the alleged killings of indigenous people in the southern region of Mindanao, where Duterte has imposed martial law in an effort to curb a jihadist threat.
"This is of course unacceptable for a special rapporteur acting on behalf of the international community whose expertise is sought by the Human Rights Council to be treated in this way," Zeid said.
"These attacks cannot go unanswered," he added.
Cayetano: Zeid's remarks 'irresponsible, disrespectful'
Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano, in a statement, slammed Zeid's remarks and said the Philippine government "is perturbed over the manner in which a ranking U.N. human rights official can overstep his mandate and insult leaders of member-states without first giving them due process."
"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," he said.
"This action of High Commissioner Zeid Ra’ad Al-Hussein is completely uncalled for and demeans not only the Head of State of a Member-State, but tarnishes the reputation of the Office of the High Commissioner," Cayetano said. "There is no reason whatsoever for such an unmeasured outburst directed against President Rodrigo Roa Duterte and it should not be repeated."
"The world actually needs more Dutertes—leaders with empathy; leaders who listen to their people; and leaders who are ready to sacrifice their lives to protect their people," he added.
Cayetano also repeated the allegation that Tauli-Corpuz has links with the Ilocos-Cordillera Regional Committee (ICRC) of the CPP-NPA.
"Ms. Tauli-Corpuz and the other individuals mentioned in the petition are there because of their membership in or association with the CPP-NPA as reported over the years by the Philippine National Police and the Armed Forces of the Philippines," he said.
"If indeed Ms. Tauli-Corpuz and the others named in the petition are innocent as they claim they are, they should see this as an opportunity to clear their names and prove in court that they have never been members of or associated with the group," he added. -With a report from Agence France-Presse