MILAN, Italy - A United Nations special rapporteur who was one of more than 600 people that the Philippine government wants to be declared as terrorists, has sought support from the international human rights community.
Speaking at the Human Rights Festival held in Milan on March 25, Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, U.N. special rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples and a leader of the Kankanaey Igorot people, said the Philippine government has become authoritarian.
"The new government has become very authoritarian. It's trying to... it controls the parliament. It filed an impeachment case against the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. It has imprisoned another woman who is a senator. So it’s going against the different institutions, government branches that should balance the executive," she alleged.
Tauli-Corpuz said there are many reported killings in the Philippines because of the strong resistance from indigenous peoples like farmers and workers against the increasing fascism that's taking place in the government.
She appealed before Italian human rights activists for help.
"I would like to appeal to the Italians to help in this campaign that we are doing to stop the fascism that is happening in our country and for you to also speak to your state authorities so that they will also speak out against what’s happening in my country," she said.
Despite worrying about her safety, Tauli-Corpuz continues her duties as she attended several meetings in Rome and Milan from March 22-25. She has spoken about how indigenous peoples become victims of climate change amid their struggles for local recognition and global rights.
The Indigenous Peoples Major Group (IPMG) has initiated an appeal to support indigenous and human rights defenders in the Philippines. As of March 21, a total of 7,471 individuals from 113 countries have endorsed the petition.
Malacañang earlier said the inclusion of Tauli-Corpuz in the government's "terrorist" list is based on intelligence information and not part of a "witch hunt."
Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque, a former human rights lawyer, said the Philippines adheres to the rule of law and Tauli-Corpuz can contest the "terrorist" tag.