The U.N. human rights chief questioned the mental stability of Rodrigo Duterte on Friday, claiming the Philippine president needs a “psychiatric examination” after he placed a U.N. investigator on a list of communist terrorists.
In a petition filed with the Department of Justice last month, but only made public Friday, Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, the U.N. special rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples, was accused of terrorism and membership in the Communist Party of the Philippines and its armed wing, the New People’s Army.
Tauli-Corpuz was named along with 600 others, including many leftist activists. Human Rights Watch labeled it “a virtual government hit list.”
Tauli-Corpuz, a Philippine national, strongly denied the allegation, calling it “baseless, malicious, and irresponsible.”
“[Duterte] needs to submit himself to some sort of psychiatric examination,” U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein said in Geneva. “This kind of comment is unacceptable. These attacks cannot go unanswered; the U.N. human rights council must take a position.”
Michel Forst, the U.N.’s special rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders, said it was an “unacceptable attack.”
“We are shocked that the special rapporteur is being targeted because of her work defending the rights of indigenous peoples,” he added.
This is not the first time Duterte has menaced a U.N. representative. He previously threatened to slap Agnes Callamard, who was probing extrajudicial executions taking place as part of Duterte’s bloody war on drugs.
The creation of the hit list stems from the breakdown in peace negotiations between Duterte’s government and the Communist party in December. This was followed by a signed proclamation that the CPP and NPA were terrorist groups and a warning that Duterte would go after their legal fronts.
Duterte has previously worked with the left-wing groups, and some of them even backed his war on drugs, which has claimed the lives of more than 12,000 people since 2016.
“The Justice Department petition is a virtual government hit list,” Carlos Conde, a researcher focusing on Asia at Human Rights Watch, said. “The Duterte administration should publicly reject this petition and ensure the safety of those listed in it — or risk being complicit in the resulting crimes.”
Cover image: Philippine president Rodrigo Duterte before a breakfast event on the closing day of the 25th APEC Summit. (Mikhail Metzel\TASS via Getty Images)