MANILA, Philippines - In a shocking move, the Rodrigo Duterte-led Philippine government placed the name of a UN special rapporteur on a list of people the government wants to classify as “terrorist.”
The move, which shocked and provoked many in the United Nations, led to the UN human rights chief saying that the President of the Philippines needs a “psychiatric assessment.”
The Philippine government is said to have prepared a list of 600 people it wants to be classed as “terrorists.”
And this week, the government included Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, a UN expert on the rights of indigenous peoples, on the list of alleged communist guerrillas.
Tauli-Corpuz was listed in a government petition, alongside others including a Catholic priest and a former congressman, that was recently submitted to a Manila court.
She has been in the post since 2014 and has denounced the government.
She called the complaint “baseless, malicious and, irresponsible.”
The UN high commissioner for human rights, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein said that it was time to take a stand in response to the President’s latest controversial actions.
Hussein said in a statement, “He needs to submit himself to some sort of psychiatric examination. This kind of comment is unacceptable. These attacks cannot go unanswered; the UN human rights council must take a position.”
Human rights activists too condemned the Filipino leader for his move.
According to Carlos Conde, Philippines researcher with the New York-based Human Rights Watch, the petition was “a virtual hit list.”
Duterte recently started a campaign against communist rebels after having tried to deal with the long-standing conflict ever since he came into power in 2016.
However, with peace talks failing, he launched this campaign against the groups.
Further, the country’s justice ministry has called for the Communist Party of the Philippines and the New People’s Army to be declared terrorist organizations.
According to officials, branding individuals as terrorists will allow the government the authority to monitor them more closely, track finances and curb access to resources, among other measures.