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Cayetano: UN High Commissioner Zeid ‘being used’ to destabilize gov’t

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Zeid Ra'ad al-Hussein, U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights addresses a news conference at the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland March 9, 2018. REUTERS/Denis Balibouse

The Philippines’ top diplomat on Friday said United Nations (UN) High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein is being used to destabilize the Philippine Government.

“The High Commissioner may not be aware of it but he is being used in a well-orchestrated effort to destabilize a legitimate government that is being undertaken by parties with self-serving agendas and who stand to benefit the most by unseating President (Rodrigo R.) Duterte,” said Foreign Affairs (DFA) Secretary Alan Peter S. Cayetano.

Mr. Al Hussein, according to a Reuters report, said that Mr. Duterte’s slurs against UN human rights activists suggest he needs a psychiatric evaluation.

President Duterte’s administration, the report likewise said, has sought to get a UN human rights investigator, a former solon, and four former Catholic priests declared as “terrorists”.

In response to Mr. Duterte’s move, the UN High Commissioner said: “These attacks cannot go unanswered, the UN Human Rights Council must take a position.”

“He needs to submit himself to some sort of psychiatric examination. This kind of comment is unacceptable, unacceptable,” Mr. Al Hussein added.

Mr. Cayetano scored Mr. Al Hussein for his comments, saying that the “[t]he 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.”

“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.”

The diplomat also said 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.

Noting that Mr. Duterte’s government is concerned over Mr. Al Hussein’s comments, the Philippine diplomat warned that this “could set a dangerous precedent that the Council would have to immediately address as otherwise member-states could also fall victim to those who seek to politicize and weaponize human rights to undermine legitimate governments.”

“The comments of the High Commissioner bring great dishonor to the Human Rights Council and its noble endeavors. There is no reason whatsoever for such an unmeasured outburst directed against President Rodrigo Roa Duterte and it should not be repeated,” Mr. Cayetano stressed.

The Foreign Affairs Secretary also explained the inclusion of Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, the UN Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, in the petition filed by the Department of Justice (DoJ) against the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP)- New People’s Army (NPA).

“Contrary to the impression of the High Commissioner, Ms. Victoria Tauli-Corpuz was included in the list not because of her position as Special Rapporteur but because of her alleged links with the Ilocos-Cordillera Regional Committee (ICRC) of the CPP-NPA, which, if the High Commissioner is not aware of, is in the list of foreign terrorist organizations of both the United States and the European Union.”

“The High Commissioner may wish to know that the petition for proscription filed by the Department of Justice is a civil case that seeks to declare the CPP-NPA as a terrorist organization for its continuing terrorist activities in the Philippines. This action is in accordance with Republic Act 9372 or the Human Security Act of 2007 of the Philippines and is intended to protect the Filipino people. 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.” — Arjay L. Balinbin