Palace to UN rights chief: Respect Philippine democracy

MALACAÑANG on Saturday, March 10, said the United Nations' (UN) human rights chief should respect Philippine democracy and President Rodrigo Duterte as the "democratically-elected" head of state.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque Jr., in a press conference in Iloilo on Saturday, March 10, said the remark of UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein about Duterte needing "psychiatric evaluation" was uncalled for and an affront to Philippine independence.

"Perhaps, the UN High Commissioner's language is because of the fact that they do not have democracy in his home state of Jordan. Jordan's leader is not elected unlike our president. And so my message to the High Commissioner is: We respect our president in this country because we gave him a democratic mandate to live," Roque said.

"And I would hope that although you do not have the same democratic system in your home country of Jordan, you will respect the kind of democracy that we have in the Philippines," he added.

Jordan is a monarchy. Zeid is a prince and veteran multilateral diplomat with extensive experience on international criminal law and peacekeeping, among others.

Roque said that by issuing such "very harsh" language against Duterte, Zeid did not only offend the Filipino people but also insulted "all countries (that) have democratically elected their heads of state."

"I reiterate that the language used by the High Commissioner is uncalled for. I'm very tempted to respond in similar language but I have opted to restrain myself, opting not to respond in the same ad hominem used by the UN High Commissioner," Roque said.

"I will reiterate, however, that such language directed against a democratically-elected head of a UN member-country is uncalled for and is of course an affront [to] the sovereignty of the Republic of the Philippines," he added.

In an interview in Geneva, Switzerland on Friday, March 9, Zeid said "it makes one believe that the president of the Philippines needs to submit himself to some sort of psychiatric evaluation."

Zeid made the comment after UN Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Victoria Tauli-Corpuz learned that she has been listed by the Department of Justice (DOJ) among over 600 individuals who are believed to be officers, members or have links with the Communist Party of the Philippines and the New People's Army.

A day before Zeid issued the comment, he also criticized Duterte for ordering the police not to cooperate in any UN investigation into the drug war, continuing to vilify UN Special Rapporteur Agnes Callamard, and encouraging Philippine troops to shoot female rebels in their genitals.

Zeid mentioned the Philippines among the 62 countries that he cited in his global human rights situationer report during the 37th Session of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva.

Callamard has been frequently mentioned by Duterte in his profanity-laced remarks for supposedly criticizing his war on illegal drugs.

On March 8, Duterte described Callamard as the "slim one" and "undernourished" while calling International Criminal Court prosecutor Fatou Bensouda a "black" lawyer. (SunStar Philippines)


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