Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights said on Friday that Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte’s latest outlandish accusations against United Nations human rights activists show that he needs to be seen by a psychiatrist. “These attacks cannot go unanswered, the U.N. 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,” Zeid told reporters at a news conference after the president tried to get four former Catholic priests, a former Philippine lawmaker, and a United Nations investigator declared as terrorists.
More Than 50 Years of Conflict
President Rodrigo Duterte seems to be following through on his promise to destroy the Communist Party of the Philippines and the New People’s Army, both of which he asked a Manila court to declare as terrorist groups last month. After taking office in 2016, President Rodrigo Duterte originally freed some imprisoned communist leaders and then put leftists in his cabinet, in an attempt to show that he was committed to finding a permanent solution to a conflict that has lasted more than 50 years. He stopped doing this just a few months later after he said he was being repeatedly attacked by the New People’s Army, claiming in its petition to the court that they are “using acts of terror to sow fear and panic to overthrow the government.”
By declaring certain individuals and groups as being terrorists, the Philippine government would be able to monitor them, curb their access to resources and track their finances, among other things. Carlos Conde, a researcher with the group Human Right Watch said that the petition to the court was basically a hit list. “There’s a long history in the Philippines of the state security forces and pro-government militias assassinating people labeled as NPA members or supporters.” The petition specifically named the top 18 leaders of the Communist Party of the Philippines.