Department of Foreign Affairs hits United Nations officials: No need for insults

Janvic Mateo, Christina Mendez - The Philippine Star
Department of Foreign Affairs hits United Nations officials: No need for insults

“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,” Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano added. Fabrice Coffrini/AFP/File

MANILA, Philippines — It was “irresponsible and disrespectful” of the United Nations human rights chief to say that President Duterte needs a psychiatric evaluation, Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano said on Friday.

In a statement, Cayetano also defended Duterte, saying the world needs more leaders like him who has empathy for the people and is ready to sacrifice his life to protect them.

“The Philippines takes grave exception to the irresponsible and disrespectful comments of the United Nations (UN) High Commissioner for Human Rights that cast untoward aspersions regarding the President of the Republic of the Philippines,” Cayetano said.

“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,” he added.

Cayetano made the statement even as Duterte himself kept hurling insults at his critics, including UN special rapporteur for extrajudicial killings Agnes Callamard and International Criminal Court prosecutor Fatou Bensouda, whom he called “the undernourished one” and “that black woman,” respectively.

The DFA did not respond when asked if Cayetano communicated with UN officials regarding the recent insults made by Duterte.

In his statement, the DFA chief said the comments of Zeid have brought great dishonor to the Human Rights Council, as there is supposedly no reason for such “unmeasured outburst” directed at Duterte.

Zeid on Friday said Duterte may need “to submit himself to some sort of psychiatric evaluation” after his government included UN special rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples Victoria Tauli-Corpuz – a Filipino national – in the list of alleged communists that it wants declared as terrorists.

He also criticized Duterte over his use of profanity against Callamard, a critic of his administration’s war against illegal drugs.

“This is absolutely disgraceful that the president of a country could speak in this way, using the foulest of language against a rapporteur that is highly respected,” Zeid was quoted as saying. Cayetano accused Zeid of overstepping his mandate when he made the comments.

“The Philippines is perturbed over the manner in which a ranking UN human rights official can overstep his mandate and insult leaders of member-states without first giving them due process,” he said.

“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 DFA chief added.


Cayetano also warned Zeid against letting groups use him for their efforts to destabilize the Duterte administration.

“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 Duterte,” he said.

Cayetano did not provide details regarding the supposed destabilization, a claim often used by Duterte’s allies to counter criticisms against some of the policies of the administration.

The secretary earlier called on the UN Human Rights Council not to allow the issue of human rights to be politicized or weaponized.

He maintained that the view of the international community would change if they witness firsthand the situation in the Philippines rather than listening to the reports of critics of Duterte.

His administration has been claiming it’s open to an investigation – but not by one led by Callamard.

Moreover, he had directed security forces not to answer questions from any rapporteur investigating his administration’s human rights record.

In Iloilo, presidential spokesman Harry Roque also lambasted Zeid, saying the latter’s remarks about Duterte was uncalled for and an affront to Philippine sovereignty.

He even called Zeid’s attention to the fact that unlike the Philippines where leaders are elected, Jordan’s leaders are determined by succession. Zeid is a Jordanian prince.

“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 on the sovereignty of the Republic of the Philippines,” he said.

“Your language is not just an insult to the Philippines and the Filipino people. It is an insult to all countries who have democratically elected their heads of states,” Roque said, addressing Zeid.

“Now, this classification of rapporteur Corpuz has also resorted into very harsh language coming from the Prince of Jordan, who is also the high commissioner on human rights,” Roque said in a briefing in Iloilo.

“I reiterate that the language used by the high commissioner is uncalled for. I am very tempted to respond in similar language but I have opted to restrain myself, opting not to respond in the same admonishment used by the UN High Commissioner,” the presidential spokesman added.

Roque said he wanted to believe that Zeid may have misread President Duterte’s actuations.

“I will, however, state that perhaps the UN High Commissioner’s language is because of the fact that they do not have democracy in the 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 lead,” Roque maintained.

“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.








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