Ministry spokesman Lu Kang said the Duterte administration’s achievements have “won great approval and extensive support among the Philippine people.” FMPRC/Released

China defends Duterte in United Nations psychiatric test remark
Pia Lee-Brago (The Philippine Star) - March 14, 2018 - 12:01am

MANILA, Philippines — China has come to President Duterte’s defense against a United Nations human rights chief who questioned his mental stability.

The Chinese foreign ministry said the international community, including the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, should respect the sovereignty of the Philippines and the will of its people.

Ministry spokesman Lu Kang said the Duterte administration’s achievements have “won great approval and extensive support among the Philippine people.”

“Anyone without bias can see that President Duterte has made positive efforts since assuming office to combat drug-related crimes as well as terrorism, develop the national economy and improve people’s livelihood, which have effectively protected and promoted the Philippine people’s fundamental rights to security and development,” Lu said in a press briefing Monday.

He said the international community, including the UN rights body, should view the outcome of the Philippines’ fight against drug and terrorism in a “comprehensive, unbiased and objective way, and support its efforts to move forward its human rights cause in light of its national conditions.”

“As an agency of the UN, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights is expected to fulfill its duties within the framework set out by the purposes and principles of the UN Charter,” Lu added.

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein earlier said Duterte “needs to submit himself to some sort of psychiatric examination” in view of the latter’s reckless statements regarding human rights, including one against UN special rapporteur on extrajudicial killings Agnes Callamard.

“These attacks cannot go unanswered,” Zeid said, referring to Duterte’s publicly badmouthing Callamard.

He called it “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 also denounced as “unacceptable” the Duterte administration’s inclusion in the terror list of UN special rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, a Filipino national. Tauli-Corpuz is accused of being a member of the New People’s Army.

Zeid said he believes Tauli-Corpuz is being targeted because of her statements denouncing the killings of indigenous people in Mindanao.

Terror list denounced

The inclusion of the names of some human rights workers in the terror list, meanwhile, continues to draw condemnation from militant groups and human rights advocates.

The Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU) said the list was meant to silence critics of the Duterte administration.

“Duterte can try but he will never succeed,” KMU chair Elmer Labog said. Also yesterday, KMU called for the scrapping of the law granting subpoena powers to the Philippine National Police (PNP).

“It is a license for arbitrary and unjust arrest,” Labog said, noting what he called escalating attacks on labor and human rights groups.

The PNP’s refusal to come out with guidelines, Labog said, is a clear indication that the police intend to abuse their power.

Labog stressed the KMU would continue to resist the Duterte administration’s oppressive policies.

Another militant group Karapatan yesterday submitted a new batch of complaints to UN special rapporteur (UNSR) on the situation of human rights defenders Michel Forst and UNSR on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association Annalisa Ciampi regarding the inclusion of human-rights workers and activists in the terror list.

“The list puts human rights defenders in even more vulnerable situations, with state security forces on the frontline, ready to pounce on activists and defenders on the order of their commander-in-chief. This petition will have chilling effects on the ground, especially for human rights work,” said Karapatan secretary-general Cristina Palabay.

“Duterte is sending out a warning, a threat that anyone who goes against his government will be immediately labeled a ‘terrorist,’ a tag that incites violence against individuals and justifies rights violations against them,” Palabay said.

“The process of listing individuals is very arbitrary, malicious and highly irresponsible. We fear that this is just the start of a long crusade against rights defenders,” she added.

“If unchallenged, the listing of names under the DOJ proscription petition will set a dangerous precedent, giving the Duterte regime the go-signal to come up with more baseless lists,” she pointed out.

“The stench of the repressive motive behind this terror list cannot be contained. Like the many ‘lists’ of past regimes, this serves the same purpose – to intimidate, harass, gag and force rights defenders into silence and submission,” she said.

“We call on all human-rights advocates and the Filipino people to stay vigilant against such efforts to curtail our civil and political rights. The Duterte regime is deliberately ignoring its obligations to promote and protect people’s rights,” Palabay added.

Open to danger

In Bacolod City, leaders of various left-leaning organizations in Negros Occidental condemned the inclusion in the list of 55 individuals from the province.

Zara Alvarez, advocacy officer of the Negros Island Health Integrated Program for Community Development, and one of the 600 persons linked to the Communist Party of the Philippines and its armed wing NPA, said their inclusion in the list has exposed them and their families to danger.

Others in the list are Romulo Bito-on, coordinator of Makabayan Negros; church worker Anecita Rojo; Rogina Navarro Quilop, administrative officer of Center for People’s Resources and Services; Isidro Castillo, former chairman of the National Federation of Sugar Workers; and Josephine Torrecampo, deputy executive director of NIHIP.

Alvarez, Rojo, Quilop, Bitoon and Castillo were previously arrested and later freed, for the murder of an Army lieutenant several years ago, among others.

“For us, it is not new since, just like me, I had been previously jailed because of made-up cases such as murder and arson. However, the move of the DOJ is very alarming as it puts into serious danger the persons tagged as terrorists,” Alvarez said.

The Department of Justice (DOJ), in a 55-page petition, asked the Manila regional trial court to issue an order declaring the CPP and its armed wing as “terrorist” and outlawed organizations in accordance with Section 17 of Republic Act  9372 or the Human Security Act of 2007.

“We are claiming that we are activists and advocates of human rights, environmental concerns and other people’s issues. However, activism is not equivalent to terrorism,” Alvarez said.

Clarizza Singson-Dagatan, secretary-general of Karapatan-Negros, said they are appealing to the public to help them stop the government from further demonizing people’s organization.  – Rhodina Villanueva, Gilbert Bayoran, Mayen Jaymalin

CHINESE FOREIGN MINISTRY LU KANG RODRIGO DUTERTE UNITED NATIONS
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