Philippines: "Dirty Harry" Duterte dares dubbing UN Rapporteur a "terrorist"Published by MAC on 2018-03-10
Source: Manila Bulletin, Cultural Survival, AFP (2018-03-10)
Inviting widespread condemnation from abroad
Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, along with husband Bong, one of MAC's founding editors, are longstanding, dedicated and brave, battlers against many companies - and governments - whose practices and policies offend ordinary people.
Not least, Indigenous communities confronted by unacceptable mining projects.
As the UN Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, she has tirelessly advocated their power to exercise Free Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC).
That role, along with her condemnation of other government abuses in the Philippines, has now resulted in her being accused of "terrorism" by the Duterte regime, and included in a list of over 600 such individuals and groups.
It's an action that's attracted condemnation, not only by the UN itself and othes such as Cultural Survival; but also one with which the editors of this website now wish to strongly associate themselves.
Clearly stung by such a global reaction, the regime seems to have been driven into a corner, reacting with a somewhat confusing statement that:
"Unfortunately [sic] perhaps, the UN Special Rapporteur for IDPs or indigenous peoples Victoria Tauli-Corpuz was also included [on the list] because of intelligence information that she is somehow [sic] connected with the CPP-NPA [leftwing militant organisations].”
The statement goes on to promise that the government "...will accord Ms. Victoria Tauli-Corpuz her right to be heard, her inherent due process rights and that is why she is not automatically [sic] tagged as a terrorist".
Cultural Survival Stands in Solidarity with Victoria Tauli-Corpuz and Joan Carling in the Wake of Unfounded Terrorist Accusations
Cultural Survival statement
9 March 2018
On February 21, 2018, the government of the Philippines filed a legal petition to have a number of organizations, associations, and leaders declared as terrorist and outlaws pursuant to the National Security Act of 2007.
To the shock of the world, this includes UN Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Victoria Tauli-Corpuz and Joan Carling, co-convener of the Indigenous Peoples Major Group on Sustainable Development, as well as 600 other Indigenous human rights defenders from across the country.
Victoria Tauli-Corpuz (Igorot) is a well-respected international expert on the rights of Indigenous Peoples. With decades of experience as a development consultant and an international Indigenous activist, in June 2014 she assumed responsibilities as the third UN Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. She is the first recipient of the Gabriela Silang Award, which was conferred in 2009 by the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples and was the former Chair of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (2005-2010).
As a young activist, Tauli-Corpuz helped organize Indigenous communities in the Cordillera region of the Philippines to fight against the projects of then President Ferdinand Marcos. They succeeded in stopping the Chico River Hydroelectric Dam and the Cellophil Resources Corporation. She is the founder and executive director of Tebtebba Foundation (Indigenous Peoples' International Center for Policy Research and Education).
Tauli-Corpuz is also a former board member of Cultural Survival.
Joan Carling has fought for human rights and, in particular, the rights of Indigenous Peoples her entire life; as former leader of the Cordillera Peoples Alliance (CPA) and the Asia Indigenous Peoples Pact (AIPP), expert member of the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, and currently co-convener of the Indigenous Peoples Major Group on Sustainable Development.
Cultural Survival denounces this unfounded and false accusation which poses risks to Carling and Tauli-Corpuz’s security, and undermines the exercise of the fundamental rights and freedoms associated with democratic governance, and violates the human rights obligations of the Philippine government.
As noted by the UN Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights Defenders, the Philippines is currently marked by a “context of widespread
extrajudicial executions and ongoing attacks against voices who are critical of the current government, including human rights defenders.”
Cultural Survival demands action to clear Carling and Tauli-Corpuz’s names. We demand that the Philippine government ensure the physical safety of those listed in the petition and respect international human rights law. We join in the global call to the international community to show solidarity and express their concern to the Philippine government.
Rights watchdog slams govt’s ‘terrorists’ list
AFP and Vito Barcelo
10 March 2018
A RIGHTS group on Friday branded the administration’s petition to have more than 600 people tagged as terrorists a “virtual government hit list” as the UN human rights chief said President Rodrigo Duterte was in need of “psychiatric evaluation.”
“The Philippine government is putting at grave risk more than 600 people—among them a United Nations human rights expert and dozens of leftist activists—by labeling them as members of the Communist Party of the Philippines and its armed wing, the New People’s Army (NPA),” said Carlos Conde, head of the Asia division of Human Rights Watch.
“The Justice Department petition is a virtual government hit list,” he said.
“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,” he added.
The local human rights group Karapatan also denounced the Justice Department petition, calling it a move “to harass, target and criminalize persons in progressive organizations.”
The group’s secretary-general Tinay Palabay said the petition was apparently filed “to sow fear and panic among Duterte’s detractors, subjectively prepare the public for more intense political repression, and be the front act of a crackdown against the dictator wannabe’s critics.”
UN rights officials said they were shocked and concerned over the inclusion of UN special rapporteur for the rights of indigenous people Victoria Tauli-Corpuz.
In a statement on Thursday, March 8, UN special rapporteurs Michel Forst and Catalina Devandas Aguilar called the move as “an act of retaliation” over Corpuz’s statements on issues concerning indigenous peoples.
“We are shocked that the special rapporteur is being targeted because of her work defending the rights of indigenous peoples,” they said.
“The attack against the special rapporteur is taking place in the context of widespread extrajudicial executions and ongoing attacks against voices who are critical of the current government, including human rights defenders,” they added.
UN rights chief Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein said Manila’s actions against UN officials “make one believe that the president of the Philippines needs to submit himself to some sort of psychiatric evaluation.”
Zeid and other UN rights officials have criticized Duterte’s controversial war on drugs in which more than 4,100 drug suspects have been killed.
The UN special rapporteur on extrajudicial killings, Agnes Callamard, has become a particular Duterte target over her criticism of his campaign to stamp out illegal drugs.
In an exchange with Manila’s envoys in the UN Human Rights Council on Thursday, Zeid referred to November media reports from the Philippines that quoted Duterte threatening to slap Callamard, while using profanity.
“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 told reporters on Friday.
Zeid also referred to a pending case against the UN’s special rapporteur on the rights of indigenous people, Corpuz.
According to Zeid, the Justice Department charged Corpuz in a regional court last month with terrorism.
Manila has accused Carpuz of “alleged membership of the Communist Party of the Philippines and (the) New People’s Army,” Zeid said.
Zeid said that Corpuz believes she has been targeted because of comments she made regarding the alleged killings of indigenous people in the southern region of Mindanao, where Duterte has imposed martial law in an effort to curb a jihadist threat.
“This is of course unacceptable for a special rapporteur acting on behalf of the international community whose expertise is sought by the Human Rights Council to be treated in this way”, Zeid said.
“These attacks cannot go unanswered,” he added.
Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque declined to comment on the UN rights chief’s remarks, saying the Palace would leave the matter to the Department of Foreign Affairs.
Also on Friday, Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman said Duterte cannot challenge the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court over him if it determines
the need for a full-blown inquiry into the killings being attributed to his war on drugs.
“As a signatory to the Rome Statute of the ICC, the Philippines is obligated to submit to the jurisdiction of the ICC and cooperate fully with ICC investigators,” Lagman said in a statement.
Palace: Corpuz’ terrorist accusation not a witch hunt on UN rapporteurs
By Argyll Cyrus Geducos
10 March 2018
Malacañang [Philippines president palace]assured that the petition seeking to tag Filipino United Nations (UN) Special Rapporteur on Indigenous Peoples (IDPs) Victoria Tauli-Corpuz as a terrorist is not a witch hunt on UN rapporteurs amid the seemingly souring relationship between the Philippines and the UN.
Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque issued the statement after UN experts called for the Philippine Department of Justice (DOJ) to drop her name from a list of 600 members of the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army (CPP-NPA) that the DOJ I asked the court to declare the group a terrorist organization.
“We call on the Philippine authorities to immediately drop these unfounded accusations and to ensure [Corpuz’s] physical safety and that of others listed,” the UN statement read, adding that terrorist tag on Corpuz was an “act of retaliation” by the Philippine government.
Roque, in a press briefing in Alimodian, Iloilo, said that the DOJ’s petition only supports the earlier declaration of the United States State Department and the European Union that the CPP-NPA is a terrorist group.
“To begin with, the CPP-NPA had already been declared a terrorist group by the US State Department and by the European Union. This move, therefore, only reinforces the classification that the CPP-NPA is a terrorist group,” Roque said Saturday afternoon.
“Unfortunately, perhaps, the UN Special Rapporteur for IDPs or indigenous peoples Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, was also included because of intelligence information that she is somehow connected with the CPP-NPA,” he added.
According to Roque, this may serve as a caution to the UN Human Rights Council (HRC) to tweak its selection process so a person suspected to be a member of the terrorist group will not enter the international body.
“I assure everyone, including the international security, that this is not a witch hunt on UN Special Rapporteurs; instead, perhaps the UN rapporteur system should fine tune its selection process to ensure that individuals identified with terrorist groups are not given any mandate by the UN Human Rights Council,” he said.
The Palace official also said that Corpuz is not automatically tagged as a terrorist and will be given the chance to prove before the court that she is not affiliated to the CPP-NPA.
“In any case, we are a civilized country in the Philippines, we will accord Ms. Victoria Tawili-Corpuz her right to be heard, her inherent due process rights and that is why she is not automatically tagged as a terrorist,” Roque said.
“She can dispute the classification in the Regional Trial Court where the petition to declare the CPP-NPA as a terrorist group is currently pending,” he added.
“In our legal system, we adhere to the rule of law, and hence, Ms. Victoria Tawili-Corpuz can submit controverting evidence to what I am sure the DOJ already has linking her with the terrorist group, the CPP-NPA,” he continued.
In December last year, Corpuz and another UN special rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples and internally displaced people Cecilia Jimenez-Damary, charged human rights abuses against indigenous and internally displaced peoples in Mindanao.
Their claim against the Philippine government came days after Duterte moved to declare the CPP-NPA as a terrorist group after officially terminating the peace talks between the government and the communist rebels.
The two Filipino rapporteurs, in a statement, said that human rights abuses committed on the Lumad community in Mindanao could intensify after the Congress overwhelmingly approved the extension of martial law in the island until the end of 2018 due to threat of terrorism in the island.
“They are suffering massive abuses of their human rights, some of which are potentially irreversible,” the two rapporteurs said.
“We fear the situation could deteriorate further if the extension of martial law until the end of 2018 results in even greater militarization,” they added.
Malacañang had called out the two Filipino UN special rapporteurs to stop using their posts to embarrass the Duterte administration before the international community.
“Both special rapporteurs should be more circumspect on their statements given that they were elected to their post upon recommendation of the former administration. And their observations were made so publicly as they appeared to be very partisan,” Roque earlier said.
“Now as Filipinos, the special rapporteurs should have documented the cases of alleged targeting of lumads and brought these cases to the proper authorities, to the police and the prosecutor for preliminary investigation so that the proper information could be filed in court,” he added.