UN experts urge PH gov’t to stop red-tagging

Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, United Nations special rapprteir on the rights of indigenous people | Photo from un.org

Three United Nations special rapporteurs on Wednesday, May 1, urged the government to refrain from linking their colleague Victoria Tauli-Corpuz to the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP).

“We call on the Philippine Government to immediately stop these unacceptable attacks on the human rights work of Corpuz, and to ensure her physical safety,” the UN special rapporteurs said as reported by Rappler.

Among those were special rapporteurs Michel Forst for Situation of Human Rights Defenders, David Kaye for Promotion and Protection of the Right to Freedom of Opinion and Expression and Fionnuala Ní Aoláin for Promotion and Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms while Countering Terrorism.

Forst, Kaye and Ní Aoláin said that the allegations against Corpuz were made “without grounding in fact or law.”. They noted that the government “are in retaliation for her invaluable work defending the human rights of indigenous peoples worldwide, and in the Philippines.”

“The criminalizing discourse used by Philippine public officials undermines the value of the vital work of human rights defenders, denigrates them in the eyes of the public and may put them at risk of threats, violence or other forms of harassment,” they said.

According to UN News, government officials have accused Corpuz of being an affiliate of the Communist Party in the southeast Asian island archipelago, and its alleged “terrorist activities” in the area.

Deputy Chief of Staff for Civil-Military Operations Brigadier General Antonio Parlade claimed that the UN itself had been “infiltrated by the Communist Party of the Philippines through Ms. Tauli-Corpuz” during a news conference in Manila.

“May IP Rapporteur sila doon at actually, iyong rapporteur na iyon, nasa listahan iyan ng, as a member of the Communist Party noong pinaylan [filed] natin ng kaso iyong Communist Party as a terrorist organization (They have an IP rapporteur there and that rapporteur, she’s in the list filed before the court tagging the Communist Party as a terrorist organization),” Parlade said in a press conference on March 13.

In 2018, the Department of Justice listed 649 alleged terrorists, including the UN special rapporteur. However, the Manila Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 19 dismissed the accusation against Corpuz and three others.

In line with such, National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon Jr. asked the European Union to stop funding the non-governmental organizations included on the government list due to their involvement with the CPP.

UN experts added that the threats and harassment hinder the groups from doing their vital work. Other human rights organizations continued to support the UN in calling out the administration’s red-tagging, profiling, and surveillance.

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