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The UN and the Philippine government have come to blows over the treatment of human rights investigators, with a top UN official saying that the countrys President Rodrigo Duterte needs "psychiatric evaluation", the media reported on Friday.

The Philippine government angered the UN after one of its human rights investigators was included on a list of 600 people declared to be communist terrorists, reports the Guardian.

In a petition filed in a Manila court last month, the department of justice listed more than 600 people it wanted to be categorised as rebels for "using acts of terror" to undermine the government.

Among them was the UN special rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples, Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, for allegedly being a senior member of the Maoist rebel group.

The petition, made public on Friday, would give the government power to closely monitor the movements and limit the resources of anyone on the list.

Tauli-Corpuz denounced the government for labelling her as a terrorist and putting her life at risk, calling the allegations "baseless, malicious and irresponsible".

The UN said the accusations were an act of retaliation for Tauli-Corpuz's recent criticism of the attacks on and killings of indigenous Lumad people in the Philippines, reports the Guardian.

It said the claims violated the UN convention on human rights.

Condemning the actions of Duterte's government, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein, said: "He needs to submit himself to some sort of psychiatric examination. This kind of comment is unacceptable.These attacks cannot go unanswered, the UN human rights council must take a position."

His concerns were echoed by Michel Forst, the UN's special rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders.

"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."

Duterte has been at odds with the UN.

Last year, Duterte called the organisation "stupid" and "shit" and threatened to leave over its condemnation of his bloody war on drugs. (IANS)