|Rest in peace, my mentor and friend, Rodolfo.|
I just arrived in Mexico City where I will be speaking before the Congress of Mexico and in a colloquium organised by the Office of the High Commissioner on Human Rights. I arrived a day earlier because I was going to pay Rodolfo Stavenhagen a visit, tomorrow. I knew he was ill, which is why I requested that I visit him. Unfortunately, when I landed in the Benito Juarez Airport, I was informed that he passed away today. This is so sad. My deepest sympathies and condolences to his wife Elia, his children and whole family.
Professor Rodolfo Stavenhagen is the first Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms of Indigenous Peoples. This was the name of the mandate when it was established, which later was changed to what it is now. Rodolfo, is a person who has influenced me a lot in my life and work as a human rights and indigenous peoples' rights activist. I read one of his first books on indigenous peoples and minorities and since then I sought his writings.
He is one of the finest and dignified man I ever met. HIs commitment in fighting for the rights of indigenous peoples was unwavering. His writings on indigenous peoples rights are among the best ones I have read. During the drafting and negotiations of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, I had several chances to be with him. He was with us when the Declaration was adopted in 13 September 2007 at the UN General Assembly in New York.
When he became the Rapporteur he and I discussed about how we can get him to the Philippines. This worked out and so the Philippines was the second country he visited after his appointment in 2001. When he visited, I was very impressed with him. He was so patient and uncomplaining even during the long and arduous round trip travel we did from Baguio to Mankayan and back. His report on the Philippines set the benchmark on the situation of indigenous peoples in my country.
Rest in peace, my mentor and friend, Rodolfo. You have done so much for indigenous peoples and I thank you very much for all these. As the first Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, you set a high standard for the mandate. I hope I will be able to meet even one half of the standard you set. You will be in my memories and prayers and all I learned from you will guide me in my life and work.