AGAINST THE ODDS | Communication vs Chinese officials sent to ICC seen to prosper

1 month ago

By: Dale De Vera

MARCH 22. 2019 – China may not be a signatory to the Rome Statute but it can be held accountable just the same for its “atrociously inhumane actions” in the South China Sea, at least according to two former top Philippine officials.

Former Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario says they chose crimes against humanity as the topic of jurisdiction with hopes that the International Criminal Court (ICC) will take notice.

The country’s former top diplomat, who led the Philippines in its territorial dispute against China in 2016, says outlined in the communication was the Chinese military’s systematic plan to control the South China Sea.

“They come up with a plan to set up artificial islands, militarization of these islands, which effectively has ruined the marine environment completely for millions of years and jeopardizing the Filipino fishermen of which there are an estimated 325 thousand,” Del Rosario said.

He added that “this devastation, this widespread, this near-permanent massive attack on our fishermen there is, we feel, should be paid attention to.”

Del Rosario said China need not be a signatory to the Rome Statute for the ICC to start its investigation.

“China does not need, under our scheme, to be a state party. But they were present. They were the perpetrator of the ruining the marine environment and they did this in terms of being in our EEZ,” he explained.

Former Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales, meanwhile, says since the Philippines is a signatory to the Rome Statute and the crime was committed within the territory of a state party, it may request the ICC to open an investigation.

“The underlying facts there is that the crimes were committed in the territory of a state party,” Carpio-Morales said.

But since China is not a member state, this means should the ICC decide in favor of the communication, the respondents — Chinese President Xi Jinping, State Counselor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi and Chinese Ambassador to the Philippines Zhao Jhinhua — may not be able to set foot in any of the 122 nations who are signatory to the treaty.

A member state may then be asked to implement the decision of the ICC.

Carpio-Morales said “if and when that happens, Mr. Xi can avoid being penalized or arrested, or being called for, by not staying outside China.”

President Rodrigo Duterte believes the communication will not prosper, but added that it will not interfere with the case, saying the Philippines is a democratic country.

“They are entitled to file the case. They are Filipino citizens and I think we’ll just have to defend our position vis-à-vis sa kanila. They think they have a good case and I would say that there is no jurisdiction over this country and of China,” the president said.

Duterte, however, maintains that the Philippines has never been part of the Rome Statute.