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Panelo lauds ICC’s hands off on stand on China’s incursions in West PH Sea

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Malacañang on Saturday cheered the International Criminal Court’s (ICC) ruling that it lacked jurisdiction over the communication filed by two former Philippine officials’ against Chinese President Xi Jinping and other Chinese officials for alleged crimes against humanity by pursuing Beijing’s sweeping claims to the South China Sea.

In a statement, Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said the ICC’s decision complements Malacañang’s earlier stance that the communication filed by former Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario and former Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales against China may not prosper since the filing could be considered “futile.”

“This dismissal is consistent with our previous stand that the filing of the complaint is a futile exercise, for the reason that the ICC has no jurisdiction over China, it being not a state member,” the Palace official said.

“Neither does it have jurisdiction over the Philippines, given that the Rome Statute failed to comply with the publication requirement in accordance with due process under our Constitution,” he added.

Del Rosario and Carpio, on behalf of Filipino fishermen “persecuted and injured” by China’s massive island-building and occupation of islands in the hotly-contested South China Sea, filed a communication against Xi and other Chinese officials for purportedly perpetrating crimes against humanity attributed to Beijing’s allegedly aggressive militarization of the busy waterway.

The two former Philippine government officials accused Xi and other Chinese officials of committing crimes against humanity for implementing Beijing’s “systematic plan to control the South China Sea.”

The communication was submitted to the ICC on March 15, or two days before the Philippines’ official withdrawal from the Rome Statute on March 17.

China is not a member-state of the ICC, but the communication states that the ICC can exercise jurisdiction over China for its “atrocious actions” in the South China Sea, particularly within Philippine territory.

The ICC, in its “Report on Preliminary Examination Activities 2019, said it has no “territorial and personal jurisdiction” to act on the case since the supposed crimes committed by China happened outside the Philippine territory.

Del Rosario and Morales, however, claimed that the ICC did not dismiss their communication against Beijing.

The two said the international court’s latest report only strengthened their resolve as it welcomes “new facts and evidence” to proceed with the case.

Panelo lamented that the former Philippine officials still opted to pursue a “wrong tact” despite the ICC’s ruling.

“Apparently wanting to still milk the issue for media mileage to advance their pretended nationalism, they are still bent in pursuing their wrong tact despite the rejection of their complaint,” he said.

“In contrast, the Morales-Del Rosario tandem resorted to an ineffective process, evidently for its propaganda value,” Panelo added.

On March 21, President Rodrigo Duterte expressed confidence that the Philippines’ mended and warming ties with China would not be strained by del Rosario and Carpio-Morales‘s filing of communication against Xi.

Panelo said Duterte would continue pursuing an “effective” negotiations with Xi to resolve the long-standing disputes in the South China Sea.

“In resolving the conflict of the South China Sea, the President has chosen an effective mode accepted under International Law of directly engaging the People’s Republic of China in bilateral negotiations to resolve the dispute in a peaceful, expedient and efficacious manner,” he said.

On July 12, 2016, the Permanent Court of Arbitration ruled in favor of the Philippines, invalidating China’s extensive claims to the South China Sea.

Duterte, however, has repeatedly refused to invoke the arbitral ruling and instead opted to seek a peaceful engagement with Beijing about the unresolved maritime row.

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