Beijing ignores ICC complaint vs. Xi

By Joyce Ann L. Rocamora and EJ Roque

March 23, 2019, 12:51 pm

MANILA – Beijing will just ignore the case filed against Chinese President Xi Jinping by two former Philippine officials as it did not represent the view of the Philippines, Chargé d'Affaires Tan Qingsheng of the Chinese Embassy in Manila said.

Tan was reacting to the March 13, 2019 communication sent by former Foreign Affairs secretary Albert del Rosario and former Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales to International Criminal Court Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda.

In their 17-page complaint, del Rosario and Carpio-Morales said Xi and other Chinese officials should be held accountable for crimes against humanity over China's activities in the South China Sea, adding that these deprived Filipino fishermen of food and livelihood.

China has no plans of answering the complaint, Tan said.

"I'm sure what they have done or what they will do, will not be able to represent the views of the Philippine government and people. Those actions will in no way stop the development of bilateral relations," he said in an interview on Friday.

China is not a member of the ICC while the Philippines had withdrawn its membership from the Hague-based criminal court.

“On the issue of South China Sea, we are committed to the peace and stability (in the region) and we are committed in addressing our differences and disputes through our bilateral consultations and negotiation," Tan added.

Won’t prosper

Malacañang on Saturday said while it respects del Rosario and Carpio-Morales' decision to file a complaint against Xi at the ICC, it believes that the case will not prosper.

"As the President said, former Ombudsman Morales and former foreign affairs secretary del Rosario have the right to file the complaint against President Xi before the ICC. Whether or not the case will prosper is another matter. It could be dismissed because China is not a member of the ICC, so is the Philippines," Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said in a statement.

Panelo, also Chief Presidential legal counsel, said the filing of the complaint "may be a futile exercise" as the ICC has no jurisdiction over China.

He said del Rosario and Carpio-Morales are not authorized to lodge a complaint against China at the ICC on behalf of the Philippines.

"Even if they are so authorized, still since our position is that the ICC has never acquired jurisdiction over us, given that the Rome Statute never took effect as the requirement of publication in a newspaper of general circulation or in the Official Gazette was not complied with, which publication is a requirement in our jurisdiction before the said Rome Statute or any law for that matter becomes effective and enforceable," he added.

Panelo said the complaint against Xi for environmental damage in the South China Sea is not included in the Rome Statute.

"Hence, even assuming that the Philippines was a State Party when the complaint was filed, there could be an issue as regards the jurisdiction of the ICC," he said.

He added that critics of the administration may use the dismissal of the ICC case to further criticize President Duterte.

"The critics and detractors will have a field day criticizing the President in the event the case is dismissed by the ICC for lack of jurisdiction. They can claim that it was a mistake for the Philippine government to withdraw its membership from the Rome Statute as the ICC can no longer serve as a venue to prosecute President Xi for an alleged commission of crime against humanity," he said.

Panelo said the Philippine government is engaged in a diplomatic negotiation, through a bilateral consultation mechanism (BCM), over the West Philippine Sea issue.

"We do not need the help or disturbance of a biased tribunal known to politically prosecute heads of state, the very reason why powerful countries like the United States, China, Russia, and Israel, to name only a few, have either withdrawn their membership as State Parties from the Rome Statute or declined to be members of the ICC," he added. (PNA)