Emergency Hotlines: LANDLINE (+63) 2 911 – 8688

Analyst: ICC case vs China’s Xi Jinping faces challenges

by Robie de Guzman   |   Posted on Friday, March 22nd, 2019

MANILA, Philippines – The complaint filed by two former high-ranking Philippine officials against Chinese President Xi Jinping before the International Criminal Court (ICC) is facing many challenges, a maritime law expert said on Friday (March 22).

Former Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales and former Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario filed the complaint on March 13 on behalf of Filipino fishermen, accusing Xi and other Chinese government officials of committing crimes against humanity for implementing “systematic plan to control the South China Sea.”

“Over the several years, Chinese President Xi Jin Ping has ordered engineers to pile sand onto some of the sea’s disputed offshore reefs, mostly in the Spratlys, with the apparent goal of building military bases there,” the group stated in their communication.

“[Chinese Foreign Minister] Wang Yi is the Primary promoter of China’s plan in the South China Sea,” the complainants said.

“As China’s Ambassador to the Philippines, Xiao Jianhua defends, promotes and facilitates the crimes stated in this communication,” they added.

The complainants said the situation is both unique and relevant because “it presents one of the most massive, near permanent and devastating destruction of the environment on humanity’s history.”

“It adversely affects and injures not only myriad groups of vulnerable fishermen, including 320,000 Filipino fishermen, but also present and future generations of people across nations,” the complainants added.

But Prof. Jay Batongbacal, director of the University of the Philippines Institute for Maritime Affairs and Law of the Sea, said the complaint faces many challenges, including questions on whether ICC has jurisdiction of the case.

“’Yung loss of livelihood kasi it doesn’t per se fall under categories of crimes sa ICC. Medyo maraming magiging paliwanag pang kailangan kung talagang papasok iyon (the loss of livelihood does not per se fall under the ICC”s categories of crimes. It needs more explanation on whether it really falls under its jurisdiction),” Batongbacal said.

Despite reports on China’s alleged harassment against Filipino fishermen in the contested waters, massive reclamation of reefs and militarization in the region, the analyst thinks the complaint is lacking in certain elements.

“Hindi siya nag-involve ng tinatawag na use of force in international law, iyong aktibong pag-atake at paggamit ng dahas. Tapos in terms of injuries, hindi naman natin makita ‘no kung mayroong physical injury talaga, kahit nangyari iyon sa [Vietnamese fishermen], pero sa atin walang report. Threat lang o banta (The issue doesn’t involve what we call use of force in international law. There is no active armed attack. In terms of injuries, we do not see any physical injuries, even if it happened to Vietnamese fishermen, but in Filipinos, there was no report. Just threats),” he explained.

“Ang concern ay loss of fishing resources, iyong pag-regulate sana, paghinto sana ng illegal fishing sa ating EEZ (Exclusive Economic Zone), iyong mga gano’n pwede iyong pag-usapan sa ibang bodies tulad ‘nung within the UN (United Nations) System (The obvious concern here is the loss of fishing resources, the regulation or stoppage of illegal fishing. Those kind of concerns may be discussed by other foreign bodies within the UN system),” he added.

The Philippines’ formal withdrawal from the Hague-based body could also obstruct the case filed by del Rosario and Carpio-Morales, aside from the fact that China has never been a member of the ICC.

“Mayroong malaking obstacle diyan, iyong fact na hindi naman ever naging miyembro ng ICC ang China. Tapos pangalawa na iyong tayo, nag-withdraw pa tayo kasi supposedly, dapat iyong partido diyan ay involved iyong mga state, (There is a very big obstacle here, the fact that China is not a member of the ICC. Next is the Philippines’ withdrawal from the body. Supposedly, the states who are parties to the case should be involved with the ICC)” Batongbacal said.

Meanwhile, Opposition Senator Leila de Lima has lauded the “bold, unprecedented” move of Carpio-Morales and del Rosario to call the attention of the ICC on the plight of local fishermen affected by the maritime dispute.

“It’s in fact a masterstroke na nagpapakita kung bakit kailangan manatili tayo sa ICC. Kasi kung ganyan na foreign aggressor ang involved eh saan tayo pupunta? Kundi sa isang independent international body with universal jurisdiction (that shows why we really need to remain in the ICC. Because if a foreign aggressor is involved in the case then where will we go? To an independent international body with universal jurisdiction),” de Lima said in a statement.

READ: Duterte: ICC case vs Xi won’t strain PH-China ties

President Rodrigo Duterte, meanwhile, expressed confidence that the case won’t affect the stronger diplomatic ties between the Philippines and China. – Robie de Guzman (with details from Mai Bermudez)

Tags: , , , ,

Palace says Duterte can declare martial law if terrorism reaches Metro Manila

by Aileen Cerrudo   |   Posted on Thursday, July 18th, 2019

Malacañang said President Rodrigo Duterte can declare martial law if terrorism reaches Metro Manila.

Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said the chief executive expressed concern about the recent suicide bombing which led to the death of eight individuals including one Filipino suicide bomber in Indanan, Sulu.

“Iyon nga ang kinakatakot niya kasi may suicide bomber na. (That’s what he feared, there is already a suicide bomber). He’s very concerned of that. Kaya hindi ba nag-warning siya sa enemies of the state, (so he warned the enemies of the state) ‘Don’t force my hand into it. I will not allow the disintegration of this country,’ ” he said.

“Kaya nga hindi ba don’t force me to the wall. Kapag hindi kayo tumigil, (So don’t force me to the wall. If you do not stop) I’ll be compelled to use powers granted to me by the Constitution, lalong lalo pa iyong terorismo makarating dito sa Maynila (especially if terrorism reaches here in Metro Manila),” he said.—AAC (with reports from Rosalie Coz)

Tags: , , ,

Duterte on WPS: ‘I’m the owner, I’m just giving China fishing rights’

by Aileen Cerrudo   |   Posted on Thursday, July 18th, 2019

FILE PHOTO: President Rodrigo Duterte | PCOO

President Rodrigo Duterte has reiterated that the West Philippine Sea still belongs to the country and that he is only giving “fishing rights” to China.

“As far as I’m concerned, I’m the owner, and I’m just giving the fishing rights,” he said.

In a television interview on Monday (July 15), Duterte said traditional fishing rights is widely recognized.

“Historically even before the birth of nations, even before the organization of whatever, meron ‘yang mga tao sa coast eh. Whether they are really the ancestors of the Chinese or the Filipinos, and also, nations who have been fishing there. It’s called fishing rights,” Duterte said.

READ: Duterte to explain Chinese fishing in PH waters at 4th SONA

“The court admitted that there is such a thing as the traditional fishing rights of people and that you have to allow it without violating the law,” he added. 

READ: Duterte ‘tolerating’ Chinese fishing in PH’s EEZ draws flak

Duterte was slammed after allowing Chinese fishermen to fish in Philippine waters “for friendship’s sake.”—AAC

Tags: , ,

Philippine Philharmonic Orchestra gears up for first SONA performance

by Robie de Guzman   |   Posted on Wednesday, July 17th, 2019

Courtesy: Philippine Philharmonic Orchestra

MANILA, Philippines – The country’s leading orchestra, Philippine Philharmonic Orchestra (PPO), is now preparing for their performance at the fourth State of the Nation Address (SONA) of President Rodrigo Duterte on July 22.

Cultural Center of the Philippines President Arsenio Lizaso said PPO’s upcoming performance at the Batasang Pambansa is a milestone for the orchestra as this will be their first to play at such prestigious event.

“Ito po ang kauna-unahan sa SONA, first time kami dito at ito ay magandang pagkakataon sa Philharmonic at Cultural Center of the Philippines,” Lizaso said.

“Chance na ito for us to be able to play for the senators, congressmen, guests and for the President,” he added.

On Wednesday, Lizaso conducted an ocular visit at the lobby of the House of Representatives in Quezon City to check the audio and placement for the performance of the 65-member PPO.

The symphony orchestra will reportedly play the Philippine National Anthem “Lupang Hinirang,” “Pagbabago” by Freddie Agular, presidential anthem “Mabuhay,” and other Filipino compositions, as well as Duterte’s favorite song “Ikaw.”

“Nagre-rehearse kami sa Cultural Center, pagkatapos dito on the day itself,” Lizaso said.

He added that PPO’s performance, which is expected to last for three to five hours, is free of charge.

The PPO, established in 1973, has performed with many renowned conductors and is one of the leading musical ensembles in the Asia-Pacific region. (with details from Grace Casin)

Tags: , ,