Analyst: ICC case vs China’s Xi Jinping faces challenges
Robie de Guzman • March 22, 2019 • 5191
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.
MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte has yet to decide on whether to continue or modify the Luzon-wide enhanced community quarantine which will lapse on April 30.
Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said despite Monday’s discussions with health experts, congressional leaders and members of the Cabinet on the current state of the country in light of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, the President did not give any final decision on the matter.
Roque said none of them recommended a total lockdown nor total lifting of the ECQ.
“Ang opsyon na lumabas kahapon, ipagpatuloy o hindi naman kaya i-relax, hindi naman kaya completely itigil ang ECQ sa iba’t ibang lugar ng bansa. Depende sa dami ng kaso ng COVID-19,” explained Roque.
[Among the options that were raised yesterday were either to continue, to relax or to completely lift ECQ in different parts of the country. It will depend on the number of COVID-19 cases.]
Among the personalities who attended the meeting in Malacañang were former Health Secretaries Dr. Esperanza Cabral and Dr. Jaime Galvez-Tan together with public health experts Dr. Susan Mercado, Dr. Antony Leachon, and Dr. Mahar Lagmay, among others.
In the Philippines, most confirmed cases of COVID-19 were reported in Metro Manila and in nearby areas like Bulacan, Cavite-Laguna-Batangas-Rizal-Quezon (CALABARZON).
Metro cities like Cebu and Davao were also affected.
These major cities are also the country’s center of commerce and transportation, according.
Roque said the President is likely to decide once he received the complete recommendations of the National Task Force Against COVID-19 in collaboration with public health experts, and the World Health Organization (WHO) in line with the Luzon-wide ECQ. MNP (with details from Rosalie Coz)
MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte in his late-night address on Monday (April 13) said the national government cannot conclude yet as to when the crisis on coronavirus disease (COVID-19) would end.
But as soon as an effective treatment or a vaccine against the disease is made available in the market, he said he would lift the lockdown order or the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ).
The Chief Executive stressed that while there is no proven cure yet for the virus, the ECQ is necessary to keep everyone at home and minimize the risk of getting infected with the deadly COVID-19.
“Mayroon ng medisina o antibody ang isang giant pharmaceutical (company). Ang sabi by May baka they would start to market it, ipagbili na nila (A giant pharmaceutical company has introduced a medicine or an antibody. They say they plan to market it by May),” President Duterte said.
“Kung mayroon na niyan tapos makita ko na ginagamit na ng tao, ili-lift ko, tutal kung magkasakit kayo may antibodies naman tayo mabili (Once available and I see that it’s being used, I will lift (ECQ). So even if we get sick, there will be antibodies available that you can buy). I will lift the quarantine,” he added.
Presidential Spokesperson Secretary Harry Roque, meanwhile, assured that concerned Cabinet members have recommended to the President several options that the national government may undertake while waiting for an available vaccine for COVID-19.
It was also to answer queries as to the possibility of further extending or partially lifting the Luzon-wide ECQ after it lapses on April 30.
Roque said, the government is still weighing options based on two important considerations.
“Humahanap po tayo ng balance. Iyong punto na hindi naman masasabing naging pabaya ang gobyerno na pangalagaan ang kalusugan laban sa COVID-19 at ang katunayan na kinakailangan namang magkaroon ng kabuhayan ang ating mga mamamayan (We are looking for a balance, one where it cannot be said that the national government had been negligent in protecting the public health against COVID-19, and a proof that the people need a source of livelihood),” Roque said. MNP (with details from Rosalie Coz)
President Rodrigo Duterte warned he will order the detention of government officials who will misuse the money in the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) aid fund.
During his televised speech on Monday (March 30), Duterte said the P200 billion worth of aid should be properly distributed to those affected by the COVID-19 threat. He also said that this is not the time for corruption.
“If I discover some embezzlement, some hoarding there, at dina-divert ninyo mga pagkain sa mga taong dapat hindi sa kanila (diverting food not meant for them), you better…I am not a cruel man, kung may report ang pulis (if there is a report from the police), I will order your detention hanggang matapos itong COVID-19 (until this COVID-19 ends),” he said.
Meanwhile, the President expressed his gratitude to the frontliners for their sacrifices and assured they will receive aid from the government.
Duterte said the government will provide needed personal protective equipment (PPE) and other medical supplies and devices.
“About 1 million medical protective items are being acquired right now. With the government and the private sector being together to purchase and produce the necessary quantities,” Duterte said. AAC (with reports from Rosalie Coz)
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