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: , , , ,

Jayme pleads ‘not guilty’ to sedition charges

by Robie de Guzman   |   Posted on Tuesday, May 21st, 2019

Rodel Jayme, the webmaster of the website which first shared the “Bikoy” videos

MANILA, Philippines – Website Administrator Rodel Jayme, who was accused of sharing internet videos linking the Duterte family to narcotics trade, has pleaded not guilty to a charge of inciting to sedition.

Jayme on Tuesday, entered the plea when he was arraigned before the Parañaque Regional Trial Court Branch 258.

The Department of Justice (DOJ) filed the inciting to sedition rap in relation to the anti-cybercrime law, an offense punishable by a prison term of six to 12 years.

The DOJ said Jayme’s posting of videos is not an exercise of his freedom of speech and expression but a “clear act to arouse among its viewers a sense of dissatisfaction against the duly constituted authorities.”

READ: Prosecutors find probable cause to indict Jayme for violation of Art. 142 of RPC

The 27-year old webmaster admitted to developing the website which was later used to host the series of online videos entitled, “Ang Totoong Narco List,” where a certain ‘Bikoy’ implicated some members of President Rodrigo Duterte’s family and close associates to the illegal drug trade.

However, he denied involvement in the uploading and subsequent sharing of videos that have gone viral on social media.

READ: Rodel Jayme denies knowledge of uploaded Bikoy videos

READ: Jayme possible as state witness but no assurance yet – NBI

Jayme earlier expressed willingness to turn state witness to help apprehend the individual who spread the videos. The National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) said it will evaluate if Jayme is qualified to become state witness.

Meanwhile, the court also ordered Jayme’s transfer to the Parañaque City Jail from the NBI.

Tags: , , ,

Amid rumors: Palace says Duterte is OK, working while out of public eye

by Robie de Guzman   |   Posted on Monday, May 20th, 2019

President Rodrigo Duterte and former SAP Bong Go enjoying their classic Filipino merienda. The photo was originally posted on Go’s Facebook account, disproving rumors that the Chief Executive is confined in a hospital. | Courtesy: Bong Go

MANILA, Philippines – Malacañang on Monday assured that there is nothing to worry about regarding the health of President Rodrigo Duterte amid fresh rumors about his condition fueled by a week-long absence from the public eye.

Speculations circulated over the weekend that the president was confined at the Cardinal Santos Medical Center in San Juan City after suffering a cardiac or respiratory arrest.

The chief executive was last seen during the May 13 polls when he cast his ballot in Davao City.

But Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said there is no truth to this rumor, adding that President Duterte is in his residence at the Palace, signing papers and working privately when not attending public engagements.

“Ang President, pag di ninyo nakikita, nagtatrabaho yun. Ayaw niyang naiistorbo yun, kasi pag nalabas siya, ang daming gustong makipag-usap sa kaniya,” he said.

“Ang focus niya ay signing papers, reading documents, memo hindi niya ginawa so he decided to stay put,” he added.

Panelo also said that the President sounded cheerful when they talked over the phone, however, he would not say whether he went to the hospital or not.

“Sabi niya, ‘I neither confirm nor deny, you draw your own conclusions’,” Panelo quoted the president as saying, adding that Duterte will inform the public if he is facing a serious health concern.

“Let me assure the nation, if there is anything wrong with the president’s health, serious or not to be of our concern, he will tell us, and he said so himself, many times over,” Panelo said.

On Sunday, former presidential special assistant Bong Go released photos of the President posing with daily broadsheets and sharing a meal in his residence in Malacañang.

Duterte’s common-law wife Honeylet Avanceña also belied rumors that the president was rushed to the hospital.

Speculations on Duterte’s health is no longer new as these are often sparked by his prolonged absences from the public eye.

In 2018, the 74-year old president admitted to undergoing a medical checkup to examine a growth found inside his digestive tract. He also said he needed to undergo some medical procedures for his gastrointestinal ailment.

READ: Duterte quells death rumors, appears on live stream

In February 2019, rumors about the president’s death circulated online. He later appeared in a video to end speculations. (with details from Rosalie Coz)

Tags: , ,

Duterte fires FDA chief Puno over alleged corruption

by Robie de Guzman   |   Posted on Thursday, May 16th, 2019

Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Director General Nela Charade Puno | Courtesy: PNP Directorate for Personnel and Records Management

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte has fired Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Director General Nela Charade Puno for alleged corruption, the Malacañang said on Thursday.

Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo announced this during a press briefing on Thursday by reading a letter signed by Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea addressed to Puno.

“Dear Ms. Puno, please be advised that upon the instruction of the President, your appointment as director general of the Food and Drug Administration of the Department of Heath is hereby terminated effective immediately,” the letter dated May 15 stated.

“This is in line with the President’s continuing mandate to eradicate graft and corruption, and to ensure that public officials and employees conduct themselves in a manner worthy of public trust,” the letter added.

Puno was also directed to turn over all official documents, papers and properties in her possession to the office of the Undersecretary for Health regulation of the Department of Health “to ensure uninterrupted delivery of public service.”

Puno was appointed by Duterte as head of the FDA in 2016.

READ: 3 cops killed, 3 others wounded in Camarines Sur ambush

She survived an ambush in October 2018 allegedly staged by the New People’s Army in Lupi, Camarines Sur.

Tags: , , , , ,