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

Robie de Guzman   •   March 22, 2019   •   5040

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)

SWS: Duterte’s satisfaction rating hits new record-high

Aileen Cerrudo   •   January 22, 2020

President Rodrigo Duterte

President Rodrigo Duterte’s satisfaction rating has reached a new record high, according to the recent survey of Social Weather Stations (SWS).

Based on the 4th Quarter 2019 SWS Survey, Duterte got a 72% excellent net satisfaction rating, which is seven points higher compared to his September rating of 65%.

Malacañang welcomed the survey result saying President Duterte still has the support of the people.

“This means that the President has the support of the people, for which he is very thankful. But more than that, the people support him because they feel his legacy of real change,” said Presidential Communications Secretary Martin Andanar .—AAC (with reports from Rosalie Coz)

Duterte creates inter-agency task force on zero-hunger

Aileen Cerrudo   •   January 16, 2020

President Rodrigo Duterte has signed an executive order creating an inter-agency task force to end hunger in the country.

Based on Executive Order no. 101, an inter-agency task force on zero-hunger will be created which will be chaired by Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles.

“Involuntary hunger, food security, undernutrition and child wasting, stunting, and mortality continue to be serious concerns in the country,” the executive order reads.

The task force aims to assure that all government policies, programs and projects are centered in maintaining zero-hunger in the country.

“There is a need to carefully coordinate, rationalize, monitor and assess the efforts of concerned government agencies and instrumentalities to ensure a whole-of-government approach to eradicating hunger and achieving food security,” it further reads.

The members of the task force include the secretaries of agrarian reform, budget, education, environment, health, labor, interior and local government, trade, science and technology, communications, National Economic and Development Authority director-general, and the head of the Commission on Higher Education.

The fund for the task force will be taken from the allotted budget of the members.—AAC (with reports from Rosalie Coz)

Duterte grants gratuity pay for gov’t job order, contractual workers

Aileen Cerrudo   •   January 16, 2020

President Rodrigo Duterte has approved the gratuity pay for 2019 government job offers and contractual workers.

The Chief Executive signed Administrative Order no. 20 which grants a one-time gratuity pay, ranging from P1,000 to P3,000, for contractual and job order workers in the government.

Workers who rendered four months of satisfactory performance will receive P3,000 worth of gratuity pay. Meanwhile, those who rendered service for less than four months will receive P1,000 to P2,000.

“Granting a year-end gratuity pay to JO (job order) and COS (contract of service) workers is a well-deserved recognition of their hard work,” the administrative order reads.

Malacañang also said this will serve as recognition for their service.—AAC (with reports from Rosalie Coz)

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