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China to ignore ICC case vs Xi Jinping

by Robie de Guzman   |   Posted on Monday, March 25th, 2019

Chinese President Xi Jinping attends the first meeting of the French-Chinese business council in Beijing, China, January 9, 2018. REUTERS/Ludovic Marin/Pool

MANILA, Philippines – Beijing has no plans of answering the complaint filed against Chinese President Xi Jinping by two former Philippine officials before the International Criminal Court (ICC), the Chinese Embassy in Manila said.

Chinese Embassy Chargé d’Affaires Tan Qingsheng said in a recent media interview that the Chinese government will just ignore the complaint as it did not represent the view of the Philippines.

Last March 13, 2019, former Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario and former Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales sent a communication to ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda.

Del Rosario and Carpio-Morales are accusing Xi and other Chinese officials of committing crimes against humanity over Beijing’s alleged continued reclamation and militarization in the disputed waters, depriving Filipino fishermen of food and livelihood.

Tan said the complaint filed by two former high-ranking Philippine officials will not hinder the development of the diplomatic ties between the Philippines and China.

Tan also reiterated China’s commitment to promote peace and stability in the region and in addressing differences and disputes through bilateral consultations.

But Del Rosario and Carpio-Morales said on Friday (March 22) that China should take the complaint seriously.

“I think if I were China, I would take this seriously because this is not our first encounter with them. It’s our second encounter and we are very serious about winning this encounter as well,” Del Rosario said.

He was referring to the Manila’s legal challenge against Beijing’s territorial claims at the Permanent Court of Arbitration in the Hague in 2013. The tribunal ruled in favor of the Philippines in 2016.

President Rodrigo Duterte last week expressed confidence that the ICC case against Xi will not jeopardize Manila’s ties with Beijing.

He also said that Del Rosario and Carpio-Morales are entitled to file the case as the Philippines is a democratic country, but whether or not the case would prosper or if the ICC has the jurisdiction is another story.

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

Malacañang also respects the former officials’ decision to file the complaint but it believes that the case will not prosper.

Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said in a statement on Saturday that the filing may also be a futile exercise as the ICC has no jurisdiction over China. Carpio-Morales and Del Rosario also have no authority to lodge a case against China on behalf of the Philippines.

“It could be dismissed because China is not a member of the ICC, so is the Philippines,” Panelo said.

“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.

The Palace official also said that the complaint against Xi for environmental damage in the South China Sea is not within the Rome Statute.

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

Panelo also believes that the possible dismissal of the case will be used by the administration’s foes to further criticize the President.

“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.

“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,” Panelo added.

READ: Analyst: ICC Case vs China’s Xi Jinping faces challenges

A maritime analyst said last week that the case against Xi is facing many challenges, including the issue on ICC’s jurisdiction over China and the Philippines. – Robie de Guzman

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Duterte signs ‘Bawal Bastos’ law

by Aileen Cerrudo   |   Posted on Tuesday, July 16th, 2019

President Rodrigo Duterte has signed the ‘Bawal Bastos’ act into law which penalizes cat-calling and other forms harassment in public places.

The Republic Act No 11313 or Safe Spaces Act was signed on April 17 and was released to the media on Monday (July 15).

Based on the newly signed law, there will be heftier penalties for acts of cat-calling, unwanted invitation, and sexist slurs.

“The state also recognizes that both men and women must have equality, security, and safety not only in private, but also on the streets, public spaces, online, workplaces, and educational and training institutions,” the law states.

Among the harassment acts include catcalling, wolf-whistling, unwanted invitations, misogynistic, transphobic, homophobic and sexist slurs; persistent uninvited comments or gestures on a person’s appearance; relentless requests for personal details, statement of sexual comments and suggestions; public masturbation or flashing of private parts, groping, or any unwanted advances. The law also covers online sexual harassment and cyberstalking.

There will be various penalties depending on the crime committed.

First degree offenses will face P1,000 fine for a first offense, including 12-hour community service and Gender Sensitivity Seminar.

Second degree offenses will face P10,000 fine for a first offense including 12-hour community service with Gender Sensitivity Seminar.

Third degree offenses will face 11-30 days imprisonment, for a first offense with P30,000-fine and attendance to Gender Sensitivity Seminar.—AAC

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PH to deploy social welfare attachés for OFWs under new law

by Robie de Guzman   |   Posted on Monday, July 15th, 2019

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte has signed a law establishing the Office for Social Welfare Attaché to assist overseas Filipino workers (OFW), especially those who have fallen prey to illegal recruiters.

Duterte signed the Republic Act 11299 on April 17, a copy of which was made public on Monday (July 15).

The newly-signed law amended the Republic Act 8402 or the Migrant Workers Overseas Filipino Act of 1995 to include the said office.

It mandates the Office for Social Welfare Attaché (SWA) to deploy personnel to countries with large concentration of Filipino workers, as determined in coordination with the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) and the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE).

Under the measure, a social welfare attaché’s duty includes management of cases of Filipino workers in distress, such as victims of trafficking or illegal recruitment, rape or sexual abuse, maltreatment and other forms of physical or mental abuse, and case of abandoned or neglected children;

SWAs are also mandated to undertake survey and prepare social welfare situationer on the OFWs in their areas of assignment; establish a network with overseas-based social welfare agencies or individuals which may be mobilized to assist in the provision of appropriate services.

They should also respond to and monitor the resolution of problems and complaints or queries of Filipino workers and their families; establish and maintain a data bank and documentation of OFWs and their families to provide effective social welfare services; submit regular reports on plans and activities undertaken, recommendations and updates on the situation of OFWs.

The law states that the budget for the Department of Social Welfare and Development while the DFA, DOLE, the Department of Health and the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration are tasked to craft the measure’s implementing rules and regulations within 60 days after the effectivity of this act.

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PH mulls severing ties with Iceland, 17 other nations – Malacañang

by Robie de Guzman   |   Posted on Monday, July 15th, 2019

MANILA, Philippines – The Philippines is mulling over the possibility of cutting ties with Iceland and 17 other nations that voted in favor of a resolution calling on the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) to conduct a comprehensive review on the human rights situation in the Philippines amid President Rodrigo Duterte’s campaign against illegal drugs, Malacañang said Monday (July 15).

Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said they will take a serious look into the country’s diplomatic relationship with other nations, adding that Iceland and other nations’ move can be considered as interference in the Philippines’ domestic affairs.

On July 11 (Thursday), 18 of the 47-member of the UNHRC voted to adopt the resolution filed by Iceland, tasking the UN Human Rights Office to prepare a comprehensive report on the Philippines’ human rights situation amid its ongoing anti-drug campaign.

Among the countries that voted in favor of the resolution are Argentina, Australia, Austria, Bahamas, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Fiji, Italy, Iceland, Mexico, Peru, Slovakia, Spain, Ukraine, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and Uruguay.

“’Pag ang isang bansa ay nagpapahayag ng mga posisyon na makakasira sa ating kasarinlan o sovereignty ay kailangang talagang putulin natin ang relasyon natin sa kanila kung wala silang gagawin kundi siraan tayo ng siraan sa mga kalakaran na di naman batay sa tunay na pangyayari dito sa ating bayan,” Panelo told reporters in a press briefing.

(If a country is making declarations that are affront to our independence or sovereignty, if they continue to do or say negative things that are not based on facts or occurrences in our country, then we need to sever our ties with them.)

However, Panelo said that Duterte will have the final say on the matter, as well as on calls for the Philippines to withdraw its membership from the UNHRC.

READ: Philippines eyes withdrawal from UN Human Rights Council

“In the ultimate analysis, he is the chief architect of foreign policy. Then, it’s the call of the President,” he said.

The palace official assured that they will also factor in every aspect, including the welfare of Filipinos living and working in the mentioned 18 countries, and circumstances that could lead to the cutting of ties.

The UN resolution asked the Philippine government to cooperate with the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human rights, including preventing and refraining from all acts of intimidation of retaliations on human rights defenders.

The resolution also urged the Philippine government to take up measures against extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances, conduct impartial investigations of human rights violations and hold those involved accountable.

With the adoption of the Iceland-led resolution, UN rights chief Michelle Bachelet was tasked to prepare a report on the Philippines human rights situation by June 2020.

Although the Duterte administration does not consider the resolution a legally-binding document, Panelo said the government is willing to respond to the UN council’s formal questions or communication about Duterte’s war against illegal drugs.

“They have to believe what this government tells them, because this government does not lie,” Panelo said.

However, he stressed that the government will not oblige if the questions are designed to “embarrass” the Duterte administration. (with details from Rosalie Coz)

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