Robredo says ICC complaint vs China's Xi 'gives Filipinos hope'

MANILA, Philippines – Vice President Leni Robredo thanked former foreign affairs secretary Albert del Rosario and former ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales for filing a complaint against Chinese President Xi Jinping and other officials before the International Criminal Court.

Robredo said the courage of Morales and Del Rosario served as a flicker of hope amid China’s continuous aggression despite the Permanent Court of Arbitration’s ruling favoring the Philippines.

“Nagpapasalamat din tayo kay secretary Del Rosario saka siyempre kay ombudsman Carpio Morales, sa pagbibigay ng ganoong pag-asa sa ating lahat,” Robredo told reporters on Saturday, March 23, in Tigaon, Camarines Sur. (We thank secretary Del Rosario and of course ombudsman Carpio Morales for giving all of us hope.)

Robredo said she was delighted with the former officials’ initiative to question the Asian giant’s actions in the Philippine territory.

“[N]atuwa ako noong nakita ko iyong ginawa, kasi parang dumating kasi tayo sa punto na parang nawawalan tayo ng pag-asa—sinasakop tayo nang sinasakop, tapos nawawalan tayo ng pag-asa, na wala tayong magagawa. At least ito, mayroong mga naglakas ng loob na i-bring to the attention of authorities iyong pagsabi na mali na ba talaga iyong ginagawa o hindi,” Robredo said. (I was delighted when I found out. Because we have reached a point where we're losing hope. We were continuously being occupied. At least with this, there are people who have the courage to bring the issue to the authorities.)

“Itong ginawang ito, parang dinugtungan ulit iyong pag-asa sa ating mga puso, na mayroon pa naman pala tayong lakas na labanan iyong isang malaking entity kagaya ng China,” she added. (With this move, it's like it added to the hope of Filipinos, that we have the courage to stand up to a giant like China.)

At least two senators – Panfilo Lacson and Leila de Lima – welcomed the filing of a complaint before the ICC and said Filipinos should support it.

Senator Francis Escudero, however, said the ICC may not have jurisdiction over the issue, as China is not a member.

Del Rosario, Morales, and a group of fishermen submitted a communication to the ICC on March 15 or two days before the Philippines' withdrawal took effect on March 17. (READ: Duterte throws out decade-long fight for International Criminal Court)

They told the ICC's Office of the Prosecutor that Xi and other Chinese officials have committed crimes "which involve massive, near-permanent, and devastating environmental damage across nations."

They said the environmental damage occurred as Xi and other officials implement "China's systemic plan to take over the South China Sea." The Philippines owns rights over part of these waters, called the West Philippine Sea by Manila.

Malacañang downplayed the complaint as a “futile exercise,” while President Rodrigo Duterte expressed confidence that it would not jeopardize Philippine-China relations.

Under Duterte, the Philippines forged stronger ties with China despite the Asian giant's claim over the West Philippine Sea, after Duterte opted not to bring up the Philippines' historic victory.

The Duterte administration has also maintained its silence over China's continued militarization of the South China Sea – Rappler.com

Camille Elemia

Camille Elemia is a multimedia reporter focusing on media, technology, and disinformation.

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