Suit vs Xi may be ‘exercise in futility’ — Malacañang

March 23, 2019
Salvador Panelo
Salvador Panelo

MALACANANG yesterday said the filing of a complaint before the International Criminal Court against Chinese President Xi Jinping “may be a futile exercise.”

“The filing of the complaint may be a futile exercise. The ICC has no jurisdiction over China,” presidential spokesperson and Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo said in a statement.

Former Foreign Secretary Albert Del Rosario and former Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales sued Chinese President Xi Jinping, Foreign Minister Wang Yi and China’s envoy to Manila Zhao Jianhua for allegedly committing crimes against humanity in connection with China’s activities to gain control over most of the South China Sea.

They filed the case before the ICC on March 15 or two days before the Philippines’ exit from the tribunal.

“Former Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales and former Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario may have the right to file the complaint against Chinese President Xi Jinping before the International Criminal Court (ICC) as individuals over a perceived violation committed against their country or their countrymen,” Panelo said.

“They could be motivated with righteous indignation over the establishment of structures on some parts of the South China Sea which have been ruled to be rightfully belonging to us. To their minds, the establishment of those structures endangers the environment as well as our fishermen,” he added.

“As the President said, former Ombudsman Morales and former Foreign Affairs Secretary Del Rosario have the right to file the complaint against President Xi before the ICC,” Panelo said.

However, he said the case may be dismissed since China, like the Philippines, is not an ICC member.

“Whether or not the case will prosper is another matter. It could be dismissed because China is not a member of the ICC, so is the Philippines,” Panelo said.

The presidential spokesperson also said the two ex-officials are not authorized to file a complaint against China on behalf of the Philippines.

“The complainants are also not authorized to lodge a complaint against China at the ICC on behalf of the Philippines, and 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,” Panelo explained.

“Assuming that they are so authorized, the Philippines, like China, as we have said, is not a State Party to the ICC hence the latter cannot take jurisdiction,” he added.