Ex-justice Carpio tapped to boost case vs China's Xi over sea row

Christian V. Esguerra, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Sep 16 2020 02:00 PM

MANILA--Former Supreme Court Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio has joined 2 former Philippine government officials in a landmark case seeking to punish Chinese President Xi Jinping over his country's destructive activities in the South China Sea.

Former Philippine Foreign Secretary Albert Del Rosario said Carpio's role as legal counsel would "bolster" the communication he and former Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales filed before the International Criminal Court's (ICC) Office of the Prosecutor last year.

Morales on Wednesday said the case was not dismissed by ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda, who informed them that "jurisdictional concerns may be reconsidered in light of new facts and information."

"This is a continuing case," Morales said in an online forum. "Until this year, China continues to commit crimes against Filipinos. We have not obtained any redress from China."

Bensouda earlier said that the ICC had no personal jurisdiction over the complaint and that China was not a state party to the Rome Statue, which created the international body.

Morales said she and Del Rosario submitted a reply on Sept. 15 showing that the "crimes against humanity committed by President Xi Jinping and other Chinese officials and agents, occurred not only in the exclusive economic zone of the Philippines, but also in its territorial sea and the coast of Luzon."

Del Rosario cited reclamation activities on Subi Reef, which is located within the territorial sea of Pag-asa island, "a Philippine territory with a permanent community of Filipinos, controlled and administered by the Philippines."

Senior executives of the China Communications Construction Company were also "impleaded" in Tuesday's response to the ICC, said Morales, adding its "direct destructive" reclamation in the South China Sea led to "long-term food and livelihood deprivation of Filipinos."

The company was among 24 firms earlier blacklisted by the US for participating in the artificial island-building in the disputed waters.

Beijing's "hostile blockade" at Scarborough Shoal affects the livelihood of Filipino fishermen living along the coast of Luzon. "The effects of these Chinese criminal actions, therefore extend to the Philippines' coast of Luzon," said Del Rosario.

"As our case progresses, warrants of arrest may be issued against the individuals who we identified as being responsible," he said.

Del Rosario said an arrest warrant would prevent the likes of Xi from traveling to ICC state parties, which would be "obligated by the ICC statute to enforce" it.

"We urge our neighbors, who are also aggrieved by China's actions, to submit similar communications with the ICC to make Chinese officials accountable for their atrocities," he said.

"We pursue this case on the premise that we, Filipinos, should not sit idly by as China continues to flagrantly destroy our rights."

Morales said the Philippine complaint over China's destructive behavior in the vital waterway would be "complementary" to Manila's 2016 arbitral victory, which rejected the basis of Beijing's 9-dash line claim. The decision by the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague had no enforcement mechanism.

"We hope in earnest that our government and more of our countrymen will join us in this quest for justice for the Philippines," she said.