ICC case vs. China’s Xi politically-motivated — Guevarra

Published March 24, 2019, 3:40 PM

by Francine Ciasico


Justice Secretary Menardo I. Guevarra said Sunday the complaint filed before the International Criminal Court (ICC) against Chinese President Xi Jinping by two former Philippine government officials identified with the opposition was politically motivated.

Senior Deputy Executive Secretary Menardo Guevarra (TOTO LOZANO/PRESIDENTIAL PHOTO / MANILA BULLETIN)
Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra

Guevarra said the complainants, former Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario and former Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales, were aware that their complaint could be dismissed for lack of jurisdiction as China is not an ICC member.

China did not sign the Rome Statute in 1998, while the Philippines withdrew its membership from the ICC effective last March 17.

“These jurisdictional requirements are obviously not met, so we expect the ICC to dismiss the complaint,” Guevarra said.

Thus, he said, he believed that the filing of the complaint was politically motivated.

“The complaint against President Xi is really a political statement more than a legal action, and is thus intended to achieve a political result rather than a legal victory,” he stressed.

The justice secretary said that under its charter, the ICC may exercise jurisdiction to prosecute individuals for international crimes of genocide, war crimes, and crimes against humanity only under certain conditions – when national courts are unwilling or unable to prosecute criminals or upon referral by the United Nations Security Council or individual states.

Thus, he said, the ICC could only act on the complaint if it were filed by the Philippine government when it was still a member.
Guevarra’s pronouncement concurs with the opinion of Malacanang officials who said the complaint against President Xi is “a futile exercise.”

Del Rosario has charged that it was Chinese President Xi Jinping and not President Rodrigo Duterte who caused the “significant problems” in the South China Sea, hence the filing of a complaint against the Chinese leader.

Based on their assessment, Del Rosario said it was the Chinese leader who “directly caused the problems” in the South China Sea (West Philippine Sea) namely, the building of artificial islands; deterioration of fish resources; the treatment of Filipino fishermen; loss of making a living, and loss of various other enjoyments in life that everyone is entitled to.

Del Rosario and Carpio-Morales filed a complaint before the ICC alleging that Chinese officials have committed crimes “which involve massive, near-permanent, and devastating environmental damage across nations.”

The complaint against Xi and other Chinese leaders that include State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi and Ambassador to the Philippines Zhao Jianhua was filed on March 15, two days shy of the Philippines’ official withdrawal from the ICC.

“I don’t agree that the Duterte administration was an enabler because a lot of those islands where there already when he became president,” Del Rosario said.
Del Rosario, who served as foreign affairs secretary from 2011 to 2016, also advised China to take their complaint “seriously,” saying we are very serious in winning this encounter, as well.”