Duterte tells Chinese official Philippine gov't no hand on ICC suit vs Xi
President Rodrigo Duterte has told a Chinese official that his administration has nothing to do with the complaint filed by two former government officials against Chinese President Xi Jinping before the International Criminal Court.
In a statement, Malacanang said Duterte conveyed this clarification during his meeting with Chinese Minister of International Department Song Tao at the Matina Enclaves in Davao City on March 27.
"I would like to welcome you warmly, and I'd like to tell you that we are very happy with your visit," Duterte said.
The statement said the two officials discussed matters of mutual interest, especially the issue on South China Sea or West Philippine Sea.
"President Duterte also clarified the case filed by former Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales and former Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario against Chinese President Xi Jinping before the International Criminal Court, noting that the administration had no participation in such activity," said the Palace statement released on Thursday.
However, it said Duterte noted that the Philippines is a democratic country.
Therefore, "we cannot stop people from just filing cases," the statement said, quoting Duterte.
Prior to the Philippine government's exit from the ICC took effect on March 17, Del Rosario and Carpio lodged a complaint before the international tribunal against Xi's alleged crimes against humanity due to the alleged inhumane actions of Chinese officials, particularly against the Filipino fishermen, in areas within the Philippine territory in the South China Sea.
It was during Del Rosario's stint as secretary of the Department of Foreign Affairs under the previous administration that the Philippine government filed a petition before the United Nations Arbitral Tribunal, questioning China's sovereign and historic claim in almost the entire South China Sea through its nine-dash line theory.
The Hague-based Permanent Court of Arbitration ruled in favor of the Philippines in July 2016, shortly after Duterte assumed the presidency.
But Duterte decided to put on the back burner the PCA ruling as he followed a softer stance with China with regard to its territorial dispute.
During the meeting, Malacanang's statement said Song offered China's readiness to continue with its assistance to the Philippines.
"If there will be a need of assistance in improving the people's lives, China is willing to help," the statement said, quoting Song. Celerina Monte/DMS