PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte made it clear to China that his government had nothing to do with the suit filed by former Philippine officials against Chinese leader Xi Jinping before the International Criminal Court (ICC).
Duterte conveyed this message to Chinese Communist Party’s Minister of the International Department Song Tao, who paid a courtesy call on the chief executive in Davao City on Wednesday, according to a press release issued by Malacañang yesterday.
“However, he said, the Philippines is a democratic country. Therefore, ‘we cannot stop people from just filing cases’,” the Palace said.
The Palace said Duterte and Song also discussed matters of mutual interest such as trade, infrastructure development and the South China Sea dispute.
“If there will be a need of assistance in improving the people’s lives, China is willing to help,” said Song, adding he is looking forward to Duterte’s attendance at the second Belt and Road Forum in China in April.
Former Foreign Secretary Albert Del Rosario and former Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales have accused Xi, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi and China’s Ambassador to the Philippines Zhao Jianhua of committing crimes against humanity in connection with Beijing’s activities to gain control over most of the resource-rich South China Sea.
They said Xi and other officials have been responsible for the marine environment that has suffered destruction and the loss of the fisheries resources in the area due to the creation of artificial islands, militarization, and various other activities.
The communication was filed before the ICC Prosecutor on March 15 -- two days before the Philippines’ exit from the tribunal.
Under its rules, the court may still act on cases related to the Philippines while the Philippines was a member from November 1, 2011 until March 17, 2019.