The Justice department on Sunday disparaged the significance of the complaint filed against Chinese President Xi Jinping by two officials of the previous administration before the International Criminal Court, saying it was futile and could be just a political move.
Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said former Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario and former Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales were aware that the complaint they filed on March 15 could be dismissed by the ICC for lack of jurisdiction over China, which is not a member of or a signatory to the Rome Statute.
Guevarra said the case was filed out of political motivation by the two officials identified with the political opposition.
“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,” Guevarra said.
The ICC may prosecute individuals for genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity, but only when national courts are unwilling or unable to prosecute criminals or when a case is referred to it by the United Nations Security Council or individual states.
That means the ICC could only act on the complaint against Xi if it had been filed by the Philippine government when it was still a member of the international body.
China did not sign the Rome Statute in 1998 and has not been a member of the ICC. The Philippines withdrew its membership from the ICC in March last year and it took effect on March 17 this year.
“These jurisdictional requirements are obviously not met, so we expect the ICC to dismiss the complaint,” Guevarra said.
He agreed with Palace officials that the action taken by Del Rosario and Morales was a “futile exercise.”
The two former officials accuses Xi of committing crimes against the Philippines and Filipino fishermen in the contested areas in the South China Sea, which have been declared within Philippine territory.
Del Rosario and Morales said the ICC had jurisdiction over the “atrociously inhumane actions” of Chinese officials in the contested waterway as those occurred “within Philippine territory.”
They said the complaint would test the ICC’s decision on Sept. 15, 2016, to include crimes committed “by means of, or that result in, inter alia, the destruction of the environment, the illegal exploitation of natural resources or the illegal dispossession of land”.
The Philippine government withdrew from the ICC after a complaint was filed against President Rodrigo Duterte over his administration’s bloody war on drugs.
Guevarra said Duterte did not even need to respond to the charges in the complaints filed against him before the ICC.
“Answering or participating in any way will be inconsistent with our previous act of withdrawal from the ICC, he said.
“As far as our country is concerned, the ICC cannot exercise its jurisdiction to investigate, much less prosecute, because our own investigative agencies and judicial bodies are functioning effectively, albeit slowly.”
Three policemen were convicted by the Caloocan City regional trial court in November last year and found guilty of the murder in August 2017 of Kian delos Santos, one of the controversial cases under the administration’s drug war.
Police officers Arnel Oares, Jeremias Pereda and Jerwin Cruz were sentenced to imprisonment of 20 to 40 years.
Guevarra said the conviction rebutted the insinuation of impunity by critics on the war on drugs.