Calling ICC attention on West PH Sea shows ‘principled stand’: analysts

5 years ago 0 Comments

MANILA- Calling the attention of the International Criminal Court on China's activities in the West Philippine Sea shows a "principled stand" on the part of Filipino fishermen and former government officials, an analyst and a lawyer said Monday.

"I don't think it's entirely futile because in the first place it already has an impact. It has called attention to the fact that China continues to carry out its activities in the West Philippine Sea," international maritime law expert Jay Batongbacal told ANC's Headstart.

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Filipino fishermen together with former Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario and former Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales filed a communication to the ICC on China's activities in the disputed waters last May 13.

The international body received the communication on March 15, two days before the Philippines officially withdrew from the ICC.

Chinese President Xi and other Chinese officials allegedly committed crimes against humanity in implementing Beijing's "systematic plan to control the South China Sea."

Among crimes punishable under the ICC are genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes, and aggression.

China is not a state party to the Rome Statute, which established the ICC.

Lawyer Arpee Santiago, president of the Philippine Coalition for the ICC, meanwhile said the communication filed "left a window open for the Philippines."

"We must remember that there are no statutory limitations for a preliminary investigation to happen," he said.

The communication also sends a message of hope to Filipino fishermen, he added.

"At the very least it gives them (fishermen) hope that some people are actually fighting for their cause… I think that's a very strong statement that has been put forward."

While some analysts view the move to be futile, Batongbacal meanwhile reiterated that Manila's case against Beijing before a UN-backed arbitral tribunal in 2013 was also seen as a long shot before.

The Philippines, under Del Rosario, sued China for incursions in the country's exclusive economic zone within the disputed South China Sea.

The tribunal, based in The Hague, invalidated China's 9-dash line claim over the waters and recognized traditional fishing rights of Filipinos in the Scarborough Shoal, an area where Beijing's patrol ships had shooed away Philippine fishermen.

"Definitely it could be seen as a long shot but we must always remember that even the Philippines vs. China case was a long shot," Batongbacal said.

"Just because it's not that clear doesn't mean it's futile," he added.

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