Morales: West Philippine Sea belongs to Filipinos, not to Duterte and China
Ian Nicolas Cigaral ( - July 12, 2019 - 3:37pm

MANILA, Philippines — Former Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales on Friday urged Filipinos to find “creative” ways to enforce the arbitral award favoring Manila’s maritime claims over the South China Sea, and slammed the Duterte administration for its apparent refusal to use the landmark ruling.

The Philippines claims parts of the South China Sea within its exclusive economic zone and calls it the West Philippine Sea.

“The West Philippine Sea belongs to Filipinos, not to [President Rodrigo] Duterte, not to China,” Morales said in remarks delivered at a forum that marks the third anniversary of the Philippines’ legal victory in The Hague.

“Thus, as Filipinos we need to find creative and viable ways to enforce the award because our leadership refuses to do so,” she added.

Ties between China and the Philippines soured after the previous Aquino administration filed a case in 2013 with a United Nations-backed tribunal, and won. The ruling was handed down a few days after Duterte assumed the presidency in 2016.

But China vehemently rejected the landmark decision, which Duterte put on the back burner in exchange for warmer ties and Chinese funding for his administration’s ambitious infrastructure program.

Duterte has been under fire over his refusal to confront China. Critics have recently condemened a Chinese boat's failure to rescue the 22 Filipino fishermen after what some Philippine officials have called a "hit-and-run" incident.

Early this year, Morales — along with former foreign affairs chief Albert Del Rosario — filed a communication before the International Criminal Court against Chinese President Xi Jinping, alleging "crimes against humanity" over Beijing’s activities in the strategic waterway.

In May, Morales was briefly held by Hong Kong immigration when she made a private visit to the Chinese-controlled territory with her family.

Del Rosario also received a cold reception from Hong Kong authorities and was denied entry in June, in what some analysts have described as a pattern of harrassment from officials of the semi-autonomous territory.

“The ICC communication is a means of enforcing the award because it seeks to enforce individual criminal responsibility for China’s acts already found unlawful by the award,” Morales said.

“The inhumane acts of Chinese officials in the South China Sea constitute crimes against humanity within the ICC’s jurisdiction,” she added.

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