South China Sea claimant states should also file ICC complaint vs China — Del Rosario

Patricia Lourdes Viray - Philstar.com
South China Sea claimant states should also file ICC complaint vs China � Del Rosario
In this Feb. 28, 2020 photo, former Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario speaks at the "Post-VFA: PH-US Alliance Quo Vadis?" forum organized by Stratbase ADR Institute in Makati City.
Philstar.com / Efigenio Toledo IV, file

MANILA, Philippines — Citizens of other South China Sea claimant states should also submit a communication against China before the International Criminal Court, former Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario said Tuesday.

Del Rosario, along with former Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales, earlier filed a communication against Chinese President Xi Jinping before the ICC, alleging crimes against humanity through its activities in the West Philippine Sea, the portion of the South China Sea within Philippine exclusive economic zone.

The ICC, however, concluded in December that it does not have jurisdiction over the complaint.

Del Rosario and Morales then said the communication was not dismissed and that the international court welcomes new facts and evidence to proceed with the case.

Speaking at a virtual conference organized by Stratbase ADRi, Del Rosario stressed the need of holding Chinese officials accountable for "having inflicted the most massive, near-permanent and devastating destruction of the marine wealth in the South China Sea."

"The case is a work-in-progress as we will complete our submission regarding the concerns raised by the ICC prosecutors regarding ICC's jurisdiction," Del Rosario said.

The former top diplomat pointed out that any person — even citizens of other countries — may submit information to the ICC about China's environmental destruction in the disputed waters.

"We urge citizens of Vietnam, Malaysia, Indonesia and Brunei to submit similar communications to the ICC because they too have been affected by China's systematic and wanton environmental destruction," Del Rosario said.

'Make China pay'

Citing a report from the University of the Philippines Marine Science Institute, Del Rosario noted that the country is losing at least P33.1billion yearly from damaged reef ecosystems brought about by Beijing's island-building activities and illegal fishing operations.

Total damage to reefs in the West Philippine Sea since the start of Chinese dredging in 2014 is estimated at P231.7 billion.

"This money may be used to save or fish and rehabilitate the marine ecosystem destroyed by China in our waters," he said.

Noting that millions of Filipinos live in coastal communities and rely on marine resources for their livelihood, Del Rosario said the Philippines should make China pay for damaging the breeding grounds of fish in the West Philippine Sea.

"Philippine authorities have the right to seize assets and properties owned by Chinese State in the Philippines to satisfy China's debt to the Filipino people," Del Rosario said.

Del Rosario, who led the Philippines in its arbitration against China's expansive claims in the South China Sea, made these remarks as the country marks the fourth year of the arbitral ruling.

The United Nations-backed tribunal concluded that China violated the Philippines' sovereign rights through its large-scale reclamation activities in the West Philippine Sea.

Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. earlier said the arbitral award is not just a victory for the Philippines but for the "entire community" of "law-abiding nations."

China continues to ignore this landmark ruling, insisting that it has indisputable sovereignty over the contested waters.

"The Philippines, as a law-abiding, peace-loving and responsible member of the international community, reaffirms on this occasion its adherence to the award and its enforcement without any possibility of compromise or change. The award is non-negotiable," Locsin said in a statement released July 12.

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