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Fishermen on filing suit vs. China at ICC: Why now?

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Some local fishermen in the West Philippine Sea think that the move of former government officials to sue Chinese President Xi Jinping and other Chinese officials for allegedly controlling most of the disputed waters is futile for it is no longer timely.

According to a report on GMA News TV’s State of the Nation with Jessica Soho on Monday, the fishermen in Mariveles, Bataan said that situation has changed now and that they were no longer being harassed by the Chinese coast guards.

“Balewala na po kasi para sabihin ko nga po balewala na patutunayan po namin, malaya na po kami nakakapaghanapbuhay dun eh,” a local said.

Former Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert Del Rosario and former Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales filed the case before the International Criminal Court (ICC) on March 15, two days before the Philippines’ exit from the tribunal.

“We felt something should be done for them (fishermen). We came up with the idea of why don’t we attack the very source who has caused the problem for these fishermen,” Del Rosario said.

The Palace, however, thinks that the move was politically-motivated.

“They may know that China is not a member state party. Philippines is also not a state party so how can ICC assume jurisdiction?” presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo said.

Del Rosario, on the other hand, pointed out that the alleged crimes of China were committed against the Philippines prior to its withdrawal from the ICC.

Panelo also questioned why Del Rosario did not raise a finger when China constructed facilities in the West Philippine Sea during his tenure as Foreign Affairs chief.

“He was already informed officially on that, in fact, pictures were given him or DFA (Department of Foreign Affairs), and subsequent structures. But they ignored it. He ignored it because, according to my source, he does want to rock the boat,” Panelo said.

“Pinabayaan nilang lumaki, saka lang sila nag-file sa court. Ngayon sinisisi ninyo ang gobyerno dahil hindi ma-enforce,” he added.

Del Rosario refuted Panelo’s claim.

“For the information of the good secretary, we officially protested as many times as possible the building of unlawful structures. The DFA records would evidence this,” he said.

“We also voiced out our objections at multilateral meetings battling for inclusion in final statements… Finally, we resorted to a legal track in search of a durable and peaceful solution resulting in an overwhelming victory for the PH and our people which our government decided to set aside,” he added.

source: GMA News

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