CATHOLIC NEWS OF THE WEEK . Saturday, 14 September 2019

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Complaint filed against Xi Jinping for crimes against humanity

MANILA (UCAN): Former Philippine Foreign Affairs secretary, Albert del Rosario, and former Ombudsman, Conchita Carpio-Morales, along with a group of Filipino fishermen, filed a complaint—formally called a communication—before the International Criminal Court (ICC) against Chinese President Xi Jinping for alleged “crimes against humanity” on March 15.
 
They accused Xi and Chinese officials of causing environmental damage in the South China Sea.
 
A statement of support posted on petition website, change.org garnered at least 18,745 signatures at 5.00pm on March 25.
 
Bishop Arturo Bastes of Sorsogon, lauded the move, calling it “very courageous.”
 
Referring to Carpio-Morales, the bishop said, “I am happy that this brave lady is courageous to face a Goliath at the ICC.” 
 
He noted, “Being a former Ombudsman, she knows what she is doing and that she has the right and duty to prosecute a foreign power for the good of our small country,” adding that “her fortitude is astonishing and inspiring.”
 
Bishop Bastes said Del Rosario is “another man of courage” who knows better than other people.”
 
The complainants said Xi and other Chinese officials have committed crimes involving “massive, near-permanent, and devastating environmental damages in the disputed waters.”
 
The faith-based group, Philippine Misereor Partnership Inc. (PMPI), also hailed the move, saying that the complaint is a “brave step against the continuing disregard of the Chinese government of the Philippines’ (territorial) claim.”
 
Yolly Esguerra, national coordinator of PMPI, said, “This move is an important pursuit not only in behalf of the fisher folk, but also in behalf of the future generations and the environment itself.” 
 
She said, “This initiative does not only raise the rightful territorial claims of our Filipino fishermen, but also the concern over environmental destruction,” adding that it will “protect our marine ecosystem from the onslaught and greediness of China.”
 
In 2015, after examining the ecological impacts of the reclamation, the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources, said 311 hectares (3.11 square kilometres) of coral reefs have already been destroyed.
 
“All these ecological time bombs are set by the intense greed of one country, China, to take control of the area,” Esguerra said.
 
The group called on the ICC to “impartially investigate the depths of environmental destruction done by China.” It also urged Philippine leaders to “stand up for the nation and rightfully claim what is ours.”
 
The presidential palace in Manila, however, downplayed the complaint as a “futile exercise.”
 
Presidential spokesperson, Salvador Panelo, said both the Philippines and China are not members of the ICC, thus it has no jurisdiction over both countries.
 
The complaint was filed on March 15, two days before the Philippines’ withdrawal from the ICC took effect. The complainants said they filed the complaint to “check impunity.”
 
The Philippines won a historic victory when the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague, the Netherlands, ruled in 2016 that China has “no historical rights” over the South China Sea based on its “nine-dash line.”

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