Morales: West Philippine Sea belongs to Filipinos, not to Duterte, China
MANILA, Philippines—”The West Philippine Sea belongs to Filipinos, not to Duterte, not to China.”
Former Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales declared this on Friday as she demanded accountability on China’s destruction of the marine resources in the disputed territories.
Speaking at the West Philippine Sea forum, Morales pointed out that Manila’s 2016 arbitral victory against China’s expansive claim in the West Philippine Sea showed that the Chinese government violated its obligation to protect the marine environment through “tolerance of Chinese illegal fishing, massive land reclamation and the construction of artificial islands.”
China, however, openly rejected the arbitral award and continues to push with its militarization in the area. The Duterte administration, meanwhile, decided to set aside the award and engage Asia’s largest economy in bilateral talks.
This, according to Morales, has prompted Filipinos to “find creative and viable ways to enforce the award because our [leaders] refuse to do so.”
Morales, together with former foreign affairs Albert Del Rosario, earlier filed a complaint before the International Criminal Court (ICC) on behalf of Filipino fishermen who were “persecuted and injured” by China’s aggressive island-building and occupation in the West Philippine Sea.
“In implementing China’s systematic plan to take over the South China Sea, President Xi Jinping and other Chinese officials have committed crimes within the jurisdiction of the Court which involve massive, near-permanent and devastating environmental damage across nations,’’ the two former officials said in a communication filed with the ICC before the Philippines withdrew from the Rome Statute on March 17.
Morales said that their complaint is a “means of enforcing the award because it seeks to impose individual responsibility to China’s acts already found unlawful by the award.”
“The inhumane acts of Chinese officials in the South China Sea constitute crimes against the ICC’s jurisdiction,” she stressed. /muf/ac