President Rodrigo Duterte says he is optimistic the diplomatic ties between the Philippines and China will not be jeopardized after two former government officials filed a case against Chinese President Xi Jinping before the International Criminal Court.
He made the statement Thursday night after former Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario and former Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales filed the case against Xi due to China’s activities in the West Philippine Sea.
Duterte said he believed the case would not adversely affect the diplomatic relations between the Philippines and China as the two former officials no longer represented the Philippine government and were now considered ordinary citizens.
“No, I’m sure it won’t,” Duterte said when asked if the case would affect the ties between the two countries at the sidelines of the 122nd-anniversary celebration of the Philippine Army in Taguig City.
Del Rosario and Carpio-Morales filed the case against Xi and other Chinese officials for implementing Beijing’s “systematic plan to control the South China Sea.”
Duterte said he respected the decision of the two former government officials to challenge China’s relentless reclamation activities and military build-up in the disputed waters.
“They are entitled to file the case. They are Filipino citizens. And I think we’ll just have to defend our position against them,” Duterte said.
Del Rosario was Foreign Affairs secretary when the Philippines filed an arbitration case against China’s expansive claims over the South China Sea before The Hague-based Permanent Court of Arbitration.
READ: Rody to kick out ICC probers
READ: Manila pullout from ICC in effect, UN tells members