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Ex-Ombudsman Morales to Duterte: Seek more int'l support for Hague ruling

President Rodrigo Duterte should urge countries to support the Philippines’ call for the unimpeded implementation of the July 2016 arbitral ruling favoring the Philippines’ case against China, former Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales said Thursday.

Morales made the comment in response to Duterte’s speech delivered during the United Nations General Assembly where he said that the ruling is “beyond compromise and beyond the reach of passing governments to dilute, diminish or abandon,” and that the Philippines “firmly reject attempts to undermine it.”

Duterte’s words were a turnaround to his usual stance of being cordial with China even if Beijing has not stopped its reclamation and other encroachment activities within the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone (EEZ) despite the Hague ruling.

“That is an optimistic development. He finally took it upon himself to say that the tribunal’s ruling cannot be subjected to a compromise or different interpretation by different countries,” Morales, a retired Associate Justice of the Supreme Court, said in an ANC interview.

“We have to follow the arbitral ruling to a tee. The President made a good start, and he should continue to request or intimate to other countries to support us in our quest for the implementation of the arbitral ruling,” she added.

Ahead of Duterte’s speech, France, Germany and the United Kingdom last week informed the UN of its support of the 2016 ruling by the UN-backed Permanent Court of Arbitration to reject China’s expansive claims over the South China Sea.

Morales is a relative in-law to Duterte since her nephew, Manases Carpio, is married to Duterte’s daughter, Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte.

ICC fight

Morales is an advocate of the implementation of the Hague ruling, an unprecedented legal victory for the Philippines, which was handed over July 2016.

She went as far as filing a complaint against Chinese President Xi Jinping alongside former Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario before the International Criminal Court (ICC), accusing China’s leader and other Chinese government officials of committing crimes against humanity due to China’s repeated encroachment and aggression on Filipino fishermen within the Philippines’ EEZ in West Philippine Sea.

Such aggression included the ramming of the F/B Gem-Ver in the Reed Bank where 22 Filipino fishermen aboard were left to die until they were recovered by the Philippine Navy, and the building of artificial islands within the Philippine EEZ by Chinese company Communications Construction Company Ltd. (CCCC), a contractor blacklisted in the United States and the World Bank.

The Office of the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) dismissed the complaint for lack of jurisdiction last year, but Morales is unfazed of the initial defeat.

“We are filing this month what amounts as Motion for Reconsideration before the Office of the Prosecutor. We insist that the crimes committed by Xi Jinping were committed within the Philippine territory and also within the EEZ of the Philippines. Even if it were not on Philippine territory like the Gem-Ver, it involved a Philippine-registered vessel.

“Before we filed the communication, we spent days and weeks on end to reflect on our chances. We are very confident that we will succeed in this program of ours, irrespective of whether there is precedent. We believe that we will win this case,” Morales added.

Last September 16, del Rosario announced that former Supreme Court Associate Justice Antonio Carpio, will also serve as their counsel for the ICC complaint vs. Chinese officials. —KBK, GMA News