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ICC suit vs. Xi won't affect PHL-China relations, says PHL envoy

The suit filed by former Philippine government officials against Chinese leader Xi Jinping before the International Criminal Court (ICC) would not affect on Philippine-China relations, according to Ambassador to China Jose Santiago Sta. Romana.

"It has no impact on bilateral relations. China inquired whether it was state-sponsored, Philippines said it's not," Sta. Romana told reporters in Beijing.

Former Foreign Secretary Albert Del Rosario and former Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales lodged raps against Chinese President Xi Jinping, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, and China's Ambassador to the Philippines Zhao Jianhua for committing crimes against humanity in connection to China's alleged efforts to dominate the South China Sea.

President Rodrigo Duterte had previously denied that the government had a hand in suing the Chinese officials before the international court.

Moreover, Sta. Romana said the disputes should be tackled in diplomatic discussions and should not impede opportunities for cooperation between the two countries.

"The disputes do not define everything. They’re only a part of the overall picture," he said. "So where there are no disputes, like trade, economics, science, culture, we’re able to fast-track."

The present administration has set aside the Permanent Court of Arbitration's ruling in 2016 which invalidated China's claims in the disputed waters, to forge stronger economic ties with the Asian powerhouse.

President Duterte previously said that taking military action against China in the name of asserting the Philippines' sovereign rights may lead to the demise of many Filipinos as he acknowledged China's military strength. — BAP, GMA News