MANILA, Philippines – In a bid to preserve good relations with China, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte assured one of its government’s top officials that his administration had nothing to do with the complaint filed against Chinese President Xi Jinping before the International Criminal Court (ICC).
“We cannot stop people from just filing cases,” Duterte told Song Tao, head of the International Department of the Central Committee of China’s Communist Party on Wednesday, March 27, in Davao City.
Their meeting took place at Matina Enclaves, where Duterte has hosted other foreign officials, according to a Palace press release. (READ: Duterte says ICC case won’t threaten PH relations with China)
Duterte also told Song that though he was not involved in the ICC complaint, he could not stop others from filing it as the Philippines is a democratic country. (READ: Thousands sign petition backing ICC complaint vs China’s Xi)
The complaint was filed by former Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales and former foreign secretary Albert del Rosario. It accuses Xi, as Chinese president, of crimes against humanity for the Asian giant’s aggression in the West Philippine Sea. (READ: ICC complaint vs China’s Xi ‘deserves support’ of Filipinos – senators)
Song brought with him other Chinese officials like Chinese Ambassador Zhao Jianhua and Consul General in Davao City Li Lin.
April visit to China
The Chinese official said he is looking forward to Duterte’s 4th visit to China in April to attend the Belt and Road Forum. This will be Duterte’s second time to attend the annual forum, which promotes China’s push for infrastructure development in partner countries to make trade and investment easier.
Many China-funded infrastructure projects in the Philippines are touted as part of the Belt and Road Initiative.
Duterte made sure to thank China for its assistance in his government’s major infrastructure projects.
“He (Duterte) underscored the relentless support of the Chinese government to the Build, Build, Build program of the Duterte administration to beef up the nation’s infrastructure development,” reads the press release.
Song responded with a promise of good will.
“If there will be a need of assistance in improving the people’s lives, China is willing to help,” he said.
Philippine Supreme Court Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio warned of the Chico River loan provisions on waiving sovereign immunity and patrimonial assets. (READ: Made in China: Loan terms with waivers, shrouded in secrecy)
Filipino officials present at Duterte’s meeting with Song included Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi, Acting Foreign Secretary Ernesto Abella, DFA-Mindanao Assistant Secretary Norman Garibay, Department of Foreign Affairs-Office of Asian and Pacific Affairs (DFA-ASPAC) Executive Director Josel Ignacio, and DFA Principal Assistant Emilio Lopue Jr. – Rappler.com