MANILA - President Rodrigo Duterte on Wednesday assured Chinese officials that government was not involved in the complaint filed against Chinese President Xi Jinping before the International Criminal Court (ICC).
Duterte met with Chinese Minister Song Tao, head of the international department of the Communist Party of China, Chinese Ambassador to the Philippines Zhao Jianhua, Chinese Consul General to Davao Li Lin and other officials in Davao City.
Duterte and the Chinese officials discussed issues of mutual concern between the two nations, including the South China Sea dispute, and said his administration had no hand in the communication filed by former Philippine officials against China for "crimes against humanity" committed in the contested waters.
Former Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario and former Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales joined Filipino fishermen in filing the communication to the ICC on March 13, a few days before the country officially withdrew from the international body.
It was during Del Rosario's time as top Philippine diplomat that the country brought China before a United Nations-backed arbitral tribunal in 2013 for incursions in the country's exclusive economic zone within the disputed South China Sea.
The tribunal, based in The Hague, invalidated China's 9-dash line claim over the waters and recognized traditional fishing rights of Filipinos in the Scarborough Shoal, an area where Beijing's patrol ships are known to have shooed away Philippine fishermen.
The Philippines and China have long sparred over the South China Sea, but relations have improved considerably under Duterte, who set aside the 2016 landmark legal victory for enhanced ties.
Duterte earlier said the group is "entitled to file the case."
During the meeting, the President thanked the Chinese government for its continued support for the Build Build Build Program.
Song, meanwhile, assured that China is always ready to help improve the lives of the Filipino people.
--Report from Joyce Balancio, ABS-CBN News