Palace: Philippines backs China candidate for ICJ due to 'very close ties'

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Nov 09 2020 02:09 PM

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The Philippines will back China's candidate to fill one of the 5 seats at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) that would become vacant next year because of the two country's "very close" ties, Malacañang said Monday.

Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin on Sunday ordered the country's mission to the United Nations "to cast the Philippine vote for the Chinese candidate to the international court of justice."

On Monday, he said instructions were given to vote as well for the candidates of Japan and Germany.

"@DFAPHL @PHMissionNY Now you have 3 candidates to vote for: China, Japan and Germany. The big powers," Locsin said on Twitter.

"Stop there until further instructions. And remember no quid pro quo. We don’t trade on such important matters," he added.

Four of the 8 candidates contesting the 5 positions are incumbent judges whose 9-year terms are due to expire on Feb. 5 next year. One of the four is Chinese Judge Xue Hanqin, who is also the vice president of the ICJ, also known as the World Court.

Xue is among the founders of the Asian Society of International Law, said Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque. 

"The support given to the Chinese candidate is number one, because of the proven track record of Judge Xue, who is already a sitting ICJ judge, but also a further manifestation of the very close relationship between the Philippines and China," Roque told reporters. 

The ICJ, the highest United Nations court for inter-state disputes, is composed of 15 judges elected to 9-year terms of office by the United Nations General Assembly and the Security Council. Judges are eligible for re-election.

A United Nations document dated June 29, 2020 showed the Philippines nominated another candidate Japanese Judge Yuji Iwasawa but not Xue.

The foreign ministry said the Philippines can support more than one candidate at the Nov. 11 election as there will be five vacancies.

Since coming to power in 2016, President Rodrigo Duterte has pursued better relations with Beijing, though the Philippines, particularly its military, has harbored a deep mistrust of China over what it sees as intrusions into its territory, bullying of its fishermen and denial of access to its energy resources. 

China says the disputed waters in the South China Sea belong to China, and its actions there are lawful.

A 2016 ruling by the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague invalidated China's sweeping claims over almost the entire South China Sea. The case was lodged by the Philippines in 2013 under the presidency of Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III.

— With a report from Willard Cheng, ABS-CBN News and Reuters