By Arjay L. Balinbin, Reporter
PRESIDENT Rodrigo R. Duterte on Wednesday disavowed complaint filed against Chinese President Xi Jinping and others before the International Criminal Court (ICC) in connection with the reported harassment of Filipino fishermen at the West Philippine Sea.
Mr. Duterte clarified to Chinese Minister Song Tao of the International Department of the Communist Party of China (IDCPC) Central Committee, Chinese Ambassador to the Philippines Zhao Jianhua, and other Chinese officials that his administration had nothing to do with the complaint filed by former foreign affairs secretary Albert F. Del Rosario and former Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales.
In a statement, the Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) said Mr. Duterte “welcomed His Excellency Song Tao, Minister of the International Department of the Communist Party of China (IDCPC) Central Committee, together with other Chinese delegates through a courtesy call at the Matina Enclaves” in Davao City last Wednesday, March 27.
“President Duterte also clarified the case filed by former Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales and former Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario against Chinese President Xi Jinping before the International Criminal Court, noting that the administration had no participation in such activity. However, he said, the Philippines is a democratic country. Therefore, ‘we cannot stop people from just filing cases,’” the PCOO also said.
“I would like to welcome you warmly, and I’d like to tell you that we are very happy with your visit,” Mr. Duterte was quoted as saying.
The Chinese Minister and the Philippine President, the PCOO also said, discussed issues that would further strengthen the relationship between the two countries. “They have also discussed matters of mutual interest, especially on the subject of the South China Sea/West Philippine Sea.”
Mr. Duterte also “expressed his gratitude” to the Chinese government for the “vibrant trade relationship” between the Philippines and China.
He then “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.”
For his part, Mr. Song was quoted as saying: “If there will be a need of assistance in improving the people’s lives, China is willing to help.”
Mr. Song said further the Chinese government is “looking forward to welcoming President Duterte to China for a visit next month.”
Mr. Song was accompanied by Mr. Zhao, Chinese Consul General to Davao Li Lin and other officials of the IDCPC.
Accompanying the President during the courtesy call were Energy Secretary Alfonso G. Cusi, Foreign Affairs Acting Secretary Ernesto C. Abella, DFA-Mindanao Assistant Secretary Norman Garibay, DFA- Office of Asian and Pacific Affairs Executive Director Josel Ignacio, and DFA Principal Assistant Emilio Lopue, Jr.