Chinese envoy ‘concerned’ over US naval exercises with Xi’s Manila visit

MALACAÑANG ON Tuesday said the People’s Republic of China “has expressed concern” about the scheduled naval exercise that the United States will be conducting in the South China Sea during President Xi Jingping’s visit to Manila this November.
In a press briefing at the Palace on Tuesday, Presidential Spokesperson Harry L. Roque, Jr. said, Chinese Ambassador to the Philippines Zhao Jianhua had a courtesy call with the President Monday afternoon, where they discussed Mr. Xi’s visit.
He said, “The President and Ambassador Zhao discussed the upcoming visit of President Xi to the country this November, which both agreed would further cement the already strong relations between the Philippines and China. China of course expressed concern over a naval, a military exercise that the United States will be conducting in the area at about the same time that the Chinese President will be in the Philippines; the President said that we will not take part in that military exercise.”
Mr. Roque said both leaders “agreed that joint exploration in the disputed West Philippine Sea would be to each other’s interest… and China reiterated that they do not desire any military confrontation as a result of the West Philippine Sea, either with any of the claimant states or with any other powers because China is the biggest user of the West Philippine Sea, and any military confrontation in the West Philippine Sea will have dire consequences as far as Chinese commerce is concerned.”
Meanwhile, the Department of National Defense (DND) announced yesterday that the Philippines and other members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) will be joining China in a maritime exercise later this month in the disputed South China Sea.
The exercises is set Oct. 22 to 29 in Zhanjiang, China, DND Public Affairs head Arsenio R. Andolong told reporters in a text message on Oct. 8.
Mr. Andolong said China proposed not to hold the drills in the disputed areas, and the participating countries agreed to Zhanjiang as venue.
He added that the maritime drill will focus on the improvement of sea protocols.
Mr. Andolong said nations are hoping for “deepening understanding” of China and “we are also exploring the possibilities of finding ways to improve the unexpected encounters (and our) sea protocols.”
China continues to assert its claim in the entire South China Sea, parts of which are claimed by the Philippines, Malaysia, Vietnam, and Brunei, all members of the ASEAN. — Arjay L. Balinbin and Vince Angelo C. Ferreras

Carpio warns withdrawal from ICC leaves PHL with no legal deterrent vs China

THE PHILIPPINES is giving up a “legal deterrent” against an invasion of China in the Scarborough Shoal with the country’s withdrawal from the International Criminal Court, Associate Justice Antonio T. Carpio said.
Mr. Carpi, speaking in the oral arguments during his interpellation of Solicitor-General Jose C. Calida yesterday, said the ICC is the only international tribunal that can decide on territorial disputes unless both camps voluntarily submit the case to arbitration.
“This is the only treaty in the world that holds military and political leaders of a state that commits crime of aggression that will hold these political and military leaders individually accountable before an international tribunal. No other,” he said.
“We will be giving up this legal deterrent if we withdraw from the ICC we cannot bring President Xi Jinping to the ICC if he invades Pag-asa or builds a military base in Scarborough shoal. We will lose that defense,” he added.
Mr. Carpio emphasized the recent amendment in the Rome Statue on July 17, 2018 states that political and military leaders who commit aggression through invasion and occupation of the territory of another state will be held responsible and can be brought to the ICC.
The Philippines did not ratify this amendment as it already sent the notice of withdrawal to the United Nations Secretary General in March.
“I mean we could not take advantage of this legal defense anymore because we are withdrawing from the Rome Statute and we have to take advantage of this new crime, we must remain with the ICC and we must ratify the Kampala amendment, the fourth crime under ICC. But we will not be doing this because we are withdrawing, correct?” he asked Mr. Calida.
The solicitor general replied that there might be other international treaties that can be used even after the ICC withdrawal.
Mr. Carpio asked him if he knew any, but Mr. Calida was not able to name one.
Mr. Calida asserted before the interpellation that the Court cannot exercise its power of judicial review over the cases as this authority “is limited to the determination of actual cases and controversies.”
“No actual case or controversy has been presented by the petitioners for the court to exercise its power of judicial review. The absence of an actual case or controversy is fatal. It means that the court has nothing to resolve. As a rule, courts will desist from taking cognizance of speculative or hypothetical cases,” he said, adding that it did not cause direct injury to the petitioners.
President Rodrigo R. Duterte initiated the withdrawal from ICC following the court’s preliminary examination against him over the government’s war on illegal drugs.
Opposition senators filed a petition before the Supreme Court last May and sought to declare ththe withdrawal as invalid, claiming that the President cannot unilaterally withdraw from a treaty.
The Philippine Coalition for the International Criminal Court also sought to invalidate the withdrawal.
Both parties were asked to submit their respective memoranda after 30 days. — Vann Marlo M. Villegas

2 SC associate justice applicants up for JBC interview on Oct. 18

THE JUDICIAL and Bar Council (JBC) has set the public panel interview for two of the 13 applicants for the Supreme Court associate justice position vacated by Chief Justice Teresita J. Leonardo-Castro on Oct. 18.
The two applicants to be interviewed from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. are Sandiganbayan Justice Alex D.L. Quiroz and lawyer Rita Linda V. Jimeno.
Eleven other candidates whose previous public interviews are still valid are: Courts of Appeals Justices Oscar V. Badelles, Manuel M. Barrios, Apolinario D. Bruselas, Jr., Rosmari D. Carandang, Stephen C. Cruz, Edgardo L. Delos Santos, Japar B. Dimaampao, Ramon D.R. Garcia, Ramon Paul L. Hernando, and Amy C. Lazaro-Javier, and former Ateneo Law Dean Cesar L. Villanueva.
Ms. De Castro vacated the position when she was appointed as top magistrate on Aug. 25.
Furthermore, the JBC has opened the application or nomination for SC associate justice, replacing Associate Justice Noel G. Tijam, who will retire on Jan 5, 2019. The deadline for the submission of application and requirements is Nov. 5.
The JBC has earlier opened the application for chief justice and set the deadline on Oct. 15. Ms. De Castro is retiring on Oct. 10. — Vann Marlo M. Villegas

Roque, gearing up to campaign, may not run for Senate after all

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON Harry L. Roque, Jr. said on Tuesday that the previous pronouncement of President Rodrigo R. Duterte regarding his Senate bid “was a game changer.”
In a public speech last week, Mr. Duterte said he does not believe Mr. Roque will win in the 2019 senatorial race and that he will instead offer Mr. Roque another position for him stay in the administration.
“For the past five or six months, he’s been calling me senator; for all intents and purposes, endorsing my bid for the Senate. So I was taken aback with his statement also with the PMA (Philippine Military Alumni) alumni. So, it was a game changer so to speak. It was a change in tone. But I think there was an agreement on what I would be doing ahead of time,” Mr. Roque said in a press briefing at the Palace on Tuesday, Oct. 9.
Mr. Roque also confirmed that he shot a campaign advertisement over the weekend.
“Well, the truth is, I shot it because it’s been paid for. And, you know, I mean, we’ve had plans. Whatever has happened in the last few days were really major deviation from plans that even the President knew about,” he said.
As for his final plans, he said, “As I said, I’m discussing with the President and I’d rather that the President and I agree on a course of action.” — Arjay L. Balinbin