Press Release
December 9, 2019

Dispatch from Crame No. 668:
Sen. Leila M. de Lima's Statement in Support of former Ombudsman Morales and former DFA Secretary Del Rosario in their ICC case against Xi Jinping


I support former Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales and former DFA Secretary Albert del Rosario in their decision to pursue their case against Chinese President Xi Jinping in the commission of crimes against humanity on Filipinos and Filipino fisherfolk in the West Philippine Sea.

The decision of the Office of the Prosecutor (OTP) of the International Criminal Court (ICC) published in its report dated 5 December 2019 denying due course to the Morales-Del Rosario communication against Xi Jinping relied mostly on its preliminary, if not premature finding that the situs of the alleged crimes did not take place within the territory of the Philippines. In reaching such conclusion, the OTP apparently did not consider the fact that the Philippines is in complete control and possession of several islands in the Spratly Islands known as the Kalayaan Group of Islands, and that these were already declared Philippine territory under Philippine law as early as the 1970s.

It is clear that most of the acts complained of as committed by China under the leadership of President Xi Jinping occurred within these PH-occupied or PH-claimed territory in the Spratly Islands, and which the Philippines has long considered as part of its territory as the Kalayaan Group of Islands.

The Philippines continues to exercise complete control and authority, if not dominion and sovereignty, over the Kalayaan Group of Islands. For all intents and purposes, these are already considered Philippine territory by the Philippines. Under international law, these islands that are controlled and occupied by the Philippines, and which never previously belonged to any other country before such occupation by the Philippines, can be considered Philippine territory by right of occupation.

Unlike the Philippines, China has no occupied islands in the Kalayaan Group of Islands. What it has done instead is to illegally create artificial islands on top of submerged reefs in international waters, in violation of international law and the UNCLOS. The Permanent Court of Arbitration has already ruled in the case of Philippines v. China that such activity by China is illegal under the UNCLOS and therefore cannot give rise to any territorial claim over such artificial islands, including any claim to a 12-nautical mile territorial sea, or much less, an exclusive economic zone.

In this light, subject to the OTP's further review and consideration of the issue of territoriality in the case of former Ombudsman Morales and former DFA Secretary Del Rosario against Xi Jinping, the latter and China can still be hailed to the ICC for their continuous acts of violence against Filipino fisherfolk in the West Philippine Sea, particularly in the areas surrounding the Philippine-occupied Kalayaan Group of Islands. This I humbly submit. ###

(Access the handwritten copy of Dispatch from Crame No. 668, here:

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