Foreign Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. has ordered the Philippine Mission to the United Nations to vote for China's candidate to the International Court of Justice, one of the UN's judicial organs mandated to settle legal disputes between states.
"You are instructed to cast the Philippine vote for the Chinese candidate to the international court of justice. That is your only clear instruction," Locsin said, in his Twitter post.
Besides resolution of disputes between states, including territorial and maritime issues, the ICJ also issues advisory opinions on legal questions referred to it by UN organs and specialized agencies, in accordance with international laws.
Incumbent ICJ jurist and current Vice President Xue Hanqin, 65, was elected to the UN Court on June 29, 2010. She is one of three female judges serving in the ICJ and one of only four women elected as members of the court to date.
The United States has supported China's re-election bid.
Both China and the US are members of the powerful UN Security Council, where five permanent member-states, including the United Kingdom, France and Russia, hold the power of veto.
As a diplomatic tradition, the permanent UN Security Council members co-nominate their members to ensure their presence on the ICJ. With multiple vacancies, the Philippines is entitled to vote for more than one country.
The Nov. 11 elections to be held at the UN headquarters in New York will fill up the five seats that will be vacated on Feb. 5, 2021.
Manila and Beijing have been locked in years-long territorial disputes in the resource-rich South China Sea.
In 2016, the UN-linked Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague, Netherlands, ruled in favor of the Philippine case and invalidated Beijing's massive sea claim over the South China Sea and upheld the country’s exclusive economic zone over the West Philippine Sea. China, however, refused to recognize the authority of the tribunal or respect its decision.
Other incumbents seeking reelection come from Slovakia, Japan, Uganda, Nigeria, German, Croatia, and Rwanda.
ICJ is composed of 15 judges elected to nine-year terms of office by the United Nations General Assembly and the Security Council. These organs, the UN said, vote simultaneously but separately.
To be elected, a candidate must receive an absolute majority of the votes in both bodies.