The Philippines will back China’s candidate to fill one of the five seats at the International Court of Justice that will become vacant next year, according to presidential spokesman Harry Roque.
Roque says the country will support China because of the Philippines’ “very close” ties with Beijing.
Since coming to power in 2016, President Duterte has pursued better relations with Beijing despite its intrusions into Philippine territory and its bullying Filipino fishermen.
Four of the eight candidates contesting the five positions are incumbent judges whose nine-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.
“Judge Xue, who is already a sitting ICJ judge, is also a further manifestation of the very close relationship between the Philippines and China,” Roque said.
Xue is among the founders of the Asian Society of International Law, Roque said.
On Sunday, Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. ordered the country’s mission to the United Nations “to cast the Philippine vote for the Chinese candidate to the international court of justice.”
He said instructions were given to vote as well for the candidates of Japan and Germany.
“Stop there until further instructions. And remember no quid pro quo. We don’t trade on such important matters,” Locsin said on his tweeter account.
The ICJ, the highest United Nations court for inter-state disputes, is composed of 15 judges elected to nine-year terms 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 says the Philippines can support more than one candidate at the Nov. 11 election as there will be five vacancies.
But China continues to claim waters in the South China Sea, saying its belongs 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.