The Philippines will support China’s candidate at the International Court of Justice not only because of her integrity and competence but also of because of the country’s close relations with the Asian neighbor, Malacañang said Monday.

roque2 - Palace explains PH support for China’s ICJ candidate
Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque (OPS / MANILA BULLETIN)

Presidential spokesman Harry Roque confirmed that the country would back the candidacy of Judge Xue Hanqin to fill one of the five seats set to be vacant at the ICJ.

The election of the five judges to the 15-man ICJ, the principal judicial organ of the United Nations, will reportedly be held this week. The judges are elected for terms of office of nine years by the United Nations General Assembly and the Security Council. Xue currently serves as vice president of the ICJ.

“The proven competence, probity, and integrity of the Chinese candidate who also happens to be one of my closest friends Judge Xue. Judge Xue is one of the founders of the Asian Society of International Law,” Roque said in a televised press briefing when asked about the basis for the country’s decision to vote for the Chinese candidate.

“The support given to the Chinese candidate is number one because of the proven track record of Judge Xue who is already a sitting ICA judge, but also a further manifestation of the very close relationship between the Philippines and China,” he added.

Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. ordered the country’s mission to the United Nations to vote for China’s candidate to fill one of the seats at the ICJ that will be become vacant next year. Locsin sent the “clear instruction” to the Philippine mission without giving other details.

Since he assumed power in 2016, President Duterte has pursued closer economic and security relations with China while temporarily setting aside a lingering dispute in the South China Sea. He has refused to resort to the use of force against the Asian giant to assert the country’s territorial claims.

But in a recent UN address, the President raised the country’s legal victory against China in the dispute over the South China Sea and vowed to reject attempts to undermine the arbitral award. Duterte drew praises from many groups for finally tackling the sea ruling in the world body.

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