I PROPOSE the question as Chinese President Xi Jinping’s counter charge against former Foreign Affairs secretary Albert del Rosario and former Ombudsman Conchita Morales-Carpio. The two erstwhile top officials of the Philippine government have lodged against the Chinese president a charge of crimes against humanity at the International Criminal Court (ICC). Fanned by the notorious US propagandist Anders Corr, the issue has caught fire in both mainstream and social media.
Without necessarily admitting the offenses as charged against him, Xi, I suggest, could go a little deeper into Philippine history and discover that the imposition of US colonial rule over the Philippines at the turn of the 20th century was done at the cost of over 200,000 Filipino lives. Early in his term, President Duterte took occasion to show photographs of those massacred Filipinos dumped like garbage in ditches, if only to illustrate his dramatic turnaround from a US-inclined foreign policy to one leaning heavily toward China.
Or, as del Rosario and Morales-Carpio have taken the cudgels for the United States in bringing about a damning of the Chinese president at the ICC, cannot somebody, not necessarily a government official but one seized with a passion to straighten out Philippine history, in turn take the cudgels for President Xi in making a historical defense against charges of crimes against humanity?
True, criminal justice applies this so-called principle of crime prescription. Simply put, if an offense by a person is not brought to court within a certain period, the crime is said to have prescribed and no longer subject to litigation. Under Philippine penal laws, crimes punishable by death and reclusion perpetua prescribe in 20 years. If the criminal is not charged in court within 20 years from the commission of the crime, he goes scot-free.
Thus, has the United States gone scot-free from criminal responsibility for the massacre of those 200,000 Filipinos at the start of its colonization of the Philippines?
There ought to be a law distinguishing between criminal jurisprudence and historical justice. The former involves laws on human offenses, whether laws within nations or international laws; the latter involves setting aright distortions of history that seek to conceal widespread desecration of a people’s values, let alone human lives and dignity.
If those acts President Xi is charged with in connection with the China-Philippines dispute over the South China Sea are crimes against humanity from the viewpoint of Filipinos del Rosario and Morales-Carpio, how can the two not make that same view of the deaths in American hands of those over 200,000 Filipinos, nay, of 100,000 more killed by MacArthur’s heavy artillery power applied in the retaking of Manila in the so-called liberation of the city in 1945?