President Duterte names Secretary Roque to represent him in debate with former SAJ Antonio Carpio
President Duterte backs out of debate with former Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio
MANILA – The widely reported looming debate between President Rodrigo Duterte and former Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio will no longer take place.
It will be recalled President Duterte challenged Atty. Carpio to a debate on the issues surrounding the West Philippine Sea and the Arbitral Tribunal’s decision which the country’s chief executive referred to as a nothing more than a piece of paper.
It will be recalled President Duterte dared Atty. Carpio to engage him in a debate on the controversial issues on the West Philippine Sea late Wednesday night. However, the former Supreme Court official issued his reply yesterday saying he accepts President Duterte’s challenge.
At about midday today, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said he was designated by President Duterte to engage the former senior Supreme Court ranking official to a debate. Secretary Roque said he is prepared to debate with the retired Supreme Court Senior Associate Justice Carpio.
In his television address, the Spokesperson Roque, Senate President Vicente Sotto III and Senator Aquilino Pimentel who said there was nothing to be gained in the debate.
“President Duterte is a sitting president while Carpio, being retired from the high court is not an ordinary lawyer.” He added whatever Duterte says in the debate could affect public policy and may be covered by executive privilege.
He added President Duterte was prepared to debate but he acted on the advice of his cabinet members not to engage the retired official in a debate.
Meanwhile, the former Supreme Court official Carpio said President Duterte personally and publicly challenged him to a debate on the West Philippine sea issue.
“He said that since we are both lawyers, we should just debate on the issue. I accepted the President’s challenge without any conditions,” he said in a statement.
He added the President has backed out of his personal challenge to him “without giving a definite reason and opted to designate his Spokesperson Harry Roque to debate with him on the issue of what Administration lost Scarborough Shoal and Mischief Reef to China.
“There is no factual dispute that China seized Scarborough Shoal from the Philippines during the Ramos Administration. Further, there is no factual or legal dispute that China had seized Scarborough Shoal and Mischief Reef in violation of international law,” he explained.
The former Senior Associate Justice said “it is pointless to debate about Scarborough Shoal and Mischief Reef.” He further said he will not engage in a useless exercise that will only “detract the public’s interest on the vital outstanding issues on the West Philippine Sea, like the President’s continuing false claim that “China is in possession of the West Philippine Sea.”
He made it clear that this false claim is conceding more than what China claims as “China has never claimed that it is in possession of the West Philippine Sea.”
“I am ready to debate with the President or with anyone he may designate on the factual accuracy and adverse legal implications to the Philippines of the President’s repeated claim that “China is in possession of the West Philippine Sea,” former Senior Associate Justice Carpio concluded. (Melo M. Acuña)
Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque. (Screen grab from PTV4)