MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte will not face retired Supreme Court Justice Antonio Carpio in a debate on the issues about the West Philippine Sea, Malacañang said Friday.
Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said the chief executive made the decision after several Cabinet members and two senators advised him not to square off with Carpio as this might compromise national policies and confidential information.
Roque, a lawyer, said the president has delegated to him the task of debating with Carpio on the issue.
“Ang sabi po ni Presidente, kung papayag si Antonio Carpio, tuloy ang debate dahil importante naman na marinig ang mga ideya para ang mga taong bayan ay makagawa ng konklusyon,” Roque said in an announcement over state-run PTV.
“Ang sabi po ni President, itinatalaga niya po ang inyong abang lingkod na makipag-debate kay retired justice Antonio Carpio,” he added.
Roque said he has accepted Duterte’s directive.
“Sabihin lang po ng Philippine Bar Association kung saan at kailan ang debate at sisipot po tayo roon,” he said.
Duterte on Wednesday dared Carpio to go on a debate on the West Philippine Sea issue. He said he would ask Carpio on who ordered the Philippine Navy to retreat from the area during the 2012 standoff; what the administration of then President Benigno Aquino did about it; and if they enforced the ruling when they filed and won the case.
Carpio accepted Duterte’s dare but he denied involvement in the issue of China’s occupation of some areas in the contested waters.
“Totoo po hinamon po ni Presidente si justice Carpio sa isang debate pero ang pagdedebate po ay dalawang bagay, di ba po? Sino ba ang responsable sa pagkawala ng Scarborough Shoal?” Roque said.
“Ang subject matter po ng debate ay sino at anong administrasyon ang naging dahilan kung kailan nawala sa Pilipinas ang possession sa Scarborough Shoal,” he further stated.
Roque also said that he would also ask Carpio during the debate on who was responsible and under what administration did the Philippines lost possession of the Mischief Reef.
“Retired Supreme Court Justice Antonio Carpio, it would be a pleasure to debate against you. I’ll see you at the designated time and place,” he said, addressing Carpio.