- President Duterte has assigned Harry Roque to be his official representative to a debate with former Supreme Court Associate Justice Antonio Carpio
- Earlier, the President challenged Carpio to a debate, daring him to answer just two or three questions
- Less than a day later, Carpio accepted the challenge of the President to a debate and several hours after, the Integrated Bar of the Philippines volunteered to host and moderate the event
- According to Roque, however, the President decided to assign him to the task after some senators and cabinet members dissuaded him from doing it
Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque today announced that President Duterte has assigned him to debate with former Supreme Court Associate Justice Antonio Carpio on questions pertaining to the West Philippines Sea dispute.
On Wednesday, in a pre-recorded speech, President Duterte berated Justice Carpio for criticizing the administration policy concerning the dispute with China.
The President then challenged Carpio to debate with him and that he’s going to ask just two or three questions.
“Itong Carpio naman, sulat nang sulat ng mga decision para sa kanyang utak lang. Isa ring ugok itong… Bak… Supreme Court justice pareho man tayo abugado. Gusto — eh gusto mo magdebate tayo?” Pres. Duterte said on Wednesday.
Less than 12 hours later, Carpio accepted the challenge, saying he’s ready to debate with the President anytime and anywhere.
According to Roque, however, some cabinet members and senators dissuaded the President from debating with the former Associate Justice.
“Handang-handa po sana ang Presidente na dumebate, pero kagabi po tinaggap po niya ang advice ng ilang miyembro ng gabinete, kasama na po si Executive Secretary Medialdea,” Roque said, adding that Senators Sotto and Pimentel also discouraged the President from proceeding with the debate.
“Bakit papayag sa debate eh nakaupong Presidente naman si Presidente Duterte at si Atty Carpio naman po, bagama't siya'y dating mahistrado, ay ordinaryong abogado na ngayon. Parang hindi naman po ata tabla na ang Presidente mismo ang haharap sa ordinarying mambabatas. Parang hindi po patas,” the Presidential Spox continued.
President Duterte was the one who issued the debate challenge to Carpio in his pre-recorded speech on Wednesday.
“Ang sabi ni Presidente, tinatalaga niya po ang inyong abang lingkod na makipag-debate kay retired justice Antonio Carpio, at tinanggap ko naman po ang pagtatalaga ni Presidente,” Roque said.
The West Philippine Sea dispute involves both island and maritime claims by several sovereign states within the region, which include Brunei, the People's Republic of China (PRC), Taiwan, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, and Vietnam. An estimated US$3.37 trillion worth of global trade passes through the area annually, accounting for a third of the global maritime trade.
In 2019, President Rodrigo Duterte said he will discuss the arbitral ruling over the West Philippine Sea in his official visit to China that year. He emphasized, however, that he does not want any dispute against China.
The President also wanted China to guarantee the safety of Filipinos in the West Philippine Sea. Duterte discussed the matter during the bilateral meetings with China in 2019. The Palace reiterated that a diplomatic protest was already filed against China.
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