Retired Supreme Court (SC) Justice Antonio Carpio on Friday rejected presidential spokesperson Harry Roque Jr’s proposal on topics to be covered in the debate about the West Philippine Sea.
In a statement, Carpio said it would be “pointless” to debate which administration lost possession of the Scarborough Shoal and Mischief Reef to China as suggested by Roque considering that the facts were already established.
“There is no factual dispute that China seized Scarborough Shoal from the Philippines during the Aquino administration. There is also no factual dispute that China seized Mischief Reef from the Philippines during the Ramos administration,” he said.
“Further, there is no factual or legal dispute that China seized Scarborough Shoal and Mischief Reef in violation of international law. Hence, it is pointless to debate about Scarborough Shoal and Mischief Reef.”
Carpio said such topic would 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.’”
“This false claim is conceding more than what China is claiming – for China has never claimed that it is in possession of the West Philippine Sea,” he said.
The retired justice added: “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.’
Roque disagreed and reiterated his proposal.
“We disagree with the assertion of Mr. Carpio when he said it is pointless to debate about Scarborough Shoal and Mischief Reef for he is the one who accused the President of committing grand estafa, reminding the chief executive of the 2016 presidential debate where Scarborough Shoal was mentioned,” the Palace spokesman said.
“This, and other issues raised by the retired magistrate, such as the President’s alleged setting aside of the 2016 arbitral award, the fishing agreement, among others, could be the parameters of the debate.”
He also said he is ready to debate with former Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario “if and when he wishes to join, in tandem with former Justice Carpio.”
“I will face him/them. Debate mode set. Bring it on,” Roque said.
Roque has been designated by President Rodrigo Duterte to face Carpio in the debate after the chief executive heeded the advice of some members of his Cabinet not to take part due to possible implications on government policies.
The Cabinet members also said it would be unfair if Duterte debated with Carpio, who is now a private lawyer.
It was Duterte who challenged Carpio to a debate.
"I accepted the President’s challenge without any conditions. Now the President has backed out of his personal challenge to me without giving a definite reason," Carpio said. -MDM, GMA News