Acting Chief Justice Antonio Carpio on Saturday welcomed his being shortlisted for the vacant chief justice post.
But the most senior sitting justice of the Supreme Court also said he is determined to fight for the Philippine’s sovereign rights to the West Philippine Sea (WPS), even if his resolve stands in the way to his possible appointment as top judge.
"If it [position on the WPS) becomes a factor, I cannot begrudge him [President Rodrigo Duterte] for that. That's part of his decision process," Carpio said on JP Soriano's report on "Balitanghali."
"But I also cannot change my position because we have to defend out sovereign rights in the West Philippine Sea. That's the duty of a Filipino," he added.
Carpio is on the Judicial and Bar Council's shortlist of top five nominees for the chief justice seat vacated by retired Teresita Leonardo-De Castro. The four others are Associate Justices Diosdado Peralta, Lucas Bersamin, Estela Perlas-Bernabe, and Andres Reyes Jr.
As part of the legal team that argued Manila's case before the Permanent Court of Arbitration at the Hague, Carpio has repeatedly urged the government to assert more strongly the international court's ruling invalidating China's excessive claims over the South China Sea.
During the Balitanghali interview, Carpio said he had no objections to the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on an oil deal during the visit of Chinese President Xi Jinping to the country this week.
However, he challenged the Chinese premier's claim about a Chinese explorer making "multiple visits" to Manila Bay, the Visayas, and Sulu over 600 years ago.
He said that the Chinese explorer that Xi mentioned never visited the Philippines. —Margaret Claire Layug/LBG, GMA News