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Philippine Bar Association offers to host Duterte-Carpio debate

A lawyers’ group on Thursday offered to host a debate between President Rodrigo Duterte and retired Supreme Court Justice Antonio Carpio on issues surrounding the country’s interests in the West Philippine Sea.

Philippine Bar Association (PBA) president Rico Domingo said the organization was willing to host the debate on the date and time Duterte and Carpio may agree.

As the oldest voluntary private organization of lawyers in the country, the PBA will provide a balanced arena fit for two lawyers of eminent stature and experience to dispassionately discuss the core issues relating to the dispute on the West Philippine Sea,” Domingo said.

“The PBA stands ready to provide this forum for free and at no cost to either parties conformably with its staunch advocacy to promote the rule of law.”

Domingo said the Filipino people would “benefit immensely from a frank and straightforward discussion on a matter that affects the entire citizenry.”

Duterte’s spokesperson Harry Roque earlier said the President was open to a “formal debate" while Carpio indicated he was ready "anytime at the President's convenience."

In a televised address on Wednesday night, Duterte claimed that Carpio was involved in the decision to withdraw Navy ships during a 2012 standoff with China at Scarborough Shoal. He vowed to resign if proven false and challenged Carpio to a debate.

Carpio denied the President’s claim, adding Duterte should resign immediately “to keep his word of honor.” —NB, GMA News