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Carpio begins signature drive demanding Duterte to retract statements on West Philippine Sea

Retired Supreme Court Justice Antonio Carpio on Friday began a signature campaign demanding President Rodrigo Duterte to withdraw his statements on the West Philippine Sea issue that were allegedly detrimental to the country’s interests. 

Launched through the platform, the petition urged Duterte to retract his statement that the arbitral ruling in favor of the Philippines is a scrap of paper meant to be thrown in the wastebasket.

Carpio said the President should also take back his earlier statements that China is in possession of the West Philippine Sea and that Chinese nationals can fish there.

“These statements are contrary to the Constitution, waive our sovereign rights under the arbitral award and even concede to China possession of the West Philippine Sea when in fact China is not physically and legally in possession of the West Philippine Sea,” the petition stated.

Beijing’s claim to nearly the entire South China Sea, including areas under the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone (EEZ), was declared illegal in July 2016 by the Hague-based Permanent Court of Arbitration following a lawsuit filed by Manila in 2013.

China, however, does not recognize the ruling.

Carpio earlier said Duterte’s statements could be considered betrayal of public trust, which is an impeachable offense. However, the retired justice admitted that impeaching a president who enjoys wide support in Congress will be an exercise in futility.

Carpio recently welcomed Duterte’s challenge to a debate on the West Philippine Sea, but the President backed down upon the advice of some Cabinet members.

Duterte endorsed his spokesman Harry Roque Jr. to debate with Carpio instead.

On Monday, Duterte said his statements in the debate could be construed as policy.

"It’s not because I’m afraid of debates," he said in his weekly talk to the nation on COVID-19 response and other issues. -MDM, GMA News