Carpio to skip SONA, warns Duterte on China deal
Edu Punay (The Philippine Star) - July 17, 2019 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — Supreme Court Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio does not plan to attend President Duterte’s fourth State of the Nation Address (SONA) next Monday.

While Carpio is expected to skip the SONA, Chief Justice Lucas Bersamin and several other Supreme Court magistrates will attend the event, sources confirmed to The STAR.    

The senior Supreme Court magistrate, who was recently publicly rebuked by Duterte over his persistent criticism of the administration’s policy in the territorial conflict with China in the West Philippine Sea (WPS), said he will skip the SONA as he always has.

“I don’t usually attend SONAs,” he told The STAR in a text message yesterday.

Carpio, however, warned the President against including in his speech the reported verbal agreement with China allowing Chinese fishermen in Recto Bank, saying it could make the deal official and binding.

“I do not see anything positive coming out of that SONA if he will do that. Because that means we are finally bound by that verbal agreement,” the magistrate stressed.

“The moment he makes that statement in the SONA, it is a final confirmation that that verbal agreement is now a legal agreement binding on the Philippines and China and we are terribly at the losing end because we are opening the entire West Philippine Sea to China’s fishing fleet in exchange for our fishermen to fish in the periphery of Scarborough Shoal,” he pointed out.

With this, Carpio would be joining key personalities who would skip Duterte’s SONA this year, among whom is former president Benigno Aquino III.           

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