Duterte backs out of debate upon advice of cabinet

(The Freeman) - May 8, 2021 - 12:00am

CEBU, Philippines —  Saying they are no match for him, President Duterte is backing out from his challenge to debate the issue on West Philippine Sea with former senior associate justice Antonio Carpio and ex-foreign affairs secretary Albert del Rosario upon advice of his cabinet.

Instead, Malacañang said, Duterte has designated presidential spokesman Hermigio Roque, Jr. to pursue the public debates with the two key personalities, who were behind the filing and the Philippines’ subsequent victory on the arbitral ruling filed against Beijing before the United Nations Convention of the Law of the Seas.

Anything Duterte might say in a public debate might also bind the Philippines in issues about the disputed islands at the West Philippine Sea, Roque said, which was why the President abided with the majority opinion of his cabinet.

“Now, anyway, the President is prepared for the debate but last night, some members of the cabinet including Executive Secretary (Salvador) Medialdea, advised him that the debate will not do any good for the Filipino nation,” Roque said in mixed Filipino and English.

Senate President Vicente Sotto III and Senator Aquilino Pimentel III have also expressed the same sentiments, Roque added.

“Second, the members of the cabinet expressed concern why a sitting President should hold the debate when Atty. Antonio Carpio, although a former justice, is but a regular lawyer today,” he said.

Roque explained the cabinet members were against pitting Duterte against Carpio, saying they are not on the same level.

“It seems it is not a match that the Office of the President or the President himself will be pitted against an ordinary lawyer.  It is not fair," he said. "Third, the most important thing the members of the cabinet advised him against participating in such debates,” he added.

While there has been public discourse on the WPS, Duterte has also been turning the tables against Carpio and del Rosario for their roles in events that led to the Philippines’ losing Scarborough Shoal during the Aquino administration.

Duterte had also insulted the two officials several times over their zealousness in their demand for the administration to bring up arbitral ruling to Chinese leaders when it cannot be enforced even by the UN body.

Roque ready to represent Rody

From Duterte’s alleged move to ignore the arbitral ruling, Roque also wants to deviate from the issues related to Beijing. Rather, Roque wants the subject matter to focus how the Philippines supposedly lost possession of Scarborough Shoal and Mischief Reef, who were behind this and under which administration.

“Pero tuloy po ang debate. Eh, ang sabi po ni Presidente kung papayag si Antonio Carpio, tuloy po ang debate dahil importante naman na marinig iyong mga ideya para ang taumbayan ang makagawa ng konklusyon,” Roque said, after announcing that he was directed by the President to represent him in the debate.

“Sabihin lang po ng Philippine Bar Association kung kailan, saan, ang debate at sisipot po tayo roon,” Roque said.

Roque said that being the chief executive, Duterte is no match for Carpio, saying he has been designated to debate with the two critics of the President.

“Bakit po? Kasi nakaupo pa siyang Presidente at ibig sabihin lahat po ng masasabi ng Presidente doon sa debateng iyon ay makakaapekto po sa mga polisiya ng gobyerno,” Roque said.

“Hindi na po mababawi ang mga pupuwedeng sabihin ng Presidente sa debateng iyon bukod pa sa katotohanan na kaya nga po mayroon tayong tinatawag na executive privilege, iyong mga bagay-bagay na hindi dapat isapubliko para makagawa ng mga tamang desisyon – bagama’t hindi popular na desisyon – ang isang Presidente,” he said.

By withdrawing from the debate, Duterte will be spared from giving up his executive privilege.

“Maku-compromise po iyong mga bagay-bagay na ito, iyong mga impormasyon na ito kung papayag po at ituloy ng Presidente ang pagdebate kay dating Supreme Court Justice Antonio Carpio,” he said. - Philippine Star News Service, JMO (FREEMAN)

  • Latest
Are you sure you want to log out?

Philstar.com is one of the most vibrant, opinionated, discerning communities of readers on cyberspace. With your meaningful insights, help shape the stories that can shape the country. Sign up now!

or sign in with