Carpio rejects debate with Roque on ‘pointless’ issues
MANILA, Philippines — Retired Supreme Court Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio has rejected the proposed topics of the debate with presidential spokesperson Harry Roque in connection with issues on the West Philippine Sea, saying it is “pointless” to debate about issues that are not being disputed.
Roque, during his press briefing, proposed a number of topics for arguments after announcing that Duterte had backed out of the debate challenge which he himself had issued on Carpio.
“I accepted the President’s challenge without any conditions. Now the President has backed out of his personal challenge to me without giving a definite reason. Instead, he has designated his spokesperson Harry Roque to debate with me on the issue of what administration lost Scarborough Shoal and Mischief Reef to China,” Carpio stated following Roque’s press briefing.
Duterte earlier challenged Carpio as to whether China had full possession of the West Philippine Sea to bolster his convictions as to why the government could not act on China’s incursions.
He further accused Carpio of supposedly having a hand in the withdrawal of Philippine Navy troops in Mischief Reefs during the time of former President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III. At that time, he was still a magistrate of the high court.
According to Carpio, he had accepted the challenge on the premise of Duterte’s arguments, such that China has whole possession of the West Philippine Sea.
But with Roque coming out with a list of topics not covered by Duterte’s claims, it was Carpio’s turn to turn the challenge down, saying no one is disputing the fact that China seized Scarborough Shoal from the Philippines during the time of President Benigno Aquino III and no one is also disputing the fact that the Mischief Reef was seized by China during the time of President Fidel Ramos.
“There is no factual dispute that China seized Scarborough Shoal from the Philippines during the Aquino Administration. There is also no factual dispute that China seized Mischief Reef from the Philippines during the Ramos Administration. Further, there is no factual or legal dispute that China seized Scarborough Shoal and Mischief Reef in violation of international law,” he said.
“Hence, it is pointless to debate about Scarborough Shoal and Mischief Reef. I will not engage in a useless exercise that will only detract the public’s interest on the vital outstanding issues on the West Philippines Sea, like the President’s continuing false claim that ‘China is in possession of the West Philippine Sea,’” he further said.
Carpio said this last was a “false claim,” which he said concedes “more than what China is claiming” since China has never claimed that it is in possession of the West Philippine Sea.
“I am ready to debate with the President or with anyone he may designate on the factual accuracy and adverse legal implications to the Philippines of the President’s repeated claim that ‘China is in possession of the West Philippine Sea,’” Carpio, an international law expert, said.
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