President Rodrigo Duterte has backed out from his challenge to debate with retired Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio on Friday.
Duterte has assigned presidential spokesperson Harry Roque instead to do the debate for him.
The President previously claimed that Carpio had a hand in the withdrawal of the Philippine Navy forces in Mischief Reef (Panganiban Reef) that resulted in the Chinese taking over the ridge off Palawan during the time of President Benigno Aquino.
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“Ang sabi po ni Presidente, tinatalaga nya po ang inyong abang lingkod na makipag debate kay retired Justice Antonio Carpio. Tinanggap ko naman po ang pagtatalaga ni Presidente,” Roque said.
Roque added that Duterte only acted upon the advice of his cabinet members.
“Parang hindi naman po ata tabla na ang Office of the President, ang Presidente mismo ay haharap sa isang ordinaryong mambabatas. Parang hindi po patas,”
Malacañang added that the debate will not benefit Filipinos and Carpio is now an ordinary lawyer.
Roque also floated a possible debate with Carpio and former Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert Del Rosario, another staunch critic of Duterte’s stance on the West Philippine Sea dispute.
“Kung gusto niyo po, 2 versus 1. Kayong dalawa po ni Justice Carpio at kayo po, Secretary Albert Del Rosario, dedebatehin ko po kayong dalawa. Pero dapat, parehong oras bagamat dalawa po kayo magdedebate, okay lang po sa akin yan,” Roque said. (TDT)