“President Duterte personally and publicly challenged me to a debate on the West Philippine Sea issue. He said that since we are both lawyers, we should just debate on the issue. I accepted the President’s challenge without any conditions. Now the President has backed out his personal challenge to me without giving a definite reason,” retired Supreme Court Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio said in a statement May 7.
“Instead, he designated his Spokesperson Harry Roque to debate with me on the issue of what Administration lost Scarborough Shoal and Mischief Reef to China. There is no factual dispute tat China seized Scarborough Shoal from the Philippine 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,” Carpio added.
“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 Philippine Sea, like the President’s continuing false claim that “China is in possession of the West Philippine Sea.” This false claim is conceding more than what China is claiming- for China has [never] claimed that it is in possession of the West Philippine Sea,” the retire justice said.
“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 Philippines Sea”,” he said.