TAKING cue from a board game embarking on strategies, President Rodrigo Duterte, in his capacity as commander in chief, is sending a proxy in the much touted face-off between him and retired Supreme Court Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio.
However, the debate over the issue on the Philippines’ legal victory over China’s claims in the West Philippine Sea may still take place with presidential spokesperson Harry Roque filling in as Duterte’s proxy.
“Ang sabi ni Presidente, tinatalaga niya po ang inyong abang lingkod na makipag-debate kay retired justice Antonio Carpio, at tinanggap ko naman po ang pagtatalaga ni Presidente. Sabihin lang po ng Philippine Bar Association kung kailan, saan ang debate at sisipot po tayo roon,” said Roque in a televised briefing.
“Retired supreme court justice Antonio Carpio, it would be a pleasure to debate against you. I’ll see you at the designated time and place,” he added.
Roque hinted at the President’s decision as an offshoot of talks with administration senators who have reportedly dissuaded Duterte against debating with Carpio, an expert in international law.
It was actually the President who made a dare on Carpio. The retired Supreme Court associate justice accepted the challenge the day after.
“Handang-handa po sana ang Presidente na dumebate, pero kagabi po tinanggap po niya ang advice ng ilang miyembro ng gabinete, kasama na po si Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea,” the Palace mouthpiece added.
Another reason behind the President’s decision to send him instead, is that Carpio is just an ordinary lawyer.
“Bakit papayag sa debate eh nakaupong Presidente naman si Presidente Duterte at si Atty. Carpio naman po, bagama’t siya’y dating mahistrado, ay ordinaryong abogado na ngayon. Parang hindi naman po ata tabla na ang Presidente mismo ang haharap sa ordinaryong mambabatas. Parang hindi po patas,” he further averred.
He went on to say that knowing the President, he might utter words which may run against his own policies.
“Everything the President will say in that debate will affect the policies of the government. He can’t take back what he says in that debate apart from the fact that there is what we call executive privilege,” he quipped.