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Duterte can’t be impeached over WPS policy

President Rodrigo Roa Duterte (File photo)

MANILA – President Rodrigo Duterte cannot be impeached over his policy on the West Philippine Sea (WPS), Malacañang said on Monday.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque shrugged off allegations made by retired Supreme Court (SC) Associate Justice Antonio Carpio that Duterte supposedly committed betrayal of “public trust” over his stance on the sea row.

“Alam ninyo po, ang taong bago sa pulitika sasabihin ang lahat para mapansin (You know, a person who’s new in politics will say everything they can to get noticed) and this is yet another instance of Justice Carpio saying things just for the attention,” he said in a press briefing from Davao City.

Roque pointed out that it was unlikely for the President to have committed betrayal of public trust because the country never lost territory under the Duterte administration.

“Bakit betrayal of public trust? Mayroon bang nawalang teritoryo sa administrasyon ni Presidente Duterte? Wala! Mayroon ba siyang ibinigay na teritoryo sa Tsina? Wala! (Why is it a betrayal of public trust? Was there a territory lost during the administration of President Duterte? None! Did he give China any of our territories? None)!” he added.

He said the President is also the country’s chief architect of foreign policy.

“Ang totoo niyan (The truth is), it’s not just because it’s a numbers game, it is because it is utterly bereft of merit because the President is the sole architect, primary architect of foreign policy,” he said.

Roque dared Carpio to bring his case before the court if he believes Duterte violated the Constitution with his policy on the WPS.

“Hindi lang po impeachment ang remedy. Huwag po nating linlangin ang taumbayan, puwede po kayong magdemanda sa hukuman kung saan kayo umupo na napakatagal na panahon, kung sa tingin ninyo mayroon talagang nilalabag na probisyon ng Saligang Batas ang Presidente. Iyan po ang hamon ko (Impeachment is not the only remedy. Let’s not fool the nation, you can bring the case before court where you used to sit, if you believe that the President violated any provision in the Constitution. That is my challenge to you). File the suit pursuant to your standing as a citizen,” he said.

Meanwhile, he also expressed readiness to debate with Carpio on whether Duterte’s foreign policy resulted in derogation of sovereignty or the loss of territory in the WPS conflict.

“I am very keen…Anytime po, I’m ready,” he said.

Last week, Duterte expressed willingness to hold a formal debate with Carpio on territorial issues surrounding WPS.

Despite his decision to back out of the planned debate, Duterte assigned Roque to debate with Carpio on his behalf.

Roque said Duterte was “ready” to debate with Carpio but decided to heed his Cabinet men’s advice to cancel his plan since it would not benefit the country.

Ready to debate with Leni

Meanwhile, Roque also expressed readiness to hold a formal debate with Vice President Leni Robredo if Carpio is sure about his decision to back out from the debate.

Carpio last week rejected Roque’s offer to stand in for Duterte, saying it is “pointless” to debate about issues that are not being disputed.

“Kung talagang ayaw ni Associate Justice na makipag-debate sa ordinaryong abogado kagaya ko dahil siya ay retiradong mahistrado ng Supreme Court, tayo po mag-debate, kasi gaya ng sinasabi ni Associate Justice Carpio, wala pong tigil ang pagsabi ninyo na namimigay ng teritoryo ang Presidente (If the Associate Justice really doesn’t want to debate with an ordinary lawyer like me because he’s a retired magistrate of the Supreme Court, let’s debate instead because just like Associate Justice Carpio, you keep saying that the President is giving away the country’s territory),” he told Robredo.

On Sunday, Robredo expressed concern over Duterte’s remarks on the WPS, saying these have implications for the country even past his term.

“Si VP Leni wala rin pong tigil sa pagpupula kay Presidente pagdating sa West Philippine Sea (VP also keeps on criticizing the President when it comes to the West Philippine Sea),” he added.

He said he is ready to hold a debate with Robredo in a dormitory they shared when they were both students at the University of the Philippines (UP).

Roque said he is ready to take on Carpio, Robredo, and even former Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario if he wanted to join them.

“Puwede rin po silang dalawa ni Justice Carpio magkasama. Tatlo pa sila, isama na nila si Albert Del Rosario (I can debate with both of them (Robredo and Carpio) together. They can also include Albert del Rosario),” he added. (PNA)

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Credit belongs to : www.pna.gov.ph

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