By Genalyn Kabiling
Retired Supreme Court Associate Justice Antonio Carpio has served the country well and could continue to defend the country’s claims in the West Philippine Sea until he obtains “enlightenment,” Malacanang declared Sunday.
Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo has lauded Carpio as a competent and sensible magistrate even though the Palace disagreed with some of his pronouncements on the territorial issue.
Carpio recently retired from the judiciary at the age of 70, ending his 18-year stint in the high court. He was appointed as SC Associate Justice by then President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo in 2001.
“We wish him well sa kanyang bagong chapter sa kanyang buhay. He has served his county well. Naging mahusay at matino siyang justice so we commend him fo that [We wish him well in the next chapter of his life. He has served the country well. He has been a competent and sensible justice so we commend him for that],” Panelo said in a radio interview.
“Hindi lang tayo nagkaka-agree doon sa kanyang mga posisyon sa West Philippine Sea, but then it’s a free country. Gaya ng sinabi natin, may karapatan siyang mag-criticize at magbigay ng mga mungkahi. Ang mahalaga ay ung kanyang mungkahi kahit kontra sa position natin ay yun naman base sa kanyang pagmamahal sa bayan, okay na yun [We don’t agree with his position on the West Philippine Sea but then it’s a free country. Like we said, he has a right to criticize and give his proposals. The important thing is his proposal, although contrary to our position, is borne out of love for the country. That’s okay,” he said.
Panelo agreed that Carpio should continue to defend the country’s territorial rights, saying the Palace respects his right to voice his sentiment.
“Dapat lang naman. Sapagkat alam mo ang isang tao kapag may prinsipyo palaging dapat ipagpatuloy kung ano man ang kalagayan niya o sitwasyon niya sa buhay [He should because you know a person should continue his principle regardless of his situation in life],” Panelo said.
“Habang nabubuhay dapat ituloy niya hanggang magkaroon siya ng enlightenment [As long as he lives, he should continue that until he obtains enlightenment],” he added.
Asked if President Duterte plans to tap Carpio as a legal consultant, Panelo maintained that it was up to the Chief Executive to make the decision. “That’s the call of the President,” he added.
Carpio earlier disclosed plans to continue to conduct his research, writings and lectures here and abroad. He added that he was “always available” to defend the country’s sovereign rights in the West Philippine Sea.
“I don’t have to have any formal position. They want my opinion, my recommendation, I will give it willingly and gladly,” he said during his last flag-raising ceremony at the SC last Monday.