Vice President Leni Robredo has no interest to debate with Presidential spokesman Harry Roque and she is only open to talk to President Duterte about the West Philippine Sea issue.
Vice Presidential spokesperson Barry Gutierrez made the remark in response to Roque’s challenge to Robredo to debate on “lost” territories under the Duterte administration.
“Si Pangulong Duterte ba ang gustong kumausap kay VP Leni? Kasi kung oo, handa siyang humarap (Is it President Duterte who wants to talk to VP Leni? If yes, she is ready to face him),” he said Monday, May 10, in a DZBB interview.
Roque challenged Robredo to a debate on the West Philippine Sea as she supposedly claimed the Philippines lost part of its territory to China.
The vice president voiced “serious concern” on Duterte’s recent remarks that China is in possession of the West Philippine Sea and the arbitral award in 2016 was a “mere scrap of paper” to be thrown away in the wastebasket.
“So iyon ‘yung isyu na gusto niyang tutukan. Hindi siya naghahamon sa debate. Ang kaniyang kinokomentuhan ay ang sinabi ni Pangulong Duterte. So walang kinalaman si Harry Roque dito (So that’s the issue that she wants to focus on. She did not call for a debate. She commented on President Duterte’s statements. So Harry Roque has nothing to do with it),” Gutierrez said.
Last week, Duterte challenged retired Supreme Court Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio to a debate during his public address, but he backed out and instead tapped Roque to represent him.
Robredo remarked that it would have been a good public discourse to see the debate between the two because many Filipinos don’t understand the WPS issue.
Hes spokesperson scored administration officials’ attempt to divert the attention on Duterte backing out of the debate with the former associate justice.
“Noong umatras siya doon, kung anu-anong debate ang pinipilit nilang iimbento—Harry Roque laban Justice Carpio, Sal Panelo laban kay Justice Carpio. Ngayon naman, Harry Roque kay VP Leni (When he backed out there, they are trying to invent different debates—Harry Roque vs Justice Carpio, Sal Panelo against Justice Carpio. Now it’s Harry Roque against VP Leni),” Gutierrez noted.
“Hindi iyan ang usapan. Ang tutok dapat natin dito, iyong unang hamon ni Pangulong Duterte na kanyang inatrasan…Malinaw na iniiba lang nila iyong usapan (That’s not the issue. Our focus must be on the first challenge by President Duterte that he himself backed out),” he said.
Gutierrez added the vice president would rather focus on her job in addressing the COVID-19 pandemic than having a debate with Roque.#