Vice President Leni Robredo’s spokesman did not mince words when he commented Monday, May 10, on Presidential spokesman Harry Roque’s challenge to debate the vice president on the West Philippine Sea (WPS) issues.
“Anlakas ng loob maghamon, eh ‘yung unang debateng hiningi inatrasan naman (He has the nerve to challenge, but they backed out from the first challenge thrown at them),” Lawyer Barry Gutierrez said in a Twitter post.
Gutierrez then offered unsolicited advice to his counterpart in Malacañang to instead focus on what the government must do to address the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Mas mabuti pa, tularan na lang ninyo si VP Leni: magtrabaho na lang kayo. Dami nyong oras eh (You should just emulate VP Leni: just work. You’re wasting time),” he added.
On Monday, Roque challenged the vice president after she criticized President Duterte’s stand on China during her weekly radio talk show last Sunday, May 9.
“Dahil wala ring tigil si VP Leni, baka gusto niya kaming dalawa na lang para dormmates versus dormmates (Because Vice President Leni also keeps talking about this, maybe she wants us to debate, so that it’s dormmate versus dormmate),” the Palace official said, referring to his and Robredo’s days as University of the Philippines students.
According to Robredo, it would have been educational for the public to see the debate between Duterte and former Supreme Court Associate Justice Antonio Carpio about Beijing’s aggressive incursions in the West Philippine Sea.
She also criticized the President for comparing the country’s 2016 arbitral win to a scrap of paper that can be thrown in the trash, saying that this shows Duterte is siding with China.
On May 5, Duterte challenged Carpio to a debate during a public address.
Carpio accepted the challenge but the President backed out and designated Roque to face him instead. The two, however, had argued about the issues to talk about during the debate.
Carpio wants to debate about the implications of the President’s remarks that China is now in control of the WPS. Roque wants to debate about the Philippines “losing” the Scarborough Shoal (Panatag Shoal) during the Aquino administration and the Mischief Reef during the Ramos administration.