Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque has challenged Vice President Leni Robredo to a debate on the West Philippine Sea issue as she also supposedly claims that the Philippines lost part of its territory to China under the Duterte administration.
Roque made the statement after Robredo said it would have been a good public discourse to see the debate between Duterte and Retired Supreme Court Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio on the issue because a lot of Filipinos don’t understand it.
In his press briefing on Monday, Roque reiterated that a debate on the West Philippine Sea issue was important.
“Ang importante po yung debate, VP. So kung papayag po si Retired Justice Carpio, magdebate po kami (What’s important is the debate, VP. So if Retired Justice Carpio will agree, then we should have a debate),” he said.
“Meron ba’ng polisiya ang ating Presidenteng Duterte na namimigay ng teritoryo sa Tsina? So pagdebatehan po natin yun (Does President Duterte have a policy that gives away our territory to China? That is what we should debate on),” he added.
Roque, however, doubted if Carpio, a retired magistrate, would want to debate a mere lawyer like him, saying Robredo should face him instead.
“Kung talagang ayaw ni Associate Justice sa ordinaryong abogado gaya ko dahil siya ay retiradong mahistrado ng Supreme Court, tayo po, magdebate tayo (If Carpio doesn’t want to debate an ordinary lawyer like me because he is a retired justice of the Supreme Court, then maybe the two of us can do it),” he said.
“Kung gusto niya po, kasi isa pa rin siyang maingay… Si VP Leni, wala rin pong tigil sa pagpupula kay Presidente pagdating sa West Philippine Sea (If she wants to have a debate with me since she’s also noisy… VP Leni has been criticizing the President when it comes to the West Philippine Sea),” he added.
According to the Palace official, someone from the opposition has to step up to the plate to talk about whether or not President Duterte’s foreign policy surrenders the country’s territory to China.
“Once and for all, meron dapat tumayo sa hanay ng oposisyon para magdebate kung talagang ang Presidente Duterte ang namimigay ng teritoryo sa Tsina or kung ibang administrasyon ‘yan (someone from the opposition should step up if President Duterte is indeed giving our territory to China or was that another administration),” he said.
Roque said there was nothing wrong with him having a debate with the Vice President since they were “dormmates” and the debate can take place at the Kalayaan Residence Hall in the University of the Philippines (UP).
“Magka-dormitoryo po kami niyan, si VP Leni. Magkaibigan po kami niyan, pwedeng magdebate ang mga kaibigan (The Vice President and I were dormmates. We are friends and friends can have a debate),” he said.
“So dahil wala ring tigil si VP Leni, baka gusto niya kaming dalawa na lang para dormmates vs dormmates (So since the Vice President also won’t shut up, perhaps I can have the debate with her so it can be the battle of dormmates),” he added.
President Duterte has challenged Carpio to a debate on the West Philippine Sea issue but backed out following the advice of his Cabinet after the latter accepted his challenge. He, instead, delegated Roque to face the retired magistrate.