By Deighton Acuin


"Ang problema rito nakalimutan ko ako ang Presidente, si Carpio hindi.”

President Rodrigo Duterte had this to say as he explained why he backed out from his own debate challenge against former Supreme Court Associate Justice Antonio Carpio to discuss the concerns regarding the West Philippine Sea dispute.

In his weekly national address, Duterte said his debate statements could be construed as “policy.”

"I might bind future actions of government pagdating dito sa West Philippine Sea, pero du'n ako sa kahon," Duterte said.

"It’s not because I'm afraid of debates," he added.

Duterte’s remarks came after he designated Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque to face Carpio in a debate due to the advice of the members of the Cabinet against the President’s engagement to the issue.

It was on Wednesday last week when Duterte challenged Carpio to conduct a debate regarding the issue in which the former magistrate accepted on the next day.

“I gladly accept the challenge anytime at the President’s convenience,” Carpio said in his statement.

Carpio also dared Duterte to be true on his pronouncement that he will immediately resign once his claim that the former magistrate was involved in the withdrawal of Navy assets in the contested waters is proven false.

“President Duterte should now resign immediately to keep his word of honor. I state under oath that I was never involved in the decision to withdraw Philippine Navy ships from the West Philippine Sea during the 2012 Scarborough standoff.”

“At that time and all I knew about the withdrawal of Philippine Navy ships was what I read in the newspapers. I call as my witnesses former President Benigno Aquino III and the Defense Secretary, Foreign Affairs Secretary and the Chiefs of the Philippine Navy and the Coast Guard at that time,” he added.