By Deighton Acuin


A lawyer’s group has offered a hosting for the debate challenge on the issues of the West Philippine Sea dispute between former Supreme Court Associate Justice Antonio Carpio and President Rodrigo Duterte.

“Now that the President’s earlier challenge to a debate on the West Philippine Sea has been accepted by former Senior Supreme Court Justice Antonio Carpio, the Filipino public will benefit immensely from a frank and straightforward discussion on a matter that affects the entire citizenry,” Philippine Bar Association (PBA) President Attorney Rico V. Domingo said in a statement issued Thursday.

Domingo further said the group will provide “balanced arena fit for two lawyers of eminent stature and experience to dispassionately discuss the core issues relating to the  dispute on the West Philippine Sea,” and that the offer is “at no cost to either party conformably with its staunch advocacy to promote the Rule of Law.”

In his second national address for this week, Duterte slammed Carpio for his remarks and even urged him to have a debate regarding the issue. If his claim against the former magistrate will be proven false, the Chief Executive said he will immediately resign.

"Itong Carpio naman sulat nang sulat ng desisyon para sa kaniyang utak lang. Isa ring ugok. Pareho naman tayong abogado, gusto mo magdebate tayo? Dalawa, tatlong tanong lang ako," Duterte said. "Sino ang nagpa-retreat at anong ginawa ninyo after sa retreat?"

"Maski sinong abogado tanungin ninyo, 'yan ang nangyari. Ngayon kung ako ay nagsisinungaling, mag-resign ako bukas kaagad. 'Yan ang garantiya ko sa inyo," he said.

In response to Duterte’s remarks, Carpio accepted the challenge to have a debate, and said that the President must be true in his pronouncement regarding his immediate resignation.

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

“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.