MANILA - Retired Supreme Court Associate Justice Antonio Carpio and former Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario on Tuesday hit back at President Rodrigo Duterte over his latest tirades against them regarding China's continued incursions in the West Philippine Sea.
In a statement, Carpio refuted Duterte's claim that he did not promise to re-take the West Philippine Sea when he ran for president in the 2016 elections.
During the presidential debate in 2016, Duterte declared he would ride a jet ski to Scarborough Shoal and plant the Philippine flag, Carpio said.
Duterte's camp also issued a statement supporting the country's arbitration case against China, he added.
"As a Filipino, Mayor Rodrigo Duterte fully supports the case now pending in The Hague questioning China’s occupation of areas in the West Philippine Sea that the Philippines considers its territory,” the then-Davao City mayor's camp had said in a statement. “He is hopeful for a favorable ruling for the Philippines,” the camp added.
"President Duterte cannot now say that he never discussed or mentioned the West Philippine Sea issue when he was campaigning for President," Carpio said.
"Otherwise, he would be admitting that he was fooling the Filipino people big time."
"There is a term for that— grand estafa or grand larceny. Making a false promise to get 16 million votes," he added.
For Del Rosario, whether or not Duterte promised to retake the West Philippine Sea and pressure China, he said "it is the duty of the President under the Constitution to protect what is ours."
The West Philippine Sea is the country's exclusive economic zone in the South China Sea, 90 percent of which Beijing claims.
Del Rosario also reminded Duterte it was Chinese President Xi Jinping who "deceitfully breached" the agreement to withdraw all ships on both sides from the Scarborough Shoal.
"We withdrew while Beijing did not. Until now, China refuses to withdraw its vessels to the prejudice of the Filipino people," he said in a statement.
Del Rosario urged Duterte again to enforce the country's arbitral win against China in The Hague-based Permanent Court of Arbitration, invalidating Beijing's sweeping claim to almost the entire South China Sea.
"May we urge you, Mr. President, not to trade our lands and waters for prospects of money given by China," he said.
"On the comment made by the President that he will punch me when he sees me, may we convey that we wish him well and may he uphold his sworn duty to the Filipino people."