MANILA - A dialogue between administration officials and various sectors on the West Philippine Sea will do the country good than a debate between President Rodrigo Duterte and retired Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio, a lawyers' group said Friday.
"A debate is healthy but at this time mas maganda siguro unahin muna 'yong dayalogo at diskusyon na wala munang nakatutok na mga camera para maiwasan 'yong pamumulitika o grandstanding o kaya'y hindi pagkakaunawaan," Integrated Bar of the Philippines president Domingo Egon Cayosa told Teleradyo.
(A debate is healthy but at this time they should focus on having a dialogue and discussion and away from the cameras to avoid grandstanding or differences.)
For Cayosa, a debate will not solve the country's maritime dispute with China. It may result to further confusion on the public, he added.
"Tuwang-tuwa ang Tsina pag-debate tayo ng debate. Tuwang-tuwa ang Tsina kung nag-aaway ang ating mga leaders at iba't ibang sektor kasi nga watak-watak tayo," he said.
(China will be thrilled if we are debating. China will be thrilled if our leaders and various sectors are fighting because we are not united.)
He added, "Ang panalo dito Tsina. Tsina ang panalo kasi tuwang-tuwa sila na 'yong ating mga leaders at iba't ibang sektor nag-aaway habang ang Tsina unified ang kanilang intention to grab what is legally ours."
(The winner here is China because our leaders and various sectors are fighting while China is unified in their intention to grab what is legally ours.)
Should there be a dialogue on the issue on the West Philippine Sea, it should be inclusive, Cayosa said.
"This is not a fight between 2 persons. This is the interest of our country," he said.
The IBP president also maintained that the Philippines won against China's claims over the South China Sea before the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague.
"It is true that it is written on a piece of paper but it is a decision of an internationally-recognized tribunal. Nanalo tayo (We won it) fair and square," he said.
"Hindi natin ito pinultika. Hindi natin ito binayaran. Hindi natin ito inimpluwensiyahan. Ang Tsina is bound by that sapagkat signatory siya dito sa UNCLOS (United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea). Ngayon lang siya umaatras."
(We didn't politicize, pay or influence the decision. China is bound by that because it is a signatory to UNCLOS. They are now just drawing back.)