MANILA — Malacañang said on Monday it was "wishful thinking" that President Rodrigo Duterte would resign over his remarks on the West Philippine Sea and two former officials.
Retired Supreme Court senior associate justice Antonio Carpio last week said Duterte should "keep his word" to resign for falsely claiming that the former magistrate was involved in China's 2012 seizure of Scarborough Shoal in the West Philippine Sea.
"Wishful thinking po ‘yan," Palace spokesman Harry Roque said of Carpio's call.
(That is wishful thinking.)
"Bilang pinuno ng bagong partido, siyempre gusto ni Justice Carpio na magresign ang Presidente dahil gusto niyang iyong kakampi niya ang makaupo para sa eleksyon e may tsansa ang mga kandidato n'ya, kundi siya mismo," he alleged in a press briefing.
(As leader of a new party, of course Justice Carpio wants the President to resign because he wants his ally to be seated so that in the election, his candidates, if not himself, would have a chance.)
Carpio heads anti-Duterte coalition 1Sambayan.
Duterte last Wednesday challenged Carpio to a debate.
The President said he would ask the former justice who ordered the retreat of Philippine vessels from Scarborough shoal, what the Aquino administration did after, and whether or not the Philippines could enforce the 2016 arbitral award that junked Beijing's claims to the waterway.
He said he would "resign immediately" if his statements on the West Philippine Sea are false.
Carpio the next day accepted Duterte's debate dare, and said he "was never involved in the decision to withdraw Philippine Navy ships from the West Philippine Sea during the 2012 Scarborough standoff."
"I was serving in the Supreme Court at that time and all I knew about the withdrawal of Philippine Navy ships was what I read in the newspaper," he said in a statement.
Roque said Duterte did not claim that Carpio was involved in the incident. Instead, he said the President linked former foreign affairs secretary Albert del Rosario to the withdrawal.
"Ang punto po ng Presidente, 'wag n'yong sasabihin na siya ang namimigay ng teritoryo dahil hindi po 'yan nangyari sa kaniyang administrasyon. Tapos na ang boxing," Roque said in a press briefing.
"Sa halos 5 taon na administrasyong Duterte, may nawala bang isla ang Pilipinas? Ang sagot: wala," he added.
(The point of the President is don't claim that he gave away our territory because that did not happen in his administration. The boxing match is finished. In the almost 5 years of the Duterte administration, did the Philippines lose any island? The answer is no.)
Duterte has backed out of his debate with Carpio, and pushed Roque as his representative.
Video courtesy of PTV
Scarborough Shoal is within the Philippines' exclusive economic zone in the South China Sea and has long been traditional fishing grounds for Philippine fishermen.
Philippine and Chinese ships figured in a standoff at the shoal after Filipino naval officers attempted to arrest Chinese fishermen seen illegally fishing in the area but were blocked by China's surveillance vessels.
Del Rosario said the US brokered a deal to end the standoff, and that China and the Philippines agreed to withdraw their ships from the area at a certain hour.
But Beijing "deceitfully breached our agreement by not withdrawing their 30 or more ships," he said.
Almost a decade later, Chinese vessels continue to encroach into the Philippines' EEZ in the waters.
Del Rosario and Carpio said Duterte "unfortunately" set aside the arbitration ruling in exchange for up to $24 billion in Chinese investment and aid pledges.
WHAT DUTERTE SAID
Duterte on Wednesday called the arbitral ruling a piece of "paper," which he said led to nothing.
"Tapos sabi nila itong papel sa kaso nanalo tayo, i-pursue mo. Pinursue ko, walang nangyari," Duterte said. "Actually sa usapang bugoy, sabihin ko sa ‘yo, bigay mo sa akin, sabihin ko, ‘P***** *** papel lang ‘yan, itatapon ko ‘yan sa wastebasket.'"
(They tell me to pursue this paper because we won. I pursued it but nothing happened. Actually, if you give that to me, I will tell you, 'Son of *****, I will throw that in the wastebasket.')
He threatened to "execute" Del Rosario "by hanging" if the former official fails to explain why Philippine ships withdrew from Scarborough.
Duterte said he "never asked anything" from China.
– With a report Agence France-Presse