President Rodrigo Duterte cannot be impeached over his policy on the West Philippine Sea (WPS), Malacañang said on Monday.
Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque shrugged off allegations made by retired Supreme Court (SC) Associate Justice Antonio Carpio that Duterte supposedly committed betrayal of “public trust” over his stance on the sea row.
“You know, a person who’s new in politics will say everything they can to get noticed and this is yet another instance of Justice Carpio saying things just for the attention,” he said in a press briefing from Davao City partly in Filipino.
Roque pointed out that it was unlikely for the President to have committed betrayal of public trust because the country never lost territory under the Duterte administration.
“Why is it a betrayal of public trust? Was there a territory lost during the administration of President Duterte? None! Did he give China any of our territories? None!” he added partly in Filipino.
He said the President is also the country’s chief architect of foreign policy.
“The truth is, it’s not just because it’s a numbers game, it is because it is utterly bereft of merit because the President is the sole architect, primary architect of foreign policy,” he said.
Roque dared Carpio to bring his case before the court if he believes Duterte violated the Constitution with his policy on the WPS.
“Impeachment is not the only remedy. Let’s not fool the nation, you can bring the case before court where you used to sit, if you believe that the President violated any provision in the Constitution. That is my challenge to you. File the suit pursuant to your standing as a citizen,” he said partly in Filipino.
Meanwhile, he also expressed readiness to debate with Carpio on whether Duterte’s foreign policy resulted in derogation of sovereignty or the loss of territory in the WPS conflict.
“I am very keen…Anytime, I’m ready,” he said.
Last week, Duterte expressed willingness to hold a formal debate with Carpio on territorial issues surrounding WPS.
Despite his decision to back out of the planned debate, Duterte assigned Roque to debate with Carpio on his behalf.
Roque said Duterte was “ready” to debate with Carpio but decided to heed his Cabinet men’s advice to cancel his plan since it would not benefit the country.