Duterte defends backing out of debate with Carpio: ‘I’m not afraid of you’
MANILA, Philippines — “I’m not afraid of you,” President Rodrigo Duterte said in a pre-recorded speech that aired Monday night, referring to retired Supreme Court Associate Justice Antonio Carpio, whom he earlier challenged to a debate on the West Philippine Sea.
Carpio accepted the challenge, but Duterte backed out, saying that presidential spokesperson Harry Roque would take his place instead.
Duterte reasoned that his statements in the debate could be misconstrued as policy and “might bind future actions of government” regarding the West Philippine Sea.
“The problem is here is that I forgot that it’s not Carpio who’s president, but I am,” Duterte said, speaking partly in Filipino. So whatever he asks, [my answer might be taken as] policy statements, and I might future actions of government when it comes to the West Philippine Sea.”
He said he was not afraid of debates since he had participated in many debates during the 2016 presidential campaign.
“I’m not afraid of you,” he said. “The problem is I forgot you were not the president.”
[Original statement: Hindi ako takot sa iyo. Ang problema, hindi ko nga alam na hindi ka presidente.”
In a previous briefing, Duterte challenged Carpio to a debate on the West Philippine Sea, particularly on the 2016 ruling of the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague that favored the Philippines over China, which Carpio gladly accepted.
The hashtag #DuterteDuwag trended on Twitter on Friday after Duterte backed out of the debate.
In response, Malacañang said on Monday that Duterte had nothing more to prove, having participated in several debates as a presidential candidate in 2016.
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.