Carpio sees ‘larceny’ as Duterte denies vowing to retake WPS
MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte has practically confessed to committing “grand estafa or grand larceny” for falsely claiming that he “never promised… to retake the West Philippine Sea (WPS) from China” during his electoral campaign in 2016, retired Supreme Court Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio said on Tuesday.
“There is a term for that — grand estafa or grand larceny. Making a false promise to get (over) 16 million votes,” Carpio said, referring to the number of votes that won for Duterte the country’s highest elective post.
Carpio was responding to the President’s public address on Monday when he disavowed making campaign promises to defend the West Philippine Sea or “pressure China” about it.
The former magistrate said Duterte had declared during a televised presidential debate that he would even ride a jet ski and plant a Philippine flag in the China-occupied Panatag (Scarborough) Shoal should he become the country’s next president.
The President has described his past statement as a “hyperbole.”
“President Duterte expressly made his position known to the Filipino people when he campaigned for the presidency in 2016,” Carpio told the Inquirer. “[He] cannot now say that he never discussed or mentioned the West Philippine Sea issue when he was campaigning for president. Otherwise, he would be admitting that he was fooling the Filipino people big time.”
But whether or not Duterte made such a promise, it remains his duty as President under the Constitution to protect what belongs to the country and its people, former Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario said also on Tuesday.
“With due respect, Mr. President, whether or not you promised to retake the West Philippine Sea and pressure China, it is the duty of the President under the Constitution to protect what is ours, and our fellow Filipinos are relying on the President to do so,” Del Rosario said in a statement.
“May we urge you, Mr. President, not to trade our lands and waters for prospects of money given by China,” he added.
The country’s former top diplomat reminded Mr. Duterte that it was Chinese President Xi Jinping who “deceitfully breached” the 2012 agreement brokered by the United States, where both China and the Philippines promised to withdraw their ships from Panatag Shoal to resolve the standoff in the area.
“We withdrew while Beijing did not. Until now, China refuses to withdraw its vessels to the prejudice of the Filipino people,” Del Rosario said.
“[C]hina is the aggressor and the one occupying our territory. We would like to ask why you would believe Chinese President Xi Jinping over your own people?,” Del Rosario asked, addressing the President.
He reiterated his appeal for the President to enforce the arbitral award in the West Philippine Sea that the Philippines won against China, on July 12, 2016.
Duterte, who assumed the presidency on June 30, 2016, has set aside the ruling in favor of loans and investments from China.
Carpio recalled that during Mr. Duterte’s 2016 campaign, his team stated that the then Davao City mayor was supportive of the Aquino administration’s arbitration case against China.
“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… He is hopeful for a favorable ruling for the Philippines,” Carpio said, quoting Mr. Duterte’s campaign team on its candidate’s position on the issue.
Carpio and Del Rosario have consistently criticized Duterte’s policy of appeasement on the West Philippine Sea issue. But the President has blamed them and the Aquino administration for “losing” the disputed reefs and shoals to China.
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