Retiring Justice Carpio on Duterte's tirades: It comes with the territory

MANILA, Philippines – Retiring Supreme Court Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio shrugged off President Rodrigo Duterte's tirades against him for his criticisms of the government's handling of the West Philippine Sea issue.

Speaking to Rappler a week before he retires on October 26, Carpio said such strong reactions from even the Chief Executive are part of what he signed up for as a defender of Philippine rights in the West Philippine Sea.

"It comes with the territory. You're trying to convince other people who don't see it your way. Of course, you will see a reaction so you have to engage them in a discussion," he told Rappler's editor-at-large Marites Vitug on Thursday, October 17.

Duterte has often directed verbal slurs at Carpio, like when he described him as "daldal nang daldal (always talking)" and called him "estupido (stupid)" for criticizing his West Philippine Sea policies.

Carpio has publicly opposed the President's "fishing deal" with China in Philippine waters and refuted Duterte's argument that the country has no other choice but to be soft on China lest it provoke a war.

Many believe it was the justice's strong stance that cost him the chief justice post. (READ: Justice Antonio Carpio: Forever the No. 2)

Carpio, in the Rappler interview, recalled how in 2011, many thought it "crazy" to bring China to court for its island-building and other incursions in the West Philippine Sea.

But Carpio insists "there was no other way" but to sue China, an effort he was part of. 

"We don't have military capability to defend Scarborough (Panatag) Shoal. Our only defense is a legal defense, to bring China to a tribunal," said Carpio.

Duterte has called the 2016 ruling handed down by the Permanent Court of Arbitration in the Philippines' favor an "ace card."

He has mentioned it to Chinese President Xi Jinping in a few bilateral meetings but critics say Duterte can do more with the ruling, like rallying the international community behind it to put pressure on Beijing. (READ: When Duterte meets with Xi: What West PH Sea deals were reached in past talks?)  – Rappler.com

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Pia Ranada

Pia Ranada covers the Office of the President and Bangsamoro regional issues for Rappler. While helping out with desk duties, she also watches the environment sector and the local government of Quezon City. For tips or story suggestions, you can reach her at pia.ranada@rappler.com.

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