President Rodrigo Duterte has nothing left to prove, his spokesman said on Monday in response to the #DuterteDuwag hashtag that trended on Twitter last week.

The hashtag became the top trending topic on Twitter in the Philippines last May 7 after Palace spokesman Harry Roque announced that Duterte had withdrawn from his challenge to debate retired Supreme Court senior associate justice Antonio Carpio over West Philippine Sea issues.

In a virtual presser, Roque said Duterte had shown his debating prowess during his campaign for the presidency in 2016.

“Si presidente po ilang beses na nakidebate noong presidential elections, wala na pong kailangang patunayan ang presidente. He has nothing to prove, dahil unlike Associate Justice Carpio, he has never debated publicly,” Roque said.

Duterte challenged Carpio to a debate after the ex-magistrate’s criticisms of his downplaying of the country’s arbitral victory over China’s territorial claims at the West Philippine Sea.

In his May 5 address. Duterte said he would throw away the victory of the Philippines over China at the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague in 2016.

Duterte backed out of his own challenge following the advice of his Cabinet members, Roque earlier said.

But even as he withdrew from the debate, Duterte might still be able to debate with Carpio, but in June 2022, when Duterte would no longer be in office, Roque said. John Ezekiel J. Hirro