Mar on Duterte’s sea row remark: Is it for real?

Eva Visperas - The Philippine Star

DAGUPAN CITY, Philippines – Administration standard-bearer Manuel Roxas II yesterday twitted his rival Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte for saying he is willing to risk his life by planting the Philippine flag to assert the country’s claim on disputed waters.

“Is this for real? Is this reliable?” Roxas said in Filipino when asked to comment on Duterte’s remark that he would ask the Philippine Navy to bring him to the nearest boundary in the Spratlys where he could jetski toward the airport and tell the Chinese that the islands belong to the Philippines.

Roxas said he should campaign harder for his runningmate, Leni Robredo so she would win the vice presidential race.

He said should Duterte win the presidential race, Robredo could succeed him if he gets killed by the Chinese over his stance on the sea row.

Roxas said he trusts that Filipinos would think of the country on May 9. 

The presidential candidates were asked during the debate here on how to resolve the maritime issue with China.

Most prepared

Malacañang praised Roxas for coming prepared to the third presidential debate and criticized his rivals, Vice President Jejomar Binay and Mayor Duterte, for their performance.

The Palace issued the statement as talks erupted on social media that Roxas could have been furnished with the questions ahead of the debate, that’s why he appeared to be the most prepared.

Presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda revealed that the debate “topics” were given to all candidates in advance so they could prepare and that it would be up to ABS-CBN as host to explain the matter.

“The problem with Digong and his team is they are fond of sound bites and lazy when it comes to research. He does not know that his own Davao City is benefiting from PhilHealth,” Lacierda said, referring to Duterte.

“Mar’s knowledge is deep, Digong and Binay only have their local government experience to rely on,” he added.

Lacierda urged undecided voters to consider the candidates’ performance in the last debate, saying it was an opportunity to see who among them has the capability to lead the country,

Roxas has been trailing Duterte, Sen. Grace Poe and Binay in the latest surveys, but the Palace remained unfazed.

Presidential Communications Operation Office Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said the surveys show the presidential race remains a highly competitive contest, and the debate could still affect the voters’ decision.

Game-changing surge

Roxas expects a “game-changing surge” in voters’ support in the last two weeks of the campaign.

He said he and Leni rely on what he described as the growing “silent majority” who are now coming out, including the estimated 30,000 people who gathered at the Rizal Park on Sunday night to express support for their team.

“Those are real people. Those are real Filipinos who are very much interested, who are very much engaged on what’s going to happen to us in the next six years. I thank them,” Roxas said.

He said the crowd that gathered was not organized by any political personality or group but simply communicated through text message and social media. 

He expressed belief that he was able to convince more Filipinos to vote for him and Robredo after his performance in the last debate organized by the Commission on Elections in Dagupan City.

There are analysts who believe that about 25 percent of the country’s 55 million voters have not yet made up their minds, he said.

Roxas has been placing third or fourth in recent surveys topped by the tough-talking Duterte.

Robredo has been doing well, overtaking the son and namesake of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos.

Roxas said his and Robredo’s ratings are still within the margin of error of the polls, which means the presidential and vice presidential races are still close fights. – With Aurea Calica, Paolo Romero, Delon Porcalla, Ding Cervantes, Danny Dangcalan

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