Jet ski cruise through Philippine Rise moves closer to shore

Jet ski cruise through Philippine Rise moves closer to shore
Jet skis loaded onto the BRP Davao del Sur fueled talk that the president would use one in the Philippine Rise.
Camille Aguinaldo, BusinessWorld

MANILA, Philippines — The national security adviser, the special assistant to the president and the president's son rode jet skis in the waters off Casiguran, Aurora on Tuesday ending hours of speculation that President Rodrigo Duterte would ride the jet skis in the Benham or Philippine Rise.

Hermogenes Esperon Jr., Bong Go and Sebastian Duterte flew Philippine flags from their jet skis as part of a sendoff ceremony for Filipino scientists headed to the Philippine Rise for marine surveys and studies.

On Tuesday morning, jet skis being loaded onto the BRP Davao del Sur fueled speculations that Duterte might ride a jet ski in the undisputed Philippine Rise to assert the country's sovereignty over the undersea area.

During the 2016 election campaign, Duterte said in a televised forum that he would ride a jet ski to the West Philippine Sea — the part of the South China Sea that Manila claims under international law — and plant a Philippine flag in one of the islands occupied by China.

The president, who has since played down the maritime dispute in the South China Sea in favor of investments from and improved relations with China, said in March that the remark was just a joke.

"When I said I would go to China on a jet ski, that's nonsense. I don't even have… It's just talk. I'm surprised you believed it," Duterte said at a competition of the Philippine National Police's Special Weapons and Tactics teams.

RELATED: 'Jet Ski-dding!' Duterte says campaign comment just a joke

By Tuesday afternoon, Special Assistant to the President Go said that he and Sebastian "Baste" Duterte, who has no position in government, would ride the jet skis instead.

Go, a potential candidate for the Senate, has been touring the Philippines as a stand-in for the president.

His activities, including a visit to a car show in Manila, have been consistently covered by state-run media. — Jonathan de Santos

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