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Duterte stresses jet ski boast was just a campaign joke

Jonathan de Santos (Philstar.com) - May 11, 2021 - 8:40am

MANILA, Philippines — People who believed his boast that he would ride a jet ski to the West Philippine Sea to assert Philippine sovereignty fell for a campaign joke, President Rodrigo Duterte said Monday night in the face of criticism of his policy in the area of the South China Sea within the Philippines' exclusive economic zone.

In the first place, the president said, he does not have a working jet ski and the nearest Philippine-held island is too far away with nowhere to refuel on the way. Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, who was at the same taped meeting, said the island is "150 nautical miles, not kilometers, nautical miles" from mainland Palawan.

"We call it 'bravado,' ‘yong bravado ko that was just a pure campaign joke. At kung naniniwala kayo sa kabila, pati na siguro si Carpio pati si — I would say that you are really stupid. Sige, maghanap ka ng tao dito magpunta ng jet ski. Hindi pa mag-abot pa ng ilang oras I would conk out in the middle of the sea," he said. 

(And if you in the opposite camp believe, even Carpio, I suppose — I would say that you are really stupid. Go ahead, look for someone who will go there by jet ski. In just a few hours, I would conk out in the middle of the sea).

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

Duterte was referring to former Supreme Court justice Antonio Carpio, who has criticized Duterte's pollicy in the West Philippine Sea and who he has taken aim at in recent televised meetings.

At a televised meeting last week, Duterte challenged Carpio to a debate on the West Philippine Sea. The challenge has been withdrawn and the Palace spokesperson has been offered as a stand in for the president.

In March 2018, the president said he was surprised that anyone took the jet ski comment that he made at a televised debate during the 2016 presidential campaign seriously. In May of that year, jet skis were part of a stunt to emphasize Philippine sovereignty over the uncontested Philippine (Benham) Rise

2016 arbitral award

The Duterte administration has developed warmer ties with Beijing after a chill caused by the 2012 standoff at Panatag (Scarborough) Shoal and the subsequent arbitration case that the Philippines filed against China's nine-dash-line claim in the South China Sea during the Aquino administration.

The Philippines won the arbitration case and a 2016 ruling found that China's nine-dash-line claim has no basis in international law. The president has brought up the arbitral award in a speech before the UN General Assembly but has also in recent weeks said it is just a piece of paper he would throw in the wastebasket.

RELATED: Duterte: West Philippine Sea areas occupied by China can't be reclaimed without bloodshed

Duterte said Chinese vessels were already in the West Philippine Sea when he became president and that blame should go to the Aquino administration for withdrawing during the 2012 standoff.

The Department of Foreign Affairs said the Philippines has not changed its position on the West Philippine Sea and the president's statement before the UN General Assembly "stands as the supreme expression of foreign policy on the West Philippine Sea issue." 

Duterte stressed Monday night that people who believed his jet ski boast should have considered how he could have done it in the first place.

"Maniwala sa jet ski p** (Believing in the jet ski **)," the official transcript quotes him as saying.

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RODRIGO DUTERTE WEST PHILIPPINE SEA
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