‘I never promised‘ anything about West Philippine Sea during election campaign – Duterte

MANILA, Philippines — “I never, never in my campaign as president, promised the people that I would retake the West Philippine Sea,” President Rodrigo Duterte in a pre-recorded briefing that was aired on Monday.

“I did not promise that I would pressure China. I never mentioned [anything] about China and the Philippines in my campaign because that – it was a very serious matter,” he went on.

“I never promised anything. Just because I’m president you want me now to pick a fight?” he added, speaking partly in Filipino.

He said dealing with China’s incursions in the West Philippine Sea would have to be done through diplomacy — through the Department of Foreign Affairs.

He made the remark as critics — including retired Supreme Court Associate Justice Antonio Carpio and former Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario — accused him of  not protecting the interests of the Philippines in that area, where some Chinese ships continued to linger.

In a debate among presidential candidates in 2016, Duterte said he would ride a jet ski to the Spratly Islands and erect a Philippine flag there.

After getting elected, he later clarified that the remark was only a hyperbole.