Solon asks Duterte for jet ski to Panatag
Magdalo Rep. Gary Alejano is willing to lead the charge of Philippine troops against China but only if President Duterte will lend him his Jet Ski to ride to battle.
Mr. Duterte, in a speech to the Filipino community in Burma (Myanmar) on Sunday, mocked Alejano, who filed the first impeachment complaint against him in the House of Representatives last week, to lead the charge in a war with China over ownership of Panatag (Scarborough) Shoal in the West Philippine Sea.
Alejano had said he would file a supplemental complaint against Mr. Duterte for violating the Constitution by refusing to confront China over its plan to build on Panatag Shoal and its incursions into Benham Rise off the eastern coast of Luzon.
“[If] he (Alejano) wants to fight in China, he could lead [the charge]. I would be glad to send him [with] the first batch of Filipinos who want to take the Spratlys and all of [the islands occupied by China]. Go ahead. He can go first,” Mr. Duterte said.
Responding on Tuesday, Alejano, a former Marine captain, said, “Can I borrow his Jet Ski? Because it’s already rusting from nonuse.”
Alejano was referring to Mr. Duterte’s campaign promise to lay down his life for retention of Philippine territory in the Spratlys.
“We have submitted ourselves to arbitration … and China has insisted on sovereignty and won’t submit to [the arbitral court’s] jurisdiction. If we win the case but China won’t obey [the tribunal’s ruling], I will not go to war,” Mr. Duterte said at a presidential debate at University of Pangasinan in Dagupan City on April 24 last year.
“If they don’t want to obey, then I will ask the Philippine Navy to bring me to the nearest boundary, I will get off, take a Jet Ski, carry a Philippine flag to the nearest airport [on a Chinese-occupied island], plant that flag and I’ll say, ‘This is ours. Do what you want with me,’” he said.
“I will stake that claim. I have long had the ambition to be a hero. When I go there, you cry here,” he added, drawing cheers from the audience.
After winning the election, however, Mr. Duterte said his remarks were just “hyperbole.”
On Sunday, before leaving for Burma, Mr. Duterte told a news conference at Davao International Airport in Davao City that he could not stop China from building a planned environmental monitoring station on Panatag Shoal, which Beijing seized from the Philippines in 2012.
“What do you want me to do, declare war against China? I can’t. We will lose all our military and policemen tomorrow and we [will be] a destroyed nation,” he said.
Alejano said Mr. Duterte’s stance was “defeatist,” exactly how China wanted the Philippines “to feel.” —WITH REPORTS FROM INQUIRER RESEARCH AND AFP
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.