According to President Rodrigo Duterte, his 2016 remark of going to the West Philippine Sea on a jet ski to assert the country’s rights in the disputed waters was a pure campaign joke.
“Panahon sa kampanya iyan, at tsaka iyong biro na iyon, we call it bravado. Iyong bravado ko was just a pure campaign joke,” he clarified during his weekly address, calling those who believed the statement as “stupid.”
“Nagyabang ako na pupunta ako sa Spratly, magdala ako ng flag na sakay ako ng jet ski,” Duterte added.
In his address on May 3, the President emphasized that he never made a promise to retake the West Philippine Sea from China.
This was contrary to his statement back in 2016 during the campaign for national elections when he claimed he would ride a jet ski to plant a Philippine flag on man-made islands occupied by China. He also mentioned in a town hall meeting in February 2016 that he would put a stop to China’s expansion activities in the area.
For the past months, Philippine maritime authorities have been seeing the presence of Chinese ships in the disputed waters that led to increasing tensions between the two sides. The Department of Foreign Affairs has also filed several diplomatic protests regarding this and on the illegal activities Chinese vessels are conducting in the area.