OPINION: Alejano to Duterte: ‘May I borrow your jetski?’

Ellen T. Tordesillas

Posted at Mar 22 2017 04:06 AM

Not surprisingly, President Duterte resorted to incoherent rant when asked about the plan of Magdalo Rep. Gary Alejano to file a supplemental impeachment complaint to include developments in Scarborough Shoal and Benham Rise.

This happened in a press conference in Myanmar Monday where Duterte was on a state visit.

Duterte said, “Well for what? If he (Alejano) wants to fight with China, he can lead. I would be glad to send him as the first batch of delegation of Filipinos who want to take the Spratly Islands and all of those they occupied now. Sige. Siya ang mauna. (Go ahead. He should go first). It would be a slaughter for the Filipinos to do that. ‘Yung kanyang tapang-tapangan, huwag munang. (His acting brave, don’t) Do not compare me with you. You are all cowards. Alam ninyo nakita ‘yung kagitingan ninyo noong nag-mutiny kaya mga walang hiya kayo. (You know we have seen your “bravery” when you staged a mutiny. You are shameless.)”

He continued fulminating more about the protest actions that Alejano together with Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV and the Magdalo group did against Gloria Arroyo when they were young military officers in July 2003 (Oakwood mutiny) and in November 2007 (Manila Pen siege) which were irrelevant to the question about China’s activities in Scarborough Shoal and Benham Rise.

Alejano’s plan to file a supplemental complaint is based on Duterte’s lack of interest in protesting the reported plan of China to establish an environmental monitoring station in Scarborough shoal and his announcement that he allowed China to conduct research in Benham Rise, which is part of the Philippine’s extended continental shelf.

Scarborough shoal, also known as Panatag and Bajo de Masinloc, is under effective control of China which call the rock “Huangyan” since April 2012.

Last Sunday Duterte said: “Well, we cannot stop China from doing his thing. Hindi nga napara ng Amerikano (The Americans were not able to stop [them])”

Duterte’s reply to Alejano showed his confusion. The question was about Scarborough shoal, 124 nautical miles from Zambales in Central Luzon. His answer was about Spratlys, in another side of the Philippines near Palawan, which is also claimed wholly or partly by China, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei, and Taiwan.

Alejano scored Duterte for “portraying the Philippines as helpless and defenceless.” He said there are many ways that a president can protect the interest of the country without going to war. “Military confrontation is not the only option, but it should be our last option,” the bemedalled former Marine captain said.

He said, “In the very remote and unlikely event the continued incursions of China in Philippine territories lead to war, “every Filipino should be ready to defend the country as mandated by the Constitution, including myself. Ang pagsilbi sa bayan ay hindi na po bago sa akin. (Serving the country is not new to me.) I am more than willing to fight for this country, to lead our troops against China, or any other foreign intruder.” 

He, however, made a special request to Duterte: “Pahiram ako ng jet ski (Let me borrow your jet ski).”

It should be recalled that during the campaign, Duterte vowed to assert Philippine claim on the Spratlys:"I will ask the Navy to bring me to the nearest point in South China Sea that is tolerable to them and I will ride a jet ski. I'll carry a flag and when I reach Spratlys, I will erect the Filipino flag. I will tell them, suntukan o barilan (boxing or shootout)."

 Duterte is now singing a different tune. He said last Monday: “We are not in a position to declare war. But I said to China that someday during my term as President, I will have to confront you about the arbitral ruling and that would be maybe, during the time when you begin to extract minerals and the riches of what is inside the bowels of the Earth. “

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