'Jet ski scam na naman 'yan': Trillanes twits Duterte remark on keeping ships in West PH Sea

Aleta Nieva Nishimori, ABS-CBN News

Posted at May 15 2021 01:41 PM | Updated as of May 15 2021 02:31 PM

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MANILA— Former Senator Antonio Trillanes IV on Saturday dismissed as another "jet ski scam" President Rodrigo Duterte’s latest statement towards China that he would not withdraw Philippine ships from the West Philippine Sea "even if you kill me." 

“Naku, jet ski scam na naman 'yan. Ewan ko lang kung magpapaloko pa mga Pilipino d'yan,” Trillanes said.

Duterte had said in a taped message aired Friday that he would not withdraw the two ships roving around Kalayaan Islands and Mischief Reef in the West Philippine Sea, as he addressed China, which has continued incursions in the area. 

"Hindi talaga ako aatras. Patayin mo man ako kung patayin mo ako, dito ako. Dito magtatapos ang ating pagkakaibigan," Duterte had said, addressing China, with whom he has pursued cozy ties. 

(I will not withdraw. Kill me if you must, I will stay. That's where our friendship will end.)

Duterte’s statement came just days after his recent clarification that his 2016 campaign statement of riding a jet ski and challenging Chinese incursions in the West Philippine Sea was just a "pure joke." 

“May tawag d'yan sa kalye, ang tawag d'yan pangoonse na 'yan. Naisahan ka na nung una, naloko ka, naisahan ka uli. Maoonse ang Pilipino n'yan kung paniniwalaan pa nila si Mr. Duterte,” sabi he said.

(In the streets, there's a word for being duped. You've been fooled once, you'd be fooled again. Filipinos will just be duped if they keep believing Mr. Duterte.)

Trillanes stressed that Duterte keeps on reviving the Scarborough Shoal issue to divert the attention of the public. The President had earlier blamed the previous administration for supposedly yielding to China in the Scarborough Shoal standoff in 2012. 

The top diplomat at the time, Albert del Rosario, said it was China who did not honor a US-brokered deal for the ships from both sides to stand down and pull out. 

“Wala namang koneksiyon 'yun dito sa problem niya ngayon. Sinasabi niya ang problema nung daw dumating siya eh nandoon na 'yan? Wala 'yan, 'yang 200 ships na 'yan? Wala pong ganyang isyu. Bago lang sila pumasok dito sa panahon ni Duterte tapos wala siyang ginagawa, in fact, sinusuko na niya," said Trillanes, a former naval officer.

(That has no connection to the problem now. He is saying when he came to power that was already there? That's not true, those 200 ships were not there. They just entered during Duterte's time and he's not doing anything, in fact he is surrendering it.)

Manila and Beijing's maritime dispute flared again in March after some 200 Chinese ships swarmed the West Philippine Sea, the country's exclusive economic zone in the South China Sea, which China claims in near entirety. 

This prompted the Department of Foreign Affairs to file a flurry of diplomatic protests against China about a "swarming and threatening presence" of Chinese vessels in the Philippine EEZ and demanded they be withdrawn.
 
The Philippines recently boosted its presence in the South China Sea through "sovereignty patrols" in a show of defiance that critics say has been lacking under pro-China Duterte, who has drawn domestic flak for his refusal to stand up to Beijing.

Beijing refuses to recognize a 2016 arbitral ruling that junked its "historical" claims to about 90 percent of the South China Sea, within which is the smaller West Philippine Sea. 
 
Duterte forged friendlier relations with China upon assuming power in 2016, even setting aside the arbitral award in favor of economic aid and investments from Beijing.

Most recently, he has sourced COVID-19 vaccines from China, for which he says the Philippines owes Beijing a debt of gratitude. 

Trillanes, a staunch critic of Duterte, on Wednesday said he was eyeing to replace Vice President Leni Robredo as the presidential candidate of opposition coalition 1SAMBAYAN in the 2022 elections. 

Malacañang said the former senator is "free to dream" of becoming chief executive.

Robredo's camp meanwhile said the official has yet to make known her plans for 2022.