By Raymund Antonio
Otso Diretso senatorial candidate and Magdalo Rep. Gary Alejano doubted President Rodrigo Duterte’s pronouncement he would order soldiers to go on a suicide mission” if China refuses to “lay-off” Pag-asa Island in the West Philippine Sea.
“So ang sinasabi ng Presidente na suicide mission, alam niyo po pang-pelikula lang po iyan. Mga kuwentuhang barber lang iyan,” Alejano said in jest during Vice President Leni Robredo’s radio show on Sunday.
(So the suicide mission the President talked about is only for movies. That’s only a barber’s tale.)
Turning serious, Alejano said the president was just making excuses for his administration’s soft stance against China over the maritime dispute.
“Hindi natin kailangan ng giyera, at hindi dapat giyera—na iyon din naman ang pinapa-ulit-ulit ng ating Pangulo—na kapag inassert natin ang ating karapatan sa West Philippine Sea, gigiyerahin na tayo, mali po iyan,” he said.
(We don’t need war and it should not be war—which our President repeatedly said—if we assert our rights in the West Philippine Sea, we will be attacked, that’s wrong.)
“Alam naman natin na hindi tayo pwedeng makipag-giyera dahil wala tayong kakayanan. Ang sa atin dito, mina-mash lamang ng Pangulo itong issue sa West Philippine Sea, tatakutin tayo para ma-justify iyong kanyang pagyayakap at pagluluhod sa bansang Tsina,” he added.
(We know we can’t go to war with China because we have no capability. For me, the President only mashes the issue on the West Philippine Sea, he scares us to justify his embrace to China.)
Alejano, a former Marine captain, is one of the most vocal critics of Duterte’s policies toward China.
He urged the government to act and protest China’s actions after more than 600 Chinese vessels have been reportedly spotted off Pag-asa Island, which is within the country’s territory, since January.
“Ang ginagawa ng Presidente, ay pangda-divert lamang ng attention. Alam niya na lumabas ang isyu at very critical, magsasalita lamang siya, sasabihin ko sa inyo pagtakatapos niyan wala na iyan,” he said.
(What the President was doing was only to divert attention. He knew about issue and it was very critical to speak up, I’m telling you after that, nothing else will happen.)