Senator Leila de Lima on Tuesday, May 11 said she is not at all surprised at President Rodrigo Duterte’s admission his promise to ride a jet ski to the Spratly islands to defend the Philippine’s rights to the territory against China was a joke, saying he waged his 2016 presidential campaign on pure gimmickry.
De Lima, a vocal critic of the Duterte administration, said the President merely confirmed what a lot of Filipinos already know—that he really has no plans to invoke the country’s sovereign rights over the West Philippine Sea.
“Joke lang para kay Duterte ang napaka-importanteng isyu sa bansa kaya patuloy ang pagkamkam ng Tsina sa ating teritoryo at pagnakaw sa kabuhayan ng mga mangingisdang Pilipino (One of the most important issues the nation is facing is just a joke to Duterte, that is why China is bold to seize our territory and steal the livelihood of many of our Filipino fishermen),” De Lima said in a statement.
“Duterte’s campaign in the 2016 elections was waged on pure gimmickry with no solid program of government on which to anchor his outlandish promises that’s why all we can hear now are his excuses why he cannot execute,” she pointed out.
The opposition senator further scored Duterte for blaming the voters for believing in his foreign policy statement at the time of the 2016 presidential debates.
“And he even has the gall to call those who believe in his campaign promise as stupid. Classic Duterte! Isa siyang napakalaking joke na nangyari sa bansa na hindi nakakatawa (He is one big joke that happened in the country that is not funny),” she stressed.
Senator Risa Hontiveros also echoed De Lima’s view, saying she believes no one is considering Duterte’s statements as something to laugh about.
“Kung joke lang pala yung mga plataporma niya noong nanliligaw siya sa mga botante, ibig sabihin, joke din ba ang turing niya sa pagiging presidente? (If he considers his platforms at the time he is wooing voters as a joke, then does he considers the presidency as a joke)?” Hontiveros asked.
“Nasaan yang sinasabi niyang ‘bravado’ pagdating sa special friend niyang China (Where is his bravado when it comes to his special friend China)? No country, not even his best friend, will take us seriously when we have a leader who cannot honor his word,” she further said.
Duterte, in his May 10 public address claimed that his supposed election promise to ride a jet ski to challenge China’s incursions in Philippine waters was a “pure joke” and that those who believed his statements were “stupid.”
De Lima, a former justice secretary said Duterte’s reckless remark should remind Filipinos to choose worthy leaders who will prioritize the common good over their selfish interests in the next election.
“One year from now, we will be electing a new president and set of leaders. Let us not be fooled again by politicians like Duterte who are like empty shells that have nothing to show how to fulfill their mandate to the people,” she stressed.