Alejano twits Duterte: What happened to jet ski plan?
Magdalo Rep. Gary Alejano on Tuesday chided President Rodrigo Duterte for once claiming he would ride a jet ski to the West Philippine Sea and plant a flag there to assert the country’s sovereign rights.
In a statement, Alejano said it seems that jet ski had become rusty out of waste.
“Pahiram ako ng jet ski niya, kinakalawang na kasi ‘di niya ginagamit (I will borrow his jet ski, which has rusted because he was not using it),” said Alejano, who filed an impeachment complaint against Duterte for betrayal of public trust, culpable violation of the Constitution, bribery, and other high crimes due to this administration’s bloody war on drugs.
During the 2016 campaign in the last presidential debate in Pangasinan, Duterte said he would ride a jet ski to the disputed Spratlys Islands and plant a flag there to assert our country’s rights over our waters against China.
“I will ask the Navy to bring me to the nearest boundary d’yan sa (in the) Spratly – Scarborough. Bababa ako, sasakay ako ng jet ski, dala-dala ko ‘yung flag ng Pilipino at pupunta ako doon sa airport nila tapos itanim ko, (I will go down and ride a jet ski carrying the Philippine flag which I would plant there in their airport), then I would say, “This is ours and do what you want with me.” Bahala na kayo,” he then said.
Duterte later clarified his remark was mere hyperbole, saying he could not swim.
Alejano chided Duterte about his jet ski remark after the President in his speech in Myanmar teased Alejano about his surrender in the height of a mutiny and dared the former marine captain to be the one to lead a war against China over the disputed waters.
Alejano was part of the Oakwood mutiny and the Manila Peninsula siege during the Arroyo administration. He is a Magdalo colleague of Senator Antonio Trillanes IV, a vocal critic of Duterte.
“Ano ba pinagyayabang ninyo? (What are you boasting about?) You had your chance to show your bravery. Do not shit with me. May panahon na na dapat lumaban kayo. ‘Yung itlog ninyo dumating naman sa bunganga ninyo. Tapos sabihin niyo bravery (There was a time when you should have fought. But your balls got stuck in your mouths. Then, you talk of bravery),” Duterte said.
“For one, if he wants to fight in China, he could lead…I would be glad to send him as the first batch of delegation of Filipinos who want to take the Spratlys island and all of these occupied now—sige (go ahead). Siya ang mauna (He can go first),” Duterte later said in a media interview.
Alejano said there are a number of non-military ways to protect our country’s territory without going to war with China.
“Hindi po totoo ang sinasabi ng ating Pangulo na wala na tayong magagawa. Sa katunayan, marami tayong pwedeng gawing non-military and non-confrontational options, ayaw lang niyang gawin (What the President said that we couldn’t do anything is not true. In fact, we have non-military and non-confrontational options, he just doesn’t want to do these),” Alejano said.
“Military confrontation is not the only option, but it should be our last option,” Alejano added.
Duterte earlier said he could not do anything to stop China from building structures on Panatag Shoal.
For one, Alejano said, the country could take advantage of China’s distance from the disputed islands and the country’s proximity to these.
Alejano said the replenishment of food and fuel will be a logistical challenge for China, but not for the Philippines.
“We could also easily seek shelter on our shores during typhoons while the Chinese patrol ships may need to abandon their post thus we can secure the area before they return,” Alejano said.
Alejano also suggested strengthening the Philippine Coast Guard to effectively patrol the area.
He said the coast guard could send “white ships” instead of “gray ships” to avoid military confrontation.
The congressman also suggested deploying marine research vessels to conduct research in the disputed territories to assert our rights in defending the country’s territory.
“We may also develop the disputed islands as tourism destination as another option,” Alejano said.
Alejano also suggested providing the fishermen with sturdy vessels that would withstand the harsh waters of Scarborough and the West Philippine Sea, and with advanced communication system so they could contact authorities if harassed by Chinese ships.
“We can strategically deploy and train our fishermen to utilize the natural resources in the area. We could provide them with advanced communication system so that we could aid or defend them should they be threatened by Chinese ships,” Alejano said.
Alejano said the country can learn from the experience of Vietnam in protecting their interests in the disputed waters.
Alejano recalled that in the Haiyan Shiyou 981 standoff, Vietnam opposed the drilling of the Chinese oil rig in the waters near the Paracel Islands.
“The Philippines could derive a few lessons from Vietnam on how to defend our territory and be resolute in protecting our interests,” Alejano said.
The former marine captain maintained that the country should use the favorable United Nations arbitral decision to assert the country’s maritime rights over the resource-rich West Philippine Sea and even the Benham Rise, a biodiversity hotspot east of Luzon where recently Chinese ships had been spotted allegedly looking for submarine stations.
Alejano dared Duterte to be steadfast in asserting our country’s territory with the same vigor the President has in his war on drugs that has claimed over 8,000 lives already.
“Maging matapang siya at harapin ang Tsina sa mga usaping patungkol sa ating mga teritoryo, hindi ‘yung kapwa n’ya Pilipino ang pinapapapatay niya. Tandaan din niya na ang karamihan ng mga drogang ito ay nanggaling din sa Tsina (He should be brave and face China on this issue of our territory. He should not just kill our fellow Filipinos. He should be reminded that most of the drugs in the country come from China),” Alejano said.
Lawmakers earlier urged Duterte to be transparent about his deals with China, amid reports he had an arrangement with China to allow its surveillance ships in Benham Rise, a 13-million hectare mineral-rich undersea region east of Luzon.
This supposed arrangement was reportedly not known to Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana and acting Foreign Affairs Secretary Enrique Manalo.
The United Nations in 2012 declared Benham Rise as part of the Philippine continental shelf.
Alejano had said Duterte’s secret dealings with China constitute another impeachable offense of treason, which could form part of a supplemental impeachment complaint. IDL