Senator Manny Pacquiao said he felt discouraged by recent remarks aired by President Rodrigo Duterte on the issue of China’s intrusion in the West Philippine Sea. 

Duterte, who Pacquiao supported in the last Presidential Elections, said on Monday (May 3) during his Talk to the People address that he did not promise to retake the disputed WPS when he was campaigning as a candidate in 2016. 

“I never, never in my campaign as president promised the people that I would retake the West Philippine Sea. I did not promise that I would pressure China. I never mentioned about China and the Philippines in my campaign because that was a very serious matter. We need to have a diplomatic talkatise diyan. Eh hindi ako diyan… nandiyan sa ating Foreign Affairs, trabaho nila ‘yan. I never… Kayo, you pretended to work on it. Ako, wala kasi wala naman akong… I never promised anything,” Duterte said during his weekly address. 

However, the country’s top-most executive, in the past, released a statement contradicting his present stance – announced during the height of the election period. 

“I will ask the Navy to bring me to the nearest boundary diyan sa Spratly, Scarborough. Bababa ako, sasakay ako ng jet ski, dala-dala ko ‘yung flag ng Pilipino at pupunta ako run sa airport nila. Itanim ko then I would say, ‘This is ours and do what you want with me,” Duterte said during the 2016 Presidential Debates.

However, in 2018, Duterte backtracked on his remarks, claiming he was joking. 

“Iyong sabi ko mag-jet ski ako doon sa China, ay kalokohan ‘yon. Wala gani akong heaven road. Istorya lang man ‘yon. Maniwala pala kayo,” the former Davao City mayor said. 

Pacquiao reacts

According to Pacquiao, he felt disheartened over the president’s revelations. 

“Nakakapanghina kasi iba sa simula. Narinig natin bago mag-eleksyon, sa kampanya, nung sinabi niya na mag-jet ski siya dala ang bansang Pilipinas. Sa puso ko noon, sabi ko, ito na iboboto ko,” he said during a virtual press conference on Monday (May 3).

At the time, Pacquiao noted that he felt empowered by Duterte’s pronouncements on retaking WPS and stopping China’s Illegal activities in the disputed zone. However, at present, he feels that the president’s stance on the issue is ‘lacking.’

“Yung statemant niya bago siya tumakbo na mag-jetski, ipaglaban niya ang West Philippine sea, na magdala siya ng flag na itayo niya doon, yun ay nagbgay ng encouragement sa ating kababayan. Lumakas ang loob natin. Sabi ko, ito yung gusto ko tapos pagdating ng panahon nag-buckle buckle tayo,” the boxer-turned-politician said. 

“Nakukulangan ako doon kumpara doon sa bago siya tumakbo eleksyon pa lang. Dapat ituloy niya yun para magkaroon ng respeto sa atin ang China,” Pacquiao stressed. 

A falling out?

Due to Pacquiao’s recent voicing of dismay over the Duterte administration’s waning stance regarding the issue of China intruding on Philippine waters, speculations of a falling out between the two PDP-laban party members emerged. 

However, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque was quick to dismiss the claims, saying the president is still a huge fan of Pacquiao, especially his contributions to the Philippines as a professional boxer. 

“I don’t think there is a falling out. Hanggang ngayon po, nananatiling napakalaking fan ni Senator Pacquiao ang ating Presidente sa larangan ng palakasan lalo na sa larangan ng boxing. Hanggang doon na lang po tayo,” Roque said in a recent online press meeting. 

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Image credit: Ted Aljibe and Jeoffrey Maitem via Getty Images