President Rodrigo Duterte said anyone who believed his campaign hyperbole was not very intelligent at his weekly address to the nation.
Specifically, anyone who believed that he would really ride a jet ski and plant a Philippine flag in Scarborough Shoal as he promised during his 2016 campaign did not know the difference between a joke and hyperbole-enhanced political promise that he intended to fulfill, Duterte said.
He said his “jet ski promise” was nothing but a “pure campaign joke.”
To anyone who believed the promise, “I would say you are really stupid,” he said.
Analysts and even his political allies were aghast at the statement, reminding the President that whatever he says, especially with regards to the West Philippine Sea and the country’s worsening differences with China, could be construed as a foreign policy, and therefore binding.
Duterte brought up his jet ski promise last week. For the first time, he said he was never serious about that promise, as he didn’t even know how to swim.
The comment was a follow-up to the previous week’s address to the nation, when he said that he never promised to get back the West Philippine Sea from China.
In the same briefing, the President appeared to contradict himself when he said he was actually planning on pushing through with the jet ski stunt, going so far as to buy a second-hand jet ski.
Unfortunately, that second hand watercraft needed spare parts, he said. “Up to now, the spare parts I ordered have not arrived,” he added.
He then said he was afraid that massive waves might cause his jet ski to capsize, and he could drown.
But his critics and even allies were not amused.
None more so than a fisherman who asked then candidate Duterte what he would do about the Chinese incursions in Philippine waters.
In one of the 2016 presidential debates, Carlo Montehermozo of Pangasinan asked Duterte what he would do to help his fellow fisherfolk, whose livelihoods had been seriously affected by Chinese ships, some of which took offensive actions such as using hoses on them to drive them away from the country’s rich fishing grounds.
Montehermozo asked, “Was everything he said back then a joke?”
He then said he was not stupid, adding that his fellow fisherfolk had told him that the President was already suffering from dementia.
Montehermozo said the real joke was Duterte’s being elected president. He said the electorate should elect a worthy leader in 2022, and not a candidate similar to Duterte.
Meanwhile, a lawmaker warned Duterte against making light of his campaign promises as those who voted him felt betrayed.
Magdalo Party-list Rep. Manuel Cabochan III said, “The Filipino people are not stupid. The 16 million who voted for Duterte were deceived bigtime. Duterte intentionally lied to the people. He betrayed their trust. So, please do not insult them by calling them stupid.”
Over the weekend, Duterte made his strongest statement yet regarding China’s attempts to take control of the West Philippine Sea.
He said the Chinese could kill him if they wanted to but unless Chinese ships left Philippine waters immediately, the close ties between China and the Philippines would come to an end.The stand was also an apparent retraction of his claim that the county’s victory over China before the Permanent Court of Arbitration was nothing more than “a piece of paper” that can easily be discarded.