The four Otso Diretso candidates were trying to pull off another “publicity stunt” by reminding President Rodrigo R. Duterte of his campaign promise that he would ride a jet ski to assert the country’s rights over the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea), Malacañang said on Tuesday.
Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo brushed aside their challenge, noting that it was an attempt to criticize President Rodrigo R. Duterte’s policy on China.
“The visit of some Otso Diretso candidates to Masinloc, Zambales is a pure publicity stunt and it is apparently succeeding because media is playing it up,” Panelo said in a statement.
“We look at this cheap political propaganda as another dramatic opportunity to lambast the Duterte administration’s foreign policy on China in full view of the cameras with the consequent free media mileage,” he added.
Duterte has decided to temporarily shelve the international arbitration court’s verdict that nullified China’s nine-dash line map and prioritize bilateral ties and economic benefits.
Panelo said the opposition bets should also be commended for their creativity since they never seemed to run out of “childish gimmickry.”
“We wish them luck in their pretended patriotism,” Panelo said.
He, meanwhile, expressed hope that the four Otso Diretso bets would be “struck with the lightning of enlightenment and the thunder of logical reasoning that they may tread the path of genuine nationalism”.
The Presidential Spokesperson reminded them that it was during the administration of President Benigno Aquino III when the Philippines “lost the disputed area” and fishermen were barred to fish there.
“They forget however, it is during the previous administration which they want to be identified with, when we lost the disputed area in the South China Sea,” Panelo said.
“It was also during their time that the Filipino fishermen, whom they said they are fighting for, were denied access to the same area around the shoal in 2012,” he added.
This dare was made by Magdalo Rep. Gary Alejano, former Solicitor General Florin Hilbay, Marawi civic leader Samira Gutoc, and human rights lawyer Chel Diokno during their visit to Masinloc Fish Port, Zambales on Monday.
The four opposition candidates were in Masinloc, Zambales to meet fishermen and assure them that they would assert the country’s rights and defend their livelihood. (PNA)