If President Rodrigo Duterte was just joking about riding a jet ski to islands in the West Philippine Sea to claim it for the country, then he is a joke, a fisherman who asked the would-be Chief Executive about that during the 2016 presidential campaign said Wednesday.
Speaking to ABS-CBN’s Teleradyo, Carlo Montehermozo took offense to Duterte’s recent clarifications about the “bravado” of his statements on the disputed waterway and in challenging Chinese incursions there.
“Kaming mga mangingisda dito, masama ang loob namin. Ba’t gano’n lang, joke joke lang ‘yong sinabi niya sa akin noon? (The fishermen here are angry that what he said to me was just a joke.)” Montehermozo, who is based in Infanta, Pangasinan, told the radio program.
“Joke joke lang din siya naging presidente natin (He’s also a joke of a President),” he added.
Montehermozo had asked Duterte and other presidential candidates during a televised debate five years ago on what they could do for fishermen like him to peacefully fish in the country’s territorial waters without being driven away by the Chinese Coast Guard in the disputed South China Sea.
The fisherman, who was among 16 million people who voted for Duterte in the last presidential elections, said he felt deceived by the President’s seeming pledge back then.
“Even those who haven’t been to Scarborough Shoal, they told me, ‘Our President seems to have become forgetful.’ He made a promise but broke it,” he said in Filipino.
Montehermozo also blasted the President for calling those who believed in him back then as “stupid.”
“Hindi akong istupidong tao (I’m not stupid),” he said.
In the upcoming elections, Montehermozo said Filipinos must choose their leaders wisely.
“To our fellow countrymen, think wisely on who could help us,” he said.
Asked if he would vote for another member of the Duterte family if they seek the presidency, he said: “Iba nalang siguro. Ibang presidente nalang. ‘Pag Duterte naman, gano’n lang din. Kung ano ang puno, [siya ang] bunga ng mangga (Maybe just someone else. Another president. If it’s another Duterte, it’s just going to be the same. The fruit doesn’t fall far from the tree.)”
In his regular public address on Monday, Duterte said his 2016 campaign statement to ride a jet ski to challenge Chinese incursions in Philippine waters within the South China Sea was a “pure campaign joke” and that those believed it were “stupid.”
“Panahon sa kampanya ‘yan, at saka iyong biro na ‘yon, we call it bravado,” the President said of his remarks 5 years ago.
“Iyong bravado ko was a pure campaign joke, at kung naniniwala kayo sa kabila, pati na siguro si [retired Supreme Court Justice Antonio] Carpio, I would say you’re stupid,” he said in a taped speech, referring to the former justice who has been advocating for the defense of Philippine sovereignty in the South China Sea.