President Rodrigo Duterte has said there was no way he would have ridden a jet ski to the disputed Scarborough Shoal as he proclaimed in a debate during the presidential campaign earlier this year.
In an interview with Al Jazeera that aired over the weekend, Duterte said it was a hyperbole to drive home the point that he would not give up any of the country's claims in the South China Sea.
"It was a hyperbole... You cannot expect me to ride (a jet ski), I don't even know how to swim," Duterte said when asked why he has yet to deliver on the campaign promise to ride out in a jet ski to the disputed territories and plant the Philippine flag there.
"If it overturns you lose a president," he added.
Duterte's remarks came a few days before he was to hold bilateral talks with China in Beijing.
Asked why he made the remark in the first place, Duterte said, "It was a hyperbole to stress a point that we will not, we will not give up anything there."
"Nobody's going to give up anything," Duterte said.
Duterte said he was not turning his back on the country's claims and the favorable Permanent Court of Arbitration ruling that found China's nine-dash-line theory invalid.
"Nobody in the constitution allows anybody to give it up. Even the President cannot give it up. Those are our entitlements," Duterte said referring to the Philippines' exclusive economic zone guaranteed by the United Nations Conventions on the Law of the Sea.
"Every country in the world has its own fish pond... You cannot give it up. You can only neotiate to prevent war," he added.
Duterte indicated that the country could not afford a war to press its claims.
"We have this judgment, right? Two things. I can go ino a rage because it is being occupied... to go into a rage and fight and the other is to talk,"Duterte said.
"What do you think will happen to my country if I choose to go to war? I fight alone
or I will call upon the other countries to help me. Who? Who will die for my country except us?" he added. —NB, GMA News