DAVAO CITY, Philippines — The visit of President Rodrigo Duterte on Tuesday, May 15 in Casiguran, Aurora for the send-off of 50 Filipino scientists who will conduct scientific studies at the Philippine Rise and the subsequent jet skiing performed by his son Sebastian “Baste” Duterte and Special Assistant to the President (SAP) Christopher “Bong” Go were nothing but political exploits.
This was the assessment made by Senator Leila de Lima in a dispatch she wrote in Camp Crame and sent to the media on Wednesday, May 16.
“The Philippine Navy-escorted jet ski exploits of presidential son Baste Duterte and official sidekick Bong Go off the waters of Casiguran, Aurora is a total embarrassment to the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP). Naval and air resources that were painstakingly acquired throughout the past administration are wasted on cheap political stunts of the Chinese puppet president,” de Lima said.
She added that the newest vessels and fighter jets acquired by the Philippine Navy and the Philippine Air Force were “used and turned against the armed services to embarrass themselves before the whole world in a misdirected show of bravado.”
The senator was referring to the newly-acquired Tarlac-class sealift vessels of the Navy and the FA-50 fighter jets of the Air Force.
Duterte only managed to deliver a message during the send-off onboard the Navy’s BRP Davao del Sur and failed to fulfill his promise to sail to Philippine Rise.
Such failure was also blasted by various groups and critics, saying that Duterte nosedived from his campaign promise to sail via jet ski, with a Philippine flag to the waters being contested with other countries such as China.
The President was joined in Casiguran by Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana; the National Security Adviser Secretary Hermogenes Esperon, AFP Chief of Staff General Carlito Galves and other top government officials.
But more than the audacity that Duterte exhibited on Tuesday in Casiguran, De Lima also portrayed the event as a complete waste of government resources.
“Our armed forces waste taxpayers’ money to patronize their Commander-in-Chief in his propaganda whim, while their troops on Pag-asa Island and Ayungin Shoal continue to be harassed by a PLA (Peoples’ Liberation Army of China) backed by missiles and fighter jets stationed only kilometers from their outposts,” she said.
Until now, De Lima said the Department of National Defense (DND) continue to miss the mark by not having a clear response to the missile threat of China.
Instead, the DND “choose to humor their Commander-in-Chief by obliging his son and sidekick to a ridiculous but expensive show,” de Lima added.
Finally, De Lima made this appeal to the AFP: “If you cannot yet give the Filipino people a proper response to the Chinese threat in our Kalayaan territories in the WPS (West Philippine Sea), at least refrain from further embarrassing yourselves and the entire armed forces of the Filipino people in front of the whole world. (davaotoday.com)