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Fisherman Who Elicited 'Jet Ski' Promise From Duterte Says He Believed Him

Carlo Montehermozo says don't call him stupid.
by Pia Regalado
May 12, 2021
Photo/s: Screenshot from ABS-CBN News
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A fisherman from Pangasinan who elicited then Mayor Rodrigo Duterte's campaign promise to ride a jet ski to the Spratlys during a 2016 presidential debate said Wednesday he voted for him because of that pledge, only to be let down.

Duterte said last Monday that his remark was a "campaign joke" and that he would have died had he gone all the way from mainland Palawan to the disputed reefs just to plant the Philippine flag.

Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo said Filipinos should use their "common sense" to tell the President's jokes apart from his policy statements. Panelo also accused critics of "twisting" Duterte's pronouncements.

Fisherman Carlo Montehermozo told ABS-CBN's Teleradyo that he should not be considered stupid for taking the jet ski promise seriously.

"Ang alam namin, kaming mangingisda dito matutulungan kami sa sinabi ko sa kanya e. 'Yun pala joke lang pala 'yung sinasabi n'yang 'yun, e kaming mangingisda dito masama loob namin, joke-joke lang 'yung sinabi n'ya sa akin noon," Montehermozo said.

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Montehermozo said he was upset over the undelivered promise. "Siyempre 'yun ang sinabi n'ya, inaasahan namin 'yun na gagawin n'ya."

MORE ON WEST PHILIPPINE SEA:

Duterte Likens Philippines' Legal Win vs China to 'Piece of Paper'

China Can't Impose Fishing Ban on Filipinos in West PH Sea: Officials

WATCH: How Filipino Coast Guard Stands Up to China in West PH Sea

It was on ABS-CBN, now shuttered by the President's allies in Congress, that the debate aired in 2016. At that time, Duterte was starting to pull away from his rivals in the surveys.

Since Duterte's remarks that the jet ski promise was a joke, social media users have cut and reposted portions of the 2016 PiliPinas Debates, where Montehermozo asked the five presidential candidates: “Ano ang puwede n’yong gawin para sa aming mangingisda na hindi kami mataboy ng Chinese coast guard at para makapamingwit kami nang mabuti at mapayapa?

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To which Duterte replied: "I will ask the Navy to bring me to the nearest boundary diyan sa Spratly – Scarborough. Bababa ako, sasakay ako ng jet ski, dala-dala ko 'yung flag ng Pilipino at pupunta ako doon sa airport nila tapos itanim ko, then I would say, ‘This is ours and do what you want with me.’ Bahala na kayo."

Duterte said those who took that "joke" as a promise must be stupid, including retired Supreme Court Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio, who took up the President's challenge for a debate on the West Philippine Sea, from which the chief executive later backed out of.

"Nasaktan naman, nagpangako siya ng ganun tapos 'di nya tinupad... Hindi ako stupidong tao," Montehermozo said.

To voters in the 2022 elections, he offered this advice: "Pag-isipan na lang mabuti kung sino talaga 'yung makakatulong talaga sa ating mga kababayan."

Since taking over from former President Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III in 2016, Duterte sought to establish closer economic and political ties with China, refusing to flaunt Manila's victory over Beijing in an international court. Aquino initiated the case but the verdict was handed down barely a month into Duterte's term.

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The Permanent Court of Arbitration based in The Hague invalidated China's vast claims to the South China Sea. Beijing refused to recognize this.

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