March 21, 2016
MANILA, Philippines – Presidential aspirant Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte said his rival, Senator Grace Poe, lacks the experience and the political will to protect the country’s national sovereignty from foreign threats.
The mayor issued the statement after the second PiliPinas 2016 presidential debate held at the University of the Philippines (UP) in Cebu on Sunday.
During the second round of the debate, each candidate was allowed to field one question directed to a fellow contender.
It was Duterte, who was designated to ask Poe a question.
“If elected as president, what would be the first steps that you would do if you are woken up in the middle of the night by a call informing you that the Chinese bombed two of our coast guard ships in Spratlys island?” Duterte asked the senator.
Among the answers that Poe gave were to modernize the Philippine military and to cooperate with other ASEAN countries in engaging China to follow a code of conduct on the West Philippine Sea.
Despite the senator’s response, Duterte pressed on his question.
“What would be the first three steps that you would do if you hear about the report?” he said.
Poe answered that the first thing she would do is to get up from her bed.
This elicited laughter from the audience.
Poe also said she will call several government agencies and meet with them to know what best course of action is needed.
In the end, Duterte said Poe gave indirect responses and failed to put forward concrete solutions to his questions.
The tough-talking mayor earlier said if elected, he will conduct bilateral talks with the government of China to assert the Philippines’ territorial rights.
“I will personally talk to China. I will not move an inch,” Duterte said.
“I will tell them that, ‘you are occupying areas which now belong to the Republic of the Philippines.’ I will also remind them of the last line of our national anthem, ‘ang mamatay nang dahil sayo’,” he added.