Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte fired back at boxer-politician Manny Pacquiao after the senator told the Filipino leader to get tough against China over the West Philippine Sea (WPS) issue.
"Well, if it’s about foreign policy, I would not want to degrade him (Pacquiao) but next time he should – mag-aral ka muna nang husto bago ka pumasok (you should study hard before coming in). Apparently, this guy has a very shallow knowledge of (the WPS issue)," Duterte said in his rebuke of Pacquiao.
Pacquiao said that while he respects Duterte’s opinion of him, he "humbly disagrees with his assessment of my understanding of foreign policy.”
“I am a Filipino voicing out what needs to be said in defense of what has been adjudicated as rightfully ours,” Pacquiao said.
Pacquiao expressed regret that Duterte was misinformed about his criticism of the president's handling of the WPS issue.
“I firmly believe that my statement reflects the sentiment of majority of the Filipinos, that we should stand strong in protecting our sovereign rights while pursuing a peaceful and diplomatic solution to the dispute,” Pacquiao said.
Pacquiao reminded Duterte of his electoral campaign in 2016 where he vowed to ride a jet ski and plant the Philippine flag in the WPS to confront China’s intrusions. According to Pacquiao, the promise made him as well as many Filipinos vote for Duterte.
Duterte described the “jet ski” remark as a “pure campaign joke”.
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