Palace: Otso Diresto senatorial bets' raising of PH flags to assert claim over Scarborough "cheap political propaganda"
Malacanang said on Tuesday the opposition senatorial candidates' waving of Philippine flags along the Zambales shores to assert claim over Panatag/Bajo de Masinloc or Scarborough Shoal was "cheap political propaganda."
In a statement, Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said the visit of some Otso Diretso senatorial bets to Masinloc was a pure publicity stunt and this was apparently succeeding because the media was playing it up.
"We look at this cheap political propaganda as another dramatic opportunity to lambast the Duterte Administration’s foreign policy on China in full view of the cameras with the consequent free media mileage. They must be commended for their creativity. Surely they never run out of childish gimmickry," he said.
The Duterte administration has been taking a friendlier and softer stance with China despite the latter's continuous aggressive activities in the South China Sea, which it has been claiming even those areas within the 200 nautical miles exclusive economic zone of the Philippines.
Otso Derecho senatorial bets Magdalo party-list Rep. Gary Alejano, human rights lawyer Chel Diokno, former Solicitor General Florin Hilbay, and Marawi civic leader Samira Gutoc waved Philippine flags together with the local fishermen on Masinloc shores on April 8.
They were supposed to go to Scarborough Shoal, but the Philippine Coast Guard refused to issue permits to boat owners, Otso Diretso said.
Panelo blamed the previous Aquino administration why the China is taking control of the South China Sea, including the Scarborough Shoal.
"Lest they (Otso Diretso senatorial candidates) forget however, it is during the previous Administration which they want to be identified with, when we lost the disputed area in the South China Sea. It was also during their time that the Filipino fishermen, whom they said they are fighting for, were denied access to the same area around the shoal in 2012," he said.
"We wish them luck in their pretended patriotism. Hopefully soon they will be struck with the lightning of enlightenment and the the thunder of logical reasoning that they may tread the path of genuine nationalism," added Panelo, also chief presidential legal counsel. Celerina Monte/DMS