FORT MAGSAYSAY, Nueva Ecija — The First Family nearly triggered a diplomatic row with China had its planned visit to Panatag Shoal pushed through.
President Duterte recently revealed that his daughter wanted to venture to the disputed island to assert the country’s territorial rights but stopped her on her tracks to avoid escalating the tension.
It was his strong-willed Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte who thought of the Panatag visit and managed to convince her brothers Paolo and Sebastian to join the trip, according to the President.
“‘Yung anak kong babae ‘yung mayor, galit na galit rin. Gusto niyang pumunta ng Panatag. Wow, huwag ’yun,” the President said during his talk with soldiers at Fort Magsaysay in Nueva Ecija.
“‘Yung kapatid niyang dalawang malalaki, mga uto-uto ’yun sa kanya. Pag sinabi ng babae, go go go yan silang tatlo,” he added.
Duterte said he told Sara to abandon her plan to visit Panatag, citing the importance of restraint as the country moves to start bilateral talks with China on the maritime dispute.
“I had to persuade her, sabi ko, ‘We are in a very delicate situation now, and we are talking.’ So tayo, whatever there is any issue, public, ano lang, go straight. Hindi muna tayo maghanap ng away, at least hindi manggaling sa atin,” he said.
Duterte recalled that he was strongly advised to try to dissuade his daughter from making the trip to Panatag.
He admitted that he even told an “ambassador” about his daughter’s plan.
“Sabi ko, ‘Ambassador, galit na galit ‘yung – galit na galit ‘yung anak ko bakit daw nang-agaw raw kayo ng teritoryo sa Pilipinas,” he added.
Fortunately, Duterte managed to diffuse a potential conflict.
“Mabuti nalang I was able to – eh maldita ‘yan si Inday eh, nanununtok ng sheriff,” he said.
The President, however, said the military must always be prepared for any event amid the territorial dispute with China.
“Just like any other country in this world, we have to have a strong Armed Forces. We have to have a military that can really protect the people, and the integrity of this department,” he said. (GENALYN KABILING)