China has offered to provide an airplane for President Duterte for his air travels but the tough-talking leader is hesitant to use the new aircraft.
The President admitted that he was concerned such China-made aircraft might put his life in danger, saying he still prefers to take the commercial planes.
“Kasi ang China nagsabi daw they are worried of me, kaya nagku-kuwan na magbigay ng eroplano ko na, ay susmarya, ‘yan na,” the President said in his remarks before Philippine Air Force personnel last Tuesday night.
“Baka walang fuse ‘yang isa, puputok ‘yung isa, tapos na tayo,” he said in jest, aware of the country’s tense maritime conflict with China in the South China Sea.
The President maintained that he feels safe and comfortable taking commercial planes for his travels here and abroad.
“Okay na ako sa PAL pati Cebu Pacific. Okay man yan, mas safe diyan pati kapkap. Okay man lahat, I mean I do not see any danger there diyan,” he said.
Later, the President said he might just give the new plane to augment the fleet of the Air Force.
“Bigay ko sa Air Force, sige gamitin ninyo ‘yan kasi bahala na kayo diyan, inyo na ‘yan. So that is it. It’s almost five billion plus,” he added.
Duterte earlier ordered the conversion of all aircraft assigned to the Presidential Airlift Wing into air ambulances for the military. He said it was best to put these aircrafts to good use unless they “rot to death.”
With no presidential plane, the President has taken either private and commercial aircraft in his visits here and abroad. He earlier said his wealthy classmates including former businessman and now Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade, actually shoulder payment for his private helicopter rides. (GENALYN KABILING)