By Kaela Patricia Gabriel

PHOTO: Presidential Photos

Sen. Manny Pacquiao on Wednesday stood by his earlier remark criticizing President Rodrigo Duterte’s foreign policy on the West Philippine Sea. 

"I regret that the President was misinformed regarding my statement on the West Philippine Sea Issue. I firmly believe that my statement reflects the sentiment of the 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 in a statement. 

Last Tuesday, Duterte said his party mate Pacquiao should study foreign policy better after the lawmaker said he finds the President’s response to Chinese aggression in the West Philippine Sea as “lacking.” 

"It's about foreign policy, I wouldn't want to degrade him but, next time, he should – mag-aral ka muna nang husto bago ka gumawa ng statement," said Duterte in an interview with religious leader Apollo Quiboloy.

While the Duterte ally said he respects the President’s opinion, Pacquiao also “humbly disagrees” with what the chief executive pronounced bettling his 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, ”he added, urging the government to stand strong in protecting the country’s sovereign rights through pursuing “a peaceful and diplomatic solution to the dispute.”

Pacquiao earlier criticized the President’s stance on the West Philippine Sea issue amid Chinese incursions despite a 2016 international arbitral ruling which invalidated Beijing’s 9-dash line and favored Manila. 

“Narinig natin bago mag-election, sa pangangampanya, noong sinabi niya na mag-jet ski siya dala ‘yong watawat ng Pilipinas doon, eh siyempre kahit ako sa puso ko, ito na ‘yong iboboto ko dahil ito ‘yong dapat na presidente, kailangan natin na ipaglaban ‘yong bansa natin,” Pacquiao recalled.