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Locsin’s remark vs. China not part of PH policy: Palace

May 04, 2021 - Tuesday 5:05 PM by PNA

Article Banner Image Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque (File photo)

MANILA – Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr.’s expletive-laced statement against China amid West Philippine Sea (WPS) disputes is not part of the Philippine government’s policy, Malacañang said on Tuesday.

This, after Locsin made a scathing remark against China due to the continued presence of Chinese vessels in WPS.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said President Rodrigo Duterte had instructed him to issue a statement that Cabinet officials are not authorized to use profanities, particularly in the “sensitive” field of diplomacy.

“Nililinaw ko po, upon expressed order of the President, hindi po ito ang polisiya ng Pilipinas. Klinaro po ito mismo ng ating Presidente (I am issuing a clarification, upon expressed order of the President, it is not a policy of the Philippines). The President already made a clarification with regard to this issue),” Roque said in a virtual presser.

Locsin, in a Twitter post on Monday, told China to “get the f*** out” of WPS.

The country’s top diplomat also questioned China’s sincerity because of its incursions into the Philippine waters despite its friendship with the Philippines.

Roque said Locsin’s statement against China is part of his “free speech.”

Locsin, nevertheless, already apologized to Chinese Ambassador Huang Xilian for his harsh remarks against China, Roque said.

Locsin told Roque in a phone conversation on Tuesday morning that his remarks were prompted by circumstances that made him lose his cool.

“Kami po ay nagkausap ni Secretary Locsin at pinaalam po niya sa akin na personal siyang nag-apologize po sa Chinese ambassador at ang nabanggit po niyang mga salita ay dahil lang sa mga bagay-bagay na naging dahilan para uminit ang kaniyang ulo (I talked with Secretary Locsin and he informed me that he personally apologized to the Chinese ambassador and that the words he said were prompted by things that made him lose his temper),” Roque said.

Roque also clarified that Duterte did not order Locsin to issue an apology.

“The President did not ask him to apologize but Secretary Locsin did it on his own,” he said.

In a public address delivered Monday night, Duterte reminded Philippine officials that there is no need for them to be “rude and disrespectful” despite the Philippines and China’s competing claims in WPS.

Apology meant for Wang Yi

Locsin, on the other hand, on Tuesday clarified that his apology was meant only for China's Foreign Minister and State Councilor Wang Yi following a story that he apologized to the Chinese government.

"To my friend Wang Yi only. Nobody else," he wrote on his Twitter.

He also confirmed that Duterte did not ask him to apologize and that he did it on his own.

"That’s right. I suddenly realized my friendship with Wang Yi was on the line so I tweeted my concern about our friendship. That must continue. He’s my idol in diplomacy. (I think his idol and mine is Lavrov.) I add Mike Pompeo. Blinken is emerging as a force in his own right," he said.

Meanwhile, Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto backed the concerned tweet, saying "it pays to have a foreign affairs secretary who is brave and brilliant because it will allow our country to punch above its weight."

"While we may not have missiles to launch, we possess something more potent – Locsin missives, against which no shield has been proven effective. He can make the enemy lose face before the entire world without us losing a single man," Recto said in a statement.

"Those who are saying that he should have couched his statements in diplomatese are missing the point. This is the knight of the King’s English. He is the diplomat 'who can tell you to go to hell in such an elegant way that you’ll look forward with pleasure to making the trip,'" he added.

‘Status quo’ maintained

China’s continued presence in WPS came despite the Philippines’ 2016 landmark victory against Beijing’s sweeping claims to nearly the entire South China Sea.

On July 12, 2016, the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague, Netherlands ruled that China has no legal basis to assert its extensive claims in the strategic waters.

Despite this, Roque said Duterte and Chinese President Xi Jinping have an “existing” agreement to maintain the “status quo” in WPS.

China, Roque said, even stopped its reclamation activities in WPS following Duterte’s appeal to honor the Philippines’ sovereign rights over the contested waters.

“Kung gugustuhin ng Tsina, wala pong makakapigil sa kaniya kung talagang gagawin niya muli yung ginawa niya sa panahon ng nakalipas na administrasyon (If China wants to proceed with its activities, no one can stop it just like what it did during the time of the past administration),” he said. “Tumutupad naman po sa ngayon ang Tsina sa kasunduan na status quo muna (China is honoring the agreement to maintain status quo).”

No falling out

Senator Manuel Pacquiao, an ally of Duterte, lamented Monday that the Chief Executive’s stance against China’s continued presence in WPS weakened.

Pacquiao’s latest statement has no impact on its current relationship with Duterte, Roque said.

“I don’t think there is a falling out. Hanggang ngayon po, nananatiling napakalaking fan ni Senator Pacquiao ang ating Presidente sa larangan ng palakasan, lalung-lalo na sa larangan ng boxing (Until now, the President remains a huge fan of Senator Pacquiao when it comes to sports and boxing),” Roque said.

The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) on Monday said it has protested the “shadowing, blocking, dangerous maneuver, and radio challenges” done by the Chinese Coast Guard on the vessels of the Philippine Coast Guard who were conducting legitimate patrols and training exercises in the vicinity of Bajo de Masinloc from April 24 and 25.

The DFA also lodged another diplomatic protest for the “incessant, illegal, prolonged, and increasing presence” of Chinese fishing vessels and maritime militia vessels in the country’s maritime zones. Ruth Abbey Gita-Carlos with reports from Joyce Rocamora