It’s “colorful language,” says the Palace of Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin’s social media post insulting Vice President Leni Robredo.
“Hey boba, that is precisely why I have ordered the cancellation of all courtesy diplomatic passports because I refuse to single out Del Rosario," Locsin tweeted, in block letters, earlier this week. He was reacting to a story that reported Robredo had warned against the cancellation of ‘courtesy diplomatic passports.’ The practice was brought to light when Locsin’s predecessor, Ambassador Albert del Rosario, was detained for six hours at the Hong Kong airport on Friday.
Locsin has since apologized for his Twitter outburst.
“I don't mean to be disrespectful Ma'am. You are just a missing heartbeat away from the Presidency. I respect you for that accident of fortune. But there are things that require a measure of study and thought. Please ask me next time. At your service, Ma'am," he said.
He apologized again, adding his statement was no way for a gentleman to speak to a lady.
All seems forgiven, as Robredo herself says she refuses to dignify the insult by commenting, and as Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo has said Locsin’s tweeting habits did not reduce his competence as the country’s top diplomat.
Panelo did not miss the opportunity to compare Locsin to President Duterte, reminding the people that when the President cursed at US President Barack Obama, he was looked upon by the international community as an emerging world leader. How Panelo came to this fantastical conclusion escapes us.
Panelo also said Locsin should get credit for apologizing. How about thinking before tweeting, a tenet so elementary we teach it to our children?
This is not the first time Locsin has taken to social media to express his sentiments, and in equally colorful language. On the surface, it can be said: Official statements are for official pronouncements; Twitter—because it is so easy to pick up one’s phone and use 140 characters to satiate the immediate need for self-expression—is personal. For public officials, however, that line does not exist. People will not stop to think: Who might have been speaking—the individual or the secretary?
Foreign Affairs is already tricky, even treacherous, territory. It requires objective thinking, a calm disposition, clear logic—and a lot of temperance. Filipinos will feel better if we are represented by somebody who does not lose his bearings at the slightest provocation. “Color” is good in many places, but not in diplomacy.
In defending Locsin, Panelo also invoked the memory of the late Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago. We agree Santiago was always colorful, but she had class—and was never, ever boorish or crass.