Malacañang on Sunday defended Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. for choosing a Chinese candidate over a Singaporean bet during the election of the highest post of the World Intellectual Property Organization.
Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo said the foreign affairs secretary based his decision on the competence of the candidates vying for the director-general post, after Singaporean Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishan took a jab at Locsin for choosing a Chinese bet instead of a fellow Southeast Asian.
“Sec. Teddy Boy Locsin was voting for a person or representative who is competent and should be given the job. It has nothing to do with whatever nationality,” Panelo said in a radio interview.
Singapore’s Intellectual Property chief executive Daren Tang won the WIPO election held in Geneva, Switzerland on Wednesday. His six-year term will begin on Oct. 1.
Tang earned 55 votes against Chinese candidate Wang Binying who merely garnered 28 votes to steal the nomination for the WIPO‘s top post.
He will replace Australian Francis Gurry though the former’s victory will still have to be confirmed during the WIPO General Assembly in May.
In a tweet on Thursday, Balakrishnan said Locsin should have expressed support to Tang.
Locsin, responding to Balakrishnan’s statement, said in his Twitter account that Singapore’s victory was “under strong Western pressure.”
He added that he voted in favor of Wang because “friend in need is friend indeed.”
Panelo said Locsin voted for Wang because he believed that the latter is deserving.
Asked if President Rodrigo Duterte is aware of Locsin’s preference, Panelo said: “The President does not have to know about anything that Secretary Teddy Boy Locsin does.”
“The President is only concerned about important things. But he does not have to know about the ordinary task of a Cabinet member,” Panelo added.
Since he took office in 2016, President Duterte sought closer ties with Beijing amid the territorial dispute in the South China Sea.