After drawing flak, Teddy Locsin Jr. defends 'Tagalog' comment

Rose Carmelle Lacuata, ABS-CBN News

MANILA - Former lawmaker and ''#NoFilter'' host Teddy Locsin Jr. on Monday explained his view on the use of the Filipino language in debates, after he drew flak for urging candidates to speak only in English.

During the second leg of the PiliPinas presidential debates, Locsin tweeted about his opinion on the use of Tagalog in debates, saying that the use of the language for debate "should be discouraged."

Locsin's tweets received flak from netizens, especially from Filipino language advocates and members of the academe.

But he shrugged these off, even telling his critics to "grow up."

"If you really have something, show me that it is a good language. That it is effective in debate, that it can get its point across," Locsin said on ANC Alerts on Monday.

Locsin said that "Tagalog" can be used in a debate only if it is straight to the point.

"You can also say it in Tagalog if you are a Ted Failon and not a Chiz (Escudero), then it's derecho, the way they speak, the way Ted speaks, the way Luchi (Cruz-Valdez) spoke during the debate. It sounded like English to me because it was clear and to the point," he said.

Locsin was referring to the part of the debate where Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte asked Senator Grace Poe what she would do if she gets a call early in the morning about China sinking two Philippine ships.

For Locsin, Poe could have easily answered the question in English.

"What you simply say is this: 3 o'clock, you wake me up, 3 o'clock in the morning? I'm sending my jets. And whether they come back or not, it makes no sense to me, because if they don't come back, then war has been declared between the United States of America and China over the sinking of two of my ships. Period. Then you are a leader," he said.

Locsin said that for him, Duterte won the debate, partly because he communicated well while speaking in English.

"He spoke it like a real man, Hemingway style. Few words and to the point," said Locsin.

He also pointed out that Luchi Cruz-Valdez, who was moderating the debate, was able to effectively communicate in Tagalog, despite the tense situation.

"Luchi did it. That was a confused situation for her, because she got the point across. In spite of the terrible situation, she was in control, and she did it in Tagalog," Locsin said.

His advice for the candidates? Use any language they want as long as they can get their message across clearly.

"Say what you want, but be clear. My advice to the candidates, it's your neck that's on the line. It's not me and what language you want to use, or what language I like. You failed to do a Duterte and you just lose the debate," Locsin said.

CRITICISMS

National Artist for Literature and Komisyon sa Wikang Filipino commissioner Virgilio S. Almario, released a statement on the issue, wherein he said that a debate becomes circular not because of the language, but because of the people debating.

Almario lamented Locsin's point of view, noting that such thinking is a manifestation that he looks down on the native language.

"Bunga ito ng mababà niyang pagtingin sa katutubong wika. Para sa kaniya, at sa mga tulad niyang Inglesero, ang Ingles lámang ang pinakaperpekto at pinakamahusay na lengguwahe sa mundo. At iyon ang malaking problema para sa kaniya. Hindi niya matatanggap na walang wikang taal na superyor at/o imperyor. Sa halip, ang antas ng pag-unlad ng bawat wika ay depende sa gumagamit," Almario said.

Almario also cited that debates have been done in Filipino for so long.

"Ni hindi yata alam ni Teddy Boy na nagdedebate halos linggo-linggo ang mga tao sa barberya, sa kanto, palengke, at kahit sa mga karihan. At nagiging napakainit ang kanilang bakbakan, nagiging mahayap ang palitan ng mga salitâ, kung minsan ay nauuwi sa suntukan (at tagaan), at hindi Ingles ang kanilang ginagamit na wika," Almario said.

"Hindi Ingles, kayâ mas nagkakaintindihan silá, mas tumatalab ang insultuhan, mas mabilis ang sagutan. Hindi “circular shitty,” katulad ng mga debate sa Batasan dahil naghihirap umi-Ingles ang mga kongresman at senador," he added.

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