MANILA (UPDATE)- Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. criticized Vice President Leni Robredo Monday over her comments on the cancellation of diplomatic passports, then eventually said sorry for "being disrespectful."
"Will someone please do her the kindness to give her a brain? Here I am trying to do what's right, which is to restrict diplomatic passports to real existing working diplomats so as not to devalue them abroad—and not pass them out as favors to retirees and friends," Locsin said.
"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 said in a tweet reacting to a news report on Robredo's comments.
Robredo earlier questioned the Department of Foreign Affairs' decision to cancel all diplomatic passports of former government officials.
The DFA announced the cancellation after the country's former top diplomat, Albert del Rosario, was held in Hong Kong Friday. He used a diplomatic passport for his trip.
But less than an hour after his outburst, Locsin immediately apologized to Robredo, saying he didn't mean to be disrespectful.
"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 in another tweet.
"That’s no way for a gentleman to speak to a lady. Apologies," he said in another tweet.
Lawyer Barry Gutierrez, spokesperson of Robredo, meanwhile said Monday Locsin should cancel his own diplomatic passport if he really wants to limit the privilege to "real, working diplomats."
"Cancelling 'courtesy' diplomatic passports after China refused to honor Sec ADR’s (Albert Del Rosario's) is not promoting professionalism but justifying cowardice," Gutierrez said in a tweet he posted minutes after Locsin's.
"Besides, if [Locsin] really wanted to limit these passports to 'real, working diplomats' he should start by cancelling his own," he said.
Del Rosario, the country's top diplomat during the presidency of Benigno Aquino III, had flown to Hong Kong for a business meeting on Friday but was barred entry for unspecified immigration reasons.
The country's former top diplomat said that since his passport carries the seal of the Republic of the Philippines, disrespecting the passport bearer "is to disrespect the Republic."
"The matter then becomes a legitimate issue for the state to deal with and defend its seal. For that we should rely on our public officials," Del Rosario had said in a statement.
Malacañang also said Del Rosario may have "misused" his diplomatic passport.