MANILA - Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. may have violated the law when he insulted Vice President Leni Robredo on social media, Senator Francis Pangilinan said Tuesday.
Locsin criticized Robredo Monday over her comments on the cancellation of diplomatic passports, then eventually said sorry for "being disrespectful."
Pangilinan, president of the opposition Liberal Party, said while Locsin has already apologized, “we strongly condemn his rude, contemptuous, and insulting language for VP Leni Robredo in social media.”
“This kind of insolence and disrespect has no place in a civilized society and especially coming from the Secretary of the Department of Foreign Affairs, the office primarily responsible for the country's international diplomatic relations,” he said in a statement.
Pangilinan said Locsin’s behavior was in violation of Republic Act 6713 or the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees.
"His insults and impertinence are very unprofessional and notwithstanding his apology, he should be held to account," Pangilinan said.
"This should not end in an apology, this should serve as a lesson to him and other officials who show disrespect for their fellow men and women."
Pangilinan said Locsin also "puts the country at risk and shame with his actions and words."
The tiff between Locsin and Robredo’s camp started after the foreign affairs chief canceled the diplomatic passport of former foreign affairs chief Albert del Rosario, a move the vice president questioned.
Responding to Robredo’s criticism of the move, Locsin called the vice-president “boba” on Twitter, only to apologize less than an hour later.
Robredo’s spokesperson Barry Gutierrez said Locsin should cancel his own diplomatic passport if he really wants to limit the privilege to "real, working diplomats."
"Canceling '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."