MANILA - Malacañang defended Tuesday Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr.’s "colorful language" on Twitter after he drew criticism for calling Vice President Leni Robredo "boba" (dumb).
Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said Locsin's way with words does not reduce his competence as the country's top diplomat.
"He is known for his colorful language, just like the late Senator Miriam was; in the same way that the President is also known for that. But this doesn’t diminish his competence to act as Secretary of Foreign Affairs," Panelo said in a Palace briefing, his comparison a reference to the late Sen. Miriam Defensor Santiago.
Panelo added that Locsin is also like President Rodrigo Duterte who is known for public cursing and off-the-cuff remarks.
"Eh ang Presidente naman natin, di ba ganun din ang style, pero nakita mo naman ang epekto. Look at the effect, when he cursed Mr. Obama, oh hindi ba bigla siyang tiningala ng buong mundo as an emerging world leader," he said.
(Our President has the same style but you can see the effect. Look at the effect when he cursed Mr. Obama, the world looked up to him as an emerging world leader.)
"He stood up. Alam mo kung minsan, marami ring nagagawa iyang ganyan," he said.
(Sometimes those remarks can do a lot.)
Panelo was referring to the time Duterte insulted former United States President Barack Obama by calling him a “son of a whore.” The Philippine leader later apologized for his statement.
Locsin on Monday berated Robredo on Twitter over her criticism on the cancellation of diplomatic passports, but quickly apologized.
"That’s no way for a gentleman to speak to a lady. Apologies," said Locsin, who is known for his unfiltered language online.
His quip at gentle-spoken Robredo drew flak online, with several expressing disappointment at his conduct as a public officer.
Opposition Sen. Francis Pangilinan on Tuesday said Locsin should be held accountable for such "rude, contemptuous, and insulting language" against his fellow opposition stalwart Robredo.
He said such act was in violation of Republic Act 6713 or the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees.
Panelo backed Locsin amid criticism on his "boba" remark saying the top diplomat should be credited for admitting his mistake.
"Napakahirap mag-admit ng mistake and he should be credited for that by apologizing," Panelo said.
(It's very difficult to admit your mistake and he should be credited for that by apologizing.)
He added that Locsin may have made the remark out of "exasperation."
"Siguro (maybe) something triggered him into saying that. Sabi ko nga kanina, siguro (like I said earlier, it may have been) out of exasperation. He was expecting more from a lawyer," Panelo said.
An active Twitter user, Locsin usually comments on news reports, responds to queries, and engages netizens through the social media platform.
At times, he also makes official announcements through Twitter.