Putting it politely

"The President’s full-throated defense of Beijing is woefully inadequate and singularly out of step with the sentiments of his people."


There was some irony in seeing the most profane president in our history lecture us on how we should not be rude or disrespectful.

The same president who once called US President Barack Obama a son of a whore and who cursed at the Pope for causing a traffic jam when he was in Manila now says there is no room for profanity in diplomacy.

The President’s latest sermon on etiquette was triggered by Foreign Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr.’s tweet regarding China’s continuing refusal to vacate waters within the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone in the West Philippine Sea.

“China, my friend, how politely can I put it? Let me see... O... GET THE FUCK OUT,” Locsin tweeted on Monday.

That same evening, the President was on TV, saying in a recorded speech that the country’s territorial dispute with China in the West Philippine Sea was no reason to be rude and disrespectful toward them as they remain the country’s “benefactor.”

“As a matter of fact, we have many things to thank China for their help in the past and the help they’re giving now,” he added, clearly referring to the COVID-19 vaccines that Beijing donated.

The President did not mention Locsin, but the reference was clear.

His mouthpiece the next day pushed the same line, saying, “In diplomacy, there is no place for profanities.”

“The President’s message to all Cabinet members is only the President can curse. No one else can follow him. The President’s message is there is no room for expletives in the field of diplomacy,” he added.

Chastised for his Twitter outburst, Locsin apologized, but only, he said, to his friend, his counterpart in China and “nobody else.”

The face-saving distinction fooled nobody, though. The Foreign secretary had been dressed down and had to eat humble pie.

Afterward, the Chinese Foreign Ministry crowed.

“Facts have proven time and time again that megaphone diplomacy can only undermine mutual trust rather than change reality,” a spokesperson said. “We hope that certain individuals from the Philippine side will mind basic manners and act in ways that suit his status.”

But if Locsin was the goat in the Palace, his stock rose considerably in the Senate, which hailed him for having the courage to speak out against a bully that has been stealing our territory.

Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto said Locsin allowed the Philippines to punch above its weight by giving China a tongue-lashing over its illegal intrusion in the West Philippine Sea.

“Mabuhay po kayo (Long live) Secretary Locsin!” Recto said.

“While we may not have missiles to launch, we possess something more potent – Locsin missives, against which no shield has been proven effective,” Recto continued. “He can make the enemy lose face before the entire world without us losing a single man.”

Senator Panfilo Lacson, on the other hand, pushed for a review of the country’s diplomatic ties with China.

Noting that Beijing has brushed aside all diplomatic protests, Lacson said: “What kind of friend—or benefactor—would take what is ours, bully us, and ignore our protests?”

Senator Leila de Lima decried the President’s admonition to his Cabinet, saying it was China that was disrespecting the Philippines by refusing to acknowledge our sovereignty over our exclusive economic zone in the West Philippine Sea.

Increasingly, it is becoming apparent that in the middle of a Chinese power grab in the West Philippine Sea, the President’s full-throated defense of Beijing is woefully inadequate and singularly out of step with the sentiments of his people. And that’s putting it politely.

Topics: Editorial , Foreign Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. , China , exclusive economic zone , West Philippine Sea , China , diplomacy
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