MANILA, Philippines (3rd UPDATE) – The Philippines’ top diplomat, Foreign Secretary Teodoro “Teddyboy” Locsin Jr, has been accused of undiplomatic behavior after he blasted expletives at an Inquirer journalist for tweeting President Rodrigo Duterte’s absence at the closing ceremony of the 35th Association of Southeast Asian Nations Summit.
“Uh, did you get the putangina I sent you? That’s the last event, purely ceremonial and short. [Indonesian President] Jokowi had left, [Malaysian President] Mahathir too,” Locsin tweeted on Tuesday, November 5.
Locsin was responding to Inquirer Journalist Jhesset Enano, who had been assigned to cover the 35th Association of Southeast Asian Nations Summit in Thailand, after she tweeted a photo that showed Locsin sitting in for Duterte at the summit’s closing ceremony.
“Foreign Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr sits with other world leaders at the closing ceremony of the 35th Asean Summit in Thailand. President Duterte appears to have skipped this event, too,” Enano tweeted.
Uh, did you get the putangina I sent you? That's the last event, purely ceremonial and short. Jokowi had left, Mahathir too. https://t.co/sE6aoB0F6J— Teddy Locsin Jr. (@teddyboylocsin) November 5, 2019
‘Be more polite, Honorable Sir’
In an official statement on Wednesday, November 6, the Philippine Daily Inquirer took offense at Locsin’s “profane and insulting” response to Enano.
“The Philippine Daily Inquirer takes umbrage at the profane and insulting tweet addressed by Foreign Secretary Teodoro Locsin, Jr. to PDI reporter Jhesset Enano on November 5. It was unbecoming of a diplomat and public official, and totally undeserved by Enano, who was doing her job reporting on President Duterte at the Asean summit with the professionalism, focus and comprehensiveness that our readers deserve,” the Inquirer said.
The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) meanwhile hit Locsin’s tweet as unbecoming, saying his response was “uncalled for.”
“The tweet simply stated a fact and insinuated nothing. It is a shame since [Locsin] is fond of boasting about his journalistic past,” NUJP chair Nonoy Espina said in an Inquirer report.
Meanwhile, the Foreign Correspondents Association of the Philippines (FOCAP) said they were “alarmed” by the “abusive and harassing profanity” displayed in Locsin’s tweet. The group said it was “ironic” Locsin, the country’s top diplomat and a former journalist himself, made the remark.
“Secretary Locsin can take up any issue with the media or any sector firmly. But needless to say, he has to speak with civility and within the bounds of basic human decency. Anything beyond that is an unacceptable display of arrogance and coercion,” FOCAP said Wednesday night.
The group added, “Independent journalists, and Filipinos from all walks of life for that matter, deserve to be treated with dignity and respect.”
Twitter users were quick to respond to Locsin’s tweet with several questioning the need to respond to the reporter’s tweet with expletives.
“Why reply that way?” Twitter user “MaamSyj” said.
“Be more polite, Honorable Sir. If you are not committing any mistakes, you don’t have to respond in that manner. A lot of rude and selfish people already [on] social media, you could set a better example po,” Twitter user Willardo Remo Jr suggested.
Meanwhile, former dean of the University of the Philippines College of Mass Communication Luis Teodoro likewise pointed out on Twitter that Enano’s post was “not anything but simply reporting.”
Later on Wednesday morning, November 5, Locsin changed his tone as he continued to defend Duterte, saying he would have let Enano’s tweet pass “had he know she was a lady.”
“Had I known she was a lady I’d have let it pass but I watched her president stick it out start to finish but for 1 photo op, enduring statements far longer than his own because he has the breeding to listen to those who heard him. Others stepped out before and after they spoke,” Locsin said.
He can't bring himself to doze off the minute the meeting starts like leaders of great powers do—elegantly folding their hands on their laps, closing their eyes til shaken awake for their turn to speak. He won't even when I tell him I can sit in his place since he's spoken. https://t.co/rGcJWevE58— Teddy Locsin Jr. (@teddyboylocsin) November 6, 2019
Under the Duterte administration, media watchdogs have noted a decline in press freedom with Philippine journalists network Freedom for Media, Freedom for All Network recording over 100 cases of attacks against journalists since Duterte assumed office.
Teodoro likewise earlier pointed out the rate of harassment under the Duterte administration has for far been “unprecendented.”
As of 2019, media watchdog Reporters Without Borders (RSF) found the Philippines now ranked 134th out of 180 countries in the World Press Freedom Index. RSF attributed the Philippines’ lower ranking to the Duterte government’s continued threats against journalists, which are “accompanied by coordinated cyber-attacks.” – Rappler.com