MANILA, Philippines – Foreign Secretary Teodoro "Teddyboy" Locsin Jr said on Tuesday, April 2, that he "fired off a salvo of diplomatic notes" against China over the presence of Chinese vessels near Pag-asa Island in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea).
Locsin said he did this before undertaking his first official trip to China from March 18 to 21.
"Before going to successful China visit, I fired off a salvo of diplomatic notes so I would not be accused of insincerity if, as suggested, I fired them off after the visit, which is sioki (gay)," Locsin said in a tweet on Tuesday.
Locsin made this statement after blogger Noemi Dado asked him to confirm if the Philippines "filed a diplomatic protest against China over the presence of hundreds of Chinese vessels" near Pag-asa Island.
Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo had said on Monday, April 1, that the Philippines filed a diplomatic protest about the Chinese vessels, but did not provide details.
In response to another netizen, Locsin however said on Tuesday that the Philippines will not publicize this diplomatic protest. The netizen had asked him, "Is there a chance that the diplomatic protest will be made public?"
"No way, José. So the ignorant will react self-importantly?" Locsin answered.
The Armed Forces of the Philippines has said more than 600 Chinese ships have circled Pag-asa Island since January, according to ABS-CBN News.
This corroborates an earlier report by the Washington-based Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative that China deployed Chinese militia to the vicinity of Pag-asa Island after the Philippines began constructing there.
Under President Rodrigo Duterte, the Philippines has adopted a friendlier stance toward China, downplaying a decades-long sea dispute in exchange for loans and grants from the Chinese.
During Locsin's recent trip to Beijing, he criticized the West as he heaped praises on China, saying the Philippines "wants to see much to hope for, and nothing to fear, from the rise of a new power." – Rappler.com
Paterno R. Esmaquel II is a senior reporter leading Rappler’s coverage of religion and foreign affairs. He finished MA Journalism in Ateneo and MSc Asian Studies (Religions in Plural Societies) at RSIS, Singapore. For story ideas or feedback, email him at email@example.com.