Leni Robredo dismisses ‘boba’ remarks by DFA chief
MANILA, Philippines — Vice President Leni Robredo on Tuesday brushed off the scathing remarks of Foreign Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. after she voiced disagreement with his order to cancel all “courtesy” diplomatic passports.
Speaking to reporters in Naga City, the Vice President said she had read the top diplomat’s post on Twitter, where he called her “boba” (stupid), but chose not to engage in rude exchanges.
“I have been at the receiving end of so many unfair accusations and rude comments,” Robredo said. “I don’t want to engage in those anymore because there are more important matters to deal with.”
Locsin took to Twitter on Monday to air his thoughts on Robredo’s comment that the cancellation of diplomatic passports issued to previous Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) officials might be a “knee-jerk reaction,” after former Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario was denied entry to Hong Kong on Friday.
“Will someone please do her the kindness [of giving] her a brain?” Locsin said, before apologizing half an hour later also on Twitter.
But Robredo maintained that Locsin’s order might be illegal, citing Republic Act No. 8239 or the Philippine Passport Act of 1996, which says that passports may only be canceled if the holder is a fugitive, convicted of a criminal offense, or if the passport was acquired fraudulently or tampered with.
“All these elements [were] not satisfied [in the Del Rosario case],” Robredo said.
Locsin’s repeated apologies over social media, however, failed to assuage Robredo’s political allies.
Sen. Francis Pangilinan said Locsin should be held accountable for his disparaging remarks, saying he might have violated the ethics code for public officials. “This is not how a [Foreign] Secretary should behave. He puts the country at risk and shame with his actions and words,” Pangilinan said.
Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman on Tuesday also assailed the “uncalled for, patently disrespectful and culpably crude” insults leveled by Locsin against Robredo.
In a statement, Lagman said Locsin’s apology did not excuse the insult. It was a “satirical and mocking apology,” and “does not exculpate him from baselessly insulting the Vice President,” he said.
But Malacañang defended Locsin’s colorful language, saying this does not diminish his competence as the country’s top diplomat.
“If he is not fit, he would not have been appointed [in his post],” presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo said. —With reports from Dona Z. Pazzibugan, Julie M. Aurelio, DJ Yap, and Marlon Ramos
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