Senators say Teddy Locsin ‘perfect’ fit for special envoy to China
MANILA, Philippines — Several senators have welcomed the appointment of Teddy Locsin Jr. as President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.’s special ambassador to China.
Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri said Locsin is “perfect” for the job, citing his experience as former chief of the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) and former envoy to the United Nations.
“Being a former DFA Secretary and the former Amb. to the United Nations, he has the expertise and experience in dealing with China. And he is extremely loyal to the cause of protecting the Sovereignty of our country as proven by the hundreds of diplomatic protests that he filed on behalf of our country during the Duterte presidency,” the Senate leader said.
“His familiarity with the leaders of China, as well as their methods, is what makes him perfect for the job,” he added.
Senator Francis Escudero also lauded Locsin’s appointment as Special Envoy of the President to the People’s Republic of China for Special Concerns. He added that any action promoting dialogue between China and the Philippines “is always most welcome.”
Escudero pointed out that President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.’s initiative to appoint a special envoy shows his commitment to pursuing peaceful ways to assert the country’s sovereignty in the West Philippine Sea.
“[Locsin] is both competent and capable. But the most important qualification is that (by being chosen by [Marcos]) he enjoys the trust and confidence of the President who is the ‘chief architect’ of our country’s foreign policy,” he said.
Senator JV Ejercito described Locsin as the best person for the job as he was a “known troubleshooter” during his time at the DFA. He also said Locsin’s appointment is timely.
“I am glad that Ambassador Teddy Locsin, given his experience as DFA Secretary, also a lawyer and former legislator, could be the best one for the job as special envoy for special concerns,” he said, adding that Locsin’s appointment means the administration is keeping lines open between Manila and Beijing amid the maritime row.
For Senator Grace Poe, Marcos’ decision to appoint Locsin is “impressive and interesting,” calling the ambassador a skilled, adroit diplomat and a fearless leader ready to go to whatever necessary lengths to pursue what’s best for Filipinos.
“We hope he can help the country navigate through the rough waters of the West Philippine Sea to defend and protect what belongs to us,” said Poe.
Although Marcos has yet to inform the public of the extent of Locsin’s role as a special envoy to China, Senator Jinggoy Estrada said his appointment would be beneficial to the Philippine government.
Estrada said it also “came on the heels of a series of disturbing incidents in the West Philippine Sea.”
“The success of Locsin’s role as a special envoy will depend on his ability to navigate the intricacies of international diplomacy, communicate effectively, and foster a productive atmosphere for a dialogue between the two countries. Observers will be keenly watching how he will handle the complexities of his role and whether this will lead to positive developments insofar as our country’s relations with China are concerned,” he pointed out.
Meanwhile, opposition Senator Risa Hontiveros commended Locsin’s “strong and balanced” position on China, stressing that she expects the special envoy to “maintain that position and indefatigably uphold” the country’s sovereignty over its territories.
“I also hope that China will not simply shake him. He also needs to be reminded that the people want the Philippines to stand up to China, so I hope he will take it to heart and live out the call of our people,” said Hontiveros in Filipino.
The Philippines and China have been in a long-running sea dispute after the latter pushed its nine-dash line claim over nearly the entire South China Sea, overlapping the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone.
In 2013, the Philippines challenged China’s assertions before the UN-backed International Permanent Court of Arbitration (IPCA) in The Hague, Netherlands. The tribunal ruled in favor of the Philippines in July 2016.
China, however, has consistently refused to recognize the historic decision of the IPCA, ignoring a series of protests and demands made by the Philippine government for Chinese vessels to leave the West Philippine Sea.
Tensions between the two countries escalated after the China Coast Guard fired water cannons at Philippine Coast Guard vessels escorting boats delivering supplies to Armed Forces of the Philippines personnel in the West Philippine Sea on August 5.
The Philippines has filed 445 diplomatic protests against China since 2020.