Philippine Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin, Jr., President Rodrigo Duterte’s top diplomat, replied “fuck you” to a reporter on Twitter on Wednesday for sending him the text of a law that requires him and all public officials to adhere to high standards of “professionalism.”
Locsin deleted the tweet, but BBC reporter Howard Johnson screencapped and immortalized the insult.
The Philippine Secretary of Foreign Affairs, the country’s top diplomat, was criticised yesterday for swearing at a @inquirerdotnet journalist. This morning he tweeted this to a @PhilippineStar journalist… then deleted it. pic.twitter.com/jlTj3jIvFV
— Howard Johnson (@Howardrjohnson) November 7, 2019
Locsin had spent much of the week hurling profanities at Jhesset Enano, a reporter for the Philippine National Inquirer, because the reporter had noted during her coverage of this week’s Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) summit that Duterte was not present at several events.
Enano posted an image on Monday of Locsin filling in for Duterte at the closing ceremony of the ASEAN conference. Duterte’s absence was in part notable because the 74-year-old has publicly faced several health issues, leading some to question if he is able to handle the demands of the presidency.
Locsin initially told Enano that Duterte skipped only one event, not several, referring to her as “you shet [sic].” He later added, “Uh, did you get the putangina [son of a whore] I sent you?” and claimed that Indonesian President Joko Widodo and Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamed had also left:
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
The feud continued into Tuesday, when Locsin claimed that he did not know Enano was female and that this would have changed his attitude online towards her.
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.
— Teddy Locsin Jr. (@teddyboylocsin) November 6, 2019
On Wednesday, Locsin resumed his invective against Enano, demanding an apology.
“I will apologize to the lady [if] she apologizes to Duterte for her slanders and that idiot newspaper [the Philippine Inquirer] vows never to slant stories about him again,” Locsin wrote. “I have an inexhustable [sic] supply of scurrilities. Her and the Inquirer’s president works his ass off for the country. Say sorry. Now.”
This is when Marc Jayson Cayabyab, a reporter for the Philippine Star, stepped in, responding with the Philippine law that makes it illegal for Locsin to use his “inexhustable supply of scurrilities” against the public.
RA 6713 Section 4: Professionalism-Public officials, employees shall perform, discharge their duties with the highest degree of excellence, professionalism, intelligence, skill; Responsiveness to the public-(They) shall extend prompt, courteous, adequate service to the public. https://t.co/Bp7cXeXLlg
— Marc Jayson Cayabyab (@mjaysoncayabyab) November 7, 2019
Locsin replied to this tweet with “fuck you,” but later deleted.
“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,” the newspaper responded in a statement. “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.”
“This is unacceptable behavior from the country’s top diplomat, the person expected to project the best of the Philippines,” the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines said in a statement responding to the scuffle. “Enano was clearly doing her job and simply reporting the fact that Duterte was not there. How anyone can see malice in that is incomprehensible.”
“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,” another organization, the Foreign Correspondents Association of the Philippines, responded in condemnation. “Anything beyond that is an unacceptable display of arrogance and coercion.”
Locsin’s language is in concert with the general tenor of Duterte’s public statements. Duterte has become well-known for referring to political figures he disagrees with – from President Barack Obama to Pope Francis – as putang ina, or “son of a whore.”
Duterte threatened a profane tirade against the European Union in 2016 for questioning his policies on fighting drug crime.
“I read the condemnation of the EU against me. I will tell them, ‘fuck you.’ You’re doing it in atonement for your sins,” he said. “And then EU now has the gall to condemn me. I repeat it, ‘fuck you.’”
Since then he has returned to profane tirades against one of his favorite targets – the Catholic Church.
“Adam ate it then malice was born. Who is this stupid God?” Duterte said at a June 2018 press conference. “That son of a bitch is stupid if that’s the case.”
Duterte has admitted to being molested as an adolescent by a Catholic priest and often threatens to kill bishops. He is openly bisexual, alleging that he was “cured” of homosexuality.