Twitter temporarily locked Philippines Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. out of his account after he replied to a leftist critic by posting, “These are fucking Communists. You shoot them. You don’t listen to them.”
Locsin posted the remark on March 5. By Monday morning Manila time, he appeared to have regained posting power, telling the activist whose report resulted in his suspension to “lighten up.”
Locsin is the Philippines’ top diplomat, responsible for representing the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte to the world. He is extremely active on Twitter and, like his boss, does not shy away from profanity or off-color remarks. While vocally condemning communism in theory, Locsin supports Duterte’s pro-China policies and once apologized to the Chinese Communist Party for accurately condemning mass murderer Mao Zedong for “unleashing a famine” during his dictatorship.
Loscin ran afoul of Twitter’s anti-“violent threat” rules in response to an article quoting Renato Reyes Jr., secretary-general of the leftist group Bayan (“Country”), objecting to the presence of U.S. troops in the country. The Philippines and the United States have a historic military alliance and regularly schedule military exercises, though Duterte has routinely questioned the wisdom of cooperating with America and threatened to form alliances with China and Russia. Despite the seeming space for agreement between Locsin and Bayan, Locsin reposted a link to a Philippine Inquirer article about Bayan with his advice to “shoot” communists.
While a URL still exists for the tweet, it leads to a page reading only, “This Tweet is no longer available because it violated the Twitter Rules.” On Locsin’s timeline, the tweet no longer appears where it would have chronologically, between a statement on his “steadfast commitment to ASEAN,” the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, and a joke about how all characters in the Old Testament “had beards including the women.”
Reyes, the head of the Bayan group, confirmed on Monday that he had reported the post in question and, as a result, Twitter had temporarily prevented Locsin from posting on the site. The Philippine news broadcaster ABS-CBN noted that Twitter did not independently say that the “shoot communists” tweet caused the suspension.
“We welcome this action by Twitter. For so long, Locsin thought he could get away with anything. But when he threatens harm on activists who are merely expressing their views, we will have to draw the line and fight back,” Reyes said in a post on social media confirming the suspension. “He is abusive and appalling. We look forward to his return to Twitter and perhaps by then, [he will] learn some humility and tolerance in dealing with opinions that are different from his.”
Locsin returned to Twitter a few hours later, apparently telling Reyes to “lighten up my friend.”
See that smile? Lighten up my friend. https://t.co/xH8jpsxGr3
— Teddy Locsin Jr. (@teddyboylocsin) March 9, 2020
Reyes replied, welcoming Locsin back, adding, “we hope he starts treating with respect those who hold different views. Stop wishing that they be shot.”
Locsin kept the conversation going by alluding to the horrors of Soviet gulags.
Absolutely comrade. Sometimes I get this vision of a cell in Lubyanka where the floor slopes like a funnel to a drain. My best American friend was in Lubyanka. He gave me a most vivid account of life under communism. https://t.co/xl04WsS4YY
— Teddy Locsin Jr. (@teddyboylocsin) March 9, 2020
Salvador Panelo, Duterte’s spokesman, defended Locsin as a diplomat on Monday, comparing him to Duterte himself.
“He’s a responsible government official and effective in his job. Go beyond the language. Look at the meat and the essence and the substance of what he’s saying,” urged reporters at his Monday press briefing. “Maybe that’s just hyperbole. It looks like the president’s style, that’s just hyperbole.”
The incident is not the first in which Locsin’s colorful language on communism resulted in controversy. In October, in response to Panelo answering a bizarre dare to commute to work on public transportation, Locsin tweeted, “It was a giant win for Sal Panelo because he answered the challenge and pulled it off and that was the point, right? Of course, it is. Unless you’re a fucking communist then the only point is to take power and unleash a famine like Mao did.”
Locsin then added in defense of Panelo, “low-class bitches won’t access that he won that one.”
Locsin also referred derogatorily to Mao as “tutung,” a Philippine word for burnt rice. He issued a groveling apology to China shortly thereafter. He did not make clear if it was an honest or sarcastic one:
My profound apologies to the People’s Republic of China, the Communist Party responsible for its unprecedented achievements and Amb. Zhao, for using the Great Helmsman’s name in vain. All this revisionism makes me—as the first defender of “Red China”—forget my admiration.
A month after this dispute, Locsin attacked a Philippine Inquirer journalist for reporting on Duterte’s absence at ASEAN conference meetings. In several tweets, he referred to journalist Jhesset Enano as “you shet [sic]” and asked, “Uh, did you get the putangina [son of a whore] I sent you?”
When Enano replied with the text of public servant laws that require Locsin to behave with “professionalism,” he replied, “fuck you.” Locsin later deleted the tweet.
Duterte similarly resorts to profanity against political opponents often and has attacked communists as “rotten.”
“That’s what I am telling communists. You have jeopardized, caused sorrow and misery to the country fighting for a lost cause. The communist ideology is over. It’s over and done with,” he said in remarks in January 2019.
A year before that condemnation, Duterte publicly ordered Philippine soldiers to shoot communist women.
“Tell the soldiers, ‘There’s a new order coming from the mayor. We won’t kill you. We will just shoot your vagina,’” he said. “If there is no vagina, it would be useless.”