The nation last week was regaled by two outbursts from the erudite but sometimes foul-mouthed Foreign Secretary Teodoro Locsin, Jr.: one against China and the other against his Cabinet colleague Harry Roque.
In China, Locsin challenged Beijing’s new law that allows the Chinese Coast Guard to use force against intruders into what it called its sovereign territory in the West Philippine Sea. China has claimed almost the entire South China Sea saying that it has been its territory “since ancient times.”
In a strong diplomatic protest, Locsin said that what China did was a declaration of war against the Philippines and “not to challenge Beijing on the new law would mean submission to it.’
We salute Secretary Locsin for his bold action to safeguard our own sovereignty in the contested area.
But if what China did was a declaration of war, what are we supposed to do after issuing an angry diplomatic protest? Are we also declaring war on China?
Indeed, Locsin did declare “war” not against China but against his colleague in the Cabinet, Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque.
In a strongly-worded tweet, Locsin slammed Roque, saying that the latter was “not competent” to comment on Beijing’s new law. “I am not listening to Harry Roque. Love the guy but he’s not competent in this field. We do not go back to the Hague. We might lose what we won. Harry, lay off,” Locsin said.
Undiplomatic diplomat, no?
In reacting to Locsin, Roque merely rebutted that he is qualified to discuss international law after teaching it for 15 years. He even offered to “school” opposition Senator Risa Hontiveros on the issue.
Of course, we all know that in explaining his take on the new Chinese law, Roque was only restating the government’s policy of appeasement towards China, one of the hallmarks of the Duterte administration.
As of last week, China has not formally replied to Locsin’s strong diplomatic protest. And as if to downgrade its importance, the Chinese Embassy in Manila merely explained that the new law was just a “domestic legislation” and that Beijing will continue to work for peace in the region.
Will Locsin’s angry diplomatic protest just end up in the archives of the Chinese Foreign Ministry and “lie there and die there?”