SENATORS Panfilo Lacson and Franklin Drilon want to find out why there seems to be two spokesmen for the Department of Foreign Affairs talking about the country’s foreign policies.
Lacson, on Monday night, said he has observed that aside from Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr., Chief President Legal Counsel and concurrent presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo has been issuing foreign policy statements.
“I’d just like to find out because every now and then, we hear the presidential spokesperson talk about foreign policy; he would issue foreign policy statements. I’d like to find out from the DFA if he (Panelo) is on secondment to the DFA? If so, the follow-up question would be, is he receiving remuneration?” Lacson said during the deliberations on the proposed P24.216-billion DFA budget for next year.
Drilon said there seems to be different foreign policies, one from Panelo and the other from Locsin.
Drilon then recommended that the DFA have only one mouthpiece, a proposal which was seconded by Sen. Richard Gordon, who was defending the DFA budget.
“We would like to think that the secretary has a very competent pool of advisers who can advise him on the ramifications of any foreign policy pronouncement which unfortunately is not in the bureaucracy of the presidential spokesperson,” Drilon said.
Gordon said Panelo would base his media statements on the “last thing he heard” during Cabinet meetings.
Gordon said Panelo was, at times, forced to give foreign policy statements due to queries from the media.
“So, he’s not actually taken over the position of speaking for the government in terms of DFA matters, but at times, the media cannot wait and he (Panelo) just makes the statements. Now, as to whether we can take it at face value is another thing,” Gordon added.
Senate President Vicente Sotto III suggested the public check Locsin’s tweets so they can be updated on matters of foreign affairs.
“Perhaps it would be best to just rely on the tweets of Secretary Locsin than to listen to the spokesman,” Sotto said in jest.
Locsin is known to answer queries on Twitter, although most contain curses and other foul language.