FOREIGN Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. yesterday defended presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo from criticisms that he is also acting as spokesman for the Department of Foreign Affairs, specifically on foreign policy matters.
Locsin said he and Panelo, also the chief presidential legal counsel, never contradicted each other.
Locsin issued the remarks after senators Franklin Drilon and Panfilo Lacson said they have observed that aside from Locsin, Panelo has been issuing foreign policy statements.
Drilon said there seems to be different foreign policies of the country, one from Locsin and the other one from Panelo. He also said there should only be one mouthpiece for foreign policy, and that is Locsin.
Locsin said except for their weight, there is not much difference between him and Panelo.
“Senators asked why Sal Panelo also speaks on foreign policy… Two reasons. One, he is presidential spokesman and shares with the media the President’s thoughts including on foreign policy. The President and I make foreign policy, and two, I am…,” Locsin said in a tweet.
“Constrained by military and diplomatic sources for info, so I cannot react to media. Plus, I’ve never been a media people person as my colleagues in media saw me in Cory’s time and Congress. Media is fortunate in having Sal who loves engaging them. We never contradicted each other,” he added.
At the same time, Locsin said he and Panelo share the conviction to say and defend what they believe is the right thing to do.
“Sal is one of a few people who stand by the President through thick and thin, and stick their necks out for him when he is unfairly treated by media or outright traduced which is a cottage industry. While he is thin and I am portly, we have courage and conviction in common. But there were instances in the past when the two have differences in opinion,” he also said.
Last September, Locsin twitted Panelo for his statement that martial law is “precisely the very tool to save the country’s democracy,” saying that using it is an admission of weakness and “inadequacy.”
Panelo made the remark a day after the Philippines commemorated the 47th anniversary of the proclamation of martial law.
In August after President Duterte’s fifth visit to Beijing, Panelo said the latter took an apologetic tone before Chinese President Xi Jinping while asserting the country’s claim in the West Philippine Sea.