Foreign Affairs Sec. Teodoro Locsin Jr. said he took down his expletive-laden Twitter post in which he commanded China to get out of the West Philippine Sea, after the social media platform flagged him down as having violated its rules.
This happened as Armed Forces Chief Gen. Cirilito Sobejano noted that the Chinese vessels maintained their threatening presence in the disputed seas, with the ships consisting of Chinese coast guard, navy, militia and fishermen.
Sobejana however, would not reveal the exact number of Chinese vessels, which he said was an order from the National Task Force on the West Philippine Sea.
Sobejano said the Philippine Navy ships patrolling the country’s territory often encounter radio challenges from Chinese vessels, transmitting auto-messages like: “This is our territory, get out of here.”
“But then we are not intimidated by those challenges, we continue our route. And we ensure that our patrol plan won’t be disrupted,” said Sobejano.
Locsin, in his brush with Twitter, said he took down his rant against China “out of respect to the medium that I have solely trusted to deliver my messages to the far corners of the earth since 2011.”
The flagged tweet appeared to be a post where Locsin told Beijing to “get the f**k out” of Philippine waters after months of swarming of Chinese fishing and militia vessels inside the country’s exclusive economic zone.
“China, my friend, how politely can I put it? Let me see… O… GET THE F**K OUT. What are you doing to our friendship? You.. Not us… We’re trying. You… You’re like an ugly oaf forcing your attentions on a handsome guy who wants to be a friend; not to father a Chinese province,” read Locsin’s original post.
The Secretary later apologized to Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi, saying he would deeply regret losing his “friendship” with his counterpart.
“I won’t plead the last provocation as an excuse for losing it but if Wang Yi is following Twitter then I’m sorry for hurting his feelings but his alone,” he added.
It was unclear what specific Twitter rule was violated by Locsin’s tweet.
The social media platform, which has a policy against hateful conduct, sometimes allows violent tweets from government officials if “ it directly contributes to understanding or discussion of a matter of public concern.”
“In rare instances, we may choose to leave up a tweet from an elected or government official that would otherwise be taken down. Instead, we will place it behind a notice providing context about the rule violation that allows people to click through to see the tweet,” read the policy.
Such “public-interest exceptions” rule appeared to not have applied in Locsin’s recent tweets.
In another tweet, Locsin defended the platform, saying “without Twitter the world would be a far, far, far more ignorant place than it is. We take a blessing with its rules.”
The Secretary is known for his off-the-cuff remarks on the platform, which he also uses to announce policy directives, such as his recent orders to send diplomatic protests to China over the presence of its militia and fishing vessels in Philippine waters.