“PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON OR CHINESE EMBASSY SPOKESMAN?” Senator Ping Lacson said in a Twitter post after Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said that Chinese Ambassador Zhao Jianhua texted him.
Panelo said Zhao told him in a text message “What if we also think that your overseas workers are also spying on us. What can you say about that?”
Senator Lacson said in statement that “what I was pointing out in my tweet is not on the issue of whether or not there is logic in the Chinese ambassador’s statement.”
“The thing is, the Chinese embassy has its own spokesman who should speak on their behalf because that’s his job. Why would the country’s presidential spokesperson whose salary and other miscellaneous expenses are being paid out of our taxes take on the embassy spokesman’s job,” Senator Lacson said.
In response, Panelo said “I take strong exception to the remarks of Senator Panfilo “Ping” Lacson that I am speaking on behalf of the Chinese embassy when I shared to the media its ambassador’s reaction in connection with fears about the location of some Philippine offshore gaming operators (POGOs) with Chinese employees near our military bases.”
Panelo said “there is nothing wrong with sharing the text message of Chinese Ambassador Zhao Jianhua as the same was made to provide a context and response to a query from a media reporter on the sentiments and alarm of Secretary of National Defense Delfin Lorenzana on the subject.”
“As the Chinese Ambassador, Mr. Zhao is authorized to speak about the position of his government. I am the spokesperson of the President of the entire Filipino people, including the overseas foreign workers (OFWs),” he added.
“If Senator Lacson is not concerned with the OFWs, the Office of the President is. Anything that concerns them or any policy of a host country that may affect their stay we certainly are interested and concerned. Senator Lacson need not be reminded that as a Senator of the Republic, he represents not only Filipinos who live here but also those who work abroad, unless his statement is driven by the fact the OFW votes in China will not move a needle for him if he plans to run in 2022,” he added.
“Senator Lacson may still be smarting from a comment I made regarding his proposal to invoke the Mutual Defense Treaty with the United States in relation to the differences between the Philippines and China on the West Philippine Sea. He appears to have been deeply offended, and until now has not recovered from such misery caused by my statement that such proposal is premature, reckless and irresponsible without an act of armed aggression on the part of China,” Panelo added.