Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin and Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV got in a heated exchange on Twitter where the former praised President Rodrigo Duterte for spouting insults against the opposition senator.
Locsin shared a news article that reported on Duterte’s reply towards Trillanes’ comments against him in relation to the “War on Drugs” campaign.
The top diplomat lauded Duterte’s words and said that it was “the most illuminating remark” he has ever read.
This is the most illuminating remark I've ever read on the issue here both at home and abroad and that includes Geneva. Every word of it especially the idiot part.. The innumeracy remark too must hurt. https://t.co/gd0hANSLLr
— Teddy Locsin Jr. (@teddyboylocsin) February 19, 2019
Duterte said in a speech at the ninth anniversary of the Mindanao Development Authority on February 19, Tuesday:
“Some critic senator, stupid senator. Trillanes said ‘Oh there, there are no more (drug addicts) because they are dead and so? Are you not happy that I’m doing it for you instead of you, a military idiot? You do not even know how to count.”
Trillanes, meanwhile, sarcastically replied to Locsin’s tweet that retweeted the news article quoting Duterte.
Most illuminating indeed, Mr. Locsin. Because if you hadn’t noticed, your boss has admitted to be behind the EJKs. Brilliant!
— Sonny Trillanes IV (@TrillanesSonny) February 20, 2019
Later on, the senator published a statement aimed at Duterte regarding the reduction of drug users in the country.
Mr. Duterte, let me break it down for you like you're a 5-year old… pic.twitter.com/FUuH0H44jH
— Sonny Trillanes IV (@TrillanesSonny) February 21, 2019
Story behind the Locsin-Trillanes spat
Social Weather Stations (SWS) on February 16, Saturday revealed results of a December 2018 poll titled “Change in number of illegal drug users over the past year.”
They reported that 66 percent of Filipinos believe the number of illegal drug users in their areas has decreased over the past year as an effect of the administration’s anti-narcotics campaign.
Areas with the highest positive respondents were from Mindanao and Visayas.
The Palace lauded the survey results and said that it is a validation of the supposedly successful “War on Drugs” initiative launched by Duterte when he took office.
“As we all know, it is a major campaign platform of President Duterte and remains a centerpiece program of his administration, notwithstanding the harshest criticisms, brickbats and pressures the current government is receiving here and abroad,” Presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo said.
However, the remarks were scoffed at by Trillanes, who said, “Since you’ve killed thousands of (drug) addicts without due process and without giving them the opportunity to be rehabilitated, isn’t it natural that number of addicts will be reduced?”
The senator also addressed Panelo and asked, “What are you celebrating, Mr. Panelo, the ruthlessness of your boss?”
Duterte later on lashed out at Trillanes in a speech at Davao and called him “stupid” and a “military idiot.”
When Locsin read the news article that quoted the chief executive’s words against the senator, he retweeted it with his own remarks.
Killings under Duterte
Since he took office in June 2016, Duterte has been very vocal about his anti-drug initiative.
According to the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency, 5,104 drug suspects have died in operations from July 2016 to December 2018.
However, local and international human rights groups believe the tally is much higher—an estimated count of over 20,000 people.
The anti-narcotics campaign has also prompted Duterte to be preliminarily examined by the International Criminal Court for committing alleged crimes against humanity.
Despite this, the chief executive recently said that he would implement a “harsher” campaign.
“I think I would be more well, I said, harsher in the days to come… I’m putting notice to everybody, I will not allow my country to be destroyed by drugs. I don’t want my country to end up as a failed state,” Duterte said in a speech at Malacañang.
His statement has been slammed by the Commission on Human Rights, saying that it is a “trivialization of the lives that were lost” in the bloody campaign that was launched in 2016.