MANILA, Philippines – "Mr Chairman, my dear colleagues, when he goes to the United Nations (UN), then the Philippines will not be sending just a man to be an ambassador, but a man more qualified to be a UN secretary-general."
This was how San Juan Representative Ronaldo Zamora, vice chairman of the Commission on Appointments (CA), described Teodoro "Teddyboy" Locsin Jr, President Rodrigo Duterte's choice as Philippine representative to the UN.
The CA on Tuesday, December 13, confirmed the nomination of Locsin as well as of 21 officers of the Department of Foreign Affairs. (LIST: CA confirms 14 Cabinet officials in 1st 6 months of Duterte)
The CA did not grill Locsin, who breezed through Tuesday's confirmation hearing after no one opposed Zamora's motion "to endorse, to second, and to vote" for his confirmation.
Locsin, a news commentator for broadcast giant ABS-CBN, served as Makati City congressman from 2001 to 2010. He also worked as speechwriter and spokesman for President Corazon Aquino.
Lately, Locsin has been known for his fiery words on Twitter, with the diplomat often quarrelling with and sometimes cursing at his followers.
Zamora pointed out, "To millennials, like some of us, he is Twitter's rockstar, the irrepressible uncle of Makati, whose lacerating wit pricks both the ego of the ruler and the conscience of the ruled."
UN urged to reject Locsin
The representative added, "And whether, in fact, whenever anti-intellectualism rears its lazy head in this post-truth world, he is a one-man fact-checker in social media. He is an equal opportunity alaskador (teaser)."
Zamora explained: "He has this way with words that will serve him in good stead in his new posting. If a diplomat needs to tell you to go to hell, Mr Chairman, he will do it in such a way that you actually look forward to the trip."
"Let me say this with authority: of the 200 or so representatives in that body, no person is more intellectually prepared or had read more books than our nominee," the CA vice chairman said.
This comes after thousands of online petitioners earlier urged the UN to reject Locsin's nomination.
The petition stated, "His blatant justification of anti-Semitic lingo of the President of the Republic of the Philippines makes him a racist, clearly showing his prejudice against the Jewish people."
The Philippines' former envoy to the UN, Lauro Baja Jr, however told Rappler it is unlikely for the UN to grant this petition.
He said the organization, after all, "will not look at the defects of the domestic process" that placed Locsin in the UN. – Rappler.com
Paterno R. Esmaquel II is a senior reporter leading Rappler’s coverage of religion and foreign affairs. He finished MA Journalism in Ateneo and MSc Asian Studies (Religions in Plural Societies) at RSIS, Singapore. For story ideas or feedback, email him at email@example.com.