Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. lost his cool outside the Department of Foreign Affairs building in Manila where a group of protesters were holding a demonstration over Filipino migrant workers in the Middle East amid the US-Iran crisis.
A video clip of Locsin gained traction online and earned him criticisms, many of which say the hostility toward OFW rights group Migrante International was unnecessary.
In the clip, an irked Locsin challenged Migrante chairperson Arman Hernando to try to beat him up in the middle of a chanting crowd and before media cameras.
Locsin could be heard shouting: “Try it, o sige, bugbugin mo ako.”
Hernando then responded through the microphone: “Hindi po ito usapin, secretary, ng bugbugan. Ang kailangan po namin ay proteksyon.”
PANOORIN: Mismong si Foreign Affairs Sec. Teodoro Locsin Jr. ang humarap sa mga raliyistang nagpoprotesta kaugnay ng gulo sa Middle East sa harap ng tanggapan nito. | via @RPfredcipres pic.twitter.com/QOCNKPcLbv
— DZMM TeleRadyo (@DZMMTeleRadyo) January 10, 2020
According to a post from the College Editors Guild of the Philippines, the group was supposed to hold a dialogue with Locsin on the repatriation of OFWs in the Middle East.
WATCH: Migrante International holds a dialogue with Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr., calling for the repatriation of OFWs based in the Middle East in line with the ongoing war between the United States and Iran. Meanwhile, families of OFWs in the Middle East went emotional after confronting Locsin.#NoWarInIran#DownWithUSImperialism
Posted by College Editors Guild of the Philippines on Thursday, January 9, 2020
A 15-minute video of the incident shows Locsin trying to grab the microphone from Hernando while he was addressing the protesters.
But Hernando refused to give him the mic and said: “Sandali lang po, programa po namin ito, gusto po namin pakinggan niyo po muna ang aming mga panawagan.”
This triggered Locsin to walk away and return inside the DFA building while the group chanted: “No to war in Middle East, save our OFWs.”
When the secretary returned, confronting the group and daring them to hit him.
The footage set off another round of “ok boomer” responses, a movement of which happened as a reaction to his online retort at Vice President Leni Robredo in November last year.
Teddy Boy Locsin is the boomer of all boomers. He is the boomest.
— Jai Cabajar (@jaicabajar) January 10, 2020
Others were disappointed at how Locsin’s unprofessional behavior even if the activists were just expressing their worries for the welfare of their countrymen overseas.
“Seriously the people deserve so much better than this asshole,” Twitter user @InigoAbellar said.
Protesters were airing their concerns about the Philippines’ involvement with the conflicts in middle east.
Ano ang sagot ng “top” diplomat natin na si Teddy Locsin? “Bugbugin niyo ako”
Seriously the people deserve so much better than this asshole. https://t.co/NZjBk3Zdan
— Iñigo Abellar (@InigoAbellar) January 10, 2020
The government official got embroiled in several controversies in 2019 due to his crass language on the micro-blogging platform.
An agreement was reached
Locsin soon calmed down and assured the organization of the safety of OFWs in areas where there is political turmoil, particularly in Iran.
“Kahit na wala nang gera. In spite of that, there will be a massive repatriation effort to bring our people back home,” he said.
He also vowed that the government will finance the clearances and exit permits for the repatriating Filipinos.
Those who will not come home will also be protected by government troops deployed there.
“There are people there in the shelter, we will bring them home. If they do not want to come home, we will stay there and we will protect them as much as we can,” Locsin said.
Meanwhile, Foreign Affairs Assistant Secretary Ed Menez wondered if the activists were at the wrong place because of the messages of their placard.
“Seems to me from the signs and hashtags they were at the wrong address on Roxas Boulevard,” he said to reporters.