PRESIDENTIAL Spokesperson Salvador Panelo has denounced Senator Panfilo “Ping” Lacson’s online post asking if he was a Chinese Embassy servant.
“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 in a statement.
Earlier in the day, Panelo made public that he received a text message from Chinese Ambassador Zhao Jianhua hinting China could retaliate in kind and accuse overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) of being spies for the Philippines, after Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenaza warned that POGOs could become espionage centers.
“Ambassador Zhao sent me a text. He said, ‘What if we also think that your overseas workers are also spying on us. What can you say about that?’” Panelo had said.
Following Panelo’s earlier statement, Lacson in a post on his Twitter account asked: “...Presidential Spokesperson or Chinese Embassy Spokesman?”
Panelo said there was “nothing wrong” with sharing the text message from Zhao as it was made to provide context and respond to a media query.
“Our overseas workers in China also deserve to be apprised of their host country’s reaction to this issue as it concerns them. It is the primordial duty of the President to serve and protect the interests of the Filipino people, whether they reside here or abroad, and as his spokesperson, I take it as my responsibility to inform the public because China’s stance may need to be considered in any policy or government action with respect to Chinese nationals working here,” the President’s spokesperson argued.
“The good senator takes liberty at criticizing but it seems that he cannot take any criticism directed to him as a response to his initial criticism. This administration is open to suggestions and criticisms, but we expect those who express the same to be ready to engage in an intellectual discourse without resorting to unsporting remarks.”