Foreign Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. on Tuesday said he would say sorry only to his Chinese counterpart, Wang Yi, over his remarks the previous day that China should "get the f*ck out" of the Philippines' exclusive economic zone.
Locsin said wouldn't invoke China's "last provocation as an excuse for losing it." His "GTFO" post on Twitter followed the Department of Foreign Affairs' announcement that it filed a fresh diplomatic protest against China for harassing the Filipino coast guard in Bajo de Masinloc (Scarborough Shoal) in late April.
Wang is both China's foreign minister and state councillor, a member of the powerful state council. He has been Beijing's top diplomat since 2013, when the tensions between the Philippines and China flared up over reefs and islands in the West Philippine Sea.
"I won’t plead the last provocation as an excuse for losing it; but if Wang Yi is following Twitter then I’m sorry for hurting his feelings but his alone. It’s been my elusive dream to copy until I attain in mind and manner the elegance of Wang Yi," Locsin said.
"His opinion alone matters. He mentored me in my Myanmar understanding and response. I went to China to get his advice before the ASEAN leaders summit and followed it to the letter," he said.
On Monday night, President Rodrigo Duterte said the festering sea dispute should be no cause for disrespect. He did not mention Locsin. The Chinese Foreign Ministry has not issued a statement on the matter.
"China remains to be our benefactor and if I may just add something to the narrative, just because we have a conflict with China, doesn't mean to say that we have to be rude and disrespectful," Duterte said in his weekly address to the nation.
"As a matter of fact, we have many things to thank for China, for the help," he said.
On Sunday, Chinese state media reported that its aircraft carrier, Shandong, was in the South China Sea for "sovereignty drills." Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said the Philippines would stand its ground, saying in Filipino, "We will not leave (Walang alisan)."
China has refused to pull out its ships from reefs inside the Philippines' EEZ despite daily diplomatic protests and summons on its ambassador to Manila.
China is claiming almost the entire South China Sea, overlapping with claims by the Philippines, Vietnam, Brunei, Taiwan and Malaysia. Some $3.4 million worth of trade passes through the disputed waters annually and Washington has expressed concern over Beijing's actions in the region.
The Chinese government also refuses to recognize a UN court's ruling that favored the Philippines and invalidated its vast claims.
While the Philippines has filed numerous diplomatic protests over China's actions that endangered the lives of Filipino fishermen, Beijing has built artificial islands over the disputed reefs.