Mr. Duterte’s general antipathy toward the West “makes it easier for his lieutenants to highlight the profound crisis of racism in places such as America, especially when it targets the overseas Filipino community, a major constituency,” said Mr. Heydarian, the author of a book about Mr. Duterte’s rise to power.
The Philippines is also considering whether to maintain a military pact with the United States, one that Mr. Duterte has previously threatened to terminate. Herman Kraft, a political scientist at the University of the Philippines in Quezon City, said it was important to view Mr. Locsin’s comments against the backdrop of those geopolitics.
“Locsin probably wants to send a signal to the U.S. before President Duterte commits the Philippine government on a policy direction that would be difficult to backpedal from,” he saifd.
Mr. Cruz De Castro, the professor, said that Mr. Locsin’s Twitter storm was a “knee-jerk” reaction that reflected his personality more than specific policy priorities in the Philippines. But the response to the attack from people across the Philippines, he added, illustrated the country’s strong connection with its diaspora.
“It’s a reflection of our attitude of, ‘When we send people abroad, they’re still linked with us,’” he said, “ignoring the fact that they’re under private motive and have basically adopted the culture and citizenship of their host country.”
Jason Gutierrez reported from Manila and Mike Ives from Hong Kong.