Philippines' Foreign Affairs Secretary calls NZ 'the only consistently moral country'

The Philippines' Foreign Affairs Secretary has labelled New Zealand as "arguably the only consistently moral country in the international community", after meeting with National leader Simon Bridges. 

Teodoro Locsin Jr. and Simon Bridges. Source: Twitter/Simon Bridges

Teodoro Locsin Jr made international headlines in 2016 after tweeting, "I believe that the Drug Menace is so big it needs a FINAL SOLUTION like the Nazis adopted. That I believe. NO REHAB." He later apologised and removed the tweet, the BBC reported

On January 10, Mr Locsin had a heated exchange with protestors over the deployment of Filipino troops in Iraq

Mr Bridges visited the Philippines with National MPs Mark Mitchell, Gerry Brownlee and Paulo Garcia this week. 

He told RNZ prior to the trip he would, where appropriate, bring up the extra-judicial executions of drug dealers. 

"Clearly, there's some differences in opinion between New Zealanders as a whole and the Philippines administration where it comes to issues of penal policy and drug offenders and death penalty and the like," Mr Bridges said. 

President Rodrigo Duterte's crackdown on drugs had seen thousands killed. The delegation was also set to meet with Vice President Leni Robredo, who has called for the anti-drugs campaign to end. 

Mr Bridges wrote on Twitter yesterday: "A privilege to meet with @teddyboylocsin, Secretary of Foreign Affairs of the Philippines. We discussed issues facing the Asia-Pacific and how we can strengthen the special relationship our two countries share."

After the meeting, Mr Locsin retweeted Mr Bridges, with the caption: "New Zealand, arguably the only consistently moral country in the international community. Remember when the Americans were so pissed off with its anti-nuclear weapons stand." 

Mr Bridges told 1 NEWS it was "good to meet with the Foreign Secretary to discuss international affairs and areas of common ground".

"He rightly has a high opinion of New Zealand."

He said the Philippines and New Zealand "have a lot of common issues from disaster management to an interest in peaceful, lawful activity in the South China Seas".

"On top of that our trading relationship is becoming more significant and the Filipino community in New Zealand is growing every day."

The delegation was also scheduled to meet with Manila mayor Francisco Moreno Domagoso and former boxer and senator Manny Pacquiao.

"This trip will help us form our trade policies," Mr Bridges said in a statement. "We will strengthen our diplomatic relationships, show our support for New Zealand business, foster relationships and reinforce our long-friendly relationship with the Philippines.

"The Philippines is one of the fastest growing economies in the Asia Pacific region. It’s our 17th largest export destination, with our exports worth $880 million. There are many areas where we could work together to improve this."