Controversial Philippines foreign secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr praises New Zealand after Simon Bridges visit

Teodoro Locsin Jr. and Simon Bridges.
Teodoro Locsin Jr. and Simon Bridges. Photo credit: Simon Bridges.

The Philippines' controversial foreign secretary has praised New Zealand as the only "consistently moral" country in the world following a meeting with National's Simon Bridges

Bridges has been in the south-east Asia nation to meet with diplomats and officials alongside defence spokesperson Mark Mitchell, foreign spokesperson Gerry Brownlee and Filipino-born list MP Paulo Garcia.

On Tuesday, the National Party leader posted a picture with the country's Secretary of Foreign Affairs Teodoro Locsin Jr. - also known as Teddy Boy. 

"We discussed issues facing the Asia-Pacific and how we can strengthen the special relationship our two countries share," 

Locsin shared that tweet and added the comment: "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."

The secretary was making reference to the banning of nuclear-powered or armed ships from New Zealand waters. Legislation enforced from 1987 made New Zealand a nuclear-free zone. 

Locsin is a controversial figure in Filipino politics, with his social media use frequently criticised. In 2016, the politician made multiple references to Nazis, including calling for a "final solution" to deal with a "drug menace", the BBC reports.

He later took down the tweets and apologised to his "real friends and followers" that he hurt with the tweets, but "only to them". Loscin said he tweeted for shock value and denied being anti-Semitic.

"Well, if they want to interpret it that way, then they are perfectly free to remain in their ignorance."

When the politician was nominated as the Philippines' ambassador to the United Nations, a petition was circulated in opposition. It received more than 11,000 signatures. 

"His blatant justification of anti-Semitic lingo of the President of the Republic of the Philippines makes him a racist, clearly showing his prejudice against the Jewish people," the petition said.

Locsin has supported Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte's war on drugs, which includes extrajudicial killings. 

Bridges has also met with the country's Defence Secretary, visited local businesses to see Kiwi products on show and is meant to meet former boxer Manny Pacquiao.

There's estimated to be more than 60,000 Filipinos living in New Zealand, up from only 11,000 in 2001.

"We've got a very big Filipino community in New Zealand," Mitchell told Newshub last week.

"The National Party is proud to have our first Filipino MP in Paulo Garcia, and they play an important role in the country as well.

"Our trip is to strengthen those relationships, have important strategic meetings and make sure we're very well-placed this year with the general election coming up, with our return to Government."