Aquino: Country’s interest before personal health

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12:21 PM November 20th, 2012

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November 20th, 2012 12:21 PM

President Benigno Aquino III. AFP PHOTO

PHNOM PENH, Philippines–Suffering from the sniffles, President Aquino admitted he was not in his best condition as he attended meeting after meeting at the 21st Association of Southeast Asian Nations Summit and related meetings here.

On Monday evening, the flu-stricken Philippine President left a gala dinner for Asean heads of state  and government  and other world leaders early, telling his hosts he needed rest.

But before retiring for the night, he made a stop to give a briefing to Philippine journalists at the Sofitel, where he was billeted, on developments in the summit.

“I can’t say I’m at my 100 percent now. As you may have noticed, my voice is scratchy, and I have a cold…. But otherwise I think I managed,” he said.

Mr. Aquino said his troubles began during his trips to New Zealand and Australia where he was exposed to pollen. “My visit there was during spring, and it was colder compared to the Philippines,” he said.

“Now [Health Secretary Enrique Ona] has long been telling me to rest, take a vacation, etcetera. And I only said we will get there,” he said.

Even so, Mr. Aquino said he was trying to push himself. “Like now, of course, it’s the nation’s interest at stake, which is why I should get through this,” he said.

He said he was making it a point not to miss any of his 10 opportunities to be heard on a wide range of issues facing the Asean, especially on matters of great importance to the Philippines, chief of them the territorial disputes with China.

Since the opening of the summit on Sunday, Mr. Aquino has delivered remarks in all the sessions, including the side meetings with Japan, Korea, India, China, and the United States, except one occasion when time ran out.

Mr. Aquino said he had no particular expectations going into the Asean summit, except to make the most of his chances to speak up and to convey the Philippine position on important regional issues.

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