Palace defends Duterte’s absences from Asean events
MANILA, Philippines — Malacañang defended Thursday President Rodrigo Duterte’s absences from meetings during the 35th Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) Summit in Bangkok, Thailand.
Duterte skipped the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) Summit and the closing ceremony on the last day of the biannual regional summit.
RCEP is a mega trade deal among the 10-member states of Asean and its six trading partner countries, namely: Australia, China, India, Japan, New Zealand, and South Korea.
Duterte also missed the family photo session at the 22nd Asean Plus Three Summit after arriving late.
But Duterte’s spokesman Salvador Panelo said the President missed the photo session after taking a “little time” to “relieve himself.”
Panelo had told reporters in Bangkok that Duterte arrived late as he had to “pass by the restroom.”
Panelo also said that Duterte opted not to attend the RCEP as it was a “technical” one that would need the participation of his economic team.
‘Yun namang last summit, according to (Finance Secretary) Sonny Dominguez is more of a technical thing and the economic managers have to be there, not the President,” Panelo said in a Palace briefing.
On forgoing the closing ceremony, the Palace official said the President had to catch his early flight to Manila.
Panelo added that apart from Duterte, some Asean heads of states also skipped the closing ceremony. /je
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