Palace backs PRRD move to take ‘leaner delegation’ to ASEAN Summit

MANILA MalacaAang on Monday defended the decision of President Rodrigo Duterte to fly to Singapore with a leaner delegation on board an eight-seater plane to attend 32nd ASEAN Summit.

(That's) to save money, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said when asked during a Palace press briefing why Duterte decided to take a small private plane instead of a traditional chartered flight.

It's expensive to charter a plane. And a leaner delegation will mean lesser cost for the taxpayer, Roque said.

Roque said Duterte's leaner contingent for the April 27-28 regional summit will be led by Special Assistant to the President Christopher Lawrence "Bong" Go.

Other than SAP Go, all others in the plane will be staff complement of the President including a nurse, things like that. It's a very small team that will fly with him. It's a lot cheaper compared to chartering an entire Philippine Airlines plane, he said.

He said the President will go to Singapore from his hometown, Davao City, which is only (a) two-hour flight to the city-state and might forego the traditional departure and arrival speeches.

According to the Department of Foreign Affairs, Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong had invited Duterte to attend the Summit, where the Filipino leader will address issues that are close to his heart.

DFA Assistant Secretary Ma. Hellen De La Vega said Singapore's theme for its chairmanship of ASEAN this year is to build a resilient and innovative ASEAN which weaves well into thematic priorities that the Philippines adopted when it chaired ASEAN last year.

De La Vega said the Summit will also be an opportunity for leaders to address transnational and transboundary issues such as terrorism, violent extremism, trafficking in persons, illicit drugs and disaster management.

She said ASEAN leaders are also expected to tackle regional and global issues that impact on the peace and security in the region.

The DFA official added that the issues concerning the West Philippine Sea and the Rohingya refugee in Myanmar would be the regular features of the discussions. (PNA)

Source: Philippine News Agency