Palace explains PRRD’s absence in few ASEAN Related Summits

MANILA MalacaAang on Wednesday clarified that President Rodrigo Duterte's absence in few meetings of 33rd ASEAN Related Summits has nothing to do with his physical health.

We assure the nation that his aforementioned absence has nothing to do with his physical health and well-being which have been the subject of speculation, Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said in a statement.

Panelo said the President's constantly punishing work schedule is proof that he is in top physical shape.

We find it amusing that some quarters are making a big fuss of the President's skipping a few meetings in today's ASEAN Related Summits, he said.

Panelo said Duterte has designated Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. to represent him and to read his remarks in four meetings where the President did not attend.

In those instances where he did not attend, he took powernaps to catch on sleep, Panelo said.

The four meetings include: the ASEAN-Australia Informal Breakfast Summit, the 20th ASEAN-Republic of Korea Summit, the Working Lunch hosted by Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and the Second Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) Summit.

PRRD will also not attend the gala dinner scheduled tonight and will instead rest. Last night, the President worked late and had only less than three hours of sleep. It is unfortunate that the first event scheduled today was at 8:30 a.m., Panelo said.

Panelo, however, said the President was able to attend the ASEAN-China Summit where he delivered the ASEAN Common Statement as the new Country Coordinator for the ASEAN-China Dialogue Relations.

He said Duterte also witnessed the signing ceremony for the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the Eurasian Economic Commission (EEC) and ASEAN on Economic Cooperation.

Furthermore, PRRD even had a bilateral meeting with ASEAN Host and Singapore Prime Minister Lee regarding concerns that are mutually beneficial for the countries that they represent, Panelo said.

In important gatherings of the ASEAN members with dialogue partners, such as where Chinese Premier Li Keqiang, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Russian President Vladimir Putin addressed the group, the President attended and expressed the country's sentiments and stand vis-a-vis the three aforesaid leaders' remarks, he added.

Panelo said Duterte is set to participate in the rest of the summits and a bilateral meeting with the Japanese Prime Minister on Thursday, final day of the three-day 33rd ASEAN Summit and Related Summits.

From Singapore, Duterte will travel to Papua New Guinea to attend the 19th Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation Economic Leaders' Meeting from Nov. 17 to 18. (PNA)

Source: Philippine News Agency