Duterte to attend ASEAN Summit in Thailand, skips Mindanao quake inspection

Arianne Merez, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Oct 31 2019 05:02 PM

MANILA - President Rodrigo Duterte will push through with his participation in the 35th ASEAN Summit in Thailand, leaving it up to local government units to lead response efforts in quake-stricken Mindanao. 

Duterte will continue with his scheduled flight to Bangkok on Nov. 1, All Saints' Day, even as his home region Mindanao reeled from a series of earthquakes this month, causing deaths and a heavy damage toll.

His spokesman Salvador Panelo said the President "deemed it appropriate" to forego the inspection since local government units in Mindanao 'have so far effectively responded to the current critical situation."

Duterte, who is in Davao City, was among those who felt the magnitude 6.5 temblor that rocked Cotabato and neighboring areas on Thursday morning.

The latest quake fueled more panic and fears as the region has yet to recover from 2 other powerful quakes earlier this month.

The tectonic tremor struck 33 kilometers northeast of Tulunan town, which was also the epicenter of Tuesday's magnitude 6.6 quake and a magnitude 6.3 temblor last Oct. 16.

President Duterte has also ordered all government agencies to submit a report on the Mindanao earthquake to ensure that government buildings are safe, Communications Secretary Martin Andanar said Thursday.

Andanar also appealed to the public to remain vigilant for possible aftershocks and to report to authorities damaged structures.

"We remind everyone to stay compassionate and considerate to each other in these trying times. While we're at it, let us pray for the safety of our brothers and sisters in Mindanao and for their quick recovery and return to normalcy," he said.