MANILA (UPDATE 2) - President Rodrigo Duterte on Wednesday skipped the Association of Southeast Asian Nations’ (ASEAN) summits with Australia and South Korea in Singapore, even as he did not fail to attend the one with China.
Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. represented Duterte at the gathering between heads of state of the regional bloc and Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison scheduled at 8:30 a.m. Wednesday.
Duterte arrived at Singapore’s Suntec International Convention and Exhibition Center, the venue of the summits, at around 9:30 a.m., just in time for the ASEAN-China summit which was attended by Chinese Premier Li Keqiang.
The Filipino leader, however, was again nowhere to be found at the 11 a.m. ASEAN-South Korea summit attended by South Korean Prime Minister Moon Jae-in. Duterte was again represented by Locsin.
He was also absent at the ASEAN leaders’ 12:30 p.m. working lunch with Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, whose city-state is this year’s ASEAN chairman.
Malacañang has yet to explain Duterte’s absence in the two summits and the working lunch.
ASEAN leaders are scheduled to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin, and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe later Wednesday. They will also attend the 2nd Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership Summit.
A gala dinner will cap off the day of the leaders.
The meetings will continue on Thursday with separate summits between ASEAN and the United States, India, and the “ASEAN Plus Three” countries composed of China, Japan and South Korea.
The annual meet will be concluded by the East Asia Summit Lunch Retreat and Plenary on Thursday afternoon. - with Pia Gutierrez, ABS-CBN News