MANILA - President Rodrigo Duterte's absence in several meetings at a regional summit in Singapore does not reflect badly on the Philippines, a Cabinet official said Thursday.
Duterte drew flak after he missed the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) summits with Australia and South Korea, a working lunch with ASEAN host and Singapore’s Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, and the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership Summit (RCEP).
He also opted to skip the gala dinner hosted by Singapore, this year’s ASEAN chairman.
"It doesn't," Foreign Affairs Secretary Teddy Locsin Jr. told reporters, when asked if Duterte's absence in key events reflects the importance the president gives to the meetings.
"I have seen different leaders stand up and leave [meetings], including the chairman, and it doesn't reflect badly [on them]," Locsin said.
Duterte did "more than what he should have done," Locsin said, saying ASEAN statements are pre-discussed by ministers and leaders.
"These scenarios are set because that is how ASEAN proceeds. We don't do things spontaneously," he said.
"It is a foreign affairs specialty so the sense we had is everything is structured," he said.
Duterte earlier defended himself saying there was nothing wrong in having "power naps" during an international conference.