Duterte not attending ASEAN-Australia Summit

Pia Ranada
Duterte not attending ASEAN-Australia Summit

Malacañang Photo

(UPDATED) Malacañang says President Rodrigo Duterte prefers to be in the country to attend the Philippine Military Academy graduation and address other national concerns

MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – President Rodrigo Duterte will not attend the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN)-Australia Summit this month, said Malacañang on Monday, March 5.

“The President regrets that he will be unable to attend the ASEAN-Australia Summit this month. Developments at home continue to require the President’s presence in the Philippines,” said Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque during a Palace briefing.

Duterte had been invited through a letter from the Australian embassy signed by Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull himself. The gathering, scheduled from March 16 to 18, is a commemoration of the 14th anniversary of ASEAN-Australia ties.

During the conference, Southeast Asian and Australian leaders are set to discuss security-related issues, including terrorism. (READ: Australia warns vs ‘high threat’ of terror in PH)

Foreign Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano has been designated as Duterte’s representative, said Roque.

“The special designation will help ensure that the Philippines continues to be engaged with ASEAN and Australia in advancing shared interest in the same region,” he said.

Among the events Duterte wants to stay home for is the Philippine Military Academy (PMA) graduation, said Roque. The PMA graduation is set to take place on March 18.

The President, said his spokesperson, would rather attend this annual event as he “considers this graduation as an opportunity to dialogue with young military officers.”

Duterte had previously expressed a lack of inclination to attend any more international gatherings, saying that “they don’t accomplish anything.” However, he did attend the ASEAN-India Summit last January after being told that his presence, as the previous ASEAN chairman, was requested. – Rappler.com

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Pia Ranada

Pia Ranada is a senior reporter for Rappler covering Philippine politics and environmental issues. For tips and story suggestions, email her at pia.ranada@rappler.com.