Duterte skips Japan forum due to Marawi conflict

MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – President Rodrigo Duterte is cancelling yet another scheduled foreign trip to stay in the Philippines while the Marawi conflict remains unresolved.

The Philippine President will no longer be attending a forum in Japan set to take place from June 5 to 6 in Tokyo.

The secretariat of the 23rd International Conference on the Future of Asia said in an email that Duterte "has canceled his appearance at this year's conference."

Duterte was invited to be a guest speaker at the forum sponsored by Nikkei Incorporated. The annual event is usually attended by business leaders, economic experts, and leaders from all over Asia.

The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) later on confirmed this, adding that the trip will be "rescheduled."

"We are optimistic that once the security issues in Mindanao will have been settled, and the local rebellion in Mindanao fully addressed, the visit of President Duterte can be rescheduled," said Foreign Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano on Tuesday.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Duterte were scheduled to meet during the latter's June visit. Because of the developments, this meeting will be rescheduled.

"The Philippine and Japanese governments mutually agreed that there will be a better time for President Duterte to meet Prime Minister Shinzo Abe," said the DFA.

Duterte earlier cut short his official visit to Russia, supposed to have taken place from May 23 to 26, because of the clashes in Marawi between government forces and the Maute Group, a terror group that has pledged allegiance to the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria.

The Philippine President declared martial law in Mindanao on his last and only full day in Moscow.

Martial law administrator and Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana has set Friday, June 2, as the government's deadline to end the Marawi siege. So far, clashes have killed 19 civilians, 20 personnel of government troops, and 65 terrorists. – Rappler.com

Pia Ranada

Pia Ranada covers the Office of the President and Bangsamoro regional issues for Rappler. While helping out with desk duties, she also watches the environment sector and the local government of Quezon City. For tips or story suggestions, you can reach her at pia.ranada@rappler.com.