MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte was a no-show at 3 major events at the 33rd Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit and Related Summits in Singapore on Wednesday, November 14.
Foreign Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr showed up in place of Duterte at the ASEAN-Australia Informal Breakfast Summit scheduled to start at 8:30 am on Wednesday.
Locsin again represented Duterte when the latter did not appear at the ASEAN-Korea Summit later that day. Curiously, this was after Duterte finally showed up for the ASEAN-China Summit.
The Philippine leader was again absent when other ASEAN leaders gathered for a working lunch hosted by Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong. He was also not present at the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) Summit.
The meetings he missed are among the 9 official engagements that the Philippine leader was supposed to participate in that day.
As of writing, Malacañang has yet to explain the President's absences.
The only event Duterte had so far attended on Wednesday was the ASEAN-China Summit. It took place in between the summits with Australia and Korea which he had missed.
The Philippines is the current coordinator of the ASEAN-China Dialogue, which is currently working on the Code of Conduct in the South China Sea, a binding document that will set forth protocols and rules to ensure no violent conflicts arise between China and ASEAN countries with claims in the important body of water.
Duterte's non-appearance at the summits affirmed a pattern observed when he attended an international conference abroad. In nearly every major multi-day gathering, he was bound to skip one or two events.
In some cases, Duterte or his spokesmen claimed he had to miss some of the activities due to health reasons.
Here's a list of other events at international gatherings he has missed:
Duterte did not miss events during the ASEAN summits in 2017 since that year, the Philippines hosted the events. Organizers then had said, as ASEAN chairman, Duterte could not be absent from any of the activities. – Rappler.com
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.