Malacau00f1ang file photo
President Rodrigo Duterte likes to project himself as a man of action, with no patience for hollow words and the artifice of decorum.
Before flying to India to attend yet another international summit, Duterte could not help but express frustration about the seeming futility of such meetings with foreign leaders.
"Kaya ako pupunta, sabihin ko, 'Kung ganito lang naman (That's why I am going, to say, 'If this is all there is), so what’s the use of meeting just once a year?” And probably the ministerial level, once every 3 months. They cannot accomplish anything," he railed on Wednesday, January 24.
He was giving a speech at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal 2, about to board his plane to New Delhi.
In front of him were the highest foreign affairs, security, and economic officials, all part of his delegation to take part in meetings with their foreign counterparts.
Duterte was especially exasperated by meetings on security and combating terrorism, which he said, were not able to prevent the Marawi crisis from exploding.
"We talk all over again about cooperation and sharing of – we have been doing that. We’ve been sharing information with everybody, as a matter of fact all these years. And yet the thing in Marawi came into being," he said.
In an upcoming security-related meeting with heads of state in Australia, Duterte said he would push for a "platform" to discuss terrorism, crime, and drugs. The current set-up, he said, is not enough.
"I need more than just talk and more than just promises. I want it done during my term," said Duterte.
The Philippine leader emphasized that he "[does] not want to go to Australia," but that, if he goes, this is what he would push for.
Duterte was likely referring to the ASEAN-Australia Special Summit 2018 set to take place in Sydney in March.
Interestingly enough, Duterte chose to begin his Wednesday speech with a defense of why he was attending the summit in India, despite his frustration with such meetings.
Taking a jab at the previous administration, Duterte insinuated that the Indian government was offended by how former president Benigno Aquino III chose not to attend India's Republic Day celebration, despite an invitation.
"I think that President Aquino, busy maybe at that time, chose to just send a token delegation. In this year's invitation, they pointed out that they were – more or less, read between the lines – that hopefully this time the chief of state – and that the incident last year will not be repeated again," said Duterte.
Thus, he could not refuse the Department of Foreign Affairs' advice: "You have to go."
Duterte has not hidden his lack of patience for international gatherings, even joking he would cancel a November ASEAN Summit because he was tired of playing host to foreign leaders.
He has also declared he is "no statesman" though his position as Philippine president requires him to be the country's chief diplomat. (READ: Duterte told of protocol: 'You do it for the country') – 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.