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MANILA, Philippines – President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. scrapped his participation in the 28th United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP28), calling off his trip to the United Arab Emirates at the last minute.
“In light of important developments in the hostage situation involving 17 Filipino seafarers in the Red Sea, I have made the decision not to attend COP28 in Dubai tomorrow,” Marcos said in a statement on Thursday, November 30.
“Today, I will be convening a meeting to facilitate the dispatch of a high-level delegation to Tehran, Iran, with the aim of providing necessary assistance to our seafarers,” he added.
The Department of Foreign Affairs previously confirmed that Yemen’s Houthi rebels seized a cargo ship with 17 Filipino seafarers in the Red Sea.
The Houthis – who are sympathetic to Hamas militants – have been launching drones and long-range missiles at Israeli targets.
It is unclear what “important developments” the president is referring to.
Philippine delegation at COP28
Marcos said he has entrusted Environment Secretary Ma. Antonia Yulo-Loyzaga – who is already in Dubai – to “lead the COP28 delegation and articulate the country’s statement on my behalf.”
Marcos was supposed to leave Manila on Thursday morning, November 30, and arrive in Dubai late in the afternoon.
Had he pushed through with the travel, it would have been his 11th international trip for the year, and 17th since taking office in mid-2022.
Marcos had a lot of things to do in his COP28 itinerary: he was supposed to deliver a plenary speech alongside other heads of state and government, hold bilateral meetings, and lead side events.
More than 70,000 participants – including foreign leaders – will gather at the COP28 at Expo City in Dubai from November 30 to December 12.
The annual summit seeks to follow up on the promises made by countries in tackling the climate crisis in previous years.