Duterte skips Asean-UN meet­ing; Cayetano pinch-hits

Philippine Daily Inquirer - - NEWS - By Nestor Cor­rales and Christine O. Aven­daño INQ @Team_In­quirer

Pres­i­dent Duterte skipped the meet­ing be­tween the As­so­ci­a­tion of South­east Asian Na­tions (Asean) and the United Na­tions (UN) on Mon­day night.

He was rep­re­sented in­stead by For­eign Sec­re­tary Alan Peter Cayetano, who presided over the Asean-UN Sum­mit, op­po­site UN Sec­re­tary Gen­eral An­tónio Guter­res.

The Asean-UN Sum­mit was sup­posed to be the last event of Mr. Duterte on Mon­day af­ter a series of bi­lat­eral meet­ings.

Mala­cañang ex­plained on Tues­day that the Pres­i­dent had to skip the Asean-UN sum­mit as well as the Asean Plus Three Lead­ers’ in­ter­face with the East Asia Business Coun­cil be­cause he had to at­tend the bi­lat­eral meet­ings with lead­ers, the sched­ule of which had over­lapped with the sum­mits.

Pres­i­den­tial spokesper­son Harry Roque said the con­flict in sched­ule prompted Mr. Duterte to skip the event.

“Sched­ule con­flict was the cause of de­lay. He went to a bi­lat­eral meet­ing with Rus­sia,” Roque said in a text mes­sage.

Mr. Duterte was hav­ing his bi­lat­eral meet­ing with Rus­sia at about 10:46 p.m. when the Asean-UN Sum­mit was set to start.

“Pres­i­dent Duterte had sev­eral bi­lat­eral meet­ings [on Mon­day] night, in­clud­ing with Ja­pan, ROK (Repub­lic of Korea), In­dia and Rus­sia. The meet­ings were al­ready run­ning be­yond sched­ule so, to avoid fur­ther de­lay­ing the Asean-UN Sum­mit, it was de­cided that SFA (Cayetano) rep­re­sent the Pres­i­dent while he was meet­ing bi­lat­er­ally with the other lead­ers,” said act­ing Depart­ment of For­eign Af­fairs spokesper­son Robe­spierre Bo­li­var.

Aside from pre­sid­ing Asean sum­mits with cer­tain coun­tries and or­ga­ni­za­tions, the Pres­i­dent also had bi­lat­eral meet­ings with Asean and di­a­log part­ners sched­uled on Mon­day, when he hosted the open­ing of the 31st Asean Sum­mit of lead­ers, a two-day event.

“The de­lay of the open­ing [of the Asean Sum­mit] re­ally had a chain ef­fect,” said Roque, re­fer­ring to the fact that this caused sched­ules to be pushed back.

The Asean Sum­mit was sup­posed to start at 9 a.m. on Mon­day but it con­vened more than an hour late.

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