Duterte skips ASEAN-UN Sum­mit

The Freeman - - NATION - (Philstar.com)

MANILA — Pres­i­dent Ro­drigo Duterte on Mon­day night skipped a ma­jor sum­mit be­tween South­east Asian lead­ers and the United Na­tions chief due to the Philip­pine leader’s “full sched­ule,” Mala­cañang said.

UN Sec­re­tary-Gen­eral An­to­nio Guter­res vis­ited the coun­try to par­tic­i­pate in the an­nual UN meet­ing with lead­ers of the As­so­ci­a­tion of South­east Asian Na­tions sum­mit.

In a state­ment, Harry Roque, Duterte’s spokesman, said the pres­i­dent’s back-toback meet­ings prompted him to miss out the event and send For­eign Af­fairs Sec­re­tary Alan Peter Cayetano on his be­half.

“The pres­i­dent’s meet­ings went be­yond sched­ule and, to avoid fur­ther de­lay, it was de­cided that Sec­re­tary Cayetano would at­tend the ASEAN-UN Sum­mit on be­half of Pres­i­dent Duterte while the chief ex­ec­u­tive was con­duct­ing meet­ings with other lead­ers,” Roque said.

Ahead of the ASEAN meet, four UN hu­man rights ex­perts urged the 10-mem­ber bloc to dis­cuss “press­ing” re­gional rights is­sues.

They also ex­pressed con­cern over the “wor­ry­ing de­te­ri­o­ra­tion in the en­vi­ron­ment” where hu­man rights de­fend­ers op­er­ate.

Among the hu­man rights is­sues hound­ing the re­gion were the Philip­pines’ bloody “war on drugs,” the Ro­hingya cri­sis in Myan­mar, the crack­down on dis­senters in Viet­nam and Cam­bo­dia and junta rule in Thai­land.

Duterte, who does not tol­er­ate crit­i­cisms of his rights record and bru­tal nar­cotics crack­down, has re­peat­edly lashed out at the UN for con­demn­ing his deadly an­tidrug cam­paign, which saw thou­sands of sus­pected drug deal­ers killed, mostly in slum ar­eas.

Duterte had also slammed Ban KiMoon, Guter­res’ pre­de­ces­sor, for sup­pos­edly med­dling in Manila’s drive against drugs and for de­nounc­ing the pres­i­dent’s ap­par­ent en­dorse­ment of ex­tra­ju­di­cial killing.

The fire­brand leader ear­lier threat­ened to with­draw the Philip­pines from the UN—a re­mark he later dis­missed as a joke.

In his re­marks at the ASEAN-UN meet on Mon­day, Guter­res did men­tion Manila’s bloody bat­tle against drugs but lauded the Philip­pines’ ef­forts “to­wards peace over many years.”

He nonethe­less raised alarm over the tragic plight of Ro­hingya Mus­lims in Myan­mar in re­marks be­fore that coun­try's leader, Aung San Suu Kyi.

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