Duterte ‘power naps’ through ASEAN Summit

Published November 14, 2018, 7:50 PM

by Roel Tibay

By Argyll CyrusGeducos

SINGAPORE—Malacañang said that an exhausted President Duterte ‘power napped’ through several important engagements of the 33rd Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit Wednesday.

Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo made the statement after Duterte visibly skipped six of eleven events in the second day of the ASEAN Summit here.

President Rodrigo Roa Duterte delivers his speech during the 117th anniversary of the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) at the Port Area in Manila on October 25, 2018. (REY BANIQUET/PRESIDENTIAL PHOTO / MANILA BULLETIN)

In his statement, Panelo said they found it amusing that people are making a fuss out of Duterte’s absence to five events when he tasked Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. to represent him there.

“We find it amusing that some quarters are making a big fuss of the President’s skipping a few meetings in today’s ASEAN Related Summits, he said in a statement sent to Palace reporters in Singapore as the second day of the Summit came to a close.

Duterte was not able to attend the ASEAN summits with Australia and with South Korea. He was also absent during the second Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) Summit, and the working lunch hosted by Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong for the ASEAN leaders and other partners.

The President also skipped the cocktail reception for the leaders and their spouses, and the gala dinner in the evening.

Duterte, however, was able to attend the ASEAN Summit with China, Japan, Russia, and the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding between the Eurasian Economic Commission and the ASEAN on Economic Cooperation. He also had a bilateral meeting with Lee.

According to Panelo, Duterte skipped the said events to take some rest.

“Last night, the President worked late and had only less than three hours of sleep. It is unfortunate that the first event scheduled today was at 8:30 a.m.,” he said.

“In those instances where he did not attend… he took power naps to catch on sleep,” he added.

Panelo said that in three of the five events that Duterte attended, the President expressed the country’s sentiments and stand vis-a-vis the remarks of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, Russian President Vladimir Putin, and Chinese Premier Li Keqiang.

The Palace official also assured that Duterte’s absence in most of the Wednesday events has nothing to do with the President’s health.

“We assure the nation that his aforementioned absence has nothing to do with his physical health and well-being which have been the subject of speculation,” Panelo said.

“The President’s constantly punishing work schedule is proof that he is in top physical shape,” he added.

This was not the first time that Duterte was a no-show during an important summit. He also skipped several events during the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit in Peru in November 2016, and some events in the ASEAN Summit in Vientiane, Laos in September 2016.