By Genalyn Kabiling
PORT MORESBY — President Duterte was a no-show at the gala dinner hosted by Papua New Guinea for the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) economic leaders Saturday night.
The President was instead represented by Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez in the APEC gala dinner, which was supposed to be Duterte’s final APEC activity before flying back to Davao City.
The Palace has yet to give the reason behind the President’s absence.
As a result of his absence, the President was unable to join the APEC family photo session before the start of the gala dinner.
Based on a video feed relayed to the international media center, O’Neill welcomed the attending APEC leaders while wearing traditional silk polos for the Saturday affair just as they entered the hotel.
Among the leaders present were Chinese President Xi Jinping, US Vice President Mike Pence, Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, and Indonesian President Joko Widodo.
When APEC leaders started to take their seats inside the hotel, Philippine trade minister Lopez was spotted on video entering the hall. He was later seen seated next to Brunei Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah, chatting with him during the dinner.
In the previous two APEC summits, the President also skipped gala dinners in Vietnam in 2017 and Peru in 2016.
The President is scheduled to leave Papua New Guinea at past 11 p.m. Saturday and arrive in Davao City at 3:15 a.m. Sunday.
Duterte cut short his three-day visit to Papua New Guinea, missing other APEC events slated on Sunday. Lopez has been designated to take his place during these remaining summit activities.