Duterte free to choose which countries to visit – DFA official

Published September 28, 2019, 9:54 AM

by Dr. Eduardo Gonzales

By Argyll Geducos 

A protocol official said President Duterte has the right to choose which countries he wants to visit as head of a sovereign nation and assured that all official overseas trip he undertakes will be equally important.

President Rodrigo Roa Duterte delivers his speech during the oath-taking ceremony of the officers of the League of Vice Governors of the Philippines at the Malacañan Palace on September 10, 2019. (KING RODRIGUEZ/PRESIDENTIAL PHOTO/MANILA BULLETIN)

Chief of Presidential Protocol for Foreign Affairs Robert Borje made the statement as the President is set to embark on a five-day official visit to Sochi and Moscow in Russia next week.

In an interview, Borje refused to give a clear answer if the weather would be a factor for the President’s overseas travels since the Palace has repeatedly insisted that the cold weather has been preventing Duterte from going to the United States. But in his visit to Moscow next, Duterte would likely encounter temperatures below 10°C.

“I’m not saying weather is not a factor. What we’re saying is the President decides on the import of an outbound visit,” he said.

“The President is entitled to exercise his decision on which visits he is going to undertake,” he added.

According to Borje, the weather on Sochi, on the hand, will not be as chilly as Moscow.

“If you also check your weather projections, I think Sochi is actually a little bit warm at this time of the year,” he said.

“I think all of the visits are important. Otherwise, he would not go,” he added.

It was earlier reported that US President Donald Trump had invited President Duterte to the White House. However, the Philippine leader had set several conditions, including the return of the Balangiga Bells.

In July 2017, Duterte said that he will never visit the United States during his term or anytime thereafter after US lawmakers expressed that he should not be invited to the White House because of the alleged human rights violations in the country.

According to Duterte, he has already been to the US and he found it “lousy.”

“There will never be a time during my admin that I’ll be going to America or thereafter. Tapos na ako diyan (I’m done with that already),” he said. “I’ve seen America and it’s lousy.”

He also said that Trump’s invitation was made with an air of sarcasm anyway.

Trump invited Duterte over to the White House last April. Duterte expressed gratitude to the US President but said his hands were already full.