By Genalyn Kabiling
NONTHABURI, Thailand – The Philippines has expressed support for Chile following its decision to cancel the Asia Pacific trade summit this month.
President Duterte recognized that Chile’s decision was “hard” but it considered the interest of its people amid the mass protests, according to his Spokesman Salvador Panelo.
“The President of Chile, His Excellency Sebastián Piñera, has made an announcement that Chile is cancelling its hosting of the APEC Economic Leaders Meeting (AELM), scheduled from November 16 to 17 of this year,” Panelo said.
“The Office of the President therefore expresses the country’s support for Chile as it made the hard decision of cancelling its hosting of the AELM, taking into consideration the interest and concerns of the Chilean people, as its country endured massive street protests that was propelled by a civil disobedience campaign over metro transit hikes,” he added.
Chilean President Sebastián Piñera recently announced that the country would no longer host the APEC summit slated in the middle of November as anti-government protests continued. Also scrapped was the COP25, the United Nations’ annual climate change summit, scheduled next month.
“As President, my duty is to put the needs of the Chilean people 1st. In these difficult times, with great pain, we have decided to cancel the #APEC and #COP summits. Our priority is to safeguard public order, give urgent solutions to social demands +implement an inclusive dialogue,” Piñera tweeted.
In his statement Friday, Panelo said President Duterte had earlier confirmed his attendance to the APEC summit to tackle trade and investment issues in the Asia-Pacific region, as well as common efforts to achieve inclusive and sustainable development.
Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin, Jr. and Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez were also set to participate in the APEC senior officials, foreign affairs and trade ministers’ meetings this month.
Panelo recognized the importance of APEC to enhancing growth in country’s trade and tourism sectors.
“The Palace notes that majority of the economic and commercial transactions of the Philippines are with economies belonging to APEC,” he said.
“In particular, they account for 84% of the total trade of the Philippines worldwide, 82% total exports worldwide, and 85% of its total imports. APEC economies likewise account for 64% of foreign direct investment into the Philippines, and 83% of tourist arrivals,” he said.
He also cited that 56 percent of Filipinos abroad also consider the APEC region their home.
Overseas Filipino workers in this region account for the 57 percent of the total annual remittances receive in the country. “As such, there are 33 Philippine Government agencies engaged in the APEC process,” he added.
Panelo also extended the government’s gratitude to Chile for promoting inclusive growth in the region.
“The Palace thanks Chile, which is currently the home to approximately 800 Filipinos, mostly women, for its hard work in advocating for inclusive and sustainable growth in the region such as by prioritizing women empowerment and promoting micro, small, and medium scale enterprises,” he said.
“We will continue to work to ensure our peoples enjoy the benefits of deeper regional economic integration,” he added.
The Palace earlier said the President’s attendance to the APEC summit in Chile would depend on his doctor’s advice. Duterte has been nursing muscle spasm after enduring unbearable pain in his spinal column, which forced him to cut short his Japan trip late last month.