By Genalyn Kabiling
NONTHABURI, Thailand — President Duterte is in good health and high spirits even after a slight delay in his attendance to one of the regional summits here, according to two Cabinet members.
The President was unable to join a family photo with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and dialogue partners China, Japan and Korea Monday morning. Instead, Duterte was represented by Foreign Affairs Assistant Secretary Junever Mahilum-West in the group photo of the ASEAN Plus Three leaders since he was running late.
The Philippine leader however arrived in time for the start of the APT dialogue chaired by Thailand Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, South Korean President Moon Jae-in, and Chinese premier Li Keqiang joined the ASEAN leaders for the annual summit.
Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo assured the public that the President was “okay,” explaining that he merely had to take a restroom break before proceeding to the venue of the APT summit.
“He was late for a few minutes as he had to pass by the restroom,” Panelo told reporters covering the ASEAN summit and related meetings here. “He is okay,” he said, adding there was no change in Duterte’s work schedule.
Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III echoed Panelo’s remarks about the reason behind the President’s “slight delay” in the ASEAN Plus Three summit.
“He’s fine. He’s in good health, he’s in good spirits. And I think the slight delay this morning had to do with a call of nature,” Dominguez said in a separate press conference here.
Duterte, however, was among the seven ASEAN leaders who skipped the ASEAN-US summit following the absence of U.S. President Donald Trump. Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. represented the President during the summit instead.
Duterte went to attend the other ASEAN activities including the Special Lunch for Sustainable Development and East Asia Summit in Thailand. He is expected to return to the country Monday night.