Duterte off to Laos for Asean Summit
(The Philippine Star) - September 5, 2016 - 12:00am

DAVAO CITY, Philippines – President Duterte is set to leave for Vientiane, Laos today to attend the 49th Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Leaders Summit, where he will accept the chairmanship of the regional grouping for 2017.

Foreign Affairs Secretary Perfecto Yasay Jr. told The STAR yesterday that Duterte will leave Davao City at 4:40 this afternoon and proceed directly to Vientiane.

The President and his party will take a chartered Philippine Airlines flight from this city.

Foyer honors will be accorded the President as he leaves the country and embarks on his first trip abroad since he assumed his post last June 30.

The President earlier cancelled his planned two-day state visit to Brunei that should have taken place yesterday before proceeding to Laos.

The trip was scrapped after the blast that rocked the Roxas night market here Friday night that left 15 people dead and 71 others wounded.

While in Laos, the President will also hold bilateral talks with other ASEAN heads of state as well as United States President Barack Obama and Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Yasay cited the importance of Duterte’s presence in the ASEAN summit in Laos as he would be receiving the chairmanship of the group from Laos.

Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez said the chairmanship of the ASEAN on its 50th year is significant, with the Philippines hosting more than 40 meetings of the various components, including cooperation, trade, tourism and health, among other concerns.

“All these ASEAN meetings will be held here in the country next year. That is why the Office of the President has been allocated a huge budget for hosting the summit next year,” Dominguez said.

Duterte will proceed to Jakarta, Indonesia on Sept. 8 for a state visit.

He will meet with Indonesian President Joko Widodo and the Filipino community there before returning to the Philippines on Sept. 9.

Leni visits Rody

Meanwhile, Vice President Leni Robredo paid Duterte a visit here yesterday.

Robredo also visited the victims of the explosion at the Roxas night market, who were being treated at the Southern Philippines Medical Center and other hospitals.

The Vice President condoled with the families of the fatalities in the incident, whose remains lie in state at various funeral parlors in the city.

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